Forward Orange

A famous footballer, a composer and musician and one shared passion. Andrew Miles delves into the mystic.


Predominantly, this site is for the automotive enthusiast. But with that enthusiasm comes other tangents, arguably tenuous but wholly relevant. To that end, we today delve into the worlds of football and music. One particular patrician of the game is no longer with us but still commands respect and admiration. The music side is dealt with through the medium best known as Jazz. 

Johan Cruyff was born in Holland in 1947 near to the Ajax football stadium. Fear not dear reader, we are not striking any further into his on-pitch antics or managerial career. Benjamin Herman was born in London in 1968 though raised in Holland from an early age. What connects these two apart from the Dutch references? Please, read on.

Looking into the life of a footballer sees large amounts of money being made and consumed. Cruyff had other passions, golf and cigarettes being just two, but from his early playing days it was obvious his talent was to be highly rewarded. He could thus indulge in collecting cars which he did with some aplomb.

Cruyff in a philosophically Italian mood. (c) VI images

As this first picture shows (Alfa), he may not look deliriously happy with his purchase but consider how young he looks. Seventeen? Easily under twenty. Think back to when you were a similar age and contemplate what you were thinking of buying. A work colleague mentioned he was given 15 pence spending money in 1972, therefore unless wealth was in the family, I’d wager it would be a second hand, beaten up old jalopy. Not a brand new Alfa Spider. 

Give me the keys, Eamonn! (c)

Moving on but a few years and this next picture sees Cruyff getting the keys to a Porsche 911, sold to him by fellow looking like a younger Eamonn Holmes. The dealership architecture appears interesting with a Beetle suspended up on high. He seems far more happy to be getting his grubby paws onto a vehicle made in Stuttgart. Simpler times too for his picture is being taken no doubt for some promotion or other but that’s it. No entourage, hangers on, camera phones nor undue fuss. Would Gareth Bale, for example even go to a dealership to collect his new Lamborghini?

(c) Thumb

The clothes and hair have grown now. And a leaning towards the far east. The picture isn’t too clear but a Datsun this most obviously is. I leave it to our better informed clientele as to which particular Z car this is. I just hope it’s a seventies brown affair in order for Cruyff’s leather jacket to contrast a little. And look at the size of that pocket; you could easily store engine parts in there, not that this car would need many spares.

(c) Getty Images

To the 1980s and a return closer to home, with a Double Chevron CX. Again, I leave it our more keen eyed brethren to specify the exact model but once again, Mr Cruyff looks pretty pleased with himself. Aged, experienced now and with a trophy of some sort. Hopefully for winning a competition rather than having an award for being famous such as today’s overpaid frauds. The ground looks more salubrious than where he left his Datsun. Other than the litter which won’t cause a puncture, fortunately. One wonders if the colour might be Brun Scarabee? Perhaps not, too old a hue for a modern footballer…

Now in order to link football and jazz, we must return to the past. With all the sartorial elegance one can muster wearing a multicoloured sweater, at least Cruyff”s latest motor passes muster. Yes, the SM. But not just any old SM; this very car became a catalyst. The Citroen’s number plate 06-54-UD became an inspiration to one Benjamin Herman who began to orchestrate a collection of pieces that can be easily related to by the car enthusiast. 

(c) pinterest/

Project S might just contain some Citroen references. And sounds immeasurably Gallic. Slow, breathy one minute , hurried and altogether more bracing the next. One could be belting along a peagé, twirling the wheel around the Simplon or merely heading to Reneé’s boulangerie to share a Gauloises. Or reading DTW with a Chateaux Neuf de Pape.  

The opening piece, Opronology begins your journey into silky smooth, upbeat jazz and for the next half hour, sit back, relax and allow the music to transport you wherever you want. Jazz can do this. Jazz connected to cars and in particular the SM owned and driven by Johann Cruyff should make that journey easier. One can only guess as to where you could be transported by wearing such clothing; illegal drug use may compensate one can assume.

Other pieces on this album have titles C114, Traction Avant, Sa Majesté and of course 06-54-UD. This production is from 2018: Cruyff died two years previously and had not been involved with football for some years. His presence though remains strong, clearly inspiring Herman’s work as well as me for finding out this stuff. 

I like to drive the 20km’s from the training ground to my house. It relaxes me, I love the cars.” Said Cruyff in 1976. Amen to that.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

15 thoughts on “Forward Orange”

  1. The open top Alfa shown in the topmost photo is not a spider but an ultra rare Giulia GTC of wich less than 1,000 examples were made by Touring of Milan.
    Judged by its hubcaps the CX should be a Reflex, the simple equipment level with the Douvrin OHC engine from the Pug 505/R20TS. That Cruyff had bought this car is remarkable because he surely could have afforded any other CX he liked.

  2. Great story! Citroën Nederland has been sponsoring Ajax for many years during the ‘7os and ‘80s. Some of these poor guys had to drive narrow-wheeled BX 14’s, while their friends at Feyenoord, who were sponsored by Opel, got to drive all kinds of ‘cool’ Mantas and Kadetts GSI. They say the SM was part of a sponsorship with Citroën too, he is said not to have driven it for long. The car is still well known as Cruyffs car over here.
    That showroom btw is Autpon (1961), the Amsterdam headquarters of Pon, our local VW importer (and one of the richest families in the country). It’s a listed building, but now hs become a gym.

  3. Thanks Andrew for this article. I wasn’t aware of this record, but I’ll certainly have to find it. As an enthusiast of Citroën as well as Jazz, there should be no better match.

    Regarding the CX, I agree with dave, it’s most probably a Reflex, the 2-litre base model (grille with only one horizontal bar, stainless steel bumpers without rubber corners). I guess it’s from around 1982, so too late for Brun Scarabée. I imagine it to be some sort of dark blue, that would look quite nice and not too basic. (although I prefer lighter colours on the CX.)

    1. I just located the record in my preferred store in CH, and pre-listened some of the tracks. I will certainly order it.

  4. Thanks for another great article Andrew. Is the Datsun a 240Z? A boss from many years ago swapped his E Type for a 240Z. Seemed a strange thing to do for a car crazy 17 year old, but maturity brings a modicum of sense and I can see why he did it now. His registration was 11 DOL. We changed his plates one day to 1 1DOL, he did see the funny side eventually. Would love a Citroen SM by the way, especially the ultra rare decapotable.

  5. Hi Andrew,
    Thanks for this tip- I will have to go looking to find this album/cd!
    From the excellent SM book “The Diva” by Peter Pijlman, here is some background to Cruyff and the SM:

    Joop Huigen, then Commercial Director of Citroen Netherlands: “The Citroen SM – Cruyff connection is an interesting story. Mr. Koster, Cruyff’s manager, called me and informed me that Cruyff was interested in the new SM. Would it be OK if he came to view the car? Getting Cruyff on board was of course a chance not to be missed so naturally I said he was welcome. I prepared thoroughly for the meeting memorizing all aspects of the SM, but when Cruyff came that proved to be unneccesary- he already knew all about the SM and seemed to be in love.
    I made a deal with him where Citroen Netherlands would not run the risk of unwanted negative publicity because, let’s be honest, the car was not without its peculiar problems. We would therefore not sell the car to Cruyff, but lease it to him- for a sizeable sum mind you! The condition was that Cruyff would not give any negative publicity should his experience with the SM be unsatisfactory, and would return the car to us no questions asked.
    We also agreed not to exploit the Cruyff – Citroen connection for commercial purposes. We struck the deal and I can only say that our relationship was excellent throughout. Whenever his SM was with us for maintenance or repairs he always received a loaner car from us. One more thing if I may: when Cruyff had just started playing for Barcelona he was in The Netherlands for a few days, had to play a match in Paris but had no car. He called us to ask if he could loan one from us, to which we of course agreed immediately, giving him the use of a CX. When the CX was returned the car was washed, vacuumed and with a full tank. On top of that he insisted on paying us a price per kilometer driven even though we had told him before he left off that that wouldn’t be necessary. That was Cruyff!”

    A little known fact is that Cruyff drove this silver SM for about three years, but purchased another one which he kept until his death in the garage of his house in Spain.

    Here’s a photo of Cruyff taking delivery of his SM:

  6. Regarding the Alfa: It’s indeed a Guilia GTC, produced from ’64 to ’66, even though I believe the correct number is 1,003 examples. The photo seems to be taken o May 1st 1968, according to Getty images. Seems correct as Cruyff’s first car seems to be a MG Midget. Also in those days you needed to be 18 years old to drive a car.

    But then again, the Porsche was given to him by Ben Pon (pictured in the photo) in 1968 as Cruyff had just become footballer of the year.

    The Datsun is a 240Z and is featured on the cover of Autovisie magazine (nr 21 1972).

    Bruno is correct about the SM. it was leased and returned. The car still exists. I was sold to a Dutchman early in 2017 and is still in the Netherlands as far as I know. The one he bought in Barcelona was green.

  7. The SM was driven by a number of celebrities offering a marketing opportunity that would not be missed today. Mike Hailwood also had an SM and I can’t remember that this was mentioned at any time.

  8. Another interesting piece Andrew and particularly the “ Into the mystic “ reference to a wonderful song written and performed by Van Morrison.

    What an excellent footballer he was and the cars he enjoyed weren’t that shabby either!

  9. Chapeau mes Amis. Knew I could rely on our learned fraternity to come up trumps with exacting recognition of not only the cars but the buildings. I’d never heard of the Giulia GTC before, no real wonder if so few were made. And as for team and car rivalries, who would have thought of that?

    It also kinda makes me wish I’d paid attention when playing football at school but even then I was far more interested in writing things and dreaming than being cold, muddy and what do I do with that ball…?

    The album swiftly became a favourite and can often be heard when I’m typing up articles. This work can relax, inspire and assist with concentration; but not always the spell-ings…

    1. Here’s a Giulia GTC:

      Bertone coupé converted by Touring, using different stiffening brackets in nearly every car but not to much effect. The body stiffness of a GTC is similar to a sheet of wet toilet paper.
      A GTC wasn’t too expensive at less than ten percent more than the tin top version.

  10. The rear of the SM never sat right with me, quite literally. Integrating the rear lights into the bumper made it have its “face” too low to the ground. I always wanted to re-imagine the car with a full width bumper and the rear lights lifted up on top of it. The somewhat triangular chromed horns would’ve made for perfect amber turn signals, with the brake light cluster spanning the entire width of the hatch lid, though intersected with the number plate in between. Try to imagine it that way, and it makes for a happier and more harmonious result. What were they even thinking of with that bumper thing anyway? Was it an afterthought?

    1. There was an astonishing number of variations for the SM’s rear considering the small number made.
      There are rear light units with white as well as amber reversing lights and the central panel carrying the Citroen logo can be amber or black. Countries with oblong rear number plates get the chrome strip above the number plate carrying the number plate lights and countries with square number plates like Italy or plates like the US have small chromed lights left and right of the number plate and no chrome strip at the top

  11. Ingvar, a very probable reason why Opron opted to position the taillights within All That Chrome (and these days chrome is a web browser…) is the tendency to avoid direct contact between the red/orange of the light unit and the body colour.

    It is indeed debatable whether the undisputable overall elegance afforded by the above, You Gotta Keep’em Separated solution yielded more aesthtic benefit or more cost, in the SM case in particular. Personally I find it admirable, apart from the stance cost it incurs, so to speak.

    Another highly probable factor was the way narrower rear track width of almost all Citroëns of the Oleopneumatic era. Any accenting of the car’s rear width, as your scenario suggests, would actually be detrimental when viewed from behind, as it would create an even worse contrast with the narrow Tw, and the overall teardroppy vertical projection silhouette of these vehicular dynamic etalons,
    that we still (criminally) refer to as cars.

  12. Great article.

    Triggered a thought, that might be a very distant assumption:
    Was there a “butterfly effect” to the situation induced by the sponsorship of Citroen to Ajax?
    Those circumstances, apparently, made Ajax’ footballer stars ‘forcibly’ use basic, bare-bones version
    of the GS, BX, CX etc. . What with Mr.Cruyff becoming a proclaimed Citroeniste later on, one could perhaps
    draw a relation between the unexpected driving comfort & dynamics of the lesser Oleopn.versions
    (shocking, for a perceived “base, utilitarian car”), with the ‘spiritual conversion’ to green
    blood that, in his case at least, occurred later on?

    The assumption that, the lesser an Oleopn. Citroen model is, the better & more essential the ‘magic carpet’
    experience is – could actually be a rather well founded one in my experience. Which is based on
    a modest (but not negligible) immersion in the Oleopneumatic ocean.

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