Danish TV needed a Chrysler Airflow. They got a dilly.

“This is what we call a 20-footer.”

So said Tony Burke as he tried a three-point turn in the narrow road. Giving up, he straightened out and went a short distance up to the parking area at a trailhead, where it would be easy to swing around in the 1937 Chrysler Airflow, despite its 128-inch wheelbase, and go back in the other direction.

By design, the backseat passenger was Tony’s partner Steve Enneking; they own two other vintage cars.

Start time that day was set for 5.00 a.m.; Tony and Steve arrived at 4.59 a.m., already with sunblock on their faces, and met Karin Brøgger, Finn Hageman Pedersen, and me.

Karin and Finn get the sunrise (solopgang) shot.

The photo session was on a road near Desert Hot Springs. Karin is a visual producer for DR (Danmarks Radio), the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. She was acting as second-unit director here, working with Finn, a freelancer, to get a key shot for the opening episode of DR’s upcoming, ambitious documentary series “Danskere i verden.”

In English: “Danes in the World.”

DR international correspondent Stéphanie Surrugue is hosting the episodes. Widely admired in Denmark, Surrugue is a Franco-Dane, and can do live reporting in French, Danish, German, and English.

Stéphanie spoke to me in the fall of 2021 for a DBusiness story that covered DR’s visit to Detroit to gather location and interview footage for another segment of “Danskere i verden,” that one being about Big Bill Knudsen.

I have had another Danish friend, Marianne Jørgensen, for the last 42 years, and when she heard about all this she said, “Did you really talk to Stéphanie Surrugue? She is my favorite DR host and correspondent.”

Our photo session could well end up yielding the introductory sequence for the first episode of the series: an arrival-in-California scene. DR is using live-action to bring to life some aspects of the documentary subject, and the production design called for a Chrysler Airflow. It really was a car ahead of its time.

Finding an Airflow was a long ordeal in itself; angels descended and tapped some shoulders; and Tony and Steve saved our bacon by volunteering to drive here from Yucaipa, about 40 miles away, and crunch up and down the dirt road in their 85-year-old car. Two days before the shoot, it had been up on blocks for new tie-rod ends.

I could hardly believe the thrashing the Airflow endured, but those guys just seemed thrilled to be out in their classic, especially because of the exalted mission. And the car performed flawlessly.

The big-bore, 323-cubic-inch straight-eight generates up to 138 hp at 3,400 rpm and 265 lb-ft at 1,600 rpm.

“It wants to do 80 on the freeway,” Tony said.

I first scouted this location on March 30. When Karin got here toward the end of May, we went out at dawn and had a look and then were back at sundown. Finn arrived a couple of days later, and the three of us went for another look-see.

Finally, the morning of the shoot arrived. Conditions couldn’t have been better: warm, calm, clear, and quiet. Lighting conditions were perfect. Finn told Karin that in 30 years as a snapper, he had never experienced anything like it. We worked without interruption until vores dronning (our queen) declared a coffee break and opened up the back of my Jetta SportWagen, which was stuffed with goodies.

Afterward, Finn did some drone shots to wrap things up, and Karin was able to deliver a comprehensive package of images to director Kasper Torsting, editor Anne Blume Futtrup, and the rest of the team back in Denmark.

Around 9.30 a.m., the five of us drove in our two cars to Rick’s, in Palm Springs, for breakfast. And now we wait, with French toast breath, for the program to be broadcast early next year.

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