Flag of the Netherlands

If William Shakespeare were alive today, he might describe it as ‘much ADO about nothing.” Then again, such a statement could be considered inappropriate in the wake of what is shaping up to be a major homicide investigation in New York state. After the apparent murder of a local Chevy Dealer, residents are left in shock and confusion, plagued by questions like ‘Who?’ ‘How?’ and ‘Why?’

Then again, these one-word questions are about as much as you could expect. Albany is notorious for being undecided as to whether they want to embrace their title as ‘America’s Most Average City’ or ‘World Capitol of Boring’ so, what more can you expect? Vibrant, multi-syllabic elaboration? Here at The Lemon, we would expect no such thing…then again, we also didn’t expect murder.


The Victim

On Monday, October 2nd an anonymous call led the Albany police to the Crossgates Mall, were a lifeless body would be identified as 47-year old Maarten ‘Dutch’ Van der Van, a local Chevy dealer and owner of Dutch Van Der Van’s Chevrolet.

Known best to Albany locals as ‘The Van Man’, ‘Dutch’ was by all accounts, a well-liked and upstanding businessman and philanthropist within the community. Having relocated from Brussels in the late 1970’s, he was drawn to Albany by the heavy concentration of Dutch culture. As one of the few citizens to have actually been born in the Netherlands, he was immediately placed on a pedestal by the loving community.

In the 1980’s he would cut the ribbon on his Chevrolet dealership, but only after his failed attempt to import Donkervoort sports cars. As the decades passed, he would gain further notoriety as having sold over 99% of the vans in Albany (the city locked in an eternal battle against Albuquerque NM, to be named the ‘Van Capitol’ of America). And although “Dutch” sold much more than just vans, the one thing he couldn’t sell (besides Donkervoort) was Dutch humor.


The Contest

With Ford’s F-Series continually earning the top spot among American trucks (and vehicles overall) there tends to be constant speculation as to whether or not Chevy’s truck offerings are diverse enough. The validity of this question was further encouraged by other distinctive offerings from RAM, Toyota, and newer upstart offerings from the likes of Nissan and Honda.

With sales dropping in Chevrolet’s northeast region, corporate management authorized individual franchised dealers to create independent promotions within their respective communities. At the corporate level, the expectation was that dealers would remain relatively faithful to current branding. What they could never have expected, was the idea brewing in the mind of Dutch Van der Van, the Van Man.

We spoke to his grieving daughter, Johanna Van der Van-Donovan and her husband Dan. After declining her generous offer of herring, french fries, and mayonnaise, Mrs. Van der Van-Donovan was kind enough to recount her father’s idea for a promotion.

“My father believed that his idea was guaranteed to generate positivity and excitement in the community, by engaging its children and their creativity. It was so very like him. He loved children…and herring.”

As Johanna broke into tears, her husband Dan Donovan continued, “I remember the day he came up with the idea. It was right after he had me valet a vehicle up to the service team for finishing touches, before being presented to its new owner.  I can still hear him now, ‘Dan! If you can, take the tan van and give it to Stan. He’ll clean it up and give it to the man!’ Well, I ran. But that was just like ‘Dutch’ who loved wordplay. Not all of it translated well from Dutch to English. Then again, neither does a lot of Dutch humor.”

Gathering herself, Johanna interjected, “But his idea was well-received by our primarily Dutch community. It stemmed from his fascination with Americans’ tendency to romanticize automobile names. In many parts of Europe, automakers use numerical idents to name vehicles, often signifying their engine specification. But in America, you get the Chevy Cruz or the Spark. The Equinox. The Camaro. So, when our regional sales manager green-lit dealerships to start their own promotions to generate interest in Chevy trucks, my father didn’t waste any time.”

The contest would encourage children of the community to design new Chevy trucks, but their name had to end with the letters A-D-O (like the Silverado and Colorado, before them). Seriously. That’s it. Don’t worry, we’re not sure why he was so excited, either. Must be a Dutch thing.

“Being American, I didn’t quite get the joke,” admits Mr. Donovan. “But he and my wife couldn’t stop laughing when he first came up with it. Look. She’s in mourning, and she’s practically pissing herself right now. Seriously, why is that so funny?”

There has long since been a disparity between Dutch humor, and what the rest of the world considers to be funny. Search YouTube for the funniest Dutch video. While we can’t guarantee you what the video will be, we can guarantee you that it won’t be funny…at all.

The results of the contest would be mixed. On one hand, the response from children of Dutch descent was strong, resulting in such creations as the Chevy AvocADO, the Chevy IncommunicADO, and the Chevy Cask-of-AmontillADO. On the other hand, the promotion did absolutely nothing to generate sales.

Ben Levine, who was interested in trading in his van, tells us about his experience. “Not a lot of places will accept old minivans as trade-ins. So, I drove onto the lot, and it was madness. Just a bunch of crazy Dutch people laughing so hard they couldn’t even have conversations. One weird kid tried to sell me a crayon drawing, and kept yelling ‘Chevy StrappADO! Chevy StrappADO!’ It really creeped me the fuck out. And I’ve been to Amsterdam!”

With the promotion being such an abysmal failure, Dutch’s death sparked widely-circulated rumors that he was murdered.

“Yep. Chevrolet had him killed,” says fellow Dutch expat Freek Poepjes matter-of-factly, without anything in the way of evidence. The rest of the town just nodded their head silently in eery, creepy-as-f*ck agreement.

Representatives from both Chevrolet and General Motors declined the chance to comment.


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