A new Mercedes-Benz Actros 1845 owned by freight forwarders Josef Schumacher is taking to the roads as displaying his historical version of earth on wheels thanks to a brightly colored paint finish depicting the what he believes to be the origins of mankind. On February 16, the truck named “The Cradle of Humanity” will be bringing some additional color to the Shrove Monday carnival procession in the city of Aachen.
“The Cradle of Humanity” Actros left the paint shop of airbrush artist Walter Rosner in Mitterteich in Bavaria at the end of January to become an eye-catching addition to the fleet of vehicles operated by freight forwarder Josef Schumacher, located in Würselen near Aachen. It belongs to a whole series of highly colourful semitrailer tractors which have been created in cooperation with model manufacturer Herpa, featuring paint finishes depicting topics from history.
The fictional story begins on the driver’s side of the GigaSpace cab of the Actros 1845. The setting is the primeval African savannah, where a gorilla sits gazing across at its relatives, who are already walking upright. Two chimpanzees in a tree are also watching how the ancestors of modern man embraced the use of tools made of stone and, stretching across the length of the refrigerated semitrailer, how Australopithecus subsequently continued to evolve. On the co-driver’s side, early man is seen discovering fire, learning a variety of hunting techniques and guarding against the sabre-toothed tiger during the Stone Age. Walter Rosner’s naturally includes artists in the story, too. He shows them busily creating cave paintings to leave behind to posterity. Across the entire vehicle onlookers can also discover numerous other small references to key highlights from the history of the birth of mankind: the theory of evolution versus religion, the emergence of the intellectual awareness in the guise of philosophy, or the first great discoveries such as the sundial. The back of the trailer also features an overview in facts and figures.
“Of course designing a nice overall theme is one of the requirements”, says Walter Rosner, explaining his intentions, “but it is with such vehicles as this that I especially like to use lots of details to make onlookers curious about the whole story and perhaps even enable them to learn something in the process.”
Work on the Actros and semitrailer took about seven weeks, since there were a few tasks to complete, particularly on the tractor unit, before the entire rig could be turned into a rolling canvas. Even though the base colour was already white in this case, everything still had to be dismantled and plastic parts in particular sanded and primed several times to provide a firm substrate for the colour paint – and all this work was completed by hand. After preparation, it was a case of putting everything back together and then creating, free-hand, the overall colour theme with its many exciting details, based on just a few pencil sketches on paper by way of reference. Finally this was followed by yet another process of disassembly to enable repeated sanding and application of a number of coats of clear varnish. By the time of its completion, the vehicle had used approximately 35 litres of colour paint and around an additional 65 litres of clear varnish.