Richard Lindameyer and the “Chongo Mobile”


Santa Cruz Waves dives into the mysterious mind of Richard Lindameyer and the “Chongo Mobile.”




If you’ve lived in the Santa Cruz County or even visited this area chances are you’ve seen this unique circus on wheels.  Complete with gizmos, gadgets, not to mention a herd of  colorful stuffed animals charging off the roof.  You might find yourself saying WHAT THE ____________???  Or maybe just the site of the massive pink gorilla lounging on top brought forth an uncontrolled chuckle…  Whatever the emotion might have been it’s definitely hard to ignore…


Well, the other day “curiosity killed the cat” Or in my case simply spurred me to make a last minute turn into the parking spot next to this colorful spectacle.  I jumped out of the car before I could say “what the hell am I doing??”  and introduced myself.  “How you doing, mind if I snap some pictures of your van?”  “Go right ahead” The man quietly replied from from underneath a weathered cowboy hat.  I then proceeded to cruise around the vehicle taking pictures, reading all the little quotes, and pretty much just tripping on all the detail that this thing had.  In the process I found myself wondering what sort of Dr. Jekyll figure was responsible for this bizarre contraption.  When I made the full circle around the van I tentatively asked. “Mind if I do a little interview?”   “No problem, he replied…


I pressed record on the phone and proceeded to dive into the mysterious mind of Richard Lindameyer.


SCW:  Name?  Age?  Hometown?


RL:  Richard Lindameyer, 68, Chicago, Illinois.  Been here in Santa Cruz for 30 years.



SCW:  So what is the story behind this?  What are you trying to get across here?


RL:  Well, I’ve had numerous “art cars” over the years with this van probably the biggest and wildest yet. It has bits and1chongo7 pieces of my previous cars here and there.  I’ll be honest the original idea was for the attention. I’m very much against the idea that everything can be bought, even seats in the white house can be.  I also feel people are so serious this day in age and think we could all benefit from acting a little more “child like”…  Now when I say “child like” I don’t mean “childish.”  I just mean more excepting of others, more loving and open minded.  To smile more, to laugh more…   3 belly laughs a day will keep the doc away.  I get people from 2 to 102 that get a kick out of this and laugh and smile which in turn brings me real joy.  Of course I also get people that disapprove and give me the finger but that just comes with the territory.


SCW:  Why do think people act negatively to you and your van?


RL:  When people aren’t comfortable with themselves they will try put others down  in an attempt to make themselves feel bigger, stronger, or more powerful.  It’s mostly couples and when the girl laughs or waves it sometimes causes some jealously…



SCW:  So I see a lot of “Chongo for President” on the van…  Who is this Chongo?

RL:  Chongo is the big pink gorilla sitting on top which was given to me as a gift at the Boardwalk. I also recently acquired a bamboo swivel chair that’s suits Chongo perfectly and now he is able to turn and smile at everyone.  If there were anywhere on earth where a pink Gorilla could run for president it’d be here… (laughs)  at least for a while.  Ya see me and Chongo communicate by telepathy and he tells me that we need change yet nobody in congress is willing to do anything.  Humans are creatures of habit, monkey see monkey do.  But it is time for a major change to better our country.  I’ll admit I’m not normal and nor do I want to be… If everyone were the same and normal it’d be a pretty darn boring world.  If I were younger I’d care more about what people thought but at my age now it’s just a waste of time fretting over it.




SCW:  So give us one of your more memorable experiences from your art car excursions?



RL:  Well a funny one would be…  I was cruising along in Aptos and was pulled over by the police and they ask for my ID and regastration and I gave it to them then they asked my side-kick “Bebop Balloo” and in my best woman voice said “Why do want my ID??”  haha, they shook their heads and told me get movin…

My most touching story however (eyes start watering)  this young lady runs up to me and says “thank you!”.  I say “for what?”

Thank you for saving my life.  I was on my way to commit suicide and your vehicle brought a smile to my face.  I hadn’t smiled in a really long time and that was just what I needed. 


That was pretty touching…





SCW:  Wow, I bet.  That’s amazing that a smile or laugh can be so beneficial…

SCW:  So Richard lastly what should we call this art van of yours?




RL:  The “Chongo Mobile” and if your going to make a donation to keep the van rolling please no donations more than five dollars.  If you want donate more than five dollars take it to the SPCA.



SCW:  Hahah ok,  good to know.  See ya around!


About TF

Photographer specializing in action and nature.

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