- Post is under moderationWhy do I suddenly like cars that I used to detest? This question occurred to me recently when, for some inexplicable reason, I bought a low-mileage two-door #1957-Imperial . To the uninitiated, Imperial was a luxury brand built by Chrysler to compete with Lincoln and Cadillac. Virgil Exner was the designer who turned Chrysler around when he joined the company in 1949. KT Keller was the president and chairman of the board at the time and, prior to Exner joining the company, Chrysler’s styling was stodgy, to say the least.
/ #1958-Imperial-Convertible / #1958 / #Imperial-Convertible / #Virgil-Exner / #Chrysler / #392ci-Hemi / #Hemi
For example, Keller liked a higher roofline on his cars because he believed men should always wear a hat while driving. Exner had other ideas and by 1955 he was able to introduce them, starting with the Forward Look. By #1957 , at the height of his powers, he had designed the Imperial.
By that time Imperial was its own brand with no Chrysler reference anywhere on the car. It was also Imperial’s best year because the Styling was so fresh and new. It even had a great slogan: ‘Suddenly It’s 1960!’ It gave everyone the impression that Imperial was three years ahead in the industry.
These cars were built at a time of unbridled optimism. Gas was 25 cents a gallon, the interstate network was opening up, the space race was starting, climate change and cigarettes causing cancer were all so far in the future that nobody even thought about them.
They were huge, too, built like tanks. I remember Imperials being banned at Demolition Derbies because Their massive frames, far stronger than anything else, were deemed an unfair advantage. Hot rodders in the ’60s cannibalised these cars for their 392ci Hemi engines. When I was a young man, these cars represented everything we hated about American automobiles. They weighed two-and-a-half tons, they got abysmal gas mileage, they couldn’t stop and could barely get around corners. While Jaguar had polished wood and Connolly leather, these American behemoths featured chrome put on with a trowel and an interior like Elvis’s coffin.
‘IT HAS A MASSIVE AIR-CONDITIONER, MORE LIKE A REFRIGERATION UNIT FROM A MEATPACKING PLANT’
By the time I was able to drive, cars from this era were already over a decade old. They were built before steel was galvanised and they rusted almost immediately. By the time the ’70s and ’80s came around, gas prices had started to rise and most of the cars from this era looked like crippled-mastodons flailing around in some tar-pit. So why the attraction now? AmI trying to regain some part of my youth? Possibly. Or is it because it’s just so different from what we think of as an automobile today?
First, let me tell you about the car I found. It’s all original and painted in Desert Sage, which is really just another name for pink. A man bought it new for his wife but it was too big for her to drive. It’s 19 feet long and it weighs just shy of 5000lb. She rarely drove the car, and it was parked sometime in 1964 with 64,000 miles on it. There it sat, indoors, for almost 55 years, so there is zero rust and the chrome is perfect. I drove it home on the tyres that were fitted in 1963.
Modern cars have almost no exterior brightwork. In contrast the Imperial looks like a Wurlitzer juke box. There’s even a massive chrome strip that runs over the roof like some sort of roll bar. The steering wheel is enormous and the gauges are the size of dinner plates. If you have to wear glasses to see the speedometer, you should not be allowed to drive.
It has push-button drive and all sorts of goofy switches; believe me, they couldn’t have cared less about ergonomics. Trying to figure out how to operate the turn signal took 10 minutes. It has a massive air-conditioner which looks more like a refrigeration unit from a meat-packing plant. You actually have to press down hard on the accelerator to compensate for the 25bhp needed to drive it.
If you like buying cars by the pound, this is the way to go. Ferraris are about $1000 per pound and cars like this are about $5 per pound. When you hit somebody in a Ferrari the damage is life-altering. Hit somebody in this thing, and you don’t even know it till you get home and find the other car crushed up under your wheelarch. I don’t think I’ve ever had another car that stops traffic like this thing. In a town like LA, where Bentleys and McLarens barely get a second look, folks jump out at stop lights to ask me what it is. One guy in a hip part of town asked if he could buy my interior so he could make a suit out of the sparkly brown-material.
It’s fun to jump between different automotive worlds. For example, last Saturday was the perfect day; I took the McLaren P1 out for a ride in the hills above LA and then took my wife out to dinner in the Imperial. After all, you need to have one sensible car to drive.
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- Post is under moderationOne world champion from new
John Surtees’ modified BMW 507 could make £2m at Goodwood Festival sale / #1957
/ #John-Surtees ’ #1957-BMW-507 racing champion’s personal favourite / #BMW / #BMW-507 / #John-Surtees-1957-BMW-507
The ‘one owner from new’ tag adds appeal and value to any classic car. When that owner happens to be a world champion on both two and four wheels, it could elevate a Talbot Horizon to collector status, never mind a BMW 507. But that’s what Bonhams is offering at its Goodwood Festival of Speed sale on 13 July – the 507 that John Surtees was given half of by Count Domenico Agusta (he paid for the other half himself) as a thank you for winning the 1956 500cc Motorcycle World Championship for the MV Agusta team. He kept it for 60 years, until his death in March 2017. The car is being sold by his estate. Along the way this 507 was tweaked to suit Surtees. He felt its 150bhp wasn’t quick enough, so BMW breathed on the 3.2-litre V8 engine for him. It was then used by Dunlop to test brake discs and was fitted with a set to replace the standard drums.
We asked BMW specialist Dan Norris from Munich Legends for his opinion on the car and what it might fetch – Bonhams has coyly listed it as ‘refer to department’.
‘It’s not the nicest of colours but I can’t think that will be relevant in this case,’ says Norris. ‘Nor will the fact that the car has been modified to his personal specification – Surtees was simply a legend in his own trousers.
‘We nearly had this car in for comparison purposes when working on BMW’s own 507 for its centenary – I believe there are only two in the UK because nearly all of those made went to America – but the Surtees car’s modifications made it unsuitable. ‘Despite the fact that most of the 252 built will have had owners who were famous in some way – they were the only people who could afford a car built to rival the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing W198 in the first place – this is a bit special. I will be fascinated to see what it does fetch but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see it make somewhere in the region of £2 million.’
More FoS sale information at bonhams.com/auctions/24876
Bike and car racing legend John Surtees with the BMW 507 he was half gifted by Domenico Agusta. He decided it wasn’t quick enough so had the engine tweaked.
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- Post is under moderationCAR: #Chevrolet-Nomad / #GM / #1957-Chevrolet-Nomad / #Chevrolet /
Year of manufacture #1957
Recorded mileage 18,850
Asking price £37,500
Vendor Dave Caruso, Hertfordshire (private sale); tel: 07737 096073
WHEN IT WAS NEW
Max power 185bhp
Max torque 275lb ft
0-60mph 12.3 secs
Top speed 99mph
This rare wagon came to the UK two years ago, imported from California by the vendor. It’s going only because he has too many other cars vying for his time. It’s straight and apparently rot-free under an older repaint. The solid chassis has a few minor knocks, the inner wings and arches are mint. The only flaws were small bubbles at the base of the passenger door. All of the brightwork is present and undamaged, most of it likely original, and the correct Nomad rear script will be on by the time of sale. The front ‘Dagmar’ rubbers are undamaged, plus the wheeltrims are undinged, the centre badges all intact. It wears a sunvisor plus the dash-mounted ‘signal seer’ prism for reading traffic lights. All the windows (sliding at the sides) open and close as they should, and there are H4 lights, plus new exhausts. It sits on Classic radials, with plenty of tread – including the spare, near which we find new rear dampers and a repaired upper mount on the right.
The 283 is stock apart from a four-barrel Holley, but the original twin-choke Rochester is included. Its coolant is full and green, the oil darkish and mid marks, while the transmission fluid is pink and sweet-smelling. Inside, it’s superb with all the dash trim intact, though the instrument bezels and the steering column shroud are chromed. The seat covers are probably repro items; the driver’s seat base velour is worn threadbare and a tear in the back was due to be fixed. The headlining is excellent and all of the chrome strips are in place. There are electric wipers, auxiliary gauges under the dash, and it has a modern digital radio in the original slot.
It starts easily, and drives really well for a 60 year old, suggesting that it’s never been significantly apart. There’s plenty of grunt from the V8 and smooth changes from the three-speed Turboglide, though it’s quite lowgeared. It tracks straight, with no clonks from the suspension, and the re-lined brakes are sharp, but they pull slightly to the right. It’s easy to manage and the compact turning circle comes as a surprise. Oil pressure is over 50psi warm when driving, and coolant steady at about 85ºC. The Chevy will be sold UK-registered – its NOVA paperwork is already done.
EXTERIOR Straight; repainted; good trim
INTERIOR All there and all works; some wear to the driver’s seat
MECHANICALS In rude health; performs well
For Standard and super-cool, with desirable options
Against Bubbles on offside door
SHOULD I BUY IT? Well priced compared to similar cars in the US, it’s deceptively usable on UK roads, being about the size of today’s large European carsStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationRoad test retro coupes – rare big-GT-cars
/ #Mercedes-Benz-220S-Coupé-W180-II / #1958 / #1958-Mercedes-Benz-220S-Coupé-W180-II / #Mercedes-Benz-220S-W180-II / #Mercedes-Benz-W180 / #Mercedes-Benz /
/ #Lancia-Aurelia-B20-GT-Serie-6 / #1957 / #1957-Lancia-Aurelia-B20-GT-Serie-6 / #1957 / #Lancia-Aurelia-B20GT / #Lancia-Aurelia / #Lancia /
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- Post is under moderationMerc duo set to dazzle at auction #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Roadster-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Roadster / #3Mercedes-Benz-300SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Roadster-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W198 / #3Mercedes-Benz-M198 / #1955 / #1957 / #3Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Gullwing-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Gullwing / #Gullwing-W198 / #Gullwing
Unmolested 300 SL Roadster and Gullwing head for #Pebble-Beach sale stardom
Even by the standards of star lots at the Pebble Beach auction sales, Gooding’s latest announcement is breathtaking. Fresh from the sale of a remarkable unrestored Gullwing that fetched $1.46 million at Scottsdale in January, it will be offering not only an even better-preserved unrestored Gullwing with a mere 16,000 miles but a 300 SL Roadster to go with it, owned from new by the same father and son and showing just 38,000 miles.
The vendor took over the care of the cars from his father in 1964 and has in his own words ‘just kept ’em’. Neither has been driven much, as indicated by the mileage, but both have been stored in perfectly dry garages and started up often enough to arrive in #2017 in good running order.
The Gullwing was acquired in 1955 after the vendor’s father bought out someone else’s place in New York importer Max Hofman’s waiting list. He paid an extra $65 to have the car painted British Racing Green, which with the tan hide trim makes this combination a one-of for a Gullwing. The marker lights that are all original, and the front bumper has never been drilled for a licence plate, and there’s even original sale paperwork from Hofman Motors.
The 300 SL Roadster joined the family in 1957, the same year the model was announced. The open car’s greater userfriendliness prompted more miles and a little more wear, with touched-in Silver- Blue Metallic paint and grey leather fading to its un-dyed colour on parts of the dash and seats. It has its original set of fitted Karl Baisch luggage and, like the Gullwing, is surely enough of a survivor to be preserved rather than restored.
Sales of $1m-$1.3m for the Gullwing and $800k-$1m for the Roadster are expected at the Californian sale on August 18-19, but anyone wanting to keep them as a pair will need serious commitment and financial clout to fight of rivals whose bids could go some way beyond those figures.
Both the SL Roadster and Gullwing will hopefully be preserved rather then restored.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderation/ #1957 #Maybach-SW42 / #Maybach / #1957-Maybach-SW42 vs. #Mercedes-Benz-300d-W189 / #Mercedes-Benz-W189 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-300d-W189 / #Mercedes-Benz-W189-Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-W189 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-300d-W189-Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-300d-W189 / #Mercedes-Benz-300d /Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR
The W188 coupes, cabriolets and roadsters were elegant and refined in the best Mercedes-Benz tradition.
The chrome running over the front arches to the rear is a sign that this is an Sc.
The plush, grey, leather seats are overlooked by a very rare factory sunroof.
CLASSIC CHOICE 300Sc Coupe
Exclusive and rare it may be, but for the lucky owner of this beautiful 1957 300Sc Coupe, this classic Mercedes-Benz is all that and much, much more. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.
In October 1951, Mercedes-Benz launched the 300S at the Paris Motor Show. Available as a Cabriolet A, a roadster and a coupe, this new star had praise heaped on it by the world’s media, called a “car of the world elites” and a “model for what can be achieved today in automobile construction”. Based on the W186 300 that debuted at the first Frankfurt Motor Show in April 1951 and which was the biggest and fastest German production car of its day, the 300S models took much of the saloon’s technology, style and engineering, but used a 150mm shorter wheelbase. Traditional yet forward looking, the W188 300S was held in the highest regard, something which lives on to this very day with its modern day counterpart, the C216 CL, Mercedes’ 21st century flagship coupe.
In September 1955, a revised 300S was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Known as the 300Sc and produced in the same three body shapes as before, the most notable changes were at the back and under the bonnet. Where the original three-litre engine gave 148bhp and featured three carburettors, for the Sc, direct fuel injection was employed, 173bhp now the output from the same 2,996cc, these cars carrying ‘einspritzmotor’ badging (meaning ‘injection engine’). And while the doublewishbone front suspension remained, the swing-axle rear was upgraded, a singlejoint swing-axle with a low pivot point fitted instead. More chrome trim, larger indicators and the addition of quarterlights were among the gentle exterior updates distinguishing Sc models from their forebears.
The W188 coupes, cabriolets and roadsters were elegant and refined in the best Mercedes-Benz tradition, with a dash of élan as a sporty counterpoint, they were exceptional cars then and today.
Their exclusivity is also undiminished. Indeed, with the passing years, they have become more rare. Only 560 300S models were built (of all body shapes), but that is more than double the number of 300Scs, of which a mere 200 were built, the production numbers for none of the three variants reaching triple figures. Like the 300SL Roadster, whose #1957 introduction might have stolen the hearts of potential 300Sc customers, contributing to the aforementioned modest production numbers, the factory offered special suitcases for the 300S and Sc models. Like the majestic 300 Adenauers with which they shared so much, these cabriolets, roadsters and coupes were true, luxury continent crushers, powerful cars that could sweep driver (maybe even chauffeur) and passengers across Europe from one great capital to another. Whatever the destination, a journey in any of these impressive 300s was certain to be a pleasure, high comfort and cutting edge engineering ensuring it could be nothing but perfect. And of course, today you have to take the grandeur and exclusivity these cars had when new and multiply it time and again to reach the status held by the remaining examples.
Just 98 300Sc Coupes were built between December 1955 and April #1958 . Vin Di Bona of Los Angeles, California, is one of the fortunate few to call one of these gorgeous cars his own.
A CALIFORNIA DREAM
Unless you are a fan of the long-running American television show America’s Funniest Home Videos, Vin Di Bona’s name might not immediately ring a bell. But if you watch the credits roll at the end of each episode, you will note the highly stylised logo of Vin Di Bona Productions. Now in its 22nd season, America’s Funniest Home Videos remains one of the most popular shows on the American television network.
Mercedes Enthusiast had the good fortune to sit down with Di Bona and his wife Erica at the conclusion of our photoshoot at his home in an upscale enclave in Los Angeles. His home is situated on land that was once the back lot for 20th Century Fox and lies in the shadow of the 35-story MGM tower, the first skyscraper built in Los Angeles in the 21st century. His 1957 300Sc is not the only Mercedes-Benz in his collection. He also has a 1961 300SL Roadster that he has owned for more than a decade. And to not feel left out, his wife has a 1971 280SE 3.5 Coupe, acknowledged as one of the finest W111 coupes in the US.
Di Bona’s obsession with owning a 300Sc started back in the 1960s in film school, when he noted that one of his instructors at UCLA, the Academy Award winning cinematographer James Wong Howe, drove a 300Sc Coupe. “Mr Howe was short in stature but a dynamo behind the camera,” Di Bona recalls. “It seemed that he could hardly see over the Mercedes’ massive steering wheel.” As his producing career took off, Di Bona was able to indulge his passion for cars – and the thought of some day owning a Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Coupe was never far from his mind. About four years ago, the search picked up in earnest when he looked over several different cars.
“This 300Sc was part of an estate in Las Vegas,” he tells us. “I believe that when buying a collector’s car, it’s important to have experts to help guide one in the process. For me, that was 300SL Gullwing owner Don Minkoff. Years ago, at the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, Don was showing his own maroon 1957 300Sc.
Erica and I fell in love with his car. The thought of buying one ruminated for a year or two, and Don consulted me about several cars and suggested I contact another #Mercedes-Benz expert, Gary Clark. Of the three we checked out – one was in Santa Rosa north of Los Angeles, the other in San Diego – the Las Vegas car was clearly the best.”
The next step was to consult Mike Regalia, well known for his restoration of Steve McQueen’s Ferrari Lusso. “We did an engine compression check on the Las Vegas car,” says Di Bona. “The reason is simple, if the engine isn’t right it’s $60,000 (almost £40,000) to fix. I had already turned down one of the other cars because the engine would need an overhaul.”
It turns out that, about 20 years ago, this car was restored by noted Mercedes expert Chuck Brahms. The paint on the car, which had been changed from anthracite grey to its current dark blue hue, is now two decades old. Brahms is well known for his restorations featuring dark blue exteriors with contrasting grey interiors, as seen on this car. “And what makes my car really special,” says Di Bona with great pride, “is that it is just one of nine fuel injected 300Sc Coupes equipped with a factory installed sunroof.”
Di Bona has further plans to make his coupe even more special. He is looking to fit European spec headlights. The first set he acquired didn’t fit as the trim gap was wrong, owing to the fact that these were, in essence, hand built cars. Other work, however, has progressed a little more smoothly. “When I bought the car, second gear had a notch,” he explains. “Rene Luderan at Van Nuys Sports Cars was able to find two new gears. After that we went through the mechanical components of the entire car, rebuilding the column mounted, four-speed shifter.”
So what is this gorgeous classic coupe like out on the open road? “It’s remarkable how, for a car built in 1957, it has maintained its roadworthiness,” he effuses. “I’m an admitted air conditioning nut, but of all my classics, this is the only one not equipped with air con.” And it is interesting – and pleasing – to note that when we first encountered his 300Sc Coupe at the inaugural San Marino Motor Classic in the summer of 2011, Di Bona had no apprehension about driving it the 40-mile round trip. “I left at five in the morning so there wasn’t much traffic,” he says. “But we headed back near sunset, so on the drive home I had to be extra careful, especially as drivers would get close to admire its classic lines.”
Of course, those are just the same classic lines that drew Di Bona to Howe’s 300Sc almost 40 years ago. “The styling,” he considers, “the combination of pre war and post war elements, is something I continue to admire to this day.”
The best thing about this 300Sc Coupe is that it is not locked in some climate controlled garage, it gets driven to shows where others can admire it. Using it like this gives Di Bona an insight into life with a 1950s car few might even contemplate. “One time I sat in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam for over an hour on a Sunday night coming back from an event,” he remembers. “In spite of that, it didn’t overheat. You can’t say that about many 50-year old cars. That’s a testimony to the robustness of the cooling system and the auxiliary fuel pump.”
So it seems that not only does this special Mercedes-Benz coupe retain its heart-stopping beauty and classical luxury, its solid German engineering still shines through too.
JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Coupe-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300S-Coupe-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-M199 / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300 / #Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Coupe
Engine #M199 2,996cc 6-cyl
Power 173bhp @ 5,400rpm
Torque 188lb ft @ 4,300rpm
Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
Top speed 112mph
Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
Years produced 1955-1958
One of just 98 ever made, this adored Mercedes-Benz coupe is driven and enjoyed as its maker intended Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.
This badge signifies the 300Sc’s fuel injection, the 300S had three carbs.
Luggage straps and a full size spare wheel – ready for the next adventure.
Buying a mechanically sound car was of prime importance to Vin Di Bona.
The purpose built luggage fits perfectly into this 300Sc’s boot.
It is just one of nine Fuel-injected-300Sc-Coupes that was equipped with a factory installed sunroof.
Erica and Vin Di Bona own a 300SL Roadster and W111 coupe too.
The four-speed manual has a column mounted gearshifter.
The combination of pre war and post war styling elements is something I continue to admire to this day.
The Becker Mexico radio still works well.
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- Post is under moderationClassic Choice 300SL Gullwing Glamour and Elegance
After inheriting this beautiful 300SL Gullwing from her late husband, this owner really got into the spirit of classic Mercedes-Benz ownership. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.
Celebrity 300SL Gullwing owners included actors Clark Gable (whose example changed hands in January for $1.85m, or about £1.18m), Glenn Ford, Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis, and musicians Skitch Henderson and Don Ricardo, a leader of the famous NBC Orchestra. But it wasn’t just the men that had all the fun, women in the 1950s were also known to appreciate the styling and engineering of the 300SL, two of the most notable being actresses Sophia Loren and Zsa Zsa Gabor. In the case of Sophia Loren, Mercedes-Benz heavily publicised her connection to the flagship three-pointed star.
Move the clock forward more than 50 years after the last Gullwing rolled off the assembly line, and we find ourselves at the 2012 Gull Wing Group convention in Palm Springs, California. There, among all the perfectly restored cars and trailer queens, one Gullwing beckoned us, a silver 1955 model. It wasn’t perfect – the paint showed signs of cracking in spots – but with the doors open the interior carried a patina that told us this car was driven by an enthusiastic owner.
As we were leaning over the sill and inspecting the odometer that registered more than 100,000 miles, its owner greeted us. “Friends came over to the pool and said that you wanted to talk to me about my car. I’m Penny Akashi.” Getting the introductions out the way, we talked about her history with this very lovely 300SL Gullwing.
“My husband purchased the car in the 1960s from a man in San Pedro, which was long before I knew him,” she explains. “I became more familiar with the Mercedes after we got married and it went into our garage in the early 1980s. The car pretty much stayed there for most of the next 20 years. Every now and then my husband would just start the engine without taking the SL out.
“Eventually, he disconnected the battery, the tyres went flat and it was not driveable. He did make some minor attempts at restoring it and once had it towed to a local car show, however it just went back into the garage,” Akashi remembers. “Even though he was one of the very early members of the Gull Wing Group, the only activity I remember us participating in together was a trip to Don Ricardo’s house to see his collection of vintage cars. It was while we were there that I saw person after person drive up in their 300SL Gullwings and realised there were people who actually drove their cars. I would ask why we had a car that we didn’t drive, but I never got an answer that made sense to me – but then again, it wasn’t my car,” she adds with a smile.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
“It was the winter of 2001 when he told me he was having the car towed to Tom Burniston’s in Long Beach, to be restored,” continues Akashi. “Over the course of three years, Tom painstakingly and meticulously restored the engine of the car and documented each step.
I would see a letter and bill from Tom occasionally, but I really didn’t have anything to do with it. I was just happy to have an extra parking spot in the garage during that time.” The work was finished in 2004, almost simultaneously with her husband’s passing. That’s when she became the owner and, with the help of her brother-in- law, went to pick it up.
After retrieving the SL, it mostly sat until 2008, except for once-a-month drives around the neighbourhood. That was when her good friend Pete Moyer asked, as a birthday present, if he could get a ride in the car. Akashi was happy to oblige, and with encouragement and support from Moyer, she started taking the Mercedes-Benz out for longer drives.
Needless to say, she was soon hooked. At this point she connected with fellow Gull Wing Group member Steve Marx, who is well known in southern Californian Gullwing circles as the owner of Marx Mercedes Service in Costa Mesa. “He encouraged me to get the engine checked out and serviced, and said we should start taking the car for ‘real’ drives,” Akashi tells us. “Freeways, the Pacific Coast Highway. Let it really go and get warmed up.”
After servicing the 300SL and giving it a clean bill of health mechanically, Marx mentioned that there was a Gull Wing Group convention coming up in Sonoma, California, up in the Bay Area east of San Francisco. “He said I should seriously think about driving up and that the members were a ‘nice bunch’. That first long trip that Pete and I took was one of the highlights of my life,” Akashi recalls fondly. “I think the most exciting part was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I couldn’t believe that we were there in that car! Of course, the funny part was that it was getting dark and neither of us knew which knob on the dashboard was for the headlights. We must have tried them all – and one we shouldn’t have touched – before we found it!”
Working with Gullwings is never anything but pure delight. But when the owner gets into the spirit of things and dresses in period for the photoshoot – right down to the politically incorrect mink stole – it’s a real treat. We headed to the world famous Venice Beach. Now, a #Mercedes-Benz 300SL #Gullwing will draw a crowd no matter what, but when what looks like a 1950s film star gracefully gets out from behind the wheel, well, a near riot ensued! As we continued, someone even asked us what TV show Akashi was starring in, someone else wondering if this was a retro photoshoot for something like Vogue!
It was a magical experience with a remarkable owner and her iconic classic #Mercedes -Benz. For just a few, all too brief hours, it was wonderful to recreate another era where glamour and elegance were the norm, not the exception. It’s great to have the opportunity to tell, in words and photographs, the story of one very special 300SL Gullwing and its enthusiastic driver who understands the true spirit of the car. Something tells us her husband would be very proud of her.
It was getting dark and neither of us knew which knob was for the headlights, we must have tried them all!
It went into our garage in the early 1980s – it pretty much stayed there for the next 20 years.
The interior carried a patina that told us this car was driven by an enthusiastic owner.
Getting into the spirit, owner Penny Akashi is the proud custodian of this 1955 classic.
The vibrant, red leather shows gentle signs of its use.
This was the first Mercedes production car with a fuel injected engine, the three-litre straight-six developing 212bhp.
The steering wheel moves to help the.
Standing in the iconic pose, after years of inactivity, this now restored and often used classic Mercedes still turns heads. driver get in/out.
The delicate, chrome script glistens on the two-tone dashboard.
A decent boot and a spare are handy for the miles this SL enjoys.
Akashi was soon hooked and this SL is now very well used.
JUST THE FACTS / TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Gullwing-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL / #Mercedes-Benz-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-M198 /
Engine #M198 2,996cc 6-cyl
Power 212bhp @ 5,800rpm
Torque 203lb ft @ 4,600rpm
Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
Top speed Up to 162mph
Fuel consumption 29.7mpg
Years produced #1954 / #1955 / #1956 / #1957
When introduced, it was a landmark car, attracting the attention of the rich and famous – as it still does today Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent; top speed depends on the rear axle ratio.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.