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    Classic choice 190SL

    HAVE IT YOUR WAY

    With a rare factory hardtop, this 190SL can be transformed from a traditional roadster into a headturning coupe, only adding to its appeal. Words Richard Truesdell. Images Richard Truesdell/Daimler AG.

    When #Mercedes-Benz unveiled the SLK I and SLK II concepts in 1994, it wasn’t lost on marque enthusiasts that the manufacturer was reviving an idea from its illustrious past, that of the smaller, more lightweight, grand touring cars that lacked the power and pace of the maker’s most expensive two seaters, but were less hard on the wallet and still had the good looks and elegance of their bigger siblings. When the production ready R170 SLK was introduced in 1996, complete with its clever vario-roof, it ushered in the modern era of more affordable sports cars and two seaters with retractable hardtops.

    Of course, Mercedes’ original compact roadster was the W121 190SL , which made its debut at the New York International Motor Sports Show in February 1954 alongside its 300SL Gullwing stablemate, from which its enviable looks derived. It was presented as a prototype and after further testing and refinement, the final production version premiered at the Geneva show in March 1955. Yet while the 190SL shares styling elements with the 300SL , structurally it has much more in common with the Ponton saloons.

    The 190SL ’s chassis is a shortened version of the Ponton’s, its more modest performance meaning the 300SL ’s tubular space frame chassis was not necessary. Instead of the 2,996cc, 212bhp/203lb ft torque six that the powers the 300SL , under the 190’s bonnet is a 1,897cc, four-cylinder unit developing 104bhp and 105lb ft torque. Paired with an all syncromesh, four-speed manual transmission using a floor mounted shifter, the oversquare unit’s pace was leisurely but adequate, giving a 0-62mph time of 14.5 seconds with a top speed in excess of 100mph. Its as delivered price in the US (New York) at its 1955 introduction was $3,998, the optional hardtop a $300 extra. The 190SL enjoyed a long production run until February 1963 with 25,881 units produced before it was replaced by the W113 230SL Pagoda. This figure includes the coupe version built alongside the roadster.

    SHOW AND TELL

    All of this serves as background for this feature car, a #1959 / #1959-Mercedes-Benz-190SL owned by Nelson Jones of San Marino, California. After viewing this pretty, silver roadster at the 2012 San Marino Motor Classic, we pursued it because of its most distinctive feature: the rare, removable hardtop that has a wrap-around rear window. Looking closer, we noticed ‘190SL’ script adorning each side. In researching this feature we discovered that cars built before 1959 lacked the wrap-around glass. And all of the factory photographs, including one dated 1959, show the roof without the distinctive 190SL script found on this example. In fact, extensive research did not turn up a single 190SL with a removable roof featuring this 190SL script, which left us wondering if it was something added at some point in the car’s life, maybe during the roof ’s restoration.

    Nelson Jones and his wife Mimi are now retired, but in his working years, Jones was a developer of commercial retail properties and his automotive passions are eclectic. He owns several pre-war Packards, an exact duplicate of his first car which was a 1950 Chevrolet convertible, a fully restored, heavy duty Chevrolet truck from 1940, an original 1993 military Humvee and several tractors, but Jones is also drawn to cars bearing the three-pointed star. In addition to the 190SL featured here, he also owns a flawless 1956 300Sc Coupe, similar to friend Vin Di Bona’s (Mercedes Enthusiast February 2012) except that it lacks a sunroof. He certainly has a diverse collection!

    Jones acquired this 190SL after seeing it in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA’s Pebble Beach display in 2009. After Pebble Beach, he visited Mercedes’ classic showroom in Irvine and began negotiations to buy the 190SL and at the same time asked if it would be possible to locate the rare matching hardtop. With its worldwide resources, the Classic Center was indeed able to source a hardtop, albeit one that was in need of total restoration.

    A NATURAL LOOKER

    “I wanted a car that had a matching coloured hardtop,” begins Jones. “It’s my opinion that with the factory removable hardtop, the automobile does not look like a convertible but instead looks like a coupe from its inception, a very handsome thing to view, in my opinion. But, the car under consideration did not have a hardtop available. No problem, the Classic Center went out into the marketplace and acquired a hardtop for my future car. It was necessary to do a full restoration on the hardtop including new headlining. After some discussion with the staff at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, I acquired this automobile from them. The odometer reading was approximately 46,000 miles which is believed to be the original mileage.” And does he know anything about the origins of the script on the hardtop? “During the restoration process of the roof, in talking with the Classic Center they asked me if I wanted to retain the 190SL script on the hardtop,” he tells us. “As I liked the look, I asked them to attach the script using double-sided tape instead of permanently attaching the trim to the hardtop.”


    So while this 190SL’s rare hardtop was purchased for purely aesthetic reasons – and it looks very handsome and has great presence with its hardtop in place – it is wonderful to learn that this Mercedes-Benz wasn’t just bought to be looked at and polished. “I attempt to drive all of my automobiles on a monthly basis as it is my opinion that this procedure keeps them limbered up, which is very desirable,” Jones tells us. “While I have not yet taken the Mercedes on any extended trips, I don’t hesitate to drive perhaps 100 miles or so to a meet or show. I belong to the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, the International 190SL Group, Gull Wing Group International and the Classic Car Club of America.”


    When photographing the car at Jones’ ranch two hours north of Los Angeles where he stores his collection, we were struck by the fact that the car lacked carpets. He explained that the rubber floor mats in front of the seats were period correct, something that was verified by looking at factory photographs of the interior, as all the 190SLs pictured lacked carpet as well.

    AN EYE FOR DETAIL

    With its modest performance compared to its bigger engined brother, the 300SL, the 190SL was always much more a grand touring car than an out and out sports car, something apparent in reading contemporary roadtests from both sides of the Atlantic. Yet 49 years after it went out of production, the 190SL still has that special appeal that made it the darling of enthusiasts when new. Its charm captivated many and famous 190SL owners included Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra, Sandra Dee, Tuesday Weld and Grace Kelly. And we can’t forget that singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow auctioned her personal 190SL last year at Pebble Beach for a charity that benefited tornado relief in Joplin, Missouri. It sold for a then record $143,000 (around £90,000), exceeding the pre auction estimate of $100,000, setting a new benchmark for 190SLs.

    Looking at this gorgeous, compact, classic roadster, it seems unfair that the 190SL has been in the shadow of its 300SL sibling for so long. With its neatly proportioned body that oozes 1950s glamour, cool and suave, any 190SL that has survived the ravages of time (and rust) will surely be a delightful motorcar to be enjoyed and cherished for decades to come. The enthusiastic owners of the many surviving 190SLs are very lucky indeed.

    This roadster has the rare, removable hardtop that features a wrap-around rear window.

    I don’t hesitate to drive perhaps 100 miles or so to a meet or show in my 190SL.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-190SL-Roadster-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-190SL / #Mercedes-Benz-190SL-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-M121 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes /

    Engine #M121 1,897cc 4-cyl
    Power 104bhp @ 5,700rpm
    Torque 105lb ft @ 3,200rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,140kg
    0-62mph 14.5sec
    Top speed 106-112mph
    Fuel consumption 32.8mpg
    Years produced 1955-1963

    Overview

    Today this pretty, diminutive, classic SL is still as charming as ever Figures for a 1959 190SL as pictured; the weight quoted is without the hardtop fitted; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    Removing the heavy top is a two-man job.
    Do Mercedes dials get any prettier than these?
    The SL’s two-valve, 104bhp M121 motor.
    The attractive, original radio remains.
    The origin of the roof’s script is unknown.
    Only from 1959 did hardtops have this elegant, curved glass.
    The sleek, low roof gives the 190SL a racy, seductive, coupe look.
    Mimi and Nelson Jones enjoy their SL.
    The cabin is in fantastic condition.
    The 190SL and 300SL debuted in New York in February 1954.
    A spare wheel and a decent sized boot come with this handsome, classic SL.
    The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA sourced and restored the rare hardtop.
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    Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster W121 Open Group

    Mercedes-Benz 190SL RoadsterW121 1955 - 1963

    View Group →
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    Golden opportunity / Classic choice Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster W198

    With its still exceptional touring capabilities, this apparently unique, low mile 300SL Roadster was born for the Californian sunshine. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    The year is 1963 and Beatlemania is sweeping across Great Britain. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, an American president is felled by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas. And in Germany, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster ends its illustrious, almost six-year production run.

    It was with these events as a backdrop, that Arthur Dring walked into Budd and Dyer Mercedes-Benz on Catherine Street in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1964. Intending to buy a 190SL, instead he purchased this #1963 300SL Roadster, apparently the only one produced in this unusual but prepossessing shade of DB462 Tunis Beige metallic, that had been specially ordered for another client of the dealership who, in the end, took delivery of a different car. Its VIN indicates the chassis was built in late 1962, titled by Canadian authorities as a 1963 car and delivered to Arthur Dring, its first registered owner, in 1964.

    LAST OF THE LINE

    The story of the 300SL Gullwing and #Roadster has been well documented many times. The duo of road going 300SLs built upon the success of the legendary W194 300SL racing car, and both coupe and roadster were supercars of their era. They were informally marketed as race cars for the road, owing to their relationship to the #Mercedes W194 racers, especially true in the case of the gullwinged coupe. In roadster form, the 300SL could be said to be brutally elegant, and its classic exterior styling has stood the test of time exceptionally well and is reflected by the prices that well maintained and documented examples command when they change hands, especially at auction. This particular 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster is virtually 100 per cent original, with just 42,000 documented miles showing on its odometer at the time of its recent sale, which came about through an interesting set of circumstances.


    The tale starts with Tony Shooshani, a real estate investor and car nut living in Beverly Hills, California, and Craig Calder who operates FastCars Ltd in nearby Redondo Beach. For more than six months, starting in June 2010, the pair searched the world for an alloy block, disc brake 300SL. Their search located several cars, including a white/black car in Germany offered by the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre. But in December 2010 a very interesting car popped up in an online search performed by Calder, a car that would become known as Goldie.

    FINDING THE ONE

    This car was being presented by Robert Dening of Spirited Automobiles in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a dealer that works with the legendary restoration firm, Rudi & Company.

    Rudi is Rudi Koniczek, whose shop is located near Victoria, British Columbia. Known as one of the world’s foremost restorers of the 300SL, he was sought out by representatives of Mr Dring, now in his 80s, who was no longer able to handle his own financial affairs. Calder, knowing that the car would not stay unsold for long, contacted Shooshani, who told him to put down a deposit right away, based only on the online description and Koniczek’s reputation. This was in December 2010. The next month, they flew to Victoria to inspect the car and the deal was finalised. “We knew we had to act quickly,” said Shooshani. “We flew up on a Friday evening and looked over the car on Saturday. I had to immediately return to California, so Craig stayed an extra day, completing the inspection.


    “As soon as I saw the car I knew I would buy it,” Shooshani recalls. “I feel that a car has to talk to me before I buy it, and this car did. It was love at first sight. Looking at the car in Victoria I thought about how much I would enjoy having it in my garage, among my other cars, and sitting in it each night. The car exceeded my expectations in every way.”

    Once the roadster arrived in California, FastCars worked hard to bring it back to its factory fresh condition, maintaining originality the primary goal. It was not the intention to restore the SL to better-than-new condition. “We serviced and detailed the car,” explained Calder. “One of the things we did was fabricate a unique frame and crate system to keep the original soft and hardtops safe.”

    LIVE AND LET DRIVE

    Shooshani, being an enthusiast collector, someone who feels that he is a custodian of history, has not kept Goldie locked away. He has enjoyed several long drives in this 300SL Roadster, including two from his home in Beverly Hills, up the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara, a round trip of 200 miles. “I’ve done it with the top up and with the top down,” he tells us.

    “The car is rock solid, a great touring car, perfect for the open road. In the summer of 2011, I did the Tour d’Elegance at Pebble Beach. The car is very smooth, even upwards of 90mph. While in Monterey, I did the famous 17-mile drive, drove it south to Big Sur and back to Monterey. In my mind the car is a work of art because it is unique, it’s priceless.” So now, the SL has 43,350 miles on the clock, more than 1,000 of which were added in the first nine months of 2011 alone!

    It is this roadster’s superb condition and the fact that everything is in perfect working order, that makes it such a dream drive for Shooshani. “Every time I take the car out, I turn on the radio,” he says. “The original power antenna raises every time, and the music comes on when the antenna is extended fully. I listen to the station that gives me the clearest signal. With the right music, it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like to drive Goldie when the car was brand new.” It is wonderful to know that a classic Mercedes of such stunning beauty and in such fabulous condition has been enjoyed – and is still being enjoyed. One of its most striking elements is the beguiling lustre of its rare paint. On this topic, Koniczek was able to share some interesting details.

    SOMETHING SPECIAL

    “The cars were originally painted with a nitrocellulose lacquer with no clear coat. This kind of paint, especially the metallics, dulled over time. We spoke with Art’s [Arthur Dring] neighbours who said he took the car back to Mercedes-Benz in North Vancouver at some point in the 1980s to have the paint restored.”

    I can’t help but wonder if Art and Mary Dring drove the car when they relocated from Montreal to Vancouver, British Columbia. If they did, they probably travelled the Trans-Canada Highway that spans Canada over two routes from St John’s in the east to Vancouver and Victoria on the Pacific coast. While many of us fantasise about driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster top down through the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, especially the Lake Louise region, would provide equally spectacular roads and scenery for a drive in a million.

    But then, in a classic Mercedes-Benz of this calibre, every drive is special, every journey a grand tour, the gently purring straight-six the perfect companion.

    Thank you to Rudi Koniczek at Rudi & Company Tel 00 11 1 250 727 6020 Web www.rudiandcompany.com, Robert Dening at Spirited Automobiles Tel 00 11 1 250 532 6547 Web www.spiritedauto.com and Craig Calder of FastCars Ltd Tel 00 1 310 937 6700 Web www.fastcarsltd.com for their help

    Secrets within

    A surprising discovery offers a glimpse into the past The paperwork trail of this 300SL Roadster was extensive. Quite possibly the most interesting document was found in the car’s glove box – a nearly new owner’s manual.
    We had noted there was no mention of firm Studebaker-Packard in any of the 300SL Roadster’s documentation. From 1958 to 1964, Mercedes-Benz automobiles were distributed in the United States by Studebaker-Packard. The lack of mention of Studebaker-Packard in any of the printed materials indicates that Mercedes-Benz vehicles from this era were imported to Canada through a separate sales and marketing organisation. Interesting!

    When we opened the owner’s manual, on its back page we found a fold-out map showing all the authorised Mercedes-Benz sales and service outlets, including service only outlets. The map shows that many were in faraway and remote locations, demonstrating that even back then, #Mercedes-Benz went to great lengths to support owners of its cars, wherever they lived or travelled.

    One of its most striking elements is the beguiling lustre of its rare paint.
    The car is rock solid, a great touring car, perfect for the open road.
    As soon as I saw the car I knew I would buy it – it was love at first sight.
    This 300SL Roadster is virtually 100 per cent original, with just 42,000 miles on its odometer.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Roadster-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Roadster / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Roadster-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
    Weight 1,330kg
    0-62mph 10.0sec
    Top speed 155mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced 1957-1963

    Overview

    Presented three years after the coupe, the 300SL Roadster became an even greater sales success than its iconic, gullwing doored sibling 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 rear axle ratio.

    This now evocative, trademark design is seen on later SLs.
    The two-seat, red leather cabin has been used but not abused.
    The roadster’s rear suspension differs from that of the coupe.
    The Becker Mexico radio works well.
    The glove box lid with “300SL” script.
    The SL has recirculating ball steering.
    The M198 was Mercedes’ first fuel injected engine in a series produced car.
    All the 300SL ’s original tools are present and correct.
    The full size spare wheel is in ready to use condition.
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    Gone with the wind

    Exclusive, expensive and with sumptuous good looks, it is not hard to see how this 300Sc Cabriolet A captured the heart of one of Hollywood’s all time greats. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    Classic Choice 300Sc Cabriolet A

    One of the most iconic actors of his era, William Clark Gable personified everything that was Hollywood in its golden age. The actor, who spoke one of the most memorable lines in screen history in the 1939 epic Gone with the Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was a man with exceptional taste in automobiles. While his 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe may be the best known car that he owned during his lifetime, the so-called ‘King of Hollywood’ had an affection for cars bearing the three-pointed star.

    The connection between the actor and #Mercedes - Benz includes a 1955 300SL Gullwing that is so famous in its own right, that it is known as the ‘Clark Gable Gullwing’. Shortly afterwards, in 1956, Gable, with his fifth wife Kay, strode into Auto Stiegler, the factory authorised Mercedes-Benz dealership in Beverly Hills and took delivery of this brown painted, tan leather trimmed 300Sc Cabriolet A. It was reported by onlookers that the couple blazed out of the Mercedes dealership for the short drive back to their ranch in nearby Encino.

    This 300Sc was the last car Gable purchased in his lifetime, reportedly one of his favourites in a life filled with many exceptional cars. Gable was so fond of this Mercedes that when attending the premiere of 1956’s Giant starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, shortly after purchasing his 300Sc, he and his wife apparently decided to forego the customary Warner Brothers Cadillac limousine and instead arrived in style and continental elegance in their new Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Cabriolet A.

    At a delivered price of $12,500, Gable’s 300Sc cost more than his recently purchased 300SL Gullwing, indeed more than any American luxury car. The only US car that could compare in elegance to Gable’s 300Sc in 1956 would be the Continental Mark II , a limited production coupe that sold for $10,000 – Ford reportedly lost money on each example built. A Cadillac Eldorado was a bargain at just $6,648!

    THE LAST AND BEST

    The three-litre, six-cylinder 300S (W188) was first exhibited in October 1951 at the Paris Motor Show, production commencing in 1952. It was based on the W186 300 that had debuted earlier the same year at the Frankfurt show in April, Mercedes’ top of the range limousine that soon became popular with VIPs including Chancellor Konrad Adenauer whose name is now associated with the model.

    The W188 300S used a 150mm shorter version of the W186 300’s chassis and was offered as a coupe, a roadster and a cabriolet A, the roadster almost identical to the cabriolet A, but with a lighter, fully retractable roof. Until 1955, all three models in the exclusive 300S range were powered by Mercedes’ M188 straight-six that developed 148bhp and 170lb ft torque. Between 1952 and 1955, 203 Mercedes- Benz 300S Cabriolet As were built, along with 216 coupes and 141 roadsters.

    At the 1955 Frankfurt show, the 300Sc was presented to replace the 300S range. Thanks to direct fuel injection, power went up to 173bhp, while out back, Mercedes introduced its low pivot, independent rear suspension. One visual change to the exterior was a pair of chrome strips on the front wings, plus ‘Einspritzmotor’ was embossed on the rear bumper, denoting fuel injection. The same three body shapes were produced as before. There was the 300Sc Coupe of which 98 were built between December 1955 and April 1958, the 300Sc Roadster of which 53 were built between January 1956 and February 1958 and this, the most rare, the 300Sc Cabriolet A, built from January 1956 until July 1957, of which just 49 rolled off the production line.

    PLAYING THE WAITING GAME

    So this is an exclusive classic and one with a superstar owner, only endowing this gorgeous motorcar with yet more kudos. Clark Gable’s beloved 300Sc was stored in a garage at his ranch in Encino for more than 20 years following his death in November 1960 at the age of 59. And this is where this Mercedes’ second owner enters the picture. Bruce Meyer is well known in the United States as a car collector – others in his collection include a 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux, the first Corvette to race at Le Mans and the first production Shelby Cobra Roadster. Having previously restored another 300Sc Cabriolet A, Meyer knew that Gable’s 300Sc was in storage in Encino and throughout the late 1970s he tried to acquire the car from Gable’s widow. Finally, in 1981, after selling his 300Sc, Meyer purchased the car from Kay Gable.

    “What makes this car so special, beyond the fact it was once owned by Clark Gable,” Meyer tells us, “is its originality. Gable took great care with all his cars and the 300Sc was no different. At the end of his life it was his favourite car, you could say that it was his daily driver.”

    Driving from one location to another in Beverly Hills, I was struck at just how tight and rattle free the Mercedes-Benz cabriolet is, a car that is just a year younger than I am and that now has a touch over 33,000 miles on its odometer. We pull into the home of Stanley Gold, the former Disney executive and noted Porsche collector whose mansion bears something of a resemblance to Tara’s in Gone with the Wind. “The car is completely original, except for the front seats’ leather upholstery,” comments Meyer. “The paint is as it left the Mercedes factory, as is the top, which I’ve never lowered, and the interior wood is flawless. But the element that sets this car apart from any other 300Sc can be found on the glove box, a St Christopher’s medal clearly engraved with the initials ‘CG.’ I don’t show this car often but I can tell you that I still enjoy every moment behind the wheel. I’ve driven it as far away as San Diego, a round trip of 260 miles.”

    SUPERSTAR QUALITY

    The 300Sc cars find themselves at a crossroads in the history of Mercedes-Benz. In terms of design, styling, construction and their hand built nature, they are clearly linked to the great pre-war Mercedes-Benz motorcars. And at the same time, they personify the German economic miracle of the 1950s and its recovery from the devastation of World War Two. It is incredible to think that the company was able to turn itself around and rebuild itself so quickly. Less than a decade after the declaration of peace, Mercedes-Benz was once again producing some of the world’s finest motorcars and attracting some of the world’s greatest superstars, celebrities like Clark Gable, who could afford the very best and naturally gravitated towards the three-pointed star.

    The car is just so tight and rattle free, even with a touch over 33,000 miles on its odometer.
    This is the most rare variant, of which just 49 rolled off the production line.
    This 300Sc was the last car Gable purchased in his lifetime, reportedly one of his favourites.

    TECHNICAL DATA #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Cabriolet-A-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-M199 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Cabriolet-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Cabriolet / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Cabriolet / #Konrad-Adenauer / #Adenauer / #William-Clark-Gable / #Clark-Gable / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-W188-Clark-Gable / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-Clark-Gable / #Mercedes-Benz-Clark-Gable /

    Engine #M199 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 173bhp @ 5,400rpm
    Torque 188lb ft @ 4,300rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,780kg
    0-62mph 14.0sec
    Top speed 112mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced 1956-1957

    Overview

    Rare, beautiful and kept in stunning condition throughout its 56-year life, this classic cabriolet is a very special treat for the senses Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    This archive shot shows #Clark-Gable with this very #Mercedes-Benz .
    Since being built in 1956, this cabriolet has only covered a little over 33,000 miles.
    Beautifully simple, the chrome trimmed speedo takes centre stage.
    The original Becker Mexico radio remains on the car’s dashboard.
    The car is totally original, apart from the leather trim on the two front seats.
    Fitted luggage secured with leather straps within the curved rear.
    This plate is yet to collect dirt and confirms that it is a #1956 car.
    Current owner Bruce Meyer has never lowered the fabric roof, preserving its condition.
    Earlier W188s had 148bhp, 173bhp for these 300Sc cars.
    The St Christopher’s medal bearing the ‘CG’ inscription.
    Whitewall tyres and chrome hubs offset the brown paint.
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    Richard Truesdell
    Richard Truesdell unlocked the badge Journalist
    Journalist
    Loves browsing photos
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    HOLLYWOOD 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.”

    REALISING PERFECTION

    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
    Weight 1,780kg
    0-62mph 14.0sec
    Top speed 112mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced 1955-1958

    Overview

    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.
    The speedo is flanked by vital gauges.
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    Lost & Found classic choice 180D Ponton

    After German expat #Joachim-Fischer rescued this 180D Ponton from a crusher, the classic Mercedes saloon soon became a firm family favourite. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    In the immediate post-war era, Mercedes-Benz needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. Following World War Two, more than 75 per cent of the car manufacturer’s production facilities were nothing more than bombed out rubble. But this gave Mercedes-Benz an almost clean start as many of the facilities in and around Stuttgart were rebuilt, providing the company with state of the art engineering and production capabilities.

    The Type 170, with its pre-war, body-on-frame construction, was the mainstay of #Mercedes - Benz in the period from 1946 to 1953. But at the same time, the company’s designers and engineers were busy readying an all new, modern design for what would become the W120 and W180 saloons. Over time these threepointed stars would be affectionately known as Pontons and, in the minds of many, these elegant looking saloons saved the company.

    With their unitised bodies using a separate but fully integrated subframe, the Pontons enabled Mercedes-Benz to build a wide variety of four- (W120) and sixcylinder (W180) models, including diesels. These all new Ponton saloons had appeal as the German economic miracle gained momentum throughout the 1950s.

    It could be argued that Mercedes-Benz was somewhat late in getting the Pontons on sale, as both DW K and Borgward started production of their post-war saloons featuring modern bodies more than three years earlier. But Stuttgart’s engineers used the extra time to incorporate features that would have great long term significance, especially in terms of safety. For example, while the later Fintails were the first cars with crumple zones and rigid passenger cells, with their unitised bodies combined with the separate front subframe, the Pontons incorporated some of the Mercedes-Benz systems pioneered and patented by Béla Barényi in 1951. This is what we now call the safety cell and it forms the foundation of the passive safety system design found in almost every modern car, where the car’s structure is designed to absorb and dissipate the sometimes massive forces generated in the event of a crash.

    The Ponton’s exterior design, crafted under the direction of Friedrich Geiger and Karl Wilfert, was clean and modern, in contrast to the earlier 170s with their floating wheelarches, characteristic of pre-war designs. In the case of the Pontons, the wheelarches were completely integrated into the body.

    FRUGAL FAMILY FUN

    When the W120 was presented in August 1953, the end of World War Two was less than a decade in its rear view mirror. But this didn’t stop Mercedes-Benz from mapping an aggressive export strategy worldwide, including Great Britain and the United States. Although sales ramped up slowly, growth was steady and the diesel models were a small but important part of the model drive. Mercedes’ marketers touted the low operating costs of the range’s diesels, then as today promoting their exemplary fuel economy. In the case of the 180D pictured here, the official figure was a mighty impressive 44.8mpg.

    The W120 180s offered a 20 per cent roomier passenger compartment combined with substantially enhanced visibility over the 170s they replaced. And although they were similar dimensionally, the boot could hold 75 per cent more luggage and the climate controls were greatly improved and could be adjusted separately for driver and passenger. In the Mercedes-Benz line up of the 1950s, the fourcylinder W120/121 Pontons, like the example you see here, could be considered the #E-Class saloons of their day, while the 170mm longer, six-cylinder W180/105/128s were predecessors to today’s S-Classes.

    To begin with, the W120 was fitted with two engines, both carried over from the 170s. The M136 four-cylinder petrol engine produced 51bhp at 4,000rpm, while the OM636 diesel engine produced 39bhp at 3,200rpm (42bhp at 3,500rpm from September 1955, as in the car pictured). Coupled with 74lb ft torque, the OM636 could power the 180D to a top speed of 68mph. All models were mated to a four-speed, all synchromesh, manual transmission, with a column mounted shifter, allowing the 180 Ponton to seat five adults comfortably, possibly six at a pinch.

    The rest of the Type 180 was thoroughly modern with coil springs fitted front and rear. From September 1955, the rear set up comprised a low placed, single-joint swing-axle (previously just a swing-axle). The steering employed a recirculating ball system and was equipped with a steering shock absorber, while the Ponton’s brakes were drums at all four corners with hydraulic assistance.

    If Mercedes-Benz needed to pin its post-war recovery on just one model, especially in overseas markets, the 180 was up to the task. While the star studded 300SL and the luxurious 300 Adenauer grabbed the headlines, the 180, and to a lesser degree the 220, re-established Mercedes-Benz in the minds of car buyers throughout the world with its virtues of engineering excellence combined with a simple elegance that has stood the test of time.

    FATE STEPS IN

    Which brings us to this car and its owner, Joachim Fischer, a lean manufacturing expert hailing from sunny California, for whom these virtues hold a special appeal. Originally from Germany where Pontons were a common sight during his childhood, his Ponton, a 1958 180D (one of 114,046 built), is a story of reclamation and restoration. Purchased in 2003, his 180D is a driver quality, self restoration that has now covered more than 119,000 miles.

    “My wife Petra and I got lost on a roadtrip to San Francisco,” recalls Fischer. “While looking for the best way to get back onto Highway 101, we drove past a junkyard and the Ponton was sitting in front of it with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window. I think they felt sorry for it and didn’t want to crush it. I turned around and bought it for $2,200 on the spot, despite the fact I had no intention of buying a car at all.

    “I probably overpaid but it doesn’t really matter,” he continues. “The car was not running, was missing many parts and was in very poor condition overall. Its windows were cracked, the seats were torn, rubber parts were missing and the chrome parts that remained had been painted silver. I got the car towed the 400 miles back to Orange County the next day and started a two-year restoration.”

    The forlorn 180D needed almost everything, including new rubber seals, tyres and brakes. The windscreen was replaced along with all the silver painted chrome trim. Fischer’s 180D was treated to a fresh coat of blue paint, replacing its well worn and faded two-tone brown scheme (this car left the Sindelfingen factory in 1958 with grey paint).

    A COLOURFUL EXISTENCE

    On the inside it received new cloth upholstery on the seats and door panels, along with new headlining. Mechanically, Fischer got the engine running after cleaning the fuel tank. However, although he loves driving his classic Mercedes, over the 10 years he’s owned it and since the completion of its restoration, this 180D has only covered a little over 3,000 miles.

    That might not sound a lot, but it gets driven almost every week to local events in Orange County. This includes regular appearances at the well known Cars and Coffee show in nearby Irvine. There it fits right in with the more than 30 classic Mercedes models that congregate on any given Saturday morning. He also drives it to Cook’s Corner, a well known biker bar in Trabuco Canyon, one of the locations where we photographed the car – it was amazing how much attention the blue Ponton attracted among all the Harleys! And it is a tribute to the car’s design that outside the iconic, sharply modernistic headquarters of sunglasses maker Oakley in nearby Foothill Ranch, where we also photographed it, the Ponton still had a strong, elegant appeal.

    Fischer has two sons and this diesel Ponton plays an important part in their lives. “They just love playing in the car pretending to go somewhere,” he says. “My older son, Paul, is in a wheelchair due to cerebral palsy and sitting in the Mercedes-Benz is just the greatest thing for him. I taught him how to drive the ‘four-on-the- tree’ while sitting on my lap and that is his weekly highlight.”

    While this #1958 180D is Fischer’s first Mercedes-Benz and first restoration project, he has since restored an Airstream travel trailer and has called upon his well honed skills as a cabinet maker to build a wooden boat. And he certainly has got the Mercedes bug, now being an active participant in the International Ponton Owners Group on Yahoo.

    A DEPENDABLE FRIEND

    When asked to sum up his Mercedes’ best attribute Fischer had this to say. “The car always starts and runs, no questions asked. The diesel’s torque from only 43 horsepower [42bhp] is just amazing. But compared to a modern car, it’s like stepping back in time. You have to work it. Steering takes a lot of effort and braking requires anticipation.”

    It seems that Fischer has found a great sense of balance with his Ponton. It is restored to a level that makes it a great example of its kind, but not so much that he’s afraid to drive it on a regular basis. And, of course, it’s a classic Mercedes-Benz that his entire family enjoys. What could be better than that?

    It always starts and runs, but you have to work it – steering takes a lot of effort and braking requires anticipation.

    We were lost and drove past a junkyard – the Ponton was there with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window.

    In the minds of many, these cars saved the company in the post-war period.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-180D-W120 / #Mercedes-Benz-W120 / #Mercedes-Benz-180D / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-OM636 / #Mercedes-Benz-Ponton / #Ponton

    Engine #OM636 1,767cc 4-cyl
    Power 42bhp @ 3,500rpm
    Torque 74lb ft @ 2,000rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,200kg
    0-62mph 39.0sec
    Top speed 68mph
    Fuel consumption 44.8mpg
    Years produced 1954 / 1959

    Overview

    Pontons helped revive Mercedes’ postwar fortunes, setting the standards of engineering excellence for the models that would follow Figures for a 1958 180D as pictured; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    The windscreen washer fluid reservoir shows its 55 years.
    The speedo and gauges are remarkably small.
    It took Joachim Fischer two years to restore this Ponton.
    The OM636, normally aspirated, four-stroke diesel.
    A very industrial look for the diesel injection pump.
    Becker Europa II with bass and treble adjustment.
    Retrofitted seat belts feature on the rear bench.
    A modernist setting, but the car holds its own.
    First grey, then brown, Fischer chose a deep blue.
    A column shifter for the four-speed manual gearbox.
    The chrome had been painted silver, so needed replacing.
    The strong patina adds to this well used car’s character.
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    Richard Truesdell
    Richard Truesdell joined the group Mercedes-Benz Ponton Club
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    Classic 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!”

    PERIOD FLAIR

    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
    Weight 1,295kg
    0-62mph 10.0sec
    Top speed Up to 162mph
    Fuel consumption 29.7mpg
    Years produced #1954 / #1955 / #1956 / #1957

    Overview

    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.
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    Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing W198 Open

    Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing W198 Club

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