Back in 2009, I began looking for a 1950s era Mercedes-Benz, similar to my parents’ car. Due to my limited restoration skills – and *very* limited budget – I searched for a car with a basically sound body, that needed lots of TLC. I can turn a wrench, rebuild a carburetor, and renovate a gauge. But I don’t have a clue about body work.
To make a long story short, after looking all over the USA and Canada (in person and via the ‘net), I’d found cars in two basic categories: (1) tremendously overpriced trailer queens which are never driven, and (2) more “needs some work but rust free” vehicles than I could ever imagine. One thing you learn fast: the term “rust free” means there’s no extra charge for the rust. Believe me.
Amazingly, I found a car that seemed to meet my requirements right here in Connecticut, down near Wallingford. A 1958 two owner 220S sedan; here’s my first view:
I spent a day with the seller, checking out every detail I could: over, under, inside, and outside. Just so happened that the weather that week in December 2009 was the coldest in years; 15 degrees, 30mph gusts, not exactly fun when you’re trying to check details of anything outdoors, especially a big potential purchase.
After much coaxing and some choice four letter words, the seller got the engine going. I could tell it would need a bit of work:
We took the car on several short drives, testing engine, transmission, Hydrak (automatic clutch), brakes, electricals, etc. After each run, I’d check underneath for leaks and parts that may have fallen off. Was careful not to bring any cash along, so I thanked the guy for his time and went back home.
After a week I contacted the seller again, asked more questions, did more poking around and we came to an agreement: he had to get the car from Wallingford to me here in eastern Connecticut, and it had to drive itself off the truck and down my driveway. If that came to pass, I’d pay the price we agreed.
On January 7, 2010, the “Blue Angel” arrived under its own power. First picture at home:
Why Blue Angel? Well, obviously the original “Mercedes-Blue” DB 335H paint color was influential, but there was one other detail. Back in the summer of 1967, I had a “date” with Marlene Dietrich. Yep – THE Marlene Dietrich. I’d been on a six-week student trek through Europe after my first year at Texas Christian University, and in early August, I happened to attend Dietrich’s cabaret evening at Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. Several of the songs she sang in that show were made famous in one of her early classic films, “The Blue Angel” (1930). Film plot: a lonely old professor is turned into a clown – literally – by a cheap cabaret singer. Now in 1967, a foolish college freshman on my first trip to Europe, I went backstage for her autograph, and naively blurted out something like “Miss Dietrich, can I buy you a drink?” To my amazement, she said yes, and the rest is history.
Here’s a link if you’re interested in more details of the restoration work. And there is absolutely no way I could have made any progress whatsoever, without the help of members of the International Ponton Owners Group, the British Car Forum, and especially the work and expertise of my friend and neighbor, Richard Mackowiak.