Category Archives: Mercedes Benz

Mercedes-based mutant is the work of a true visionary

Somewhere, Johnny Cash is smiling

Somewhere, Johnny Cash is smiling (note similar paint scheme of adjacent Mini. Coincidence? Perhaps not)

Meet James, the proud owner and, to a large extant, the creator of this fine automobile. It  started out in the mid-1990s as a run of the mill Mercedes Benz C280 sedan.  James, it seems, has a penchant for lily gilding, aggregating and doing his own thing that would definitely make him persona non grata in Stuttgart.  But this is America so why not let your creative juices and gonzo instincts run rampant?

Details, details..

Spoiler alert! James is In touch with his inner Earl Scheib

For reasons known only to James, he saw fit to “improve” his whip by grafting the nose of a late model Mercedes GLK sport utility onto the pedestrian C Class.  The height of the new nose didn’t correlate exactly with the altitude of the hood which has created a swayback look to the front end. It’s a very unexpected design feature that we found most impressive.

The side scoops were created by affixing a chunk of chrome ordinarily found on the rear of a Honda onto the lower front fenders. He’s also added some swanky fender flairs to the car and added red accents to the car’s original black body color.  We encountered James at a local hardware store where he was stocking up on black spray paint which he applied to the matte finish aluminum wheels in an effort to have the wheels match the tires and the bulk of the body.

There’s not much we can add to this post but to salute a guy whose personal quest for automotive distinction seems to know no bounds other than the parameters his own  imagination and, of course, a supply of Bondo® to hold his continuing efforts together.

We invite you to watch James work his special magic on the left rear wheel of his bespoke Benzo.  Behold the master at work in this video that is exclusive to FeralCars.   You are most welcome!

This commercial, set to the tune of “My Way,” aired on French TV when the C Class was launched in the early ’90s.  It serves as s commentary on James’s continuing efforts to personalize his car.  Indeed, he does it his way.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

 

Big bad Benzo

Two numbers and decimal point speak volumes

Two numbers and a decimal point speak volumes

It’s a given that older Mercedes have a good track record for longevity so it’s not all that unusual to encounter a superannuated Benz-o out there in the wild, especially a big S-class sedan.  We came across one the other day that stopped us dead in our tracks.  It’s a 300SEL from the late ’60s – early ’70s that wears a subtle 6.3 badge on its trunk lid.  It’s one of just 6,400 built over the 4 year model run fitted with the V8 that initially saw service in the 600, the Pullman Mercedes that was usually sold to heads of state or drug lords or some combination of the two.

Fastest elegance money can buy

Powerful elegance. Very powerful.

The philosophy behind this move is much the same as that which catalyzed the creation of  the far less lordly Pontiac GTO and Plymouth Roadrunner: take the biggest motor you can find and stuff it into a relatively lightweight body and, voila, you have a turn key hot rod. The comparison might seem far fetched but consider that 6.3 liters translates to 385 cubic inches and the GTO’s motor was a 389.  The 300SEL 6.3 weighed in at 3800 pounds, the GTO’s avoirdupois was virtually the same.  That advantageous power-to-weight ratio resulted in the 300SEL 6.3 being the fastest production sedan of its era.

Listing to port.

Listing to port.

We really love the counterintuitive thinking that made a dignified, stately sedan into a brilliant muscle car, especially the fact that, apart from the ‘6.3’ badge, there’s nothing that screams “I’m fast” about the car.  No racing stripes, no gratuitous scoops, vents or louvers, spoilers, just dead-on, no-prisoners-taken, semi-covert Mercedes menace.  And how about those body color wheel covers?  Mag wheels and fender flares have no place here; this is for adults, not children.

Amber alert!

Amber alert!

Even lesser big Benzes have significant presence so we’ve collected a gallery of some others of similar vintage that may not be as fast as the 300SEL 6.3 but do have grown-up appeal just the same.

Parked on a sunny good street

Parked on a sunny good street

We understand that maintaining a 300SEL 6.3 represents a significant commitment of resources but we think it’s a pretty good rolling investment since they don’t make cars like this any more. Here’s one in nearby Lake Geneva WI on offer for a shade under $33K.  Pretty nice car but we’d worry about how low it sits in the rear.  Might be a problem with the air suspension which isn’t something the guy at your local Jiffy Lube can fix.  This low mileage (118,000) example in nearby San Marcos CA costs quite a bit more but has a less disconcerting stance.

This MBZ promo video about the history of the S-Class includes a passage about the 300SEL 6.3 around the 6 minute mark; we find it curious that reference to the political upheaval of 1968 is incorporated into to the introduction of the subject.  If ever a car screamed “Ruling Class” it’s this one.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

 

 

Donna Loren and Betsy Benz: love on wheels

We’re happy to share a true-life tale of two stylish gals who have been very long term pals.  Meet guest writer Donna Loren. Is the name familiar?  It should because you certainly know her as a frequent featured Shindig performer and for her roles in such feature films as Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Pajama Party, Beach Blanket Bingo and Sergeant Deadhead.  As The Dr. Pepper Girl she got to tell the world about the “Treads, Threads and Treasures” sweepstakes, the grand prize of which was a Mercedes-inspired Excalibur.

Donna as hood ornament

Donna in hood ornamental mode

Her hit records include “I’m in Love with the Ticket Taker at the Bijou Movie,” “I’m Gonna Be Alright,” “Johnny’s Got Somethin,” “On the Good Ship Lollipop,” “(Remember Me) I’m the One Who Loves You” as well as “Love’s a Secret Weapon,” “Among the Youngand, of course, “It Only Hurts When I Cry.”

Available now!

Available now!

Donna sent us a few photos of her 1970 Mercedes Benz 280SE, a car which we’d thought of as  very macho, stolid and certainly with a very powerful, almost intimidating, presence.  Donna doesn’t quite see it that way in the story she tells about that big bad Benz we so admire.  Yes, she’s the original owner = Feral Cars solid gold, a super smash (but not smashed) hit for our readers.  We were delighted when Donna provided a detailed and very personal treatise on her continuing relationship with car that’s more of a friend. A friend she calls ‘Betsy.’

Note: we also captured a similar 280SE in the wild so we included shots of that honey into this post; it’s a birds-of-a-feather kind of thing.

Schnell maching machine

Dieser große Wagen schnell weg ist.

Betsy and Me

“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”, the classic we all love and adore, was not the dream I was having just weeks before a Christmas day in sunny California,1970. I was dreaming of a Mercedes Benz! She was black and red…a hard top coupe, a 280SE. I saw her so clearly, so vividly that when I awoke I told my husband, Lenny, about my dream. He absolutely adores Christmas and so do I and while listening attentively — one of his greatest attributes — we both entered the Christmas spirit and decided to turn my dream into a reality.

Alo-ha!

Alo-ha!

Lenny and I had a history with cars. We met in 1967 over an introduction by our mutual friend, Carl Scott. I was 20 years old and the proud owner of a 1967 red corvette convertible, the first purchase I demanded from my parents who controlled my career. $4800.00 cash, paid in full at Schonlaw Chevrolet in Hollywood. I felt incredibly liberated when I drove my first dream car off the show room floor. Actually, I only learned to drive at 19 due to traveling incessantly for Dr Pepper and never really had leisure time for anything other than my career.

When the 1968 Stingray, T-Top Corvette came out I freaked. The lines were so aerodynamic and innovative, I just had to have one! So, I gave my ‘little red’ Corvette to my ‘dad’, who was also my manager and ordered a white exterior, chocolate brown (chocolate being one of my obsessions) leather interior. I recall driving it on the 10 Freeway at midnight at a speed of 110 mph until I felt airborne. Never did that again! Of course, the 10 was so new then it was virtually empty so at the Overland offramp to the Sepulveda Bridge I stepped on it…the only car on the road.

Blitzkreig cruiser

Dieses Auto fährt schnell.

By then, L.W. and I were engaged and planning our wedding. Tragically, only two months after our marriage, in March of 1968, Lenny’s mother passed away, leaving behind many treasures including a Cadillac Eldorado, which I inherited. My grief stricken father-in-law insisted I sell my new Stingray to drive a more safe automobile. The pressure was on and emotions were high so I acquiesced and agreed to accept the inheritance. I drove that ‘boat’ for over a year ..after having our first child, a son, my Joey. That Eldorado was so out of scale for the likes of my 5’3″ stature and an infant child whom I would put in a car bed in the back seat. I remember getting into minor fender bender (no injury) and saying to myself,” No More!”

And then the dream occurred. Thank God for miracles like My Girl Betsy. L.W. and I contacted our business manager, Larry Stern, and told him we were on the quest for a Mercedes Benz hard top; black exterior with red interior. He researched and found one in Alhambra. “Where’s Alhambra?,” we asked ourselves, West Side kids and only traveled east on familiar routes to Hollywood and Burbank. Larry escorted us to the Alhambra Mercedes dealership and there she was: my dream car. Once more, the thrill of driving off the showroom floor in the car of my dreams, literally was indescribably euphoric. Lenny was my passenger and, in our 15 years together, he only sat behind her wheel, maybe, three times.

Baadhoff Meyer getaway car candidate.

Baader-Meinhof approved!

I called her Betsy from the beginning. She wasn’t just 3000 lbs. of metal, she was a member of my family. Everything from baby buggies to surfboards were part of her serving our family of three beautiful children, Katie, Joey and Anna. One time when Anna was an adolescent, she asked me to pick up some friends of hers. At least one dozen preteens layered themselves like lasagne in Betsy, pressing their derrières against her back windows!

When My Girl celebrated 25 years with me I turned her into a Classic beauty, and painted her Butter. I had already replaced her interior in the 80’s with the parchment color she still has today. The original red carpeting remains, as well as the Becker radio and air conditioner that still works fine,  although I rarely use it because I feel a pull on the engine. When my daughter Katie visited me in Hawaii we were driving to Mariposa, a well known eatery at Ala Moana in Honolulu for lunch. Katie’s face was turning red as she waved her arm out of Betsy’s window. “Mom”‘ she exclaimed, “its hotter in here than it is outside.” We broke into hysterics over my eccentricities.

Commute in sporting comfort.

Blitzkrieg cruiser

In 1995, Betsy and I moved to Hawaii with my fiancé, Jered Cargman who had been my prom date. In Honolulu, I found a mechanic who loved, adored and owned vintage Mercedes. Betsy now has a new engine , authentic to her model with only 27,000 miles currently. When I had her repainted she was stripped down to the metal and treated for any rust so, to this day, she is in very pristine condition with an abundant history of incarnations.

Unstoppable hard top

Unstoppable hard top

I am presently living in the high desert where she loves driving on nearly vacant mountain roads. Was it a dream or a vision I had? ..an insight to a new reality for a relationship I have had for 44 years now?  Through some hard times I thought I’d have to surrender her and thank God miracles happen so that our beautiful love affair advances into our senior years and that’s the way I intend for it to be til the end of my life…Betsy and Me.

Donna Loren

To your good health, especially at 10, 2 and 4.

To your good health and to Betsy’s, especially at 10, 2 and 4!

Dear Donna,

Thanks for the great story about your fast friendship with your BFF from Stuttgtart.

As a treat to Feral Cars readers we offer a recent performance of Donna ripping it up on “Muscle Bustle” from Muscle Beach Party, backed those “Spring Little Cobra” chart busters, The Rip Chords.

It’s not an understatement to suggest that the Mercedes 280SE coupe is, essentially, a hand-built automobile.  This means that acquiring one of these rare birds is not, necessarily, a move predicated on a sense of thrift, if you catch our drift.  Nonetheless, we’re convinced these will continue to appreciate in value over the coming years so this car is also solid from an investment point of view — not that you’d ever want to dump a cultured, grande dame for a contemporary, plastic-filled model.  Here’s one that looks good in nearby West Palm Beach so if you’ve made some extra cash on your paper route and are looking to ride in style this could be the power move.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

Post literate potpourri

NatLampCo car but certainly  NOT the "Family Truckster"

NatLampCo Vacation car but certainly NOT the “Family Truckster”

Based in Southern California as we are, we are sometimes overwhelmed, rendered fahrklempt, if you will, by the spectrum of feral finds accrued within the space of one day.  As an experiment in feral foraging, we collected some examples stalked within the last 24 hours.  No big narrative thread this time, just 7 unrelated — OK two are Italian and red — vehicles seen during a one-day period within the confines of a 5 square mile area.  Ain’t life grand?

Ford Econoline pressed into hipster servitude

Ford Econoline pressed into hipster servitude

Alfa Duetto makes the retail scene

Alfa Duetto makes the retail scene

Corolla FX: feral freeway flyer

Corolla FX: feral freeway flyer

Tempo topper

Topaz – costume jewelry from Mercury

El Camino sentenced to hard labor

El Camino sentenced to hard labor

Topless MBZ "Pagoda" motors on

Topless MBZ “Pagoda” motors on

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

Audi, partner

Four wheels afield

Four wheels afield

We spotted a rare 1984 Audi Quattro on the sylvan streets of Burlington, VT the other day and had to think if we’d ever seen another one of these “in the wild” before.  Our research finds that a mere 664 of these purpose-built all wheel drive rally cars were imported to the US over the course of five model years and it’s a safe bet that crashes, rust (see our example’s hood) and mechanical issues have claimed the bulk of these over the past three decades.

Spoil sport

Spoil sport

Audi’s much vaunted “quattropermanent” four-wheel drive system, mated with a 2.1 liter five cylinder turbocharged motor made for all-weather not-so-cheap thrills thirty years ago.  These little stormers were priced at $35,000 when new which translates to something like $80,000 today.

Glassy font!

Glassy font!

Quattro was a specialty car that helped define Audi as a no-holds-barred race and rally presence. It was a halo car for the full Audi line that parent Volkswagen did its best to establish in the face of entrenched  in Deutschland hergestellt competitors Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

Unintended family portrait

Unintended family portrait

Audi’s four-door standard bearer in those days was the 5000 and here we see a nicely preserved ’86 5000S in front of a Victorian manse with a relatively recent Audi TT roadster, painted to match the house, in the driveway.  VW almost withdrew the brand from the US market after a 1986 CBS 60 Minutes piece delved into a series of mysterious wrecks caused by “unintended acceleration.”  Down went Audi sales and, at just about the same time, Toyota introduced its luxury Lexus brand to fill the gap, giving MBZ/BMW a run for the (big) money.  In recent years the “unintended acceleration” badge of shame has been hung on Lexus. How’s that for karmic justice?

Sweet anodyne

Sweet anodyne

Maybe you’ve wondered about the four interlocking rings that are Audi’s logo.  Contrary to popular belief, this is not an appropriation of the symbol of the Olympic Games but, rather, a representation of the four marques that came together to form Auto-Union in 1932, a big year in German history on many levels.  That aggregation of DKW, Horch, Audi and Wanderer continued — with a bit of an interruption in the early 1940’s — until Auto-Union was acquired by Daimler-Benz in 1958. Daimler dumped the operation on Volkswagen in 1964 with only the Audi brand surviving, at times just barely, to the present day. What a long, strange and, sometimes, unintended trip it’s been.

Just last year Audi posted a video of a current S3 in competition against an ’83 Quattro Sport.  Of course, the modern car vanquished the older one.. but only by 12 seconds.  It’s a foregone conclusion that Audi will continue to conjure up the old Quattro to underscore its present day badass bonafides even if the originals are few and far between.  It’s still a “halo” car after all these years.

If you’re interested in a UR-Quattro (UR = German prefix meaning “primitive/original”) ) we suggest you browse on over to Ebay Motors where an ’83 “barn find” with under 50,000 miles awaits your bid.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.