Saw one of these down in the West Bottoms today, only the one I spotted was a really tasty shade of wine red. Similar solid, original, but grubby condition. I’ll take my camera tomorrow and see if I can snap a decent shot of it on my way home from work. It really was a beaut. The hubcaps are painted red to match the bodywork, with the little Mercedes emblem picked out in chrome. I think that is my favorite detail on the car.
I’ve long harbored a bit of a soft spot for these old juggernauts because they are so indisputably stodgy and respectable. This is not a car that was ever chic, hip, or sexy. Stately, proper, faintly aristocratic, but also sluggish, and a bit pompous. If a car could wear spats and a monocle, I reckon this one would.
My first boyfriend’s mother drove an old diesel Merc. Hers was a ’73, if I recall correctly. I didn’t date a rich kid; his dad was a diesel mechanic and had picked up a shelled-out Mercedes for pennies on the original dollar. The previous owner’s son had filled up the tank with gasoline, swiftly rendering the aging luxury car inoperable and practically worthless. Mrs. Weare’s car was an unpleasant butterscotch-pudding-color, but it had cream-colored leather interior with darker brown piping which seemed pretty deluxe to teenaged me. Leather seats tend to hold up beautifully; I’ve seen a number of old cars with leather interiors in nearly perfect shape, while the rest of the car is rusty, shabby, and in a general state of decay.
The best thing about that lumbering old Mercedes was the sound the doors made when you shut them. The entire car was essentially a tank with the tracks taken off and pneumatic tires stuck on. When you shut the door, ever so gently, it made a satisfying clunk. The heavy, wood-trimmed doors hung on stout hinges, and even at 20 years, the car was solid and well-sealed, so the doors didn’t have to be slammed, just given a firm push and whumpclik they were shut and latched.