[V8] Vintage what?
Brian K. Ullrich
bullrich at ullrichsys.com
Sun Sep 20 08:40:54 PDT 2009
You should write for a living. The insurance industry has stolen a
writer. Great story, and I think I'll name my recently acquired V8Q
"Rommel" in your honor.
Sent from my iPhone
On Sep 20, 2009, at 8:26 AM, "Roger Woodbury"
<rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com> wrote:
> Well, since I have started to think about a vintage car rally
> through parts
> of Maine, I have found myself meandering through the listing of
> various old
> cars that are for sale. There are a lot of them, and some are very,
> Right now I am having a vicious flirtation with a 19seventysomething
> Mercedes coupe. It's one of the big four or five passenger cars
> with the
> big upright grille and arrogant three pointed star. Silver over
> black, and
> it looks very yummy. I think the auction is stalled at something
> $5500, which is the right price for me to fantasize about. It even
> has the
> really gizzie "fish bowl" headlights that are probably worth more
> than all
> the rest of the car together. Automatic transmission, so I know my
> would agree if the timing was right.
> Seeing that car reminded me of a similar car at the dealer in
> Hyannis. I
> almost bought that car back in 1973. The car had a "history", or so
> I was
> told. It had once been owned by Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren's mega
> husband, or some such. I had fantasized about buying it, restoring
> it and
> getting a vanity plate that read: "PONTI"....waaaaay cool, I thought.
> But that car...a 300SE, which meant the dreaded air bag suspension
> of the
> 300SEL 6.3...was pretty rusty outside. The inside was perfect. Now
> I can't
> remember how much they wanted for the car...not much by the
> standards back
> then, and absolutely cheap now, I suppose. But I had already
> learned about
> old Mercedes. "Rommel" taught me that.
> Rommel was a 1958 Mercedes 220S sunroof sedan that I found along
> side the
> road in Cohasset, Massachusetts after I got back from Southeast
> Asia. It
> needed restoration but was a running, registered car, and I HAD to
> have it.
> I think I paid $900 for it, but time has dulled that part.
> Well, Rommel was a great example...smooth running Mercedes six,
> fed, and it seemed to run really well. At first. It was glorious
> to cruise
> down the roadway with that sunroof rolled all the way back. Makes the
> twinkie little sunroof in my V8 seem really chintzy now. But I
> broke the
> one rule about buying such cars that I KNEW, but ignored in the
> spirit of
> "HAVING to have it". The car had a HYDRAK transmission.
> Now, there is nothing wrong with early post war German cars, once
> you get by
> the potential for rust, EXCEPT that one never, ever, ever buys an
> German car with a semi-automatic transmission. The father of a girl
> that I
> knew in high school had a new Mercedes 219 with Hydrak, and it NEVER
> ran for
> more than a week or two before it had to go back to Foreign Motors on
> Commonwealth Avenue to be spoken to in German by the service
> manager. I
> shudda known!
> I think I had Rommel for about two months before the first signs of
> disenchantment happened. It wouldn't shift one morning. In those
> cars you
> touched the shift lever that was mounted to the steering column, and
> automatically the clutch disengaged. It was unbelievably finicky
> and was
> probably a similar system to the ones used in later model King Tiger
> tanks...well, no: I made that last part up. But those tanks were
> for mechanical troubles, and so was Rommel's transmission.
> Suddenly, it
> wouldn't shift. Oh, the clutch gave way, but the transmission lever
> wouldn't DO anything. $300 that day for new pins in a linkage, or
> something, and $300 was a LOT of money for me back then.
> I did sand down the window trim, and the car was beginning to show
> signs of
> the beauty that I thought it could be. But then, there was another
> of hundred dollars into some sort of gizzie that made the grommet
> connect to
> the widget in the Hydrak....you get the picture.
> Then I took a long hard look at the rear swing axle mounting points
> and knew
> that it was a matter of WHEN and not IF: the car had spent too many
> in greater Boston I guessed.
> So, reluctantly, I went shopping for a NEW VW bug. Sensible car.
> price, and something that in reality, I could afford: the young, ex-
> force officer turned freshman insurance agent, with wife and two
> I drove Rommel to the dealer in Boston where I had hammered out a
> deal for
> the trade. Rommel didn't even want to start that day, but
> eventually, that
> six coughed into action, and I grandly, if with false pretenses,
> down Storrow Drive to the big VW dealer. They looked strangely at
> and made me park it out in back of the dealership. The driver's
> door made a
> reassuring "clickthud" as it closed oh, so authoritatively, and I
> away toward the "sensible" VW that was to be my daily driver for the
> three years.
> Anyway, all of these thoughts have flooded through my mind as I have
> to plan a bit for the upcoming Vintage Ramble through Maine's
> foliage in
> 2011. Only old cars will be registered, with a special class for
> V8's of
> course, but they are almost old enough anyway. I have read about
> some of
> the other vintage car rallys that are put on around the
> country...not many
> for old cars for just the fun of it. Maybe someone will actually
> want to
> come...and if the cars are old and eclectic, it might be an
> And who knows, maybe I'll melt and buy an old Mercedes with fishbowl
> headlights just to see what it might be like to tour in one.
> P.S. I have also always wanted to have a BMW 2000CS coupe that had
> really goofy fish bowl headlights in Europe...now very rare, and
> they rusted
> faster than Rommel did.
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