[V8] Vintage what?

Roger Woodbury rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com
Sun Sep 20 16:01:44 PDT 2009

Many thanks. Be very, very careful:  the slightest encouragement will make
me hit the keys like fury!

Actually, I am in the process of retiring from a real estate development
career that came after I "retired" from the insurance biz.  In my next life
I do wish to write and possibly, not probably, I might make a buck at it.  

For now, I enjoy telling my little stories, all of which are mostly true.
The fiction is completely different.


-----Original Message-----
From: Brian K. Ullrich [mailto:bullrich at ullrichsys.com] 
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 11:41 AM
To: Roger Woodbury
Cc: <v8 at audifans.com>
Subject: Re: [V8] Vintage what?


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,  
> very
> attractive.
> 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  
> under
> $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  
> wife
> 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  
> bucks
> 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,  
> carburetor
> 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  
> early
> 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  
> famous
> 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  
> couple
> 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  
> winters
> in greater Boston I guessed.
> So, reluctantly, I went shopping for a NEW VW bug.  Sensible car.   
> Sensible
> price, and something that in reality, I could afford:  the young, ex- 
> air
> force officer turned freshman insurance agent, with wife and two  
> kids.....
> 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,  
> motored
> down Storrow Drive to the big VW dealer.  They looked strangely at  
> Rommel
> 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  
> walked
> away toward the "sensible" VW that was to be my daily driver for the  
> next
> three years.
> Anyway, all of these thoughts have flooded through my mind as I have  
> begun
> 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  
> interesting
> experience.
> 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.
> Roger
> P.S. I have also always wanted to have a BMW 2000CS coupe that had  
> those
> really goofy fish bowl headlights in Europe...now very rare, and  
> they rusted
> faster than Rommel did.
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