Every car deserves a name. We named our Mercedes – The Colonel. So what’s with The Colonel you ask? Well, we love cars with stories. Originally, a US Army Colonel stationed in Brussels purchased the 230S. It is a European specification model with those gorgeous headlamps. He was transferred to Puerto Rico briefly and shipped the Mercedes with him. From there, it went to Seattle. It stayed in the family until 3 years ago when a M-B fan purchased him with the intention of making it his wife’s daily driver. Most of that story turned out to be bunk. The real story is even better.
Mr. Stanley S. was an accountant and was in fact transferred to Brussels. He decided to marry his love, Maria Mercedes R. and honeymoon in Belgium. He surprised her with the gift of this Mercedes-Benz. They did move to Mercedes’s home in Puerto Rico and did take the Mercedes with them. She loved that car and forced Stanley to spend an inordinate amount of money keeping it in good condition.
We found it on eBay and unfortunately the Mercedes she treasured until 1999 fell into disrepair. It arrived and actually looked pretty good, was solid as a rock but was undriveable.
That signaled the beginning of a systematic rebuild/refresh to make it a reliable and competitive vintage rally car. First things first – get the fuel delivery system clean. The gas tank had to be removed, boiled and re-lined and the entire fuel system cleaned. We added an electronic ignition, all new filters, then a complete fluid/lubrication refresh to benchmark it. The front-end was totally rebuilt and new sub-frame mounts installed. We installed Konis at each corner and set them on firm. All of the brakes replaced including the power brake booster. The exhaust has been modified to save weight and sound cool. A classic Cherry Bomb muffler did the trick.
There was a nasty miss at low rpm under load so we installed a Weber Carb kit. We decided to install a fully electronic distributor from 123 Ignition. We added an auxiliary cooling fan after getting stuck in Lime Rock Race Track traffic on a 90-degree day. You can’t find decent 13″ tires anymore so we upgraded to 14″. Luckily we found a local M-B dismantler who had a rare set of aluminum rims that weigh less than half of the steelies and look pretty much the same. We’ll be running without wheel covers so they were stripped and painted satin black. After some serious research, we decided to go with Michelin Defenders. Turned out to be a good choice.
When all this busy stuff was completed and tested, we moved to the shop run by well-known race car mechanic, John Rogers (now retired). He offered his expertise and his shop to assist in fabricating brackets for rally lights, a new dash panel for switches. We had been collecting vintage parts from around the globe while the first part of the build was underway: Our Cibie Super Oscars are from the UK, the Marchal center light from Germany, well you get the picture. Almost everything we added was period correct. We did add a new tach, an outside temp gauge (to warn us of ice), Butler Maplight and a bunch of USB and Aux power outlets. All of the exterior bulbs were sourced through Daniel Stern Lighting who knows a light bulb isn’t just a light bulb. The final accessory – a Brantz analog rally tripmeter.
While we were in the interior, we restored the Becker Grand Prix to working condition (added iPod adapter), added Sirius Satellite radio, repaired the clock (it should work) and refinished the wood dashboard. We even found a NOS dome light to replace the broken one.
We were all done a week before The Greenwich Concours. We had no expectation when we submitted the Mercedes to the Greenwich folks but it looked so darn cool, they couldn’t resist. We participated in more rallies and concours and always received a great response. In fact, Hemmings Sports & Exotics decided to do a story on it.
The license plate we run on the front is a copy of the Belgian plate that was originally on the car when it was delivered to Colonel Swanson. We still have the registration so the number is correct. Very cool.
Since the build, we were surprised at how popular The Colonel became. Invitations from The 100 Cars of the Radnor Hunt to the prestigious Carmel by the Sea show (during Monterey week) came in. We’ve participated in annual VSCCA Rallies and a few others, never reaching our objective to compete in an Adventure or Endurance Rally like The Tiger Rally or the South American Challenge. We are confident that with a little bit more effort like adding skid plates and redundant fuel pumps, The Colonel has the chops to start and finish any event he puts his mind too.
Our asking price is $21,000. Call Michael at (203) 917-2354