Stories About Cars is a new series for Well Driven where we ask people what their car means to them and what makes it special. This is Harry’s story about his cherished Mercedes SL:
“What am I doing?” I kept asking myself as I settled comfortably in seat 15C onboard FlyBe flight 1825 from Stansted to Newquay. I could hardly hide an excited grin as I turned to see my brother doing the same several rows behind me; I had paid for the extra company on this one-way journey – an impulsive buyer I am not, which added fuel to the ongoing mantra in my head.
Seat belt signs were back on within an hour of take-off for the mid-afternoon landing. After walking out of the smallest airport following the shortest flight I’d ever taken, a big smile stretched across my face and my eyes flicked around as if to be looking for the equivalent of an arrivals greeting card.
“N646 WPY” looked glamorous in Royal Blue, which ironically, even with its subtle tone, stood out among the other cars scattered around the pick-up area; most likely due to being the only car with the roof down on a cool and overcast, Autumnal day in October.
Convertible mode afforded the driver to make an introduction without leaving the vehicle and similarly allowed me to survey the entire interior as I reciprocated by offering an outstretched hand over the passenger side door.
The journey back to the owner’s house was filled with questions about the car in an attempt to distract myself from the cold. Looking back to my travel buddy, I at least had to be grateful for legroom. Forty minutes later, we arrived in the idyllic village of Helston.
After politely turning down a cup of tea, I was left to inspect the car as the owner kindly retreated into his quaint and tidy property. Initial signs were good. No pressure to rush.
A lengthy look-over revealed that the car was not perfect. The rose-tinted glasses must have blown off on the way here. If to be judged on cosmetics and the service book alone, I would be forced to get comfortable with the notion that we were going to be stranded some 300 miles from home. However, for a car driven out of the showroom, even before my co-traveller was born, it was reasonable with no show-stoppers.
Time for a test drive. After a confident knock to prise the owner from his home, the key was handed over. As if the car knew it had one last chance to impress its prospective new owner, it eagerly roared into life with a solid rumble that can only be experienced from the Bruno Sacco-era of Mercedes-Benz.
The big stretched smile was back. The car felt heavy in a luxurious way but the torque and automatic gearbox made pulling away light-work. Only now did I feel the true comfort of the seats even though I had the privilege of being chauffeured from the airport only a short while ago. Mechanics were on point and led me to believe that more recent services were merely forgotten to be recorded. The digital odometer had numbers in all columns which neared 150,000 miles; unachievable for cars deprived of regular maintenance.
As we started toward the tidy home, I was coming to terms with the prospect of achieving my boyhood dream of R129 ownership. A poker face had replaced where the big smile once was.
The inside of the house was as quaint and tidy as the exterior would lead you to believe. After a short negotiation, my final offer was accepted. The second round of tea was once again politely turned down as a neatly, hand-written receipt was pushed into sight. With Section 6 of the V5 complete and with the receipt, keys and New Keepers Details slip in hand, I left with one final handshake.
With the door closing behind me, I realised the light had faded quite some as I walked toward my brother who had patiently waited outside. We had our return ticket home.
The five-hour drive East was effortless and I awaited the morning in anticipation to bring together my SLs’ – my latest purchase was not my first. Very little effort is required to get comfortable in SL seats but as I sat there, a very different mantra repeated in my head this time: “you only live once.”
Harry has a Youtube channel called The Turismo Diaries and it can be found HERE and you can even watch a video of his beloved SL from his channel below: