My name is Mario Puente and these pages will attempt to document my efforts to rescue older Mercedes-Benz cars; one at a time.
See, I am not a wealthy man by any stretch of the imagination, which means that I have limited resources. To top that off, the limited mechanical knowledge I possess at this time has been self taught thru years of buying, selling, cherishing, driving, detailing, (and yes) wrecking and fixing cars.
So how does a guy with limited resources go about rescuing old Mercedes-Benz cars that at times may look as if their next stop will be the crusher? The answer is very simple: TEAM WORK. Throughout these years, I have surrounded myself with a network of like-minded individuals who many consider to be THE BEST at what they do. From other Mercedes enthusiasts to some of the best classic Mercedes-Benz mechanics in the country. From artisans whose magic hands can perform miracles with upholstery to folks who can help me locate rare pre-merger AMG parts and guys who can work the curves of a classic Mercedes-Benz until she looks the way she did the day she rolled off the assembly line. What I have learned after all this time is that ANYTHING CAN BE DONE!! … all it takes is time, money (of course) but most importantly: PASSION for what you do.
OK, but why Mercedes cars and not another brand?
Well the following story may help explain this passion for Mercedes-Benz (And yes, I promise to make it as short as possible):
I was eight years old in 1985 when my dad took me to a used car dealership in Quito-Ecuador, were I am originally from. Until then, cars were no different than an appliance to me (no pun intended, Toyota Prius). In any case, here I was walking thru rows of used cars, holding my dad’s hand and there it was a (what looked to me) faded yellow four door sedan. My dad said: “Look! this is the Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.0!! This is a VERY SPECIAL car!”
He must have noticed the puzzled look on my face, “Dad, what is so special about this car?” (still confused after the faded yellow effect)
Dad proceeded to open the car’s driver’s side door and invited me to sit with the steering wheel in my hands.
– “Do you hear this “thump!” solid sound when the door closes? This is quality. A car built much better than any other car in this lot. Check out how beautiful the dashboard is; play with the buttons on the dash, see how solid they feel? Now get out of the car and let’s look at it from the side; isn’t it beautiful? See how that trunk line goes up into the air while the nose dives towards the ground?? It is called aerodynamics”
– “What is aerdin…, what is that thing dad?”
– “Aerodynamics is more or less the study of how a body moves thru a fluid. See, Mercedes cars are built by Engineers and Scientists who make sure these cars move FAST across the air. FASTER than any other car around here. You are looking at THE BEST CAR IN THE WORLD and you will have one, one day”
“The BEST CAR IN THE WORLD” kept ringing inside of my head as I sat back on the driver’s seat. I kept pushing myself up just enough to see over that sweeping dashboard and there it was, that beautiful Star, asking me to push forward … begging me to overtake the car in front of me … gleaming … “The BEST CAR IN THE WORLD”.
Fast forward thirty years and thousands of miles North of Ecuador, my 30 y/o 190E 2.3 16V growls happily while we push thru traffic going Northbound on Florida’s I-75. Mechanical noises filling the cabin while I feel the car’s squatting thru the turns and the gear changes…flying by droopy looking, evil faced contraptions packing the road around us. This car feels much smaller today than it did 30 years ago; not only I have grown but all the other cars have too! The 190E’s aerodynamic figure looks like a chiseled brick next to that weird looking Hyundai thing we just passed (Piece of trivia, the 1986 Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3 16V has a drag coefficient Cd of only 0.32, which is the same one that the Hyundai Veloster achieved, almost 30 years later!)
The reason I rush home is to check fitment of the latest part I have purchased at my local Mercedes-Benz dealer; the last part I need to complete the project I have in my garage. I get home, run into the garage, plug in the new part and voila! I am done!! Another Mercedes I saved!!
See, these old Mercedes are no longer being made. As a result, we lose a piece of automotive history every time a neglected W123 is turned into a parts car or when a W107 is abandoned to rot on a field. On that same line of thought, there will be no other 190E Cossie to replace that one who got written off by the insurance company after a careless-text-and-drive idiot rear ended it. Every time a W124 or a W108 dies, so does the legacy of the greatest car maker the world has ever seen.
I have owned and driven too many cars, from BMW to Ferrari to Lotus, from Toyotas to Fords and Dodges. There are plenty of truly good cars out there, but there is only one … the one with the gleaming Star on the hood that promises to keep my family and I safe while cruising down the fast lane for the next 30 years.