I enjoyed that.Okay. My friend George already had a black-over-red '59 190SL that he'd been driving for a few years. He bought that one in '72 for $1,100. It was a great-running car, but was a rustbucket, with see-through front inner fenders (literally...the passenger side had plastic dropcloth taped over a gaping hole that allowed one to look down next to one's right foot, and observe the wheel and suspension working...very cool actually ), and which was threatening to break into two 190SL halves, since the floorpan was rotting pretty badly. It actually did break in two the next year while going over a rough grade crossing in Gary, Indiana, btw.
So anyway, one nice summer's day in '74 George and I were riding around aimlessly (riding around aimlessly was a major pastime of ours then) in "Old Black", when lo and behold we came across a yard sale in Munster, Indiana near where we lived. Parked in the driveway, next to the tables full of worthless chotchkey was a white 190SL, with a "FOR SALE" sign on the back bumper. George immediately swung into the guy's driveway, and we looked it over. It was amazingly rust-free, except for the rear quarter panels just behind the wheels and underneath the "brows" over the wheels, which were rusting notably, otherwise the car was dead-solid everywhere. It was unrestored and original, and tired-looking, but ALL 190SLs looked tired in the early seventies. The owner was a guy in his 40s, and he told us about the car, and how he had owned it for a year or so, and had had the local Mercedes Benz dealership put a brand-new $2,000 longblock engine in it, as the original had tossed a rod out the side of the block. George and I looked at each other with excitement mounting. "How much for it?" was George's question by now. The guy was "hoping to get" $1,200 for it, but he explained how it couldn't be driven. He was simply bailing out on the car, probably with pressure from his wife. "WHY?" was our next question, since it had a brand-new engine and all. The guy explained how he had tried to tune it up and synchronize the carbs, but had messed something up so badly that it just sputtered and coughed and would not accelerate at all; just barely moving up to about 20 mph or so. George opened the hood and while the guy was busy with other people, he felt around beneath the carburetors. He caught my eye, and then went over to the guy and asked him if he and I could take it for a short drive just to get an idea of how bad things might be. The guy said go ahead.
So, we sputtered and coughed our way down to the corner, and George turned right. When the car was out of sight of the guy back at his house, George pulled over and opened the hood. "Check this out." he said, as he reached underneath the front carburetor and grasped a piece of linkage that was completely concealed from sight (these engines have BIG carbs). He snapped the linkage into place, and then blipped the throttle. VROOOOOOOOM! went the newly alive engine! The front carb had been disconnected! We hopped in, and suddenly the thing ran and sounded exactly like a new BMW 2002! Smooth and torquey, it was beautiful! Before going back to the guy's house, George disconnected the linkage, which "restored" the engine back to its wheezy, spluttering self.
George went to the guy, and told him that he would pay $1,000 for the car, since it needed work. An hour or so later, George was the owner of TWO 190SLs.
The white SL in the picture above was the star of this story. It was fully restored over a period of about 4 years in the early 2000s. George had methodically, during the seventies and early eighties, purchased every single piece of NOS trim, upholstery, hardware, stickers, you-name-it, that he would need to fully and authentically restore his "good" SL, and when the time was right for him to take on the project, he had everything he needed, and all of it GENUINE Mercedes Benz, and by then no longer available through MB. The convertible top and the windshield are NOS Mercedes Benz. The outside mirror is a very rare "long neck" type, again NOS. Even the rusty rear quarter panels he purchased new from Mercedes Benz.
I would relate the condition of this car to that of our resident concours-expert's Continental Mark II convertible, that of Barry Wolk. It's damned near perfect. Just as it should be; that's the way they left the assembly hall in Unterturkheim.