Perhaps it’s human nature to find fault with others things. A need to validate ourselves as knowledgeable experts of a particular subject matter or a more dangerous reason, it provides a self-serving boost to the ego. We’ve probably all done it. Walking around a Mercedes at a concours, cars and coffee, or even inspecting a friends pride and joy, we find fault. Fault with Mercedes enthusiasts (more frequently those of us who enjoy older models) most often comes down to one thing, straying from what was original from Mercedes. Though it could also be a component, like paintwork, that is original has been well used and is now in a less than pristine state, a modification as the usage dictates a modification to fulfill a functional purpose originally unintended or a modification made for cosmetic or design intent that deviates from original. More often than not it seems deviating from what came out of MB or one of the select few respected tuners (AMG, Brabus, etc.) is looked down on in the community.
A lot of our cars are not in the best shape, especially cosmetically. Many of us use them as year round transportation and in many cases in harsh environments. Salt covered roads, mountain passes that are sanded, sun baked desert or ocean side locations, or simply frequenting parking lots where no matter how far away you park stray carts are attracted to your Mercedes as though it had a gravitational pull. Whether natural or manmade the environment has a way of taking its toll.
Most of us do appreciate and value our cars many don’t care to spend every weekend touching up stone chips or putting on a fresh coat of wax. There is only so much time in one’s life and it is important to allocate that time where we feel it returns the most value. Some may feel their time is best allocated removing every last swirl mark from their paint while others may feel their time is best used acquiring as many stone chips as possible and spinning the odometer as fast as possible for exploration purposes. Not every Mercedes needs to be treated as a timeless heirloom with the intent of passing it down to the next generation. It’s OK to both love these cars and use them up. Mercedes are tools and meant to be used after all, they are built to robust standards and tested in a wide range of climates. Mercedes doesn’t do this so the cars can sit in humidity controlled garages the company intends for you to use the car to its max and while it is designed to provide a very long service life they do expect you to acquire another and work to improve the robustness of their vehicles for a period of reasonable service life.
Others simply do not have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and/or finances to keep their Mercedes-Benz in mint condition. They feel fortunate (and are) to be able to purchase older, often heavily deprecated models as alternative to what they may feel are boring econoboxes that serve as appliances for the majority of automotive buyers. Often these owners become the greatest enthusiasts of all because their limitations also require them to roll up their sleeves and learn how to do some if not all repairs, servicing, and care themselves giving them greater knowledge, appreciation about the machine.
Driving something that is a “rolling restoration” or a constant work in progress can be a joy. The process of bringing a car to perfection also can often take a lot of time, in many cases, years. Bringing one to 80% perfect and continuing to use it heavily can often bring greater joy though there will always be those who will critique the owners choice not to “make it perfect” we should respect that the owner is keeping their car in good condition and using it as intended. We need to enjoy our cars today, imperfections and all, and not fret if something is not as it left the factory, so long as it is safe. If an owner makes a change to the design that suits her or his taste it is important to remember it is their car to do with as they please and the world doesn’t need heaps of perfectly original preserved examples..it needs a few of those, they are in museums. The rest of us can have fun with them as we see fit.
Next time you see a MB with dented, scratched, or faded paint some cracks in the leather or a sagging headliner, stone chips littering the front, rust on the wheel arches, or cosmetically modified far from what MB designers originally shipped out of Stuttgart don’t criticize the car or the owner, give them great respect. The car is out living and enjoying life along with its owner, experiencing things beyond sitting in a garage, polishing the paint, and being taken down the street to a car show. Some of the best memories we have with our cars are not those spent polishing it but on that several thousand mile road trip to a before undiscovered place.
The journeys, logged by the cars odometer, and by us in our memories, are the stories we share over and over and smile hugely every time we reflect on them. If it means the car is going to have a more wear and a few dents because of it, so be it. We’re only on the planet for a little while. It’s the job of the museum curator to fret over the original paint on fenders. For the rest of us don’t worry if the legacy you leave doesn’t include a piece of metal that didn’t have to be repainted look past the stone chip and see if you can hit a new high score on the odometer.
Images: Copyright Daimler AG