I only noticed the white W201 behind me for the past kilometer or so, after turning left for the final 2-kilometer sprint to the shop. Took advantage of an opening in traffic to pull the trigger on a lumbering coal-laden Elf, and I saw him do the same, trying to keep up with me. I could only imagine how it looked to the other motorists to see two separate generations of Mercedes Benzes playing in traffic.
As I signaled to turn left to the shop, I gave him a quick wave, thinking that he would just scoot by. To my surprise, he turned in and parked beside me. As we both got out of our respective cars, the decidedly Caucasian driver nodded to Bluey and asked in a Teutonic baritone:
I gestured to his car, “Ja. Youngtimer?”
Big hearty laugh. “Hahahaha...sprechen Sie Deutsch?”
Turns out 60-something Klaus from Munich (he tapped the “Mercedes-Benz Munchen” sticker I had at the rear windshield and pointed to himself, so I assumed he was from there) and his resident-retiree-compatriot saw Bluey a couple of kilometers back and decided to follow me, hoping to catch me at a stoplight. After vacationing for a week in the city, Bluey was the first W108 he saw, and he wanted to take a closer look. He explained to me that he came from a Mercedes Benz family, and he drove a 3.5 coupe back in the day, and still has the car, albeit in need of a restoration from being stored and unused for twenty years.
What better way to show visitors our trademark Filipino hospitality the MBCP way than to offer a fellow enthusiast from another continent a ride? I went one better, I threw him the keys, much to his surprise. But he took it with a huge grin and off we went. Blasting through the light weekend afternoon traffic on all eight cylinders, he kept smiling, “good, good”. While he relished his drive, I was equally relishing my stint in the backseat, my first one ever since bringing Bluey home. With a matching German chauffeur, no less. All in good fun, of course. Three guys grinning crazily, two nationalities, one car. People just stared, probably wondering what the heck it was that we were collectively smoking.
“Oldtimer” holds a profound meaning in the vocabulary of a Mercedes Benz enthusiast. It crosses the boundaries of race and region, transcends the definitions of age and language, a not-so-secret password to the Mercedes Benz fraternity. It harks back to an era when cars were built, not just made; when longevity and durability were engineered into the design, and planned obsolescence was still a yet unheard-of concept.
And yet, lest we forget, a Mercedes Benz oldtimer was a youngtimer once upon a time. They represented the best from Mercedes Benz, a distinctive fusion of form and function, of elegance and durability, offering dignified passage in any quarter. Fresh from the factory, paint gleaming in the sun off the showroom floor, the chrome trims beckoning seductively. They fulfilled their diverse roles as personal transportation, as somebody's pride and joy, and often as a daily driver for their owners, carrying them in style and safety day in and day out, through sleet and snow, through heat and hail. Mercedes Benzes personified the drive, industry, and success of their owners in their individual endeavors.
However, time and circumstances do take their toll, and the cars break down. They deteriorate and suffer from problems, especially when their owners abuse the innate build quality of the Three-pointed Star and neglect the prescribed maintenance schedules. No amount of build quality can compensate for neglect and abuse, and oftentimes when these cars start breaking down, their owners figure them to be more trouble than what they're worth, and put them out to pasture, or worse, consign them to the scrap heap as payment for their years of faithful service.
In time they turn into oldtimers, though not
necessarily through any fault of their own, wearing the badges of their
age on their battle-scarred bodies with pride and dignity.
Evocative Passion and the Enthusiast
Mercedes Benzes by their very nature evoke passion. The enthusiast's first encounter with the Marque usually comes in the form of an oldtimer (or then youngtimer), be it a car in the family, or an experience with an old Benz indelibly etched into the mind and seared into the heart, an experience that they sought to recreate now that it is within their capacity.
Passion made manifest usually happens the moment the enthusiast
acquires their first oldtimer, whether through a purchase or receiving
one from a previous generation in the family. Depending on the
condition at the time of their acquisition, they will spend inordinate
amounts of time, money, and effort into rebuilding and restoring their
dream vehicles. Many of them literally get their hands dirty, further
demurring the oft-held but erroneous impression that Mercedes Benz
owners are an unsullied lot when it comes to working on their cars.
It is not an overnight accomplishment. A corresponding price is exacted in the form of blood, sweat, and sometimes even tears. But these are happy moments, the fruition of a lifetime's dream. And oftentimes this is a dream shared with fellow dreamers, individuals with a similar passion and understanding. Individuals offering help, advice, and invaluable assistance, sometimes even picking up a wrench or two. And oftentimes it is this encouragement, this camaraderie, that motivates them to carry on with their projects in the face of adversity, be it the lack of parts or an ebbing enthusiasm due to financial, emotional, and temporal drain characteristic of many an MB restoration project.
MBCP: The Spiritual Custodian
The Mercedes Benz Club of the Philippines is not only a gathering of certifiable enthusiasts who share a profound passion for the Marque, but more importantly the MBCP is the premiere and bona fide Club to represent the Marque here in the Philippines. As such, the MBCP is the spiritual custodian of the Marque in the country as well the Ambassador of the Marque to the country and the rest of the world, as so aptly stated in the Mission and Vision statement of the Club.
The Club is truly blessed with an extremely active and enthusiastic membership, as evidenced by their myriad Club actvities since its inception. Furthermore, seeing the high level and impressive execution of their Mercedes Benz vehicles only serves to validate and embody their profound passion for the Marque.
Membership is not a right, but a privilege. And the exercise of this privilege demands that the prestige of the Marque be upheld at all times. This includes a personal and communal responsibility as members to ensure that the heritage and tradition of the world's oldest automobile maker not only be preserved, but be promulgated as well. That way, we can truly say that each one of us is doing our part to keep the Star where it is-at the top.
Oldtimers Again...Forever Young
The key to the future of Mercedes Benz lies in its strong heritage and glorious past as embodied in its products past and present, and we in the MBCP are at the forefront in their preservation. This can and at times is a thankless task, but it is also a priceless endeavour.
Oldtimers are the very embodiment of the heritage, tradition, and real world values in congruence with the age-old Mercedes Benz philosophy. By keeping a Star car in our garage, we are living up to the concomitant responsibility of preserving the MB heritage and furthering the MB tradition, thereby assuring ourselves that the MB legacy is kept intact. Let us strive to keep them forever young, not only for the prestige of the Marque, but more importantly for the next generation.