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Mercedes 230 SL

still with the hardtop at the mount St Helens motel

At a friend in Holland I noticed this classic "pagoda roof" SL in an local paper he had brought with him from the US. He got in touch with a friend in Seattle who checked out the car for me. The Seattle connection gave the car the thumbs up so I bought it without seeing it for myself first. As it turned out this Seattle connection was the same person who bought my CitroŽn DS 23 fuel injection some years ago (see previously in my garage). Small world! After the money transfers and all the paperwork the car sat for a couple of months in a Seattle garage waiting. As soon as we got over the jet lag my girlfriend and I put a new battery in the "little Mercedes" and fired the car up for a driving holiday of the US. Our trip started in Seattle and took us first to Portland. We stored the hardtop at the shipper, lowered the roof and drove down to Crater Lake and Klamath Falls. From Reno (visit the Harrah automobile collection!) we had a beautiful drive round Lake Tahoe and through Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. In Santa Cruz we had the car serviced and noticed a small leak from the differential requiring a top up. I checked out a DS for my Dutch friend and saw a 300SL roadster (black/red) in original condition parked in the street. I waited awhile but the owner didn't show up. After that it was up to San Francisco and a magnificent drive along highway 1 visiting Monterey, Carmel, Laguna Seca and Hearst Castle. After that we dropped down to LA and Hollywood. Here I noticed an ad in a local paper for a Ferrari 308 GTB which I bought later! After taking a look at Disneyland we dropped down to San Diego. Then we got up North to Las Vegas and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. In Moab I had the differential oil topped up again and we were off to see some more beautiful Utah scenery : Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, etc...

amongst the Seqouias...

Since this memorable US trip I have used the car locally - mostly on sunny days. The car has performed very well. The back axle has been rebuilt with new seals to correct the oil leak and the rear suspension was rebuilt at the same time with new rubber parts. The brakes received some attention (the car started pulling to one side) and for the future I'm planning an update (change the manual steering to servo assisted).

Bryce Canyons

Italian holiday trip

in the mountains above MonacoUpdate: My latest big trip with the SL was a 5000km holiday trip to Italy. Plenty of sunshine, good wine and food and wind in the hair fun in a classic Mercedes, what more do you want? The trip took us through the Alps (the classic Grand Bernard pass) into the beautiful Aosta valley. After a detour to lake Como we headed south into the Tuscany hills. The Mercedes is the perfect companion for this kind of trip. Effortless performance from the torquey engine in the mountains and comfortable cruising thanks to the excellent interior comforts and easy to use soft top. Initially we religiously checked the fluid levels, but confidence grew rapidly as, highway or back road, surfaced road or dirt road, the Mercedes kept running faultlessly. After the Como lake we passed through Maranello (when in Italy...) where a large group of tiffosi were standing on a bridge overlooking the Fiorano test track. when in Maranello...They were anticipating the come back of Michael Schumacher after his broken leg in the British Grand Prix. Michael didn't show but the crowd was rewarded with some very amazing aerobatics by Eddy Irvine putting the F1 Ferrari through its paces on wet track (special machines flood the track in 10 minutes). Father the screaming sound of the V-10 Ferrari died away and a visit to the museum we headed south into Tuscany. A couple of days visiting the small towns, cruising through the region and enjoying the good wine and food took us to the city of Sienna. The Mercedes took a rest in the garage of the hotel while we took a few days visiting the city. The car was pressed back into service for more trips. Some 40km from Sienna I had to brake rather hard at an intersection and after that the car didn't feel quite right. Two kilometers down the road the problem became clear when the left front wheel was smoking! Father removing the wheel I diagnosed a stuck left front brake. Fortunately we were able to unstuck the caliper by releasing pressure from the braking system. So it was back to Sienna and a Mercedes dealership we saw on the outskirts of town. We got there only using the parking brake to see a small sign stating: holiday! With the assistance of the hotel receptionist we tried locating the nearest Mercedes dealership and finally thanks to the impeccable service of Mercedes Assistance we were directed towards Arezzo were the Sibelcar people awaited our arrival. picknick along the roadUnfortunately they were unable to help us. The problem was not easy to trace, the parts had to come from Germany and they were going on holiday to in two days! By now we were becoming familiar with the braking problem. When using the foot brake, every now and then the left or right front brake got stuck. Father pumping the pedal a few times or just by waiting the brake freed up. With no immediate repair possible and with this knowledge we decided not to let this get in the way of our holiday and to drive on. For this we adopted a new driving style: try to avoid using the brakes at all times, use the engine brake with downshifting through the gears instead, bring the car to a standstill with the parking brake and only in emergencies use the foot brake. in the Carrara marble minesWe continued our trip and we had a great time in Liguria (visiting the marble mines at Carrara), the Italian and French Riviera, Monaco and Cannes. Even small mountain roads were taken as confidence in our new driving technique grew. On the return trip we only used the brakes twice! Once the problem is resolved I'll report back.

checking if the engine is still there...

Spring 2000 update

The Italian brake problem has been solved! The flexible brake pipes to the front brakes were gumming up inside which was causing the temporary blocking of the brakes! Only high hydraulic pressure was going to the brakes while the bleeding back of the brake fluid was blocked causing the brakes to stick. New flexible hoses solved the problem. While taking care of the brakes the front suspension was dismantled and rebuild with new king pins, etc... I also fitted a new stainless steel exhaust system and new tires so the car is ready for summer sunshine...

French holiday trip 2001

After a quick tune up and some new fluids the 230SL was in for a short break to the French Alps. Watch this space for a report on this mountain trip...

Mercedes Benz 230 SL owners report

For those interested in what it takes to own, operate and enjoy a classic Mercedes the Virtual Garage has a page detailing all costs, repairs and maintenance of this longest residing classic. Click here to find out more.

Mercedes Benz 280 SL for sale

A very impressive Mercedes Benz 280 SL is being offered for sale by a US reader of the Virtual Garage. This SL is completely original and should go to a nice home. The Virtual Garage has put up a page detailing classic. Click here to find out more.

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