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Mercedes Classic Center Irvine: Excursion to the dream factory

Stefan Grundhoff, press-inform
Mercedes Classic Center Irvine
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D he other automakers have had one for years Eye on the branch of the historic Mercedes-Center Fellbach, near Stuttgart. It should only be a matter of time before traditional manufacturers such as BMW, Porsche or Ferrari also set up an American Classic Center.

The sales room of the Mercedes Benz Classic Center is a dream

Even the sales room should give most automobile fans a gentle chill. Directly to the left behind the entrance is a white Mercedes 560 SL of the R 107 series from 1987. A real gem; in its original condition, of course. The white sun worshiper with beige leather seats shines with full equipment and a handsome price of 38,000 dollars. Welcome to the classic car paradise - nothing is cheap here.

The visitor becomes painfully aware of this at the latest when his gaze falls on a dark gray Mercedes 300 SC. The mighty convertible from 1956 is one of 49 vehicles ever built. 175 hp, a perfect restoration and the rare graphite gray paint speak for themselves as well as the gray interior - and the price: 595,000 dollars.
The lady behind the ornate reception counter leaves you alone for now. It is probably not the first time she has seen a visitor to the Classic Center fail her eyes.

At the rear right in the showroom is a gleaming white Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9. The handwritten sign on the windshield wiper reads: 229 miles. Probably a typo, but the condition of the luxury sedan of yore seems to be splendid for 229,000 miles. The driver's door can be opened. The odometer shows 229 miles - without the expected zeros after it. The interior is lined with dark blue leather. Luxury radio, heated seats front and rear, automatic air conditioning - 'fully loaded' is what they call in the States. That also applies to the price: 175,000 dollars.

Same service in the Mercedes Benz Classic Center Irvine as in Stuttgart

If you have a weak car, you should have a clear conscience around the Classic Center in Irvine Make a bow. Because there are only a few vehicles in the showroom itself; just the ones that should also be sold. The gems that are currently being restored are parked in the workshop halls behind. Michael Kunz has headed the Classic Center since its official opening more than three years agoYears ago: 'The whole thing has developed splendidly here. Of course, we didn't know at the time whether the customers would accept our offer.' They took - vehicles have been coming to the Orange County region, south of Los Angeles, from all over the United States. Some bring a gullwing for inspection, others have a dent on the 107er repaired and another is looking for the right retro roadster as a birthday present for his wife.

'We do everything here that we can do in the Classic Center in Stuttgart,' explains Michael Kunz, 'just a little smaller.' A Mercedes 300 TD turbodiesel from 1985 shines in the courtyard behind the building. 'The customer from near San Francisco brought the car to us some time ago because he still wants to use it every day as an everyday vehicle A few defects had to be corrected. The car is first-hand and has run 230,000 miles, 'explains Kunz,' the complete repair inside and out with new paint and so on was ultimately more than $ 40,000 is worth much less. But the car is a memento. We have many such customers. ' The Classic Center generates around half of its sales with parts sales. More than 40,000 spare parts are available in the warehouse. If other components are required, they are delivered from Stuttgart within 48 hours.

Around 20 people are currently working in the Classic Center on Whatney Avenue in Irvine; eight technicians in the workshop alone. Day after day, they can look forward to getting gems such as rare gullwing models or even racing versions of the 300 SL back in shape. 'Most of the time, customers come to us with major repairs. Things like that that can no longer be done in the Mercedes branches,' explains Classic Manager Kunz. Just like the offers to buy in the showroom, the workshop work in the Classic Center is also not for bargain hunters. The most expensive work in the last three years was a complete restoration of a Mercedes 230. It cost around half a million dollars.

Mercedes 150 Sportroadster was a long-term project in the Mercedes Benz Classic Center

Nevertheless, the total value should be of the vehicle are well below that of the red Mercedes 150 sports roadster from 1934, which has been put back on its wheels in Irvine in recent months. The mid-engined roadster had been in museums and storage halls since 1949; hadn't driven a meter. Nate Landers knows the 150 like the back of his hand: 'I last spent 31 days in a row with this Mercedes. The car has not been moved since the 1940s.' It was one of the most complex projects that the Mercedes Classic Center has had to tackle since it opened.

Nate Landers wears a flat cap and sunglasses; he has been with Mercedes for eight years. 'Have learnedI did my job on a nine-month course in Stuttgart, 'the 27-year-old car freak remembers,' before that I studied car restoration for a few years. In my private life I drive a tail fin. Benz's oldtimers have always been my passion. 'Who should feel otherwise if they have to go through the imposing shelf warehouse when leaving the workshop, in which no boxes but luxury vehicles are stacked.

Only when leaving the In the workshop wing, another piece of jewelery catches the eye, which is probably the only one of its kind: a dark blue Mercedes 300 S station wagon from 1956. Looks like the first lifestyle tourer from Daimler with red leather seats and classic dark paintwork is for sale - for just $ 242,000. The Classic Center is one thing in particular in California - an automotive dream factory.

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