Pierre Le Riche: Wheels Reader
Occupation: Retired Teacher
The Car: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 280
If the reader will picture in his mind a stately stone mansion built in the 1860’s in the Ottawa River Valley with rickety old farm buildings behind it, gently leaning with age; a very romantic rural Canadian setting in the fall of 2017.
When I saw the scene in the whistling October wind it brought memories of Edgar Allan Poe, with the raven looming overhead competing with stray cats in the hunt for field mice, and a barn door banging erratically in the background.
The owner of the property, a gracious, ageless lady, was occasionally visited by intellectuals, artists, eccentrics and other para-social characters, all artistically inclined and philosophical in nature.
Oh yes, the car!
Reputed to be one of the best built cars in the world, the proud product of the Stuttgart Assembly Plant in Germany, it sat waiting patiently inside a degrading implement shed, partially covered by an old wind-ripped tarp, where it had been parked sixteen years ago. Still proudly bearing the original 1973 licence plate, it was as if this Mercedes was waiting patiently for its forlorn master to summon it for service.
For the technically minded reader, a peek under the hood reveals an in-line six with twin overhead cams, a four barrel Solex carb, and dual exhaust headers joined to the resonator. The geometry of the cam shafts and valve train allows a true hemispheric combustion chamber, as per the classic French Talbot-Lago automobiles of the mid-1930s.
Inside the aluminum cylinder head the intake valve sits at two o’clock, the spark plug at noon and the exhaust valve at 10 o’clock. This configuration allows a flow-through power stroke with little air interference. The 2.8-litre engine, with electronic ignition and a four-speed automatic transmission, will pull the big sedan with amazing gusto. Its top speed, if we are to believe the speedometer, can go past 140 mph.
The car had to move out because in this hungry world the farm, with its out buildings, was being rented to a neighbouring agricultural producer.
I like its light green colour but I refuse to call her “Granny Smith,” or “The Lime Green Limo,” as was suggested. I was fortunate to happen here at the right time, fell in love with her, and I hope to give my dear Mercedes a pleasurable second life, like a retired lady of her class deserves.
The rest is in the pictures. Feast your eyes!
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