Behind the White Wheel

Behind the White Wheel

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Thank you 2015...

2015 came to an end; it was a year full of surprises, unexpected events and thanks God a lot of happy moments…

Breakfast on a beautiful spring day at the Matars' place 
On the Classic Cars side, this year witnessed a lot…it started with me being able to decipher the “how does the Becker Mexico tube radio works” and thus gained a certain advanced competency that allowed me to fully restore my 1961 Mercedes-Benz 180’s radio and enjoy its warm sound…

Becker Mexico Tube Radio fully restored along with the Reims SW Adapter 
Then came the time when social media, with its growing power allowed me to connect with amazing people with whom we started organizing classic cars rides. 

From our first Cars & Coffee in downtown Beirut
On our first ride to the Chouf region with Sary Najjar and Samer Halwani's 450sl
The fun grew and these people became part of my daily life. Finally, and thank to Sary Najjar, a classic car enthusiast I met online, I got the guts to buy my 2nd classic car, a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL. 

Layers of dust covering the old and cracked burgundy paint
The R107, an early model, had been unused for almost 20 years; rust has eaten out most of its floor pans giving ways to big holes! But the car was all original; a challenging project that I hope will add fun, experience and stories to 2016.

Beautiful R107's rear
I have thought a lot about how to proceed with the 350SL’s restoration; I wanted to find a way that would establish a certain “Best Practice” that I would follow in all other projects.
Therefore I created the following steps:
1st: I examined the car thoroughly; other than the sever rust in the floor pans it is all complete with the original radio and original manuals and documentation. 

Complete documentation/ owner's manuals
However, the interior is shot; the dashboard is sun fried and the seats are covered with an ugly non-original material.  

unoriginal non-original seats covers, rusted out floor pans
2nd: The mechanic examined the engine and succeeded in running it after 20+ years of sleep! To my luck, the engine appeared to be in excellent shape along with the gearbox only needing the normal maintenance work.

Complete and well running 4.5 litters V8 engine with electronic Bosch injection system
3rd: Came the long discussion with the body expert; practically, the car needs to be dismantled piece by piece and stripped to bare metal. The rusted out floor pans will be cut and rebuilt along with the other visible and non-visible rust spots; a process that would take between 3 to 4 months.
4th: The dashboard will all be dismantled, taken to a specialist for restoration. The plastic pieces will be repainted with the exact color, using a special paint. This will be a good opportunity to check all the AC/ wind flaps and ducts for any wear and repair accordingly.

Faded yet complete interior; can't wait to have it back to its former glory
5th: The seats and the doors covers will be restored using the original matching red/ burgundy leather.
6th: The soft top will be replaced by a German reproduction using the same material as the original.
Finally, re-chroming of the front grill and of the bumpers will be left to a later stage (after the body work is over) if used ones in good condition cannot be sourced.

Advanced rust on the rear bumper
So here is my exciting 2016 Classic Car project; I hope to be able to ride along with my wife Dona in a very special 40+ years old classic convertible. 

The very rare early rubberized steering wheel