Classic Mercedes-Benz Is a Star in Poland
Photography by Paweł Skrzypczyński
There is a saying that is almost universal no matter the culture or object in question, “what was good then, is good now.” Certainly, many might say that statement applies to the Mercedes-Benz W109 series. Styled by noted automobile designer Paul Bracq, this classic luxury sedan was built by the company from 1965 until 1972. Carrying over many of the basic engineering principles from previous models, the W109 made several strides in comfort and refinement that made it one of the best equipped cars of the period, featuring burled walnut dashboards, an automatic transmission, and power windows. The cars posses timeless styling with simple, but elegant, contours and were known for reliability and durability. Mercedes built its current reputation with the car, and many still recognize a W109’s lines as distinctively “Mercedes-Benz”, even if they were not even born when the model was still being produced like our featured owner, Wojtek.
Coming off the assembly line in April of 1971, the car is a few months older than its owner, and is one of 9,583 3.5 models made during the W109’s seven-year production run, making it somewhat rare. Hailing from Warsaw, Poland, Wojtek’s interest in the marque began when his son, Kuba, was born. Needing a solid, and reliable car to tote around the newborn, his search led him to a Mercedes W124 (a 1985-1996 E-class to the rest of us) station wagon. From then on, he was in love with Mercedes.
In 2008, Wojtek was searching for a car to take him, and his bride-to-be to their wedding. Unable to find anything suitable to rent, Wojtek did the only logical thing a car guy could do–he started looking for a vintage car…to buy. He found his 300 SEL 3.5 in Chelm, a city near Poland’s border with Ukraine. The car was imported to Poland, from France, in 2001. It was in excellent, original condition, owned by a family that clearly cherished the car. The car required some maintenance, having not been used for a while. After making some repairs to the pneumatic suspension and D-jetronic fuel injection, Wojtek was able to use the 300 SEL at his wedding, where he said the car was one of the star attractions…besides he and his bride of course.
Wojtek says his car elicits strong reactions from people. Classic cars always seem to, and Wojtek recounted a story to us from recent memory, where “… During refueling at a gas station a stranger came up…and said, thank you for improving my mood today. It is beautiful.” He loves that his 300 can improve someone’s day. But moreover, he says he loves the way the 300 makes him feel. He loves the engine sound–that particular classic Mercedes “wuffle” that his 300 makes, but he also loves the way it looks, feels, and smells–the color, the smell of the leather seats, the yellow headlights, and the solid German sound the doors make upon closing. Wojtek shares his enthusiasm for the 300 with others. He says there are several classic car clubs, and many meet regularly, especially from April to September when the weather is good. Occasionally, rallies of classic cars drive through Warsaw that cause a very big sensation on Warsaw’s streets, especially since Polish roads are dominated by domestic brands.
There are only a few other W109 300 SEL 3.5s in Poland, and all Mercedes-Benz classics are objects of worship. They have a saying in Poland, Wojtek says, “No star – No ride.” And “…if you only drive a W109 once, you want that car for the rest of your life. It is addictive as a drug.” Milość sama w sobie jest szczęściem – Love itself is happiness.