I’m Happy To Call This Euro-Spec Mercedes-Benz 280SLC My Car And Not My Grandfather’s
Story by Arya Kani
Photography by Henry Cotton
Let me start by saying that I wasn’t born into a household that held much interest in vintage models or cars in general. Still, as I grew up my passion for automobiles grew with me. Back then classic cars didn’t really appeal to me, likely because I hadn’t experienced them even tangentially at this point. It wasn’t until the last exam week of my freshman year in high school that this equation changed.
After attending a track day event hosted by the Official Mercedes-Benz Club of Iran, I fell in love with the older models that wore the three-pointed star. I recall that day clearly, and I remember my particular fascination with a 560SEC (C126) and a Pagoda SL (W113) that were in attendance. That day forever altered the course of my automotive pursuits. I started researching more and more classic Mercedes models, and the deeper I dove into the marque the more I came to appreciate. I looked forward to attending more gatherings and events with the M-B club, and I promised myself that I would own a classic Mercedes one day.
A short time later, I moved to the United States to continue my education, but I never forgot the promise I’d given myself. I knew it would take a while to fulfill, and after graduating high school I found a part-time job to start saving up. After working for a while and saving nearly everything, I was able to afford a Mercedes that I could call my own. I didn’t exactly know what model I really wanted to buy, but I knew something like a Pagoda would be nowhere near my budget—in fact, it still isn’t!
Because I was also in love with the C126, I started to look into both coupe and sedan (W126) S-Classes. However, I couldn’t find any coupes in an acceptable condition, and after a while I found that the same was true of the sedan model. I could afford some US-spec R107 SL roadsters, but those didn’t interest me like the others, in large part because of its balcony-like bumper covers.
Then one day in the spring of 2016 a friend and I got to talking about the coupe versions of the car, the SLC, (C107). After our chat I started to think more about those cars, which of course led to plenty of hours spent online in research and classified browsing. Eventually I came across a healthy looking C107 for sale. What caught my eye especially was the fact that it had Euro bumpers, lights, and factory color-matched hubcaps on the wheels, not to mention it was in the classic Mercedes color: silver. Well, as you can see, clearly I couldn’t forget that car.
The seller lived more than 60 miles away from me and it was a slight hassle to travel there just to check out the car for the first time. I remember convincing my parents that a 40-year-old vehicle was worth spending all my money on, and believe me it wasn’t easy! I’d earned it though, and this was no whim, so finally my father and I drove out to see the big coupe in person. When we arrived the car was under a cover, and sometime in the midst of it being lifted I’d already decided it was going to be mine. Sometimes you can just tell.
Looking at the stretched body of the car, with those signature louvers, I couldn’t be happier to call it mine now. A true early 1970s design icon. The moment the gentleman opened the door and put the key in the ignition, the radio started to play some classical orchestra music, as if on cue. Then he demonstrated the working power windows, the working power sunroof, and the fact that he’d retained the original first-aid box with its bandages and patches still in tact. I noticed a few cosmetic flaws here and there, but it was an extremely easy car to love right away.
The car was imported to the United States from Germany back in 1985 by a WWII veteran, judge, and former district attorney named Roscoe H. Wilkes, who passed away in 2013. So unfortunately, there wasn’t a way for me to get in touch with him to hear his memories of his old car. His name however is written on a plate attached to the driver-side door gap, so I like to know a little piece of the car’s past still rides around with me.
On the day I picked it up I could hardly wait for the long drive back home with my “new” car, that special time when you really get to know each other.
It’s been almost three years since then, and I am as proud of this car as I was during that first ride home with the sunroof peeled back. Although it is not my daily driver, and stays mostly in the garage during the cold season, I absolutely enjoy driving it whenever the moment is right. Almost every time I do, I notice people paying a special attention to it and sometimes giving me a thumbs up, which is always a nice gesture to receive compared to other hand signals people might give each other in traffic!
It is indeed a great conversation starter at the gas stations too, or the grocery shop parking lot, and people are always asking what model and year is it. Though it is nice to find the occasion enthusiast who knows what it is, I like to share it with anyone that’s interested. For some, it is even more special, as seeing it might take them on a short ride through their memory into the ‘70s and ’80s when this car ruled the streets. I’ve also have been asked if this is my grandfather’s car, several times! I’m happy to tell them it’s mine.