National Motoring Heritage Day 2023

National Motoring Heritage Day occurs every year on the last Sunday of May.   The goal is to try and encourage as many classic, vintage and veteran cars out as possible and display them at various shows and events.   One of the biggest is held in Berry, where they anticipate around 600 cars each year.   The Mercedes club normally attend this event and this year had capacity reserved for up to 30 cars.

The 2022 event was cancelled due to weather, and I last attended the 2021 event which was excellent.    That year the club combined it with the 50 years of the R/C107.   I took my 450SLC and it was displayed alongside a number of 107s, although I managed to park next to a R198 300SL Roadster.   This years event was a bit down in numbers compared to last time.   This was probably weather related.  While the day was quite nice, it had on and off throughout the week.  It was also very cold and windy first thing in the morning.    Regardless it was still a good event and well worth the drive down.

A few of us attempted to go down in convoy.   This didn’t work out as well as we had hoped, as parking lot for the meeting place was closed when we arrived.   It did finally open, but with all that we left pretty late – and in the end we split into a group of 3 and a group of 2.  The second group was waiting on a final car, which I don’t think ever made it.   The gusty winds were evident along the way.  I could really feel them pushing against the car at various points on the way down.   Normally the W126 is not phased at all by such things. I certainly saw smaller cars, and top heavy vehicles like SUVs being pushed around the road.

While we were waiting in the parking lot, I was able to finally able to answer a question I had for  years.    Did the original Becker 868 CD Player from 1987 work in my 560SEL?   I had thrown away all my CDs a few years before I bought the car.   Another club member who is interested in these Becker radios had a couple of CDs.   We tried them, and while it rejected the first one (which was a little scratched), it played the second one and sounded great!   Later, I tried it driving quite slowly on a normal suburban road.  It skipped badly.   I can see why so many of these were thrown out, and replaced with either a Becker 1402 Cassette or a modern radio.

It was good timing, as I hadn’t originally planned to bring the 560SEL.   I brought it because it looked cold and windy, and since I was bringing two of my kids (6 & 8), the extra room in the back is useful when they get bored of the cars and want to go and read books or look at the iPad.   They enjoyed the day too – while the highlight may have been the McDonalds soft serve cone on the way home, they also liked the BMW Isetta bubble car, the 1923 car that was 100 years old, the replica patent motorwagon and the 380SEL limo.    My 8 year old daughter also remarked that a better name for the Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstacy would be “The human bird”.

Another highlight for me was seeing the progress on a car very similar to mine.    A club member purchased a 1988 560SEL a year or two back in pretty rough cosmetic condition.   At the time it didn’t look far off being parted out.   It just shows all cars need sometimes is the right owner, as the transformation has been remarkable.   He’s done much of the work himself, including respraying the car, changing the interior, refurbishing the sunroof.   I was following the restoration quite closely on the old club Facebook page for the W126.   For some reason that got removed, so I was quite keen to see any further updates at it had been a few months.

National Motoring Heritage Day

There were a few other very nice cars in the MBCNSW display.   One other that caught my eye was a dark green metallic 280SE 3.5 W108.   I’m told it is a very original car that has been in the same family since new.   It was sporting tombstone headlights.     It seems to be generally accepted that all of the W108 V8s delivered in Australia came with the stacked headlights.   But I’m not so sure.   This car had tombstones.   I also understand, that the early W111 and W109 3.5 V8s came with tombstones in Australia, but that they were changed to be standard with stacked headlights some time later.   I had always assumed that was when the W108 3.5 was launched.   But maybe it was some time after?   This is tricky to work out, as the headlight types don’t seem to be recorded on the data card.  Same for the wood type on W109 and W111s – also not recorded on the data card.   I prefer the tombstones, but I am definitely in the minority there.

Overall, it was a good day.   It was the first longer freeway drive in the 560SEL since I had the front wheels rebalanced to try and fix the vibration at freeway speed.   Its certainly a lot better but there is still some minor vibration at 110km/h.

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