It is without reservation that I would like to share my experiences with Bruce.
My 1957 190SL journey started when I was 3 years old. My father was in the middle of a “tune up” in 1971, and never finished it (if you knew my father, you would understand that he had difficulty finishing projects). I don’t remember that tune up, but I know that, on many occasions, I sat and stared at that beautiful car dreaming of the day that I would be able to drive it. It sat in a garage untouched for the next 32 years, until he passed away in 2003. It was at that time that my brothers and sister all decided that I would “get the car” as I would be most likely to get the car working again. It then moved garages, but still sat untouched until 2006. I found a Mercedes mechanic in Columbus, Ohio who managed to get the engine refurbished and got the car working to the point that I could drive it.
To see more pics of this restoration process please visit:
–> 190 SL Restoration
Even though the car had holes all over it (barely had any leather covering the seats, rust everywhere, almost no floor boards, and a gasoline leak if I filled the tank too full), it was still quite a thrill to see the car resurrected. It was at this point that I moved to Omaha, Nebraska and managed to find a restoration company (an established restoration facility about a 100 miles away that offered to perform a restoration for $50,000-$75,000). An estimate of 6 months to a year to perform the work was made. To make a long story short … 5 years later and several hundred thousand dollars later, my cherished car was in a thousand pieces, with the promise of “6 more months”.
It was at this point that I got on the internet and typed in Mercedes 190 SL restoration and Bruce’s website was one of the first entries. I found his email address and sent him a simple message explaining my situation. He responded the next day, and we spoke on the phone. His words to me were “you have got to get that car out of that place as soon as possible”. I, of course, felt helpless given that the car was literally in a thousand pieces, but he told me that he would come get the car himself. I was a little hesitant about sending my car 1500 miles away where it would be nearly impossible to go visit, but I took a leap of faith. After working out all of the details, he flew to Omaha (only charging me for the plane ticket), and the following day we met his transport vehicle at the established restoration facility. We spent about 3 hours boxing up all of the pieces and getting the car into the transport vehicle. We drove back to Omaha, played a tennis match (I think I won, but Bruce has good strokes), and he flew back to North Carolina the next day. He gave me a copy of his latest book and signed it. I read through the entire book over the next week in amazement.
The remainder of the restoration was something that I was not used to … he was honest, kept me updated about the progress with multiple pictures, and kept to the timeline and cost that was promised from the beginning. This past fall, he shipped the car back to me. Although I knew what it was going to look like from the pictures, it was far better in real life. You couldn’t slap the smile off of my face. He also assured me that if I have any problems with the car, that “he would take care of it”.
I put him to the test. I ran into a couple of problems with the car within the first month, but whenever I would call Bruce, he would walk me through it. At one point, he flew one of his mechanics to Omaha to take care of a problem with the wiring that had burnt out, and never charged me a dime. In November, I noted a fairly significant water leak. After he had me test several theories about where it was coming from, it was decided that he should take the car back to North Carolina for repairs (given that I was in Omaha and wouldn’t be able to drive the car during the winter anyway, I agreed). He reassured me that the car would be back to me before the weather got nice. He arranged, paid for, and took the car back to North Carolina. The car was transported back yesterday (unfortunately it was 40 degrees and raining) just as he said it would be. The water leak was resolved and the car was perfect.
When I sat in the car, I could feel my father sitting beside me and smiling. I consider Bruce a part of my family. He has given me back a tangible piece of my own father that I will forever cherish and never forget. I am sure problems will arise in the future as would be expected of any car that is nearly 60 years old, but I know that Bruce, or one of the members of his excellent team, will be there for me. I am forever grateful.
Thanks Bruce …. You are “the man”,