At the recent AGM of the National Club, I was the fortunate recipient of a very handsome award recognising the completion of 750,000 km driven in Mercedes-Benz motor cars. Our Patron, Ian Longley, attached the sparkling lapel pin to my jacket and handed me a certificate printed in German confirming that I have “Zum 750,000km mit Mercedes-Benz und wunschen weiterhin gute fahrt.” I did not like to enquire about “gute fahrt” but can only hope that it means something complimentary. The pin features the familiar three-pointed star with a sapphire affixed in the centre.
My first Benz was a 180 Roundy that I secured in 1960 second hand from a dealer in Lower Hutt after trading in a Jaguar Mk I 2.4. The dealer reassured me (as to his reliability) that he had served in the RAF with my uncle who’d been shot down by the Luftwaffe over Norway. However, this reliable dealer forgot to mention that my near new Benz had been involved in a serious accident and had been repaired after a lengthy period of time waiting for spare parts from Germany. Regardless, the car ran very nicely and attracted a lot of attention as the marque was sparsely represented in NZ at this time. On more than one occasion, I was stopped by the traffic police on some pretext which turned out to be no more than affording the officer a closer look at this rare car. The Johnsonville motorway had been recently opened and the 180 Roundy enjoyed numerous trial runs up and down the four lane carriageway. Unfortunately, the car had a bad fault in that it refused to propel itself along at the regulation 50mph and apparently thought it was on a German Autobahn.