A Vietnam veteran driving a Corvette arrived at our Mercedes Top Down Tour held in Auckland in March. To facilitate his inclusion in the event, quick thinking organisers stuck a Claytons Mercedes insignia made out of cardboard over his Chevy one. Dez said their Merc was a tin-top so he improvised by bringing his Corvette convertible, but didn’t think anyone would notice! A new member, he and wife Barb won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

Nor will Ken Williams who sported his latest ‘acquistion’ a lovely red 1958 220S Ponton Cabriolet which he recently acquired along with an SL230. Ken and Noeline were not only envied for their new car but also for their designer dog who appeared to want to take over the driving – riding on the driver’s lap!

The Top Down Tour attracted an excellent turnout of members, 42 in total – 22 cars, 18 of which were convertibles. This included 11 very welcome new Auckland members who’d fronted for their first Club event: Dez & Barb Harrison in their Corvette, Sean Macey in his SLK230, bus fleet owner Simon & Raelene Swasbrook in their 450SL, Richard & Clare Veber in their CLK320, Jeff & Doreen Attwood in their SLK230, and Fran Taylor & Brent Hussey in their 220S.

Setting off from New Lynn, classics dominated the mix with a strong representation from the 60s and 70s, young-timers from the 90s, to the current model SLKs. The tour wove through scenic Titirangi and the Waitakere Ranges to the Mount Pukematekeo lookout above the Waitakere Dam. Here participants were asked to identify suspicious Mercedes graffitti on the trig tower. Obviously, the tour organisers had been up to some unusal practices in an attempt to keep the tour quiz sheet sharp and interesting!

From there it was downhill via Bethells Rd and Taupaki, following the Riverhead Ridge to Helensville then out to South Head where the group enjoyed a well deserved drink and lunch at the Jetty Cafe at Shelley Beach on the Kaipara Harbour.

Equal placed winners of the three page Tour quiz were Chris Haliday & Angelique de Jong, Brian & Lynn Hood, and Jack & Marilyn Nazer: each took home a bottle of vino for their ability to drive, navigate and answer sheet questions pertaining to features along the route. While most people made a pretty good effort with the competition, the question that separated the winners from everyone else was: “If you caught the daily limit of snapper, gurnard and scallops and laid them end to end, what would be the minimum length?”

One of the great things about Club tiki tours: not only can you meet a whole bunch of new people, but you get to travel many a country road to out-of-the-way destinations. Organisers Greg and Barbara Lokes deserve a special thank you for putting together an extremely memorable event and attracting such a great member turnout including diverse newcomers such as former UN diplomatic operative, Sean, who has served in West Africa and Eastern Europe hot spots.

With the wind in our hair and the melodious rort of the Mercedes exhausts we all journeyed home after a wonderful day with like minded people brought together by a passion for Mercedes cars. We look forward to the next Club event coming up in early April… FISHING!

Geoff Bogue