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In the Garage: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL
THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL roadster owned by Lenny Hummel
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
These lean and stylish roadsters caused a sensation when they were introduced in Geneva, Switzerland almost 51 years ago. In marking their 50th anniversary, Mercedes described the two-seaters as uniting “a decadent delivery of power with an engaging elegance . . . distinguished by outstanding comfort, excellent driving performance and exemplary driving safety.” “Only 19,500 SL models were sold in the U.S. – 2,500 per year on average – so they are somewhat rare, especially on the East Coast,” says Hummel. “Known affectionately as ‘pagodas’ for their distinct concave removable hardtops, they are now becoming quite collectible, especially rust-free examples.”
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it from an owner in San Clemente, California.
“The seller in California had completed extensive and documented engine work, which was quite costly, and that made my purchase a lot easier on the pocketbook,” Hummel says. “Since 280SLs are prone to rust, I only looked in the southwest region of the U.S. to make my purchase. Having found a super nice, totally rust-free car, there was still work to do. I have spent many, many hours over the past six years finding the correct NOS (new old stock) parts, both large and small, to improve the appearance and make this car show-ready.”
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Marry a supportive wife, who understands your need to own something that makes absolutely no sense to her whatsoever,” he advises. “If you have young children, take them to a car show or two and if you get the urge to purchase a collector car, always include them when you display your car. I always remember with fondness my childrens’ smiles as they met so many wonderful people, as well as other owners who love their cars, at Long Island car shows. The hobby makes for great therapy and, as I tell my wife, ‘When I am no longer around, sell the car and you will always get the money I spent back.’ Finally, if you get your wife involved, all of the above makes life even better.”
Hummel estimates the value at $50,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“Enjoy this wonderful hobby it will keep you happy and young at heart,” he says. “This little red ‘pagoda’ has done that for me in spades. Seeing those large three-pointed stars (the Mercedes emblem) on the grill makes for big smiles. As an admirer told me at a show a few years back, ‘Your car is both elegant and sporty. What a perfect combination.’”