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1958 Mercedes Coupe

Ed Hilbert [ May 2015 ]

1958 Mercedes CoupeIn Nov, 2007, Emily and I were returning from Syracuse and at the time I owned a 1957 Mercedes Benz 220S 4 door sedan. We were driving on a back road when all of a sudden Emily said, “There’s a car up there that looks like yours.” We went back to take a closer look and she was right. The fronts of both cars looked the same, but from the headlights on back were distinctly different cars; this was the rare coupe. My sedan was a nice car, but this coupe had really nice potential. From 1953 to 1962 fewer than 1250 of this body style were made. This one was even rarer since it had a sliding metal sunroof, and a Hydrak (clutchless) four speed, manual transmission.

The car had had a rough life the last few years and by the inspection sticker it hadn’t been driven since 2002. Emily indulged me and a month later it was mine. The engine barely ran, the brakes were locked up, the windows were stuck part way down, the sun roof wouldn’t move, and who knew what else was wrong with it at the time. No surprise, I trailered it home.

I soon remedied most of the above problems – or at least made them livable. Along the way there have been a few surprises. The two biggest surprises occurred in the first real trip we took with the car. After a tune up the engine was running reasonably well although still liking to stall out at stop signs and red lights. The brakes were no longer frozen, although the car pulled to the right due to a leaking left front wheel cylinder that kept that brake from doing much. My car would now move and stop pretty well most of the time. How much more does one need to take a trip to Maine with the Mercedes Club? I was anxious to be on the road!

In sunshine, Emily and I left Bristol heading for Maine. In New Hampshire it started to rain and by the time we got to Maine it was a torrential downpour. It was then we learned that two of the four sliding roof drains were blocked. Water was coming in rather quickly. Unable to dismantle the roof pillars to get to the drain tubes, we needed another solution since Emily was getting wet and the headliner was getting soaked. Emily would dry but I did not want the headliner being damaged. We solved the problem with some wide blue paint-er’s tape which I carefully applied over the gap around the sliding roof. I received a lot of compliments on that decorative pin striping job! At least the interior waterfall was stopped for now.

As I’d never had the car out in the rain before, the roof leak had been a surprise and a nuisance, but readily fixable. Unfortunately the rain also precipitated the need for windshield wipers. I hadn’t thought to try them before, other than to see that they worked to pass inspection. They did work, at least for a little while. As the rain increased, the driver’s side wiper started to slip and not return. After several attempts to tighten the wiper arm onto the shaft the rain let up and I decided to deal with it after returning home. The rest of the weekend went relatively well and I was gaining faith in my little coupe.

Returning home, half way across New Hampshire, a new rainstorm caught us with the failing wiper getting worse. It was also getting dark and seeing the road had become very difficult. Emily’s knuckles were white as she clenched the hand-hold on the dashboard. Her conversation reflected a degree of concern. I remembered my dad describing a wiper failure on his honeymoon. They tied their shoelaces to the wiper blades and in through the windows. Back and forth they pulled on the laces and the wipers moved in sync. Emily was knitting and so we tied some yarn between our wiper blades. Her side was working normally and mine would go to the left but not return. With the yarn in place, Emily’s wiper would pull mine back to the right. A pretty good fix - until the yarn broke. Thinking along the same lines, Emily pulled some dental floss out of her purse and we replaced the broken yarn. Dental floss is apparently much stronger than yarn as it did get us home that evening. In the garage, I was able to tighten a nut on the wiper mechanism. It was a simple solution but very difficult to get to under the dashboard.

This past winter I had hoped to straighten some damage to both front fenders, paint the car, get some chrome work done, and maybe even replace the leather upholstery, but somehow life got in the way. And here we are now ready to start another summer of interesting adventures and pleasant new memories.

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