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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Shooting With The Star

In the Philippines, it's quite a challenge to conceptualize a car photograph that can exude elegance of the classic and the contemporary and sometimes it is achieved by not just exposing too much heavy metal in the "frame", it is also a combination of a living being and the machine that goes with it.


A human element with the subject truly adds more value in the overall image.


Even if it's too late to make a sales brochure for this Pagoda, it looks contemporary with the younger generation.


And sometimes one might think it wasn't even shot yesterday!


These precious metals sometimes tend to manifest their joy on such moment, that one might think they had a persnolity of their own.


Such occasion is a rare opportunity in this part of the world and some enthusiasts of the marque and the people who took part on this endeavor will find that this is a fulfilling experience.


Thanks to:

Route 66 For the R107 and W113
ModelzWorld for the moral support
To the model, you know who you are :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Hunt Continues...

A couple of nights ago, I received an SMS ending in these words; "...buyers are not a problem Jared, our concern is the supply..." and it fell on me that I'll be rolling in this nice-to-have-problem after having the hint of knowing that one was sold in just less than twenty-four hours for a relatively cheap sum of one-point-six million pesos. This hot gray-market merchandise that I'm referring to is no other than the Mercedes-Benz W113 Pagoda SL.

I have never driven a Pagoda but I understand its enthusiast's ecstatic feeling whenever they are behind the wheel. Like from my previous post regarding this model, it de-stresses one from the high-tech pomp and pageantry and just mind the simple pleasure of driving, giving its driver "full control" of everything.

Driving the Pagoda is about taking guts and taking control. The driver takes control of the car, not the other way around. It's all about freedom from worries of a mundane life. And this rare opportunity is only offered by a Pagoda. This rarity is what put Pagoda's value in its ridiculous levels. Every phone calls I make, every SMS I send, people I know are also queried with the same question "Do you know anyone who's ditching a Pagoda?". Strangely enough even with the unstable oil price, there's a respectable number of buyers who's eager to get their hands on one before they die.

Owning a Pagoda is not about "status symbol", it's about the love of driving whether it's automatic or manual. Its technological genius was never manifested in the cabin, but in the powerplant, drivetrain and steering that directly contributes to the fun of driving it. And I guess I will go as far as stopping a driver and make an irresistible offer.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thank you Readers!!

After just 27 posts, we hit paydirt in Google search results with keywords ranging from "benz", "pagoda", "AMG", "chedeng", "W201", "W113", "W108", "190E", "Baby Benz" and many, many more in relation with the Philippine internet landscape. This site manage to be in one of the leading results. To those who have done their searches and managed to drop by and enjoyed what they found. Thank you very much!

Proximity-wise, I would like to thank the surfers of Batangas, they seem to really like Mercedes-Benz as they are in the top of the site's statistics, profuse thanks as well to the readers from Pasig for staying at an average of 14 minutes to each article and as second top visitor to the site. Internationally, I would like to thank the readers from Hong Kong as the top international visitors to the site, I would also like to thank Mercedes-Benz Club of Singapore as the top international referring site, please do visit us in Manila and we'll tour you to some of the classics here, you guys are fun!

Our future posts will always be loaded by the usual well-taken shots of our favorite Mercedes-Benzes around the country and around the suburbs and some fun-filled fairy-tales about it :)) All these we'll promise to deliver but don't expect us to:

1.) Beg to borrow a ride from anyone just to say "Heck, I drove it blah, blah" for a nonsense review.

2.) To be self-righteous just to serve the few.

3.) Widen our papers to fill every role in the attainment of Utopia.

4.) To imbalance our ecosystem and the Yin and Yang. As usual we'll be having our fair load of mooncakes, tofus, beancurd, kimchis and ricecakes.

5.) Photoshop our pictures, that makes me cringe. Natural is Job #1

Thanks for putting us where we are now, there's no stopping this site from delivering one of your doses of Mercedes-Benz reading assignments. Rest assured this is going to be just one of the kind. Keep the search engines busy and enjoy your reading! Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Dreaming Stops When The Buying Starts

That's the case if you're in the market for a ricer. But for the loyal Mercedes-Benz fans, the dreaming never stops. To the thirty-somethings, that one great European Dream Car has once passed their brainwaves in several of their nocturnal journeys, whether it's a Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo or even Volkswagen. But somehow during the turn of their careers they have to settle for something less because that's the choice offered to them either by force or by circumstance. Well, that's how the ricers make business; by force or by circumstance not by following ones ultimate crazy decision.

Now that you finally made it and you finally arrived and no longer under the whims of "Dad-can-I-have-a-Mercedes-instead-of-a-Corolla-next-year?" or "Dear-we-don't-need-a-Mercedes-a-Space-Wagon-is-just-fine". There's no stopping you from making that crazy dream of yours to reality. You earned it.

So there you go, jumped in to the classifieds online frantically looking for that Mercedes you really wanted and...Surprise! You're in for some real top and tough choices.

The Brand New

Of course, nobody's stopping you right? So it's got to be simple. Have a catalog ready, call a dealer, tell them to cut the bullsh*t because you already know the color and the model you wanted, ask for a test drive, cut a cheque, have the paperworks done and deliver the car to your garage the next day. Fun Factor: Zero.

But of course, there's the obligatory slamming of all the doors repeatedly to let the neighbor's know you "arrived". You're driving smoothly and out of the blue, you run over a nine-inch nail. And as usual, you have to replace the tyres by yourself. Unfortunately, you can't crank the engine because the system is telling you that tires are incorrectly placed and you have to call a roadside assistance. Perfect!

The Pre-Owned Empire

Certified or not certified these clunkers are definitely pre-owned which means someone has deflowered them before you do. You are in this market because now you learned the hard way that they don't "build cars like they used to" anymore and you don't want to spend money just to look stupid by the roadside waiting helplessly for that roadside assistance and that's very "unpowerful".

But of course, you also want to make your choice in this market to be "right the first time". But there's no such thing as "right the first time", the previous owner's wrongdoings in the car is your gallant mission to correct. Even if you have done your homework, followed the so-called expert's advice on what to look at, you still don't know what to look at because excitement will always be in the air.

You finally saw what you wanted and did an initial ocular inspection of the car, knocked the fender twice, popped the bonnet and peek through the engine block as if you really know what you're trying to look at; so far, so good for a small purse. You did a test drive and definitely the car will run according to the current owner's stupid preferences with "this-must-be-set-first-and-that-must-be-switched-first-and-that-and-that". So you haggle for further discount because you knew there's always something to fix contrary to the "nothing-to-fix" campaign in the ad and the owner gave in. And you demanded the documents, seeing that it's not registered in the owner's name and it's not clean, you didn't walk away as per the "by-the-book" advice of the so-called experts because you know that this is going to be a great car and the pride of walking through corridors of power just to get those papers laundered will be a pubic-hair-to-your-hat thing, a thing to brag in a drinking binge. So again, you haggled further for the bargain that you have never done before and it's so ridiculous that you seal the deal with a handshake and an earnest money.

Finally you're driving the car back home by yourself knowing what you're getting yourself into hoping that someday, under your helm, the Mercedes you just rescued will get back to its original glory.

It's true that the dreaming never stops when it's about our beloved marque. But the funny thing is, the dreaming seems to be more of the backward wish rather than embracing the breakthrough innovations, flashy dashboard stuff, ecological efficiencies, it's always about those great things, about those "great cars that they used to build". Because the past is all about commitment to reliability and integrity in the more personal rather than the unproven and unconfirmed environmental way.


Route 66 - For Chester
CATS - For the ML and C-Class

Monday, August 4, 2008

The F1ghting Star

What comes to your mind when these words get in to your ears; Hamilton, Kovalainen, The Safety Car, MP4-23? They all officially carry the three-pointed star in the Grand Prix of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile, the highest class of automobile racing, better known to the couch potatoes, bums and dumbasses as "F1" and when asked what it means they will just say "Eff-One". I don't watch it fervently and religiously but I'm aware that the W125 is not the W124 successor.

It irks me when hearing conversations about these F1 superstars as if these asshats talking knows what's on the mind of these "G" junkies. There's just too much assumptions which shuns me away from this mouthfarting.

But the latest Hungarian gig, at least, made this traditional balls-in-the-neck ceremony a little more dramatic. With pizza-boy Felipe Massa on an "almost-there-but-not-there" attempt to snatch the great champagne leading three laps to go and a blown skillet is really a tough luck. Rice boys Barrichelo and Nakajima were treated to a carbon dioxide foam shower party when their ricers caught fire while refueling at the pit so tougher luck for them. And of course, Kovalainen won the bio fuel cooking contest by passing off the chequered flag ahead of the pack. MP4-23 is indeed a "dumbo that can fly".

The MP4-23 is driven by a Mercedes-Benz FO 108V 2.4 liter 32 valve V8 engine with 90° bank angle, enthusiasts can consider this another RekordWagen. To the dumbwits "FO" does not mean "F*ck Off", that's the designation for "Formula One". So what's the fuss with these "MP4"? First, I don't think the guys at McLaren love guns, otherwise they will be in a different sport. It's not also the next-generation audio format that Apple will going to sell to your grandchildren. MP4 stands for "McLaren Project 4" and definitely, it's not based somewhere in Quezon City! And the last two digits, by Mercedes-Benz tradition, is always the serial of the current RekordWagen.

McLaren Group, founded by Bruce McLaren, the beauty of sole proprietorship, you can always name your outfit with your full family name, unlike AMG or CosWorth. McLaren, just like Cosworth is also a profound British Influence in the development of some of Mercedes-Benz's "Reihe" cars, commonly known as the SLRs.

In its theater of operations, the FO 108V can only do so much as per FIA regulations. In fact, its design were constrained by several FIA restrictions which means slowing down is virtually not allowed. In the event of a regulated pace due to an untoward incident in the raceway when these "G" junkies got a little too excited, marshalled by a CLK 63 AMG Safety Car that can't even keep up to the slowest cruising speed of an F1 racing car, the FO 108V has a tendency to overheat. And this is where the driving skill plus the luck will come into play.

Just like any lessons learned through the necessity of struggle. Derivatives from the research and development acquired in the circuit, test chambers and drawing boards were also applied to the assembly plants building the next-generation street cars, needless to say, with F1 technology, at the expense of corporate sponsor's money; makes good business.


Lothar Spurzem - W125
Mark McArdle - MP4-23 - CLK 63 AMG

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Mercedes Gyms

If Sacco and Werner has Unterturkheim to do the final tests and tuning of their wonderful projects. Where do we bring ours to really take care of these great work of automobile art and keep them roadworthy?

For those who owned nice Benzes that are Euro-4 compliant, with 7G-tronic transmission, electronic coolant flow control (goodbye mechanical thermostats). A local Mercedes-Benz dealer with service bay in its backyard is the better option to go with. Be aware that when you bring your W123s and W124s in this service centers, the mechanics and technicians may not be "out-to-date" in their trainings so you might end up overcharged and underserviced.

So where do these old-school Benz owners like me bring their wagens for periodic pampering? Before I start, I'm not going to bash or endorse any of these old-school Benz shops around town as this has been said in the local forums already. But I will just drill down on several variations that a Benz owner will encounter in his/her lifetime of joy or punishment depending on where his/her beloved machine will end up.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Benz Meister

These neighborhood shops are like "Q" ships, they looked like an old junkshop from the outside but on the inside, it's a mini-museum of your favorite classics. It's like a car show/museum with a never-ending "under construction" look. The head guy in these "Q" ships are normally in their senior years, gained experience in servicing several hundred cars like your Benz from an oil-rich country or from Stuttgart itself, exudes strong personality and knows what he's talking about, never hesitates in sharing his tips and tricks. Their enclaves normally has a 2-post lifter, so they can seriously service the underlings of your priced old-school Mercedes. Most of the time, these shops only serves our beloved marque. They got their customers from word-of-mouth of other satisfied customers.

The Enthusiast/Hobbyist

Mostly, these are not trained professionals. They got their knowledge of the marque and how to tweak it through collection of books and Do-It-Yourself experiences. They also keep a good collection of their own Benzes. Sometimes if you're lucky, you'll just have to buy the parts and they will fix your car's problems free-of-charge. Their work area is normally their garage, complete with tools and sometimes equipped with a lifter. The conditions of these garages varies from obsessively-compulsive squeaky clean to a typical "Q" ship. Normally, these guys don't seek customers and if they will work on a project car, they will charge according to how your car should look like and behave in the end and not usually how you want it to be in the end. These are artisans, they normally "outsource" highly-technical jobs to other competent people they trust.

The Indie

These breed is the "Lone Warrior" type. Very well-known in his home-service style of fixing and tuning up your Benz. Sometimes these Indies have their own small shops or they are employed/outsourced by the "Q" ships or The Hobbyist and moonlighting as an independent contractor. These group of species are capable of light mechanical works such as tune-ups and small body works. These guys are ideal to work with if you want to grease your own garage or annoy the neighbors with the incessant revving of your engine.

In being fit, there's a saying "NO PAIN, NO GAIN". Then try this...

The Japanese Gigolo

Want to cook rice? These guys has a different assumption on how your European car should run and if your school of thought agrees with them then good luck on your pain. Start driving into their garages and you will see the beginning of the death of your three-pointed star. These bunch has their own share of hobbyists and indies but no "Q" ships because most of them reflects the image as what they are working on. In this domain, "conversion" is the name for repairs.

The Gypsy

Or the "Jeep-sy". What would you feel when you bring your Benz to a shop who claims can fix it and one day you'll see a jeepney or a very low-displacement japanese ricer inside being serviced and your car is parked by the roadside languishing under the heat of the sun and at the risk of being dinged by pedicabbies in which you can only get back with the unnecessary vulgar display of power? Well, you'll just feel the blood rushing up to your head and that is the gain out of this pain.

It's not really hard to keep a Mercedes-Benz fit for running up to the legal Skyway speed limit. It's just a matter of getting into the right place and the right person doing the job.


Mercedes-Benz Classic Corporate Archives - Sacco and Werner Photo