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Father’s Day: Grandpa’s car led to lifelong Mercedes obsession


Editor’s note: As a way to celebrate Father’s Day, we posted every story we received as part of our Collecting Cars, Collecting Memories contest. Thank you to all who submitted.

Presently, I’m 59.

My Grandpa Eli was the same age when he drove up to our house in the most beautiful car I’d see seen: His brand-new, British Racing Green 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SE with a tan interior.

I was 15. I could drive just fine but didn’t have a driver’s license yet.

He parked in our driveway and came into our house. It was a Sunday morning. The whole family was at the breakfast table. He tossed me the ignition key in its black envelope with only a Mercedes star embossed into the leather.

My younger sisters rolled their eyes.

“Let’s go,” Grandpa said, beckoning to me.

My mother objected, “Papa, you’re not letting him drive that.”

Grandpa winked at me and asked my mother, “Is that a question or an order?”

He gestured for me to come with him with a devilish gleam in his eyes.

My dad laughed out loud. I grabbed the key and scooted out the door.

“Let’s go,” Grandpa said again as he opened the driver’s door. “You drive.”

That drive ruined other cars for me for life.

Today, my wife and I own three W116s — the same vintage of Grandpa Eli’s 1973 450 SE and an R107 Roadster. These cars are my passion and I have a wife gracious and loving enough to indulge me with this magnificent rolling art.

-Michael Sweig in Chicago, Illinois


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