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Video series turns used classic into rally racer


As part of its celebration of “125 Years of Motorsport,” Mercedes-Benz has converted a used 1969 280 S sedan into a “furious” rally car and recorded the process as a YouTube video series “to increase the appeal of classic cars amongst a younger audience with this unconventional build and, in doing so, inspire others to do the same.”

However, the company adds in its announcement, “Because anyone who works on old cars already knows that things never go according to plan, this is exactly what ‘Project Retro Rally’ is about: showing the true project car life, and all the delays and surprises classic fans face.”

The ‘Project Retro Rallye’ 280 S competes in the AvD-Histo-Monte 2019 rally after its conversion from a used car to a rally racer | Daimler AG photos

The final two episodes in the 12-part series were to be released April 5, at which time the car, currently on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum, was to be put up for sale.

The videos feature Alex Kersten, a British video “presenter” and head of video for CarThrottle.com. Kersten’s mission was not only to build the car, but to drive it in the historic Monte Carlo Rally.

Also involved in the process were the Mercedes-Benz Museum; All Time Stars, the sales arm of Mercedes-Benz Classic; Autohaus Wilhelm Jesinger KG, a Stuttgart-area dealership; and suppliers included H&R (suspension specialist) and bodytec Fahrzeugtechnik (racing safety cells, including rollover cages).

The program begins with the 160-point inspection that all of the All Time Stars cars undergo

Video crew chronicles the restoration and conversion processes

The build was done with certified period-correct modifications and in such a way that the car could be put back into its non-rally form if desired by a subsequent owner.

Speaking of owners, in the first video Kersten notes that the car wears a 280 SE badge, but it is really just a 280 S; the badge was changed by the previous owner to make people think it was more powerful than it really was.

To view the full series of 12 shows, visit the YouTube website.

At the finish line of the historic Monte Carlo rally

Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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