In addition to the popular monthly themed evenings held at the legendary Ace Cafe, there is also a program of one-off events throughout the year. Some of these are scheduled during the day, at the weekend, and others take place on a weekday evening, filling in the gaps of those regular meetings. Working in conjunction with Owners Clubs, many of them are selected in honour of a particular anniversary or celebration, and I have found out from past experience, that they can be very diverting, with an unpredictable stream of interesting cars arriving and departing throughout the evening. Looking at both my diary whereabouts, the Ace Cafe schedule and the weather forecast, I spotted that on an evening forecast to show sunny spring weather (finally!), when I would otherwise have simply retreated to my hotel and probably drank wine in the Club Lounge, I could go and enjoy an event aimed at celebrating 50 years of the “Pagoda” Mercedes, as well as any other Mercedes that chose to attend. Not a hard decision to get in the car and head around the North Circular to enjoy some legendary Three Pointed Star history and heritage.E7
On arrival, my heart sank, as all I could see parked up were a series of W124 machines, none of which looked anything like “standard”. On closer inspection, they all bore an E7 badge on the rear flanks. Talking to one of the people with this quartet of cars, he told me that E7 is a small tuning and restoration company, and the name comes from a combination of E for E Class and 7 is the sum of the digits of W124. Every car they produce is unique, based on the requirements of the owner, and they have worked on saloon, estate, coupe and convertible and all engines. They were there partly to showcase their work, and also to enjoy whatever other Mercedes would arrive.
And thankfully, they did.
W113 – the “Pagoda”
During the course of the evening there were 4 of these rather splendid cars to inspect. All bar one were 230SLs, with a couple of them being early UK market cars and a further example being a recent American import. Later a 280SL arrived. All were automatics. The owner of the blue car was particularly enthusiastic as he had only just bought his car, a nicely presented model which had cost him £57,500. Prices of the Pagoda are increasing steadily, and there are no bargains left now. Looking at the models, it is not hard to see the appeal. Timeless styling and quality engineering are a winning combination, though all the owners did say that the cars are surprisingly noisy on the road, meaning that a radio is pretty much useless.
In some ways, this was the Star of the Evening. A beautifully presented W110 model 200 that the owner said has been in his family from new. Originally bought by his father, the car spent the first three years of its life in Singapore before being shipped back to the UK, and passed on to the current driver when his father passed away, it has been repainted to a very high standard, and the interior looked equally immaculate.
Also scoring lots of points for elegance are these 280SE Coupe and Convertible models.
Sometimes thought of as the first S Class, the 250SE and 280SE saloons, launched in 1965, were thoroughly engineered machines that now have to live in the shadow of the more glamorous Coupe and Convertible models of the era.
W121 – the “Ponton”
Originally launched in 1953, as a replacement for the pre-war 170 models, the 180 became a popular car in its native land. It was never cheap, and thanks to Import Duties, and lingering association with a country against whom we had been fighting a few years earlier, the car sold in tiny quantities in the UK, and many of the small number of Pontons in the UK now were imported some years after they were made. This 190 is a case in point . It represents an example of the later W121 model, which had a slightly larger grille and some trim differences as well as a larger and more powerful engine to distinguish it from the early cars. Not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination, it was a soundly engineered car from an era when most of its competitors were anything but.
Also with a reputation for solid engineering was the W123. Launched in early 1976, this mid-sized Mercedes was produced until 1984, initially as a saloon and later an estate and the very attractive coupe, as seen here. Many of these cars have enjoyed a second lease of life in Africa, though you only have to attend a classic car event in Germany to see just how popular the model still is, as vast numbers will likely show up.
W126 – S Class
As ever with the S Class, Mercedes introduced a number of innovations on the W126 car when it was launched in 1979, and continued to enhance the model until it was replaced by the rather bulky looking W140. There were examples of the regular saloon and the SEC Coupe on show.
Seen as a bit of gamble when launched in late 1982, the Mercedes 190 went on to achieve huge success for Mercedes and made the marque available to more buyers than ever before. Along with the regular models, Mercedes partnered with Cosworth Engineering to produce the 190E 2.3-16, a high performance saloon that pre-dated the conceptually similar BMW M3 by some three years. The engine was later enlarged to 2.5 litres and this was an example of one of those later cars.
By the time that the replacement model for the W201 was on sale, the W202, Mercedes had decided to exploit the AMG capability for its high end sporting models, and accordingly a C36 and later C43 model of what was now called the C Class was duly launched, and sold in far larger quantities than those Cosworth engined cars.
Although taking its styling cues from the contemporary E Class, both generations of the CLK Coupe and Convertibles were actually based on the C Class chassis. There were a couple of these cars on site..
SL models tend to have a long production life, and the R129 cars, first premiered in 1989 were no exception, running through to 2001. This was an SL500.
Not perhaps Mercedes’ finest hour from a styling point of view, with the slab sided styling and bulky appearance, though there was no doubting the technical excellence of the S Class Saloon and Coupe models from the 1990s.
This was Ace Cafe at its best. A nice sunny evening, and a constant arrival and departure of cars, along with some very friendly owners who were only too pleased to talk about their cars.