1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL

Illustration for article titled 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL

Welcome to Down On The Street, where we admire old vehicles on the streets of the Island That Rust Forgot: Alameda, California. We've seen quite a few late R107s in this series, so now it's time for an early one.

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Illustration for article titled 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL

This car spent most of the last few years living in the garage, as one of several project cars owned by a retired Mercedes-Benz repair shop owner. Now it's on the street, to make room for a W111 coupe.

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Illustration for article titled 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL

It needs new paint, but that's about the only problem with this solid, extremely original-looking sporty Benz.

Illustration for article titled 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL

If you look closely, you can see a daily-driven black '70 Dodge Dart in the background.

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DISCUSSION

At a fundraising carwash one fine spring day, a lady left her M-B 380SL and went off with some guy in an RX-7.

Well, that tied up one of our two spaces, and we were pretty good bringing traffic in, so there was a line. Unheard of: a LINE waiting for a $5 car wash from a bunch of kids trying to raise money for the rowing shells. The pizza place we were borrowing the space from was doing great business with all the cars coming in, but the boss was looking a little antsy with his main entrance getting backed up. We needed that car gone. I peeked in: locked, in park, parking brake set, and the wheels cut to the right. Couldn't push it anywhere if we wanted.

So, we did what we do. One thing rowing teams do is carry their heavy boats down to the water, and carry them back again. Every day. Light weight is paramount on those boats, but they're heavier than you think. I grabbed one of our coxswains and told him what I wanted. The order rang out: "Hands on the Benz!"

Puzzled looks, and dawning comprehension. The order was repeated and expanded: "Hands on the Benz, to the waist and steady astern, hands on!" Twenty of us gathered 'round the car and got a grip. "And..hup!" The car leapt straight up about a foot and a half, and we marched it back about sixty feet. "Portside hold starboard take five, four, three, two, one...starboard one more that's good and steady astern, four, three, two and way 'nough right there!" and dropped it carefully in a parking space.

The lady came back about two hours later. We had washed another twenty cars in her absence, and she was mightily confused where her car had gone.

"It's over there."

"How'd it get over there?"

"We carried it. It was in the way."

"But...a Benz is heavy."

"Yet we are strong."