I used to have a job writing the catalog copy for a certain musclecar-parts supplier with the same name as an X song, and my duties included going to car shows to take photographs for the catalogs (warning to prospective copywriters: don't take photography classes in college). I hated that part of the job, as car shows are mostly soul-destroying affairs that serve only to shoot a few more hours of one's life through the head for no good reason. By contrast, wandering around this weird island city and looking for interesting cars parked on the street to shoot for this series is quite pleasant; instead of single-interest obesesso-dudes yammering at me about their date-coded U-joint caps, I get entertainingly eccentric original owners who come out to tell me about their favorite bartender at the Buckhorn Tavern, circa 1958. So. Here's a real survivor of a 60s Mercedes I ran across in the East End; it's got primer patches and probably more miles under its belt than all the other cars on its block combined...

The four-door W111 Mercedes was stolid in a somewhat menacing Teutonic manner, but the coupe looks pretty snazzy.

The interior is battered but still packs more class than the wood trim of every flashy SUV ever made. That short, straight shift lever is just so no-nonsense, too. You want the gear, ja? Here is the gear! The 220SE coupe for '65 had a list price of $8632; in 2007 dollars, that translates to about $54,000. You want cheap, get a Volkswagen!

Looking at the details on this car makes me miss the days when Mercedes-Benz was all about restraint and subtlety- none of this nouveau-riche McMansion techno-gingerbread crap, like they stick all over their cars these days.

Yeah, the new Mercedes crop is fast as stink, but look at this car! With all the wailing and gnashing of teeth we do over how Detroit Cars Useta Have Style, we might also save a few gnashes for Stuttgart's stylistic decline as well. You might quibble that this car had a wimpy 134-horse six, but there's no law that says you can't drop something with a little more sap under that hood...

This car would be laughed out of a Mercedes show, but that just gives it character. Gotta say, though, the owner ought to find a replacement hood ornament on eBay.

It's as if the designers looked at every excessively exuberant wraparound rear window put out by Detroit in the 50s, waited a while, and came up with their own muted-but-cool version.

And, of course, it has fins!

Required Riding: Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 [internal]