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                                                                              Drive time

                                                                              A long-time

                                                                              126-series coupe

                                                                              fan, David

                                                                              Sutherland tried

                                                                              Richard’s 560SEC

                                                                              – and gave it the

                                                                              thumbs up

                                                                              My admiration for the C126

                                                                              goes back a long way – to

                                                                              1982,in fact,when I drove the then new 500SEC against a

                                                                              BMW 635CSi and a Jaguar XJS HE for a magazine road test.

                                                                              So when we arranged to photograph Richard’s 560 I looked

                                                                              forward to another chance to drive one of my favourite old

                                                                              Mercedes.Knowing how much work he has had done on it,I

                                                                              was expecting it to be a good one and I wasn’t disappointed.

                                                                              My miles in the 560 were to be from his house in Hendon in

                                                                              north London to the nearby RAF Museum for stills photography,

                                                                              and later from there up the A41 out of town to get some action

                                                                              pictures.The first leg wouldn’t tell me much,as it consisted of

often with small amounts of rust, on   eventually decided to buy an           easing out of his tight driveway and negotiating narrow
the door bottoms in particular. I was  interior separately, but finding one
still veering between 500s and 560s    was a whole other challenge. After     suburban streets lined with parked cars,while re-familiarising
to get the right colour combination.   trying various breakers I almost gave
                                       up, and even considered buying a       myself with the big coupe’s controls and considerable size.
   As already mentioned, I needed      donor car but rejected the idea
a cream leather interior, and                                                 As I watched photographer Derek Goard capture every

                                                                              angle of the SEC – now in open space,and all four windows

                                                                              lowered – its pulse-quickening beauty and dominating

                                                                              presence was so much more evident.Moving it a bit this way

                                                                              and a bit that way for the camera merely sharpened my

                                                                              anticipation for the real drive.

                                                                              Richard went to great lengths to get his desired interior

                                                                              colour,and it was worth it.The silver grey paintwork and cream       63

                                                                              leather are a combination that is both stunning and subtle.

                                                                              “IT WAS A       When finally it was time to drive,I went
                                                                              SUNNY DAY    through the usual‘pre-flight’SEC
                                                                                           procedure: electrically adjusting the seat

                                                                              SO OF        and steering wheel for the perfect driving
                                                                              COURSE ALL   position,and electrically moving the
                                                                              FOUR SIDE    passenger door mirror to suit,but twisting
                                                                              WINDOWS      the driver’s side mirror with the manual
                                                                                           lever.On this car there is an extra

                                                                              HAD TO BE    dimension,the pneumatic orthopaedic

                                                                              DROPPED”     seat back adjuster,the original owner
                                                                                           having paid the extra £287 for the added

                                                                                           comfort it brings.

                                                                              All set,I turned the key and the 5.5-litre,two-valve V8 came

                                                                              to life.Some of these M117s rumble in a slightly American V8

                                                                              kind of way,but this one is quiet and smooth,the only noise I

                                                                              didn’t want to hear being a faint tappety sound from the top

                                                                              of the engine.Put it on the to do list,Richard.

                                                                              The 560SEC has a long accelerator travel,and it is also stiff.

                                                                              So psychologically it takes some effort to get the car moving

                                                                              – but once off,it just glides.More throttle and it goes faster,but

                                                                              still glides effortlessly.In town you notice numerous people

                                                                              admiring it,and you catch yourself looking sideways to catch

                                                                              its reflection in shop windows.

                                                                              It was a lovely,sunny day,so of course all the windows had

                                                                              to be dropped.One of the aspects I love about driving a C126

                                                                              this way is that my elbow is a perfect fit for the top of the door.

                                                                              You can drive this way free of wind buffeting up to about

                                                                              50mph.So once on the dual carriageway I raised the windows,

                                                                              and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the Continental

                                                                              tyres did not generate undue noise,a criticism of 126s in the

                                                                              early days.But the quietness did highlight a tiny amount of

                                                                              wind whistle,which seemed to be coming from the driver’s

                                                                              door.Have those new door rubbers looked at,Richard.

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