Rolling out of bed at 4:30am is never an easy task, but doing it on a glum Sunday morning after giving up your Saturday to attend work would, in normal circumstances, make it that much harder. Fortunately, on this occasion it was for Retro Rides Gathering 2017 and I wanted to get there as early as possible!
The early morning silence of the streets outside my apartment was soon broken with the sound of a 5 cylinder 10 valve rumbling down my road. My friend Chris had arrived to provide me a lift, and his B2 Audi 80 Quattro seemed a fitting car to head down in.
The trip to Retro Rides Gathering is one I try to make every year; it brings with it such a huge variety of owners clubs and car cultures that no other show matches in my opinion. This was evidenced when our friend Rhys arrived to join us for the drive. As is often the case when it comes to car enthusiasts, we heard him before we saw him. There was an unmistakable sound of a 1JZ-GTE exiting a roundabout before he rolled into sight in his 1996 JZX100 Toyota Chaser.
Here we had two very different cars both sitting at opposite ends of the enthusiast’s spectrum, heading to the same show and taking on the same hill climb in the ‘run what your brung’ sessions. I was already getting excited to see what else this year’s event would bring.
Arriving at 8:00am we pulled into the paddock of one of the oldest motorsports venues in the world, Shelsly Walsh. There were already a number of cars lined up to take on the 112 year old track and by 9:00am the first session was under way. The air was soon filling up with the smell of petrol, burnt rubber and the sound of a whole variety of cars fighting against the clock.
Away from the hill, things were also picking up. The organisers of Retro Rides Gathers split the show into different fields. There is the hill climb paddock, the club stands and then the ‘retro parking’. This year, Retro Parking was open to all cars pre 1992. But by 11am, the field was full. There was a whole host of interesting stuff being directed down to visitor parking! It was soon clear that this year the show was going to huge.
With so much to look at, it was hard to pick out a clear show stopper. But as I wandered the various stands, stopping to talk to owners and club organisers I found something that I couldn’t top for the rest of the day.
Parked at the top of the hill in the club stands was a collection of W114 Mercedes Benz. In the middle of the display was an immaculate black 1973 280CE W114 Coupe owned by Daniel Redding. This car could be mistaken as being a lovingly cared for classic. That is, until you look a little closer; where you start to notice a few custom changes.
Daniel explained to me this car was a childhood dream and that he had carried out all the work himself over the two years he had owned it. It was riding on AirRide suspension and used Air Lift 3H management to control the cars stance. At the push of a button the car could go from being able to sail over the uneven grounds of Shelsly Walsh, to being so low the undercarriage of the car was touching the floor!
I have mentioned my love for a Q-Car or ‘Sleeper’ in my rundown of the action at City Auction Groups sale at Rockingham. Daniel had manage to pull the style off beautify with this car, the exterior of the car looked fairly stock with a few really detailed modifications that made it stand out against its peers. The black paint was spotless, and the contrasting cream leather interior looked fantastic against it.
The cars real party piece was what it was hiding under the bonnet. The original engine had been removed and in its place was a 3.0 litre inline-six diesel OM606 unit out of a W210. Daniel had gone a step further by turbo charging it, fitting a custom intake manifold and having it mapped to now run a blisteringly 473bhp. He went on to say it surprises a lot of more modern cars!
Daniel didn’t stop there either. Mated to the OM606 engine is a modern 722.6 5 speed gearbox, complete with functioning paddle shifters retro fitted to the 45 year old steering wheel. I wasn’t the only one who was impressed with the whole build either. The organisers later handed Daniel the ‘COOL award’. An award they give out each year for the car they felt was effortless at being the coolest car of the show field.
As with all old and retro cars, the price of a clean original W114 is on the up, with ones in need of a full restoration selling for upwards of £6000. We rarely see them at auction in Coupe style, or even in the SL body style for that matter. But taking a look at our past auction results shows a 280SL sold in the middle of last year for just shy of £40,000!