- Image courtesy: Rayomand J. Patell

The Mercedes badge has always been associated with opulent transportation, especially in India. The legacy of the brand coupled with premium features and tank-like build quality has made Mercedes Benz an aspirational brand.

The Mercedes Benz Classic Car Rally is organized to capture this very essence of the Mercedes Benz brand and its paramount legacy. Organized by Autocar India at the Sofitel Hotel in Mumbai, MBCCR 2019 saw some truly majestic Mercedes-Benz models waft about the city of Mumbai – a convoy of elegance.

Among all the jaw-droppingly beautiful stars, a special car caught our attention – Mr. Rayomand Patell’s 560 SEC, famously known as Vader. Painted in black, Vader is a car that oozes personality and style – no wonder it’s one of the most famous Mercs in Mumbai.

Rayomand, fondly nicknamed Rayo, is the front-runner of one of Mumbai’s most passionate and knowledgeable car clubs - All Stars. Team Drivetribe had the opportunity to have a little chat with him – and boy oh boy, was it a fun one! Read on.

What got you into Mercs?

So, I have a friend called Samit, and we’ve been best buddies since we met in…. I think when we were 4 or 5 years old and his family had tons of Mercs. He had every S Class since he bought one every time a new one was launched.

It was like a spaceship for us, in the 70s and the 80s and the 90s because every time you saw something like that… every time you saw one of them going past… it was simply stunning!

Because you could feel the craftsmanship. It was like a fine piece of jewellery that somebody in Germany had made. They looked pretty but they drove hard. It was very aspirational. And like all kids from the 80s, we had our favourites of the AMGs before the merger happened. And the SEC was always one of my favourites. So, I think that’s what got me into Mercs.

What do you think is the significance of Mercedes in India as a luxury brand?

I think if you’ve read Adil Darukhanawala’s book, Winning, you will realize that the Indians have loved Mercs for well over a hundred and twenty years. The Maharajas first, of course, commissioned many. So many powerful people bought beautiful cars from abroad.

And it’s just been a testament to the build quality of a Mercedes Benz and if you walk around, you’ll see many of the older cars from the 20s and the 30s here are still driving around and that’s amazing!

Can you tell us what are you showcasing today at the Classic Car Rally?

So, I am showcasing the 560SEC and the thing about it is I’m building an AMG replica or a tribute car or a homage car that they call it. I spent the last four to five years getting the engine in and the mechanicals and the suspension and the electricals going. But now, I think we’re almost at the end stage of that.

So, I’ll be getting the body kit in, the wheels, the steering, all the AMG options that you could have had at that time so I can truly call it an AMG. Back in the day if you had any three AMG bits, you qualify to get the AMG badge. Which is different from now - I have to have an engine made by Affalterbach to qualify as an AMG. So, I want to respect that tradition from the past.

Can you tell us a story of Vader? What attracted you to it?

This car was lying abandoned on Tulsipipe Road when I first saw it. And it was covered in a mountain of dust. I went back that night to see it and it literally spoke to me and said: “Save me!”. So, saving is what I did.

And I had always, always, always loved the AMG version of the SECs. I thought this was my one chance to make that dream true and it was a huge stretch, but I think that’s what life is about - you get a challenge and then you see whether you can triumph and prevail!

Can you tell us about what modifications and restorations you’ve made?

Vader is mostly stock. At some point, if I find the legit AMG set of headers or an exhaust; quad-pipe or dual-pipe, it’s fine. I might put some of those mechanical bits into it or rather a set of legit AMG lowered springs in. But as of now, it’s just a fully functional SEC.

Okay, maybe not fully functional because the sunroof still needs to be fixed and the AC needs to installed. Other than that, it runs well and it’s been quite a journey.

So, rumors are that you have something new in your garage. Is it just a rumour?

I think that’s just a rumor (chuckles). Or you can watch this space next (winks)!

Do you have a special name in mind for it?

Possibly…possibly…I’ll give you a hint: what is Vader’s son?

You can follow Rayo on Instagram.

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