The Personal Touch

I am a stickler for appreciating a car as it was intended by the factory. In general, I prefer originality and abhor the gratuitous customization of a well-engineered machine. In my life, I can safely say that I have seen precious few automobiles improved by meddling owners. Quite the contrary. It's been my experience that it can take years un-doing "improvements" made by previous caretakers.
The last of the really special years for Nardi wheels is 1966,
which is the year of this 230SL 430mm wheel.

A friend with a 280SL comes to mind. While under the care of his father, his 280SL had much of its engine bay chromed into a shiny mass of plumbing and machinery that would look more at home under the hood of a muscle car or perhaps on a Harley than a Pagoda SL.

Although I prefer my cars in their original state, I also appreciate the little things owners do to personalize their vehicle. I would liken these kinds of details to the decor we lend to our living spaces. If it's done in a knowledgeable, restrained, respectful manner, then why not? And if it's reversible, even better.

From my Cabriolet 
A nod to history is a good place to start. In the 60s, a Mercedes was typically personalized with a Nardi steering wheel, cocomats, and perhaps a wooden gear shift knob. Other options might be driving lights, fitted luggage, or perhaps a chrome roof rack for the hardtop. There's a facade of practicality to the choices, but, in general, they tend to accentuate the car's sporting qualities. 

My mats from
In my case, I have done a few things to personalize my black Cabriolet. This is a car from the mid-90s, but it's still a Mercedes in the grand tradition of an open-top touring Mercedes. It may have a revvy six-cylinder under the hood, but it's still a 4-seater Cabriolet with the grill to prove it. Therefore, it only seemed fitting to affix a European grill badge to its shiny face. The one I chose was a vintage Swiss auto club badge badge with its nickel plating mostly worn off to reveal a layer of shiny brass adorned with bright red cloisonne Swiss heraldry. (My wife is Swiss, by the way. And as we all know, the Swiss love their Mercedes.)

Other details I've added include retro cocomats that I've described in a previous blog posting. (Still very pleased with this purchase, by the way.)

Things I plan to change to take the car back to a less personalized, more original  state: I plan to lose the pair of tan/red pinstripes (very 1980s/1990s) and to return the wheels back to the machine (not painted) finish. 

Perhaps one day I will change the interior to red leather. I wish Mercedes had offered that back in the day for this model.