The Fair Weather Diver
It seems Chris comes by his love of Mercedes honestly, inheriting and fully embracing a passion for the brand. Chris explains, "the Mercedes brand was always part of our family. My dad is a huge Mercedes fan and had been driving MB's long before I was born." When asked what first interested him in this car, Chris says "it was the timeless features that got me; I just fell in love with the lines, the louver windows, long hood and short trunk, the big Mercedes star on the grill."
Bought in 1992 in Switzerland, the car was 16 years old and originally Ikon Gold in colour. Chris says, "I drove it for about 2 years and decided to do what was supposed to be a quick restoration of the vehicle with different wheels, lowered suspension and mild engine tuning. That turned into a three year project and restoration including a complete engine rebuild." Wanting a new colour for the car, he found a Mercedes spec. paint called Bornite Metallic, a common colour in Europe but only seen in the US in 1993. "The three years it took to restore it were pretty amazing. I learned so much about these cars since I did most of the work myself." Over here in North America, with its euro spec details and new colour, this car really stands apart from all other R and C107's. It is a testament to a long lasting love of Mercedes.
"My best memory was picking it up from the dealership and driving it home that first day. I remember eating an apple as a snack on my way home from Zurich."
"I left Switzerland in 1997 to come back to North America and it took me almost 20 years to ship it here. It mostly sat in my grandparents' garage and for the last 10 years up until it was finally shipped, it was at my good friends' Mercedes dealership. I had a freight forwarding company pick up the car at the dealership and they dealt with everything until I could pick up the vehicle at a warehouse in British Columbia. Shipping took 6 weeks and it got here in a 40' container. There wasn't a scratch or spec of dirt on it when I picked it up. Importing was actually very easy, all that was left to do was get the provincial inspection done".
Reflecting on that first drive home in Switzerland, snacking on an apple, he says, "I had the same feeling, picking it up 25 years later in BC and driving it home again."
The Bornite colour and stylish European chrome details of Chris' SLC can attract anyone's attention. But for those who get closer, there is so much more to observe. The cabin is equally matched to the surface in allure and elegance, as well as vibrance . The interior remains as Mercedes designed, but the front seats are newly upholstered, with the headliner and carpets replaced, all with Mercedes parts. The theme is cohesive over every inch of the car.
Diving into the engine bay, Chris says, "when I bought the car, engine size didn't really matter to me. I looked at 280, 350 and 450 SLC models. Now, I am glad I ended up with a 450SLC. I like the deep rumble of the engine." It's a euro spec V8 with higher output and less restrictions than the North American counterparts. This one in particular, being bored and completely rebuilt, is essentially a new engine, and continuing under the hood, there's nothing to make you think otherwise.
"Diving has been another lifelong passion of mine. I do a lot of research diving for different societies and institutions. Most research dives are more technical than the usual weekend dives with my buddies. I consider myself a tool when it comes to research dives; I'm not a marine biologist or anything, I just do what they tell me to because they can't do it themselves. Other than that, I love just checking out our underwater world that few people actually know anything about".
When asked if there's any tie for him between driving and diving, Chris describes himself as "a fair weather diver", going on to explain, "that might be the only connection to the Mercedes; nice weather and a not-too-crowded boat sounds about right."
About the car, Chris says, "it's not a race car but more of a cruiser. It's got a ton of torque and it'll go if you step on it. I never take the car out for anything but a relaxing cruise somewhere. " On a warm and sunny day you might find him out on one of the local coastal routes: "My favourite drive has to be along the Sea to Sky towards Whistler...I love just cruising along with all the windows down." Truly, a perfect scene for a proper, classic grand tourer.