I enjoy it when unique cars are brought to us to shoot, and once again, Andrei Torres and Andrew Arago do not disappoint. Do you remember the Facebook post on the Top Gear Philippines page of this car and an immaculate Mitsubishi Lancer box-type on a two-level transport truck? That truck was on its way to the shoot, and I’m pretty sure that sight stopped traffic.
Let’s focus on this Benz, though. It is a 1968 W109 300SEL sedan, and I knew from the moment they fired up the engine that it is special. For starters, I noticed how the rear end rose up immediately after the driver twisted the ignition; this indicated that under the chassis is a sophisticated self-leveling suspension.
Andrew confirms my theory and tells us that the car has an all-original and working air suspension system. Kudos.
The gem, however, has to be the 3.5-liter V8 under the hood. Nope, the engine bay doesn’t have any bling, but the polished cylinder head covers are enough to earn approving nods from all the car guys present during the shoot. Then there’s the steady V8 rumble that is subtle yet so sweet. This isn’t a car for the drag strip, mind you. That motor is meant for effortless long-haul cruising.
If that mill isn’t luxurious enough, the interior is the icing on the cake. There is nothing missing, and the classic Benz smell permeates the cabin. Andrew and his crew did an excellent job here. No surprise, as he has been in the talyer business for 10 years now. He started out with a small garage, and now he is completing projects like this.
“It grew bigger, and now we do restorations for everyone,” he says. “The car was pretty much beaten up. It had a lot of rust. So we restored it from the ground up. All the moving parts are powder-coated.”
It was a major restoration, but it only took a scant four months. Thankfully, Mercedes-Benz still had all of the parts needed in stock. Andrew just had to wait a while for the shipping—and deal with the people at customs.
The biggest challenge was the timeline. The car’s owner, Dr. Ramon Raymundo of San Pablo City, wants his cars finished and ready to drive as soon as possible. This particular model isn’t very common. It is a European version as evidenced by the bumper trims and the headlights. The paint job is a factory color that was enhanced a bit. Naturally, Ramon had to approve the hue.
Ramon is very fortunate to have Andrew as the restorer of his prized rides. Currently in Andrew’s shop are his 1955 Ford Thunderbird and 1952 ‘Adenauer’ Benz. Wow. Those cars we can’t wait to see up close. Andrew humbly shares that his shop won the Meguiar’s online Car-Crazy competition a few years back, and he got a trip to SEMA as a result. The guy deserved it, and we are eager to see his other completed projects as they happen. Watch this space.
NOTE: This article first appeared in Top Gear Philippines' May 2016 issue.