Gottlieb Daimler said it a long time ago, before building his first car which was later named Mercedes: “The best or nothing”. But, if it’s the slogan that will make you buy a car, or feel like you spent your fortune in the right place, maybe this one might not be quite as appealing or seductive. How about “Sheer driving pleasure” or “The ultimate driving machine”? What Daimler said remains the oldest slogan of all time but is it really the best?
“When Egyptian hands start handling a car, by time, it gets ruined.” This was the first thing Rami Badr said in an interview with Al-Ahram Weekly. It seems Badr, an Egyptian classic Mercedes collector with nearly four years of experience with classic cars, has reached a conclusion: regardless of the make and the quality of any automobile in Egypt, the way owners as well as mechanics, treat cars, they decrease the lifespan of any automobile, or at least end up leaving it in a bad condition, a fact which tests the durability of any brand and at the same time makes the job of finding a well maintained car very difficult.
“I loved classic cars ever since I was a kid,” said Badr who always wished his father could buy one. But his father was never convinced with the idea of owning an old car. “Not worth it,” he always said. “I remember walking in the streets as a young boy, becoming attracted to classic cars, and I would stare at a classic car parked on a street for several minutes,” Badr added.
Badr had to wait many years to make his dream come true. Despite the long wait, the dream remained alive. Badr never expected what would happen next.
Back in 1990, he had a friend whose father had an exotic Mercedes C126 560SEC, a car that was worth LE565,000 at that time. Badr fell in love with the car and wished he could own one. Fast forward, Badr reached a stage in his life where he could make his dream come true. He started searching for a car of the same model.
One night in 2014 Badr received a phone call from his close friend informing him that he found a C126 for sale. “I found the car you’ve been looking for. And guess what, it’s the same car your friend’s father used to own,” Badr’s friend said. Badr was already on his toes. “I went to my friend’s office to see the car, and when I saw it being driven towards us, one look was enough for me without even testing it. I told him, ‘I bought this car, she’s mine,’” Badr said.
It was the start of Badr entering the world of classic cars through this 1990 560SEC, a deal that cost him LE120,000. The car is special for many reasons. This particular 560SEC has the catalytic converter, factory fitted, and increasing the 275 hp and 430 NM that used to be in the early 560SEC engines to 295 hp and 456 NM, which means his car is the top of the line. The C126 is also rare in Egypt, according to Badr. There are around 25 cars in the country and he claims that there are only four in good condition including his. There were 28,929 560SEC built worldwide from 1985 to 1991. “This car can cost you around €20,000 in Europe today,” Badr said.
Badr spoke of the massive effort he made to return the car to its original condition. Even with its bright history, this car cost him not less than LE100,000 worth of restoration. “I had to get most of the parts from abroad,” said Badr. “The suspension system, the engine, all the rubber parts, windows mechanism, headlight wipers, everything was taken care of, even the AMG rims.
“As much as you care about your car, she cares about you,” said Badr who passionately added that he treats his classic cars as part of his family, always doing his best to keep them in the best shape possible. “Give away my car? I don’t give away a member of my family.”