How to buy a classic motorcycle in SA?

'There are a few things you need to consider,’ writes bike guru Dries Van der Walt.

Top family cars in SA

Wheels24's Janine Van der Post has gone from a 'SpeedQueen' to a supermom. Check out her list of top family cars.

Pinky swinging in Merc's CL500

2007-05-03 07:29

David Moseley

  • Stream the broadband version
    (4.1MB @ 193kbps).
  • Stream the dial-up version
    (1.9MB @ 93kbps).

    The last time I set myself loose upon a well-to-do hotel I crashed through a bathroom door and collapsed spectacularly into a giant ice statue. I think it was a swan. Could have been a penguin. Not too sure. Later in the stay I managed to flood my room after somehow clogging the drain in the shower. I also stole the soap. That was attached to a wall. The establishment was happy to see me go. I was happy only to happy to wave them goodbye. R90 for a gin and tonic indeed. Suffice to say my trip to the Mount Nelson, relaxing in the back of a Mercedes Benz CL 500, was a far more august occasion.

    To really experience the lavish magnificence and pulling power of this week's car I travelled through the traffic of town for high tea at a most grand location. I'm not particularly fond of scones and clotted cream. But you know what, sometimes you have to do the things that don't always agree with you. That's what commitment is all about.

    My ride to the Mount Nelson was the Mercedes-Benz CL 500 Coupe. It is an automobile of such imposing ostentation that three BMW owners and a dapper gent sporting a Burberry coat driving a Porsche stopped me to ask for spare change at the traffic lights. I swatted the unruly riff raff away with my brolly, poking one in the eye for good measure and beat a hasty path to the tea room at the Nellie.

    I am the king!

    As I pulled into the entrance 75 doormen clambered towards the Mercedes offering their daughters along with their excellent parking skills. One offered me his entire village in Djibouti if I let him breath on the steering wheel. I went one better and let him drive around the parking lot. True to his word, I'm now the king of 343 bewildered looking citizens in the Horn of Africa. They even made me a delightful floral wreath.

    The CL 500, also known as the "Absolutley Minted Up The Backside Man's Midlife Crisis", is a wonderful piece of German engineering. The car goes very fast, it's very shiny, inside the little knobs all light up attractively while the dash board gadgets are all very impressive. If you ever find yourself driving one you can phone your mates on the inboard mobile phone and tell them your penis just miraculously expanded by three metres. All you had to do was drop R1.2 million.

    Make no mistake, for that amount of money you are getting a car that turns heads. In the space of an hour thirteen women and five men offered their hands in marriage. Despite their tempting offers I was in a rush, so I graciously declined.

    Sarmies and pink paste

    You feel a sense of belonging at a place like the Mt Nelson when you arrive in the CL 500. While you obviously don't need to drive a fancy car to have a fancy time, it does leave you with an enticingly tingly feeling when men and women in Cashmere suits eye out your wheels. You also feel more like the kind of person who would enjoy a jam scone at three in the afternoon. I'm a burger man myself. But the Nellie was fresh out at this tea time. Cucumber sarmies and some kind of mushy pink paste would have to do. I especially enjoyed the dainty tea cups. Though the devastated stares I received from fellow patrons when I dunked my biscuits into my tea left me a tad unnerved. Come on now. Everyone dunks ginger snaps in tea. It's good. Jolly good.

    A car like this does something to you. Instead of simply walking you begin to sashay. I felt my back stiffening, my chest puffing out and my gait turning into a "my social standing is higher than yours" kind of glide. If only I had a crown, a long flowing robe (perhaps something in ruby red) and a sceptre. It's an awfully regal looking car and it certainly induces delusions of "Sultan of Brunei" grandeur. Of course, I'm just a punk journalist cashing in on a freebie and a hot set of wheels. But the captains of industry and wealthy foreign visitors enjoying their high tea are oblivious to that insignificant fact.

    No-fuss rock star status

    I've never owned a Mercedes (see previous "punk journalist statement") but I did date a girl who owned one. It was that horrible A-Class effort that dropped straight out of a What Every Housewife Should Drive catalogue. As far as driving pleasure went it was a nice ride, but I felt like an 80-year-old recently blue-rinsed poodle owner whenever I was behind the wheel.

    Happily, this is not the case with the CL 500. If you've always wanted to be a rock star, but you lack the instruments, the talent or the penchant for schnarfing large quantities of illegal stimulants then I suggest you get your hands on Mercedes' latest offering. For five minutes you'll feel like Bono. And if you're really lucky you might get invited to Desmond's spot for tea and the opportunity to discuss the eradication of poverty in Africa. Yes, hang on there Arch, I'll be over in a second. Just watching someone park the car.

    Stream the broadband version (4.1MB @ 193kbps).
    Stream the dial-up version(1.9MB @ 93kbps).

    GET THE CL500 ON YOUR CELL PHONE - Click here


    Our crazy Pakistani drive

    2007-06-08 06:41

    Inside Wheels24

    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.