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Reader review: Roadtrippin' with my dream car 'Gert' - a 1984 Mercedes W126 280SE

2018-04-15 12:00

Rudo van Heerden

Image: Rudo van Heerden

Earlier in 2017, Getroud Met Rugby producer, Rudo van Heerden, chatted to Wheels24 about his love for cars, passion for German cars and the best car he's driven.

Now, van Heerden's shares his story on owning his dream Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W126).

Johannesburg - 1984 was a good year. I was born and the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W126) was starting to be the envy of all the rich and famous in the world. 

My Grandfather drove past their local Mercedes dealership in Vryheid (Stegens Garage then) and saw the beautiful 280 SE being displayed. He told his brother that they must go and have a look.

Once the bug bit, the itch never left

Just there he sold his W123 to his brother and drove back to the farm with his brand new S-Class. As farmers used to do, the car was only used on Sundays and for long distance travel and he drove it up to about 1990 when he sold it for a W124.

                                                              Image: Rudo Van Heerden

The first 6 years of my life I had so many fond memories of that 280SE as I always insisted to travel with them when we go on holiday. He taught me that wise men always follow the star and you must never drive anything but a Mercedes. I used to sit in the middle between him and my grandma on the armrest, (I thought it was my chair, haha).

Finally realising the dream

Years later in 2007 I earned enough money to buy my own Merc, a brand new W203 C180 K, and since then I owned almost every Merc you can think of. But my biggest dream was to own a W126. 

READ: 'Getroud met Rugby' producer raves about the best cars he's driven

In 2014, the year I turned 30 I came upon my dream car: A 1984 W126 280SE with 140 000km on the clock.

It was pristine and looks like it just came off the delivery line. The previous owner was the first owner and bought it Brand New in 1984 from Cargo Motors in Johannesburg. 

                                                                         Image: Rudo van Heerden

Then my journey back in time started. I left my car with friends in Cape-town and took old Gert (named after my grandfather) on a road trip trough the Karoo back home. What an amazing journey.

Driving up with the cruise control on 130 and the AC making the cabin freezing in the January Karoo heat we had so much fun. Stopping at small towns buying tapes in secondhand shops to play on the original Becker radio and enjoying a total different type of road trip than I am used to in my ML 250 Bluetec I was driving then. 

                                                                     Image: Rudo van Heerden

Just there I decided that at least once a year I need to do a roadtrip with "Gert" to the Karoo and that year me and some friends took it to Oudtshoorn for the KKNK.

Rolling back the years with Gert

Ever since Gert is the favourite when we do a roadtrip, long or short. 

The car is still untouched with its original spare keys still sealed in a Mercedes pouch and currently stands on 151000km. 

It gets its annual service that is being stamped in its original booklet just like its been done since new and I only had to replace tires, fix the electric radio arial, change the control arm bushes and replace brake-pads during this 4 years of ownership.


                                                                Image: Rudo van Heerden

Usually on Sundays I will leave my new W213 in the garage and use “Gert” for the day, and I must tell you that that big old ship from 1984 (That cost R32 000 brand new then) drives just as nice as my new one that is R1 mil. 

I wonder what will happen to the current cars in 30 years? Will they also have the appeal that the W126 still has today? And will they also start the first time you turn the ignition even after standing for a few months?

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