I was heartbroken to leave Petit Le Mans early – it was more than just the final race of the season: it was the last ALMS race ever, and BMW was holding strong. It felt as though I was witnessing a spectacle I’d get the chance to remember and reflect on later, when, twenty years from now, we discuss ALMS in the same light we discuss ’80s IMSA racing today. However, the disappointment was overshadowed by the excitement for the intensity that lie ahead.
The Mercedes W124 300CE you see before you belongs to a fellow named Tom Heap. I first came across Tom’s car on the StanceWorks forums, where he went under the guise ‘‘lowbenz’’. It was one of those cars you expect to see online, and at the usual car show calendar throughout the year, but never locally. So naturally, when I discovered Tom only lived a couple of miles down the road, I had to meet him and see this vehicle in person.
Three years ago, on a cool summer Friday night, I stood in the garage, tinkering under the hood of a BMW while my roommates threw a bit of a house party. Just me and a few friends, polishing up parts to escape the blaring music and obnoxious college drunks. Amidst the chit chat, over what exactly I fail to remember, two young guys walked up, eager to see what we were up to. “We saw the party and figured it was okay to walk up.
The design of the Mercedes Benz W108 line is one that has aged like a fine wine. As years go by, some car designs begin to look dated and they lose the charm they once had. Styling cues that followed the trends of the decade and spoke to the consumer market are replaced by the next hot thing and become less relevant. Amidst the flippant trends are designs that transcend and reach an iconic level and age with a certain elegance.
Photography by Kevin Trower
When we first saw Joe Dale’s 1969 W114 Benz more than a year ago, it was, by all definitions, unique. It sat atop a set of MAEs and featured a hand-built brushed, cleared, and louvered hood. The paint was a dull brick color and had a classic patina that had worn through in many areas. The parts played off each other rather well, and for the casual enthusiast, the style could be considered complete.