Cross posting a slightly edited version of the blurb I wrote for the ponton owner's group:
I was watching a clip on youtube about the Mercedes 600, and it was said near the end of the video "if you aren't amazed every time you drive it, then there's something wrong with it, or there's something wrong with you." For me, this applies to the humble 4 cylinder pontons as well.
I just got back from a few days of rally-touring with the Targa California crew. I mentioned it here a few weeks ago, but there were unsurprisingly no takers...almost 1000 kilometers to Baja, Mexico and back trying to keep pace with porsches may not seem like a good time.
It began for my ponton after some late modifications on Thursday night: got my refurbished heaterboxes installed, replaced a rear brake cylinder, oil changed, and from Los Angeles, I set out to Vista, CA to spend the night at my aunts which was close to the first official rendezvous point the following morning. I think I was the last car there, a bit late, but we made it bright and early Friday morning.
Day one took us from Tecate USA across the border to Tecate Mexico, then eventually to the western coast of Baja, to Ensenada. The caravan consisted of 80% porsches, and a few other makes (A Datsun, BMW, lotus, etc...all pre 1975). Similar vintage to my ponton was a '59 356, which I foolishly thought I might be able to keep up with. My ponton [Rosie...a name given by the former owner's 3 year old] was sadly the only Mercedes there. I've said before, but the 4 cylinder pontons with their short wheelbase and favorable weight distribution yield a very balanced handling car, which a lot of the porsche guys were complimentary about. Once the road went uphill though, I usually lost contact quickly.
Day two was a long one. Ensenada to San Felipe and back over some mountainous roads with sections during which I could swear I was hitting 90+mph...though my speedometer might have been a bit optimistic.
Day three was the reverse of day one, and again, good times, good people, and the weather jackpot. Got a bit of rain the second day, but nothing overwhelming. The only bit of drama was when I got stuck behind a local's car that looked to have a badly blown head gasket, which resulted in exhaust fumes with oil deposits finding their way onto the front of my car and windshield. Rosie's temperature was rock solid, regardless of terrain or speed or ambient temperatures. Plenty of cycling through 3rd and 4th gears to keep the car tracked firmly on the road, and it amazed.
I realize that pushing these old girls hard isn't in the interests of most owners, but they can take it and bring a huge g-force inspired smile to your face while exploring the limits of their capabilities.
I hope that other SoCal vintage MB owners will come along to the next one. There is another in April, I believe, with details TBD