Wednesday September 14, 2016
Mercedes-Benz 450 SE 1979: An interview with Gavin Nettmann
Not many people can say that they own their dream car: this is not the case for Gavin Nettmann.
In 1974, aged 5, Gavin fell in love with cars: his neighbours owned a Mercedes-Benz ‘S-Class’ 350SE.
It’s a love affair that has spanned 42 years. Here in an interview exclusive to Lancaster Insurance, Gavin tells us when his dream of owning a classic Mercedes finally became a reality:
Name: Gavin Nettmann
Car: Mercedes - Benz 450 SE 1979… affectionately known as: “Mrs White…. I once met a Colonel Mustard and loved the Cluedo theme for naming vehicles. When I look at the car now, I know that I couldn't have picked a better name.”
How Did You Come To Buy The Vehicle?
“In 2010, I developed an itch to own a classic car. One thing firmly embedded in my mind was the sound of the W116’s V8 engine as the civil engineer’s wife floored the accelerator up the hilly road. I decided it was time to find a classic car that I could call my own.
In the beginning of my search I trawled the internet, for ages, looking for a W112 350SE in the UK, to no avail. I then stumbled across W116.org and after getting involved in the forum, the memories came flooding back, so I just had to have a 450 W116 instead!
The internet revealed a few one owner 450SEL's in lovely paint combos. I liked a metallic blue version as well as an icon gold, but alas neither had air-con! (The car will be heading out to Spain on many an occasion). Undeterred, I continued to search, and would you believe, another 450 came up for sale? It had the perfect configuration - SE wheelbase and air-con! My only problem was that its classic white with black plaid upholstery…not my ideal colour or choice of upholstery.
Nevertheless, I went to take a look and a test drive. Well, what can I say, it was love at first sight, it nearly took a lemon to get the smile off my face.”
What work have you done to the car?
“First thing I did was look over the car with critical eyes. I worked on the little, smaller jobs first; new tyres, fuel filter, dampener, fuel injectors, spark plugs etc. With all parts, I have been faithful to the Mercedes-Benz brand using the correct branded parts. Not forgetting a full, detailed service too from Benz too.
Originally I set out to get the car just up and running. But, the more time I spent on it, the more I fell in love with it, the more I realised I could I make it more amazing; so I had the engine bay detailed, and a whopping 800 parts have been disassembled and placed back together, no mean feat!”
What Do You Like Most About The Car?
“She is one of the last models still to have ‘real chrome’, few electronics, and still has that ability to be used daily in modern traffic, yet requires some input to drive.
You can feel that the accelerator pedal is connected to the engine via a cable, and the steering has a more direct feel with the wheels and road. She doesn’t drive like a modern car does, yet is quite well behaved, despite the lack of ABS (although this particular S-Class model was the first car in the world that you had the option to order ABS, from mid-1978 onward!), stability control etc.”
What Is Next For Gavin Nettmann And Mrs White?
“In terms of work to the car, suspension is up next. I will then be taking her on a few wine runs into Europe, experience the autobahns (which she tackles with no problem) and then slowly but surely she will be entering some concours competitions.
I will certainly not be afraid to continue to use her on and around our roads, before retiring to Spain and driving into the sunset.”
Want to see the full restoration of Mrs White? Visit her Facebook page HERE to see the before and after photos.