Theodore Roosevelt High School Class of 1959 - Latest News
03-26-2017 - A Bet on a Mercedes Pays Off
Cooper Weeks, 75, a retired TWA airline captain from Kansas City MO on his 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing, as told to A.J. Baime: When I was growing up in Des Moines, IA, nobody had ever heard of a Gullwing. In 1965, I saw an ad in a Road & Track magazine for one for sale on consignment. It was in Switzerland. I didn't know what it was, but it struck me. When I bought it for $6,000 (shipping was included), my father told me, "You can't buy that car!" It was a used car, and I could buy a new Cadillac for that price. We had no idea the Gullwing would become an icon. A lot of people think of it today as the most beautiful car ever built. In its day, the Gullwing was the fastest production car in existence--about 160 mph. It had cutting-edge technology like fuel injection, and the styling was radical, most notably the doors, which open like the wings of a bird. Movie stars owned these cars, such as Clark Gable and Paul Newman, It was only made from 1954 to 1957, and that's one of the reasons it is such a notable collector's car today. The story of the Mercedes name comes from Emil Jellinek, an early business partner in the company, who had a daughter named Mercedes. I told my first wife back in the 1960's that, if we ever had a daughter, we should name her Mercedes. My daughter was born in 1975. People call her Merc, or sometimes Benz. I researched all the history of this car, and learned that the first owner drove it a lot through the mountains of Switzerland, so we have done the same, in Colorado. The car has been on four Colorado Grands, which are thousand-mile drives through the Rockies. And where I live in Kansas City, we have a car club call Car Guys, so we are always taking the Gullwing to events and drives. Sometimes I just go down to my garage, grab a chair and look at this car. It still strikes me the way it did when I first saw the For Sale ad in the early 1960's. It's more that a car. It's a rolling piece of artwork.