Arne Weychardt next to his Mercedes-Benz young classic car on the roof of a car park.

A new lease of life.

Arne Weychardt from Hamburg runs “Rent an Oldie”, his very own car-sharing alternative where drivers can rent young classic Mercedes-Benz cars.

Photos: Christian Dietz
Text: Knut Simon
  • A new lease of life.

  • Arne Weychardt in between two of his vehicles through the viewfinder of a camera.

    Professional photographer and W 124 fan.

    Click! The name’s Weychardt, Arne Weychardt. 50 years old. His first practical experience of photography was in his home town of Kiel and in Flensburg. At 14, he took on photography jobs for a local newspaper and at 19, he moved to Berlin “because the Berlin of the 1980s offered many opportunities”, Arne grins. His love of the Mercedes-Benz W 124 model series, however, came a little later in 1993.

    Inspection tour on a folding bike.

    Arne just can’t get enough of the W 124. That’s precisely why the idea for this very special kind of car-sharing grew from his own love of the solid and indestructible Mercedes-Benz model: “Rent an Oldie” located in Hamburg’s Altona borough. Arne’s fleet now counts ten young classic Mercedes-Benz cars distributed throughout the area, near and far.

    Arne Weychardt on his bike.

    He regularly goes on an inspection tour using his iconic seventies folding bike to check whether his star-studded sheep are all grazing where they should be.

    A mixed bag.

    Voilà: the control centre of “Rent an Oldie” is based at Nettelbeckstraße 5 in Hamburg. As colourful and unconventional as the whole idea is, the operation is clearly structured: customers must first register in person, after which vehicle rentals and returns are conducted using email and text messages. “At the end of the rental period, the customer sends me a short message indicating the current location of the vehicle so that I can tell the next customer where to pick up their classic rental car”, explains Arne.

    Arne Weychardt in his study.
    Arne Weychardt behind the steering wheel of his Mercedes-Benz young classic car.

    Spoilt for choice.

    Altogether, from the W 124 model series, there are six Estate models, two Saloons and a Cabriolet, as well as a Mercedes-Benz 190 E 1.8 from the W 201 model series. The performance of the W 124 models ranges from a good-natured four-cylinder engine to a six-cylinder version. “After almost losing my driving licence due to always rushing from one appointment to the next, the advice of my driving psychologist was: buy yourself a more calming car!”, Arne reveals.

    On a journey of discovery in a classic car.

    A classic car in Hamburg’s historic warehouse district seems somehow befitting! Incidentally, the pleasure of driving a classic car isn’t even expensive. The prices are very fair: twelve hours in either the W 124 Saloon or the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 1.8 cost 35 euros, for example, whilst the whole day costs a modest 60 euros. What’s more, unlimited mileage is always included.

    Arne Weychardt on the way to his W 124 on a bridge in Hamburg’s warehouse district.

    Arne’s classic cars can also be rented for a week which costs between 250 and 320 euros, depending on the model.

    New experiences in an old car.

    In the W 124, Arne has found the calming influence he sought. And that’s also what his customers are looking for. “They are between 25 and 60 years old and love the new experience of an old, but unproblematic car – either that or they simply want to re-awaken past memories, like my very first customer who wanted to celebrate his 50th birthday in the car of his youth – a W 124”.

    Arne Weychardt and his family in front of the Mercedes-Benz W 124.

    Families like to rent the Estate models – not just for a roller skating trip along the banks of the Elbe, but also for their holidays.

    Arne Weychardt leaning on his Mercedes-Benz W 124.

    A W 124 driver since 1993.

    Arne also has a W 124 for everyday private use which he really does find more relaxing. “In the W 124 you feel the speed”, explains the non-native Hamburger who has been driving a W 124 since 1993 and whose current car-sharing fleet stems partly from his own car collection: “It’s just perfect”, the self-made classic car aficionado adds with a grin. “This way I had a great reason to buy even more old Mercedes cars, instead of having to reduce my collection like others have had to do!”.

    Mini caravan as a cot.

    “I am and always will be a photographer”, Arne tells us. At the same time, he doesn’t want to pass up on new ideas. So, just as he found a second source of income with “Rent an Oldie”, he also thought up and now builds baby cots in the shape of a mini caravan.

    Arne Weychardt loads a miniature caravan into the boot of his W 124.

    These small works of art on (stabilising) wheels go by the name of “Petit Tabbi” and fit into every Estate model. By the way, Arne also has a full-sized caravan from 1977 which he rents out, too.

    A living legend in Hamburg.

    Since 2014, Arne’s star-studded fleet has mainly been cruising around Hamburg, where his company has now reached cult status. The idea of “Rent an Oldie” occurred to him during a holiday in Malaysia: “I saw so many W 124 that I thought: if something is capable of making journeys between palm oil plantations and hotels in 33 degrees in the shade, it could well improve the street scene of northern Hamburg!”.

    Arne Weychardt drives his W 124 over a bridge in Hamburg's warehouse district.

    No sooner said than done: the ideas for the name, logo, website and magnetic signs came to him whilst he was still on the beach!

    Arne Weychardt in front of a car wash.

    Nice and clean.

    Keeping the cars clean gives the business a nice sheen: “I buy all of my W 124 personally and drive them for the first two months myself in order to be able to diagnose and rectify any minor problems”, is how Arne explains his well-thought-out approach. Only then do the new purchases join the rental fleet. “Focussing on the W 124 brings many advantages. For example, the common parts; everything remains manageable.” Plus, the supply of parts from Mercedes is legendary: “You can get everything. Anywhere and at any time”. So, on that note: 1…, 2…, 4…, go!