The fascination begins.
JG Francis, who as a kid was interested in all sorts of cars, grew up in Nevada next to a mechanic who introduced him to Mercedes-Benz and subsequently became his good, albeit older friend. What stuck with him to this day is the sound of the engine, as his friend would pull out the driveway, the way the door would shut and the smell of the leather interior.
It comes as no surprise then, that he bought his very own Mercedes about eight years ago. It was a 1979 300SD dressed in faded maple yellow and sunburned bamboo.
“Bringing that car back to life taught me a lot about Mercedes-Benz, but more importantly I had finally found something I loved to do.”
Since then he has restored about 300 models, five or six cars he kept for himself over the years. He currently drives a 1975 two-toned 300D in brown with lavender stripes to match his Ray-Bans. Personalization doesn’t get any cooler than this.
20 road trips, 37 states, 40,000 miles.
A night in the Mexican desert, 13 flat tires in 14 days, getting caught in a blizzard sans windscreen wipers, miniature horses and a cow with a coiffed hairdo. These are just a few of the bizarre experiences JG and best mate Sean Johnstun, have encountered over the past years in about 20 road trips across 37 states together.
Friends since high school, these two have travelled about 40,000 miles over the past few years alone. “We never take the interstate, we always go for the tiny little back roads even if takes much longer. It makes for interesting stories. When you are willing to drive slowly, off the beaten tracks, you learn so much about the country. We have discovered cultural differences that exist even from one state to the next, simply by shopping in their respective convenience stores or gas stations,” explains JG.
Apparently, in Alabama one can buy fishing poles and frog legs, in Mexico moccasins and in Texas gun racks. “Mississippi comes across as old and depressing in places while in - let’s say - Kentucky it's all lush and beautiful with white picket fences.”
Classic car culture and every day life in California.
“To some extent, the car you choose reflects your personality or your lifestyle. In Los Angeles there are many young people who appreciate the kind of individuality an older car brings. You can pull up to a club with an old 300D and park up front the same as if you drive a brand new SL. It still has this status feel.” JG lives in a small neighbourhood in LA. “LA gets a bad rep sometimes but there are a millions good things I can say about this place. The sun shines most of the time… people are in a better mood… they figure out a way to work hard and still enjoy life.”
In short: Enjoy what you do, travel with your eyes wide open and make friendships last forever. A philosophy that works just as well outside of California.
Passion for Mercedes-Benz.
Jimmy George Francis, owner of lavender Ray-Bans and an extensive collection of vintage suitcases, restores and sells vintages Mercedes-Benz cars in Los Angeles: http://www.mercedesmotoring.com/.
Sean Johnstun is a resident of the “live music capitol of the world”, i.e. Austin, Texas, drives a 1942 Dodge truck without heating and windscreen wipers and is a gifted photographer. He is also a genius in his own right with car upholstery and bespoke interiors.