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  • Alex Iwan talks about her purchase of a Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C 107 series.
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    “Cellulite on the bumpers and cavities in the paint on the doors.”

    What do a masterpiece by Picasso, grandma’s settee and a classic car have in common?

    Text: Alex Iwan | Photos: Andreas Kühlken

Protective cover.

Simple — they all have a protective cover. Or they’re locked in a safe which is intended to maintain their condition. Not just protecting it from thieves but above all from reality. What the safe is to the Japanese Picasso collector, what the throw on the sofa is to Nanna, the garage or the hall is to classic car owners (a garage being a bright, friendly, clean, well-aired and dirt-free space; a hall being a type of gallery for cars with neon light tubes, air conditioning and even security).


Alex Iwan talks about her purchase of a Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C 107 series.
Alex Iwan talks about her purchase of a Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C 107 series.

Parked out of the way, locked away.

In essence, they are places in which great effort is invested in ensuring one’s beloved vehicles are kept in top condition: those beloved vehicles are Mercedes-Benz classic cars. Parked out of the way, locked away. Under lock and key, with neon lights. A protected existence — like a bank account without a card, like pieces of gold on the Pacific Ocean’s floor. There they stand, basking in their own aura — and yet they appear lifeless and somehow boring.


Aren’t cars built to be driven?

Aren’t cars built to be driven? After all, food isn’t prepared for the sole purpose of being photographed. Let’s leave behind the idea of theoretical encapsulation and take a look at my driving schedule: off to work in the morning, always stuck in traffic five times along the route, then an open road over the bridges across the Rhine — time for full throttle with lots of throat, sunroof open, and finally a spot of acrobatics on the car park. Lunchtime: stunt time — just three minutes to get to the famous Kö in Düsseldorf, under time pressure, hard on the brakes, some more tight manoeuvres. Evening: same as mornings, just backwards. Not nice, and when you see it written down, it’s even less pretty.


Alex Iwan talks about her purchase of a Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C 107 series.
Alex Iwan talks about her purchase of a Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C 107 series.

A garage-shaped cage.

Nevertheless, the car needs to get out, with me. “Means of transport” is the complete opposite to a garage-shaped cage with paranoid parents. Admittedly, “classic car” is also synonymous with a special appreciation of value. My classic isn’t handled with silk gloves, my 380 SLC is like a schoolbook, a beer, a kiss. Present in everyday life, used, loved, with cellulite on the bumpers and cavities in the paint of its doors. Terrible really, but love is blind. When I drive a new car, its youth conceals itself behind my age; I feel old and invisible. Going about my daily business in my classic is indecent and irrational, especially driving it every day whatever the weather. If there were an aptitude test for drivers of classic vehicles, I certainly wouldn’t pass it!


A whale of a time driving.

But I have a whale of a time driving. At the latest film shoot for Mercedes-Benz, we were supposed to elegantly roll into a Japanese garden. The whole rolling thing worked, but it was more the nerves of my passenger that it affected. I somehow managed to “jump” over a bump in the entrance road. I really don’t know how my SLC puts up with me. Car washes are something I find dangerous, but I’m good at vacuuming. The whole cleanliness thing is a bit like trading indulgences. My other classic, a Stroke Eight from 1972, has to live in a garage as he has a nasty bodywork illness. I don’t see him very often because he lives abroad. He’s actually not doing too well. But when I kindly ask him after six months of prison to start and pull off straight away, he does so and comes with me to grab a spot of fresh air.


Alex Iwan talks about her purchase of a Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC, C 107 series.