You could say that. My father owned a furniture company in Germany and I would give him a hand when I was a young boy.
I remember driving the company’s forklift when I was 10 years old. Then I took lessons at a driving school in Germany and got my licence on my 18th birthday.
As I am a very tall guy, measuring 1.98 metres, I like cars that I can fit into first of all! Next, they should be sporty and good looking. Yes, I fit in quite well, it’s actually very sporty and I find it tremendously good looking. In my opinion, it looks very classy, but it isn’t overly aggressive, which would not be my style. I prefer understated cars that don’t show immediately what they are capable of. In Germany I had a good friend who was an experienced car mechanic. Together we used to buy second-hand cars, fix them up, drive them for a while, then sell them. I had a few nice Mercs such as a 1982 500 SEL and I was also the proud owner of 1977 Jaguar XJ Series II 5.3 V12 for a couple of weeks. But a road accident (not my fault!) ended that relationship all too soon. It did. I used to earn some extra [as a taxi driver] and this helped me a great deal in getting through university. I did night shifts and drove a Mercedes E-Class diesel. Not very exciting from a driver’s perspective but the experience as a taxi driver certainly was. It taught me a lot and I am proud of it. I gained a lot of experience in city traffic, orientation while driving (there was no GPS at that time) and I learnt to predict other drivers’ mistakes. In fact, while living in Brazil afterwards, I managed to drive around Sao Paulo without any problems. Quite an achievement in a city with 18 million people and a lot of traffic jams.
I like sporty cars with lots of horsepower. As a German guy, you must drive such a thing while you are here in the UAE. Back home, with petrol prices at 1.80 Euros per litre (just under Dh10 per litre), it’s impossible to drive such a car without heading for bankruptcy. So I was looking for a used car in good condition that would fit in my budget, be sporty yet classy, and visually not too aggressive.
I was strolling around the used car market in Al Aweer one weekend when I saw the C55. It was love at first sight. I had a short test drive and the next day I finalised the purchase. As I work in the Bosch Automotive aftermarket department, getting spare parts for any brand isn’t a problem. Getting parts for German brands in particular, is very easy. This made the decision to buy the C55, albeit used and seven years old, much easier. Secondly, I can take it back home to Germany with me one day. I probably cannot afford to drive it there but I can try to sell it to get my investment back.
Absolutely. I bought the Rio because it was clear that the C55 would not be my every day car. I always try to have ‘normal’ cars for day-to-day use and special cars or a motorcycle for the weekend. Initially, I wanted to buy a used everyday car, but I was convinced it would not be worth spending Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 on one when I could actually buy get a brand new Rio for Dh50,000 with a five-year warranty. And you get to choose the colour!
The C55 is quite rare. Some people don’t even believe that an AMG version was officially produced. They think it’s a fake and that I added AMG badges and accessories to a regular C-Class. But when I turn the key, all doubts are dispelled.
As for the Rio, it is a beauty in the small car segment. It also reminds me to be modest and to keep my feet on the ground. When we arrive at a hotel in the Kia, sometimes it feels like we are neglected a little. But pull up in the Merc and people treat you differently.
I have colleagues who own several cars, but the C55 is unique and, because of the price I paid for it and the excellent condition it is in, they always congratulate me for the purchase. I have a friend who would like to buy exactly the same car; we are constantly on the look out, but so far have not had any success. There are a few that don’t have many speed traps, but I would like to drive the C55 at least once on the autobahn in Germany.It has a hand-built 5.4-litre V8 with 367bhp at 5,750rpm. The torque is about 510Nm and it goes from 0 to 100kph in 5.2 seconds. It’s equipped with a multimode five-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the steering. I own a 1:43 scale model of it, which I love to admire. It gets me through the week much quicker until I can fire up the real thing.