Along the shore of Holland’s Lake Macatawa live longtime MBCA members Sharon and Ed Koop. Their home is ideal for these car buffs because of the ample garage space; they even store cars below the ground level of their home. Their collection is large enough that some cars are stowed at the homes of family members.
Their Mercedes adventure began 31 years ago when they espied a 1967 230SL. The Koops had never previously owned a convertible but they were instantly smitten with the Pagoda. The styling, size, performance, and color—red on white—checked all the boxes. Of the seven Mercedes that they have owned (one of them a parts car) this one was, and remains, their favorite. Ed describes that W113 as “top-notch.” Sharon adds “it just drove great and was a classy little thing. We always hopped into the ’67 first.”
Whether the W113 was lonely in their garage, or because the Koops wanted his and hers Pagodas, a 1968 230 SL—also red, but with a tan interior—was acquired. Both Pagodas are still in their possession, and their adult children have announced that they want to keep both cars in the family. The ’67 is in good driving condition, but the ’68, which ran well when they purchased it, now has a seized engine. Rarely have they driven either car with its hard top, and it’s also infrequent that the soft top is used. Fresh open air is the way they prefer to drive these little gems.
Both cars have largely remained within Michigan. Ed and Sharon have taken the ’67 three or four times to the 28th Street Metro Cruise (held each August) in Grand Rapids. They have also driven it to the Frankenmuth Auto Fest a couple of times and to the Midland Flea Market a time or two. Make no mistake, these Pagodas are not trailer queens, driven solely to car shows and parades. These cars have been enjoyed by Ed, Sharon, and their family. Both W113s have a well-earned patina.
Next came an R107, ’85 380 SL, which is also red (do you see a pattern here?). The Koops enjoy the performance of the bigger and heavier cars with their eight cylinder engines. They describe the ’85 (the newest model year of any Benz that they have owned) as drivable and in good condition, with only a heater issue that needs attention. The ’85 was followed by two more SLs: an ’84 380 and a ’73 450. The blue ’84 SL is the most recently-purchased Mercedes, acquired roughly 10 years ago, and it’s the Benz with the fewest memories for the Koops. Sharon describes the 450 SL as “a lumberwagon” and she much prefers the smaller displacement V8 in the 380 SL. Incidentally, both the ’84 and the “lumberwagon” are for sale as of this fall.
About 15 years ago, a widow from the church that the Koops attend, began good-naturedly bantering with Ed about buying her late husband’s ’68 280 SE, a very different vehicle from the roadsters that the Koops had owned. “No,” Ed protested, “Sharon doesn’t like [the car].” Eventually, he relented, despite the fact that Sharon disliked the car a great deal. Nicknamed Big Blue, Sharon derided the SE as an “old folks car” and adds that “I probably rode in it two times” in the 15 years they owned it
until it was sold this past spring.
The Koops did purchase a ’67 230 strictly for its parts. Eventually, the car was sold online to a man in Dallas. The buyer shipped the car to Texas, and later to the country of Poland, for body restoration. (There are some YouTube videos exhibiting the meticulousness of some of the paint and body work of some of the Poles who specialize in classic Mercedes restoration.)
None of the Mercedes that the Koops own has ever been driven in winter weather. They have the space to safely store their car away from the elements. With the exception of the ’68 230 SL with its seized engine, none of their Benzes have suffered any major breakdown, which can be attributed to a combination of good fortune and the mechanical ability of Ed, who has performed nearly all of the repairs and maintenance of the fleet. Ed is a retired USPS worker of 30 years. He first began as a clerk (which he hated), then he became a letter carrier. Finally, he went to VOMA (Vehicle Operations Maintenance Assistant); his job there was to keep the mail trucks on the road, just as he did with his personal vehicles.
Not all of their seasonally-driven vehicles are Mercedes. The Koops also own two Mustangs and, more interestingly, two Amphicars, one of which is red. They have had a lot of fun with these amphibious cars. Ed has been known to ask fellow boaters out on the water if he has somehow made a wrong turn in his car. (Visitors to the LBJ Ranch in Texas will see the Amphicar that the former president drove on his ranch. He delighted in surprising, or even terrifying, first-time passengers when he would leave the roadway, while exclaiming that the brakes were malfunctioning. The tiny car would be coasting downhill towards the Pedernales River than runs through the ranch. Unable to stop, the car would slip into the flowing river, and LBJ would proceed to drive the car as though it were still on land.)
Why did the Koops purchase so many Mercedes? Their answer is simple: “Our thinking is that there’s no reason to keep the money in the bank, [drawing say, 1% interest] so we might as well put the cash into a car that we like. And our kids can have one of the cars, if they choose. All of their cars have been in Holland’s Tulip Time Parade at one time or another.” Tulips, like classic Pagodas, come in an array of colors, but the Koops contend that red is the finest color of all. We can’t disagree.
— Nice! Nice! Nice article! I hope and think that Ed’s car “CDs” are doing better than the bank is offering.
Looking forward to joining club at some outings. —sk