Mercedes-Benz Collection in South Africa

Owner: Graham van Heerden
Contact: or

Also visit: Mercseum Durbanville (Facebook) & Mercseum Quick Tour (Youtube)

Cape Town, South Africa

1959 Mercedes-Benz Type W121 190b Ponton sedan

Graham's Mercedes-Benz Collection (updated April 3, 2008)

Graham writes: "Growing up in the 1960s in South Africa, the automotive scene was dominated by Ford and Chevy. My dad, however, always drove Chrysler products (called "Valiant" here). In 1974 he bought his first Mercedes-Benz. It was a W115 230.4. The colour was "Desert Tan." I was hooked. Soon, I knew more about Mercedes-Benz cars than most people. My dad continued to drive Mercedes-Benz cars over the years. Today he drives a new S500. I was fortunate to be exposed to Mercedes from a very young age. Although not a mechanical guru, I "filed" away most of the information gained about the pros and cons of these cars in my brain. My own first Mercedes-Benz was a pre-owned 1986 W126 280SE.

As a young professional, most of my colleagues invested in the latest Toyotas, Nissans and Mazdas at the time. Everyone though I was nuts to buy this "old man's car." Needless to say, I had less trouble with my "old" car than my friends had with their new Japanese cars! At around this time, I started taking an active interest in classic cars. Of course, only Mercedes-Benz! Once again I did a lot of research and investigation before I started buying old cars. My interest at the time was specifically the Ponton models. Not being in a financial position to go it alone, I persuaded my dad to get onboard as a partner to start a collection of Mercedes-Benz Pontons. Fortunately, at the time, there were a number of good cars on the market, and they were going for a song. Soon, I had four Pontons.

Not being satisfied with my own limitations, I started looking wider. Soon I was the proud owner of a Fintail W111 220SEb — a car I admired as a kid. Of course one thing led to the next, and soon I had a serious space problem! Cars were stored all over, and eventually they ended up in an industrial building 20 miles from home. Not ideal! In the meantime I was asked to head up the Cape Town chapter of the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa. This of course led to exposure to Mercedes-Benz fanatics and their cars — and the occasional opportunity to buy another old Merc!

The storage facility was sold in April, 2001, and I was at a crossroads: either invest in a proper facility close to home, or sell off the cars. Eventually we decided to build a proper good quality showroom for the cars behind our office building, 1.5 miles from home! Needless to say, the red tape was incredible once we embarked on the planning stages of the project. However, in October of 2002, my dream eventually came true: my own private "Mercseum." It is designed for twenty five cars. Currently there are twenty on display, and moving the cars is no problem as there is enough space to eliminate "shunting." A major luxury is the two-post lift which I installed in one corner, with a small workshop. I like to do most of the simple maintenance myself. The building is air conditioned, with an epoxy floor, facilitating the cleanup of the inevitable leaks. My private collection of Mercedes-Benz regalia is also on display. This includes badges, brochures, magazines and about 200 model cars. A dream come true!"

Graham van Heerden / Cape Town, South Africa / November 18, 2002

Created: April 16, 2002
Last Update: March 23, 2016 (update email addresses, add link to Mercseum Durbanville – Facebook page)

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