Friday, June 17, 2011

Concours d’Elegance of America at St. Johns, Plymouth Michigan on Sunday July 31 2011

Mercedes-Benz SLR on display at Amelia Island Concours
I am pleased to report that The Mercedes-Benz Club of America (MBCA) will be a major player in this nationally recognized Concours d'Elegance this year with the participation of the MBCA | International Stars Section in the Concours d'Elegance of America at St. Johns. Formally known as the Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, this world-class competition will be a display of significant and rare cars of the highest quality of design craftsmanship and style, not just Mercedes-Benz vehicles, but all kinds of interesting ones.

MBCA, in celebration of Mercedes-Benz's 125 anniversary of the automobile, will be holding events in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services (MBFS), major sponsors of Concours of America, on Friday and Saturday leading up to the Sunday display, with social events as well as a Defensive Driving School for registered attendees. The National Board of Directors of The Mercedes-Benz Club of America has voted for this to be a special MBCA National Event for 2011, and will be on hand to support the International Stars Section throughout this event.

Mercedes-Benz R320 at an MBCA Defensive Driving School
Saturday July 30th the International Stars Section will be hosting a Defensive Driving and Autocross at the Compuware Sports Arena parking lot in Plymouth, MI, just down the road from the Inn at St. John, where the Concours will be held on Sunday. For those who are interested in taking the school, the cost is $30 if purchased by July 22, or $40 day of the event (cash only.) Admission includes lunch; the school begins at 8 am sharp. Depending on attendance, two full courses may be run, loaner helmets will be available.

Sunday July 31st For those who are interested in participating in a special Mercedes-Benz Concours on Sunday,, Mercedes-Benz’s will be selected from the advanced entries and will be placed in a special (MBFS) branded viewing area. This display will be in addition to those vehicles on display at the Concours of America.

Classic Mercedes-Benz's on display at June Jamboree

For those not showing a car, Mercedes-Benz vehicles will be able to park on the St. John’s Inn golf course in a special (MBFS) employee parking area adjacent to the Concours d’Elegance show field. You need to sign up in advance to get a pass to be allowed to park in the (MBFS) general parking area. Damaged M-B vehicles and non M-B vehicles will be directed to park in the general admission parking lots.

MBCA will have a tent on the Concours of America show field across from the Concours d’Elegance grouping of 125 years of Mercedes-Benz. As ambassadors for MBCA (this means we need your help to join us in the tent to promote the club) we will be using the tent as our base of operation and hospitality area.

For More Information on the MBCA Activities

MBCA Defensive Driving and Concours Registration Form

Concours of America Information:

General Admission - $25 - Ticket includes free off-site parking and shuttle, admission to Concours, and 2011 Souvenir Program Book. Children 12 and under are free.

VIP Ticket - $125 - Ticket includes premium onsite parking, admission to Concours, 2011 Poster, 2011 Souvenir Program Book, VIP Viewing Tent, and VIP lunch.

MBCA Hotel Information

Towne Place Suites by Marriott, Detroit – Livonia
17450 Fox Drive • Livonia, Michigan 48152 USA
734.542.7400 (direct to the hotel) or 800-257-3000 (Marriott Reservations) identify yourself with the code: MBC - Mercedes Benz Club

We have the direct registration information from the Marriott Towne Place Hotel for you.

Studio $69 / night

Two bedroom suite $119

Each room has a kitchenette. Continental Breakfast is served daily. There is an outdoor pool. (The rates do not include applicable taxes.)

Reservations for the rooms above must be made no later than Friday, July 15, 2011 to receive the group rate. Reservations after this date are subject to availability. Confirmed reservations cancellation is by 6PM of the day of arrival to avoid one night's room and tax fee. A major credit card is required at check in.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Black-on-Black 2011 Mercedes-Benz C 300 Sport

C300 at Barber Motorsports Park.  Photo by Kathie Steele
Recently I had the opportunity to attend MBCA | Alabama Section’s Heimatfest 2011, held at Barber Motorsport Park outside of Birmingham, Alabama. Because this was an MBCA event where the cars were as much a part of the event as were the members, I picked up a new 2011 C Class sedan from my local Mercedes-Benz dealer’s Enterprise rental fleet to drive to the event.

This was your basic, no-frills service loaner, and it provided me with a chance to experience the W204 RWD first hand. The size of the vehicle is excellent for everyday driving, with an excellent turning radius and very good handling, especially in sport mode, where the transmission tends to be a little more spirited, as opposed to the fuel saving economy mode.
C300 Engine compartment.  Photo by William Hopper
However, my first impression was that for a base model, the 3 liter engine and seven speed automatic transmission is very powerful for daily driving as well as highway situations. After taking it on a parade lap at the Barber Motorsports Park Track, it made me yearn to try out the 350 or AMG 63 version, as this one was a bit out of breath when I stomped on the accelerator. Because I was on a budget, the fuel sipping virtues of the 300’s engine were perfect with MPG’s in mid-to upper-20’s in town and low 30’s on the highway, cruising at posted highway speeds, using $4 a gallon premium gasoline.
The black-on-black in the sport trim gave the vehicle a classic, though athletic look. The durable M-B Tex was impressive. The dash and door panels had faux wood trim, making it feel a bit more upscale than a previous C300 I had driven with brushed aluminum trim. Although not equipped with navigation, satellite radio or MBrace®, the standard audio system had weather band, a classic Mercedes-Benz touch, very helpful when traveling to follow weather conditions along the way. The unit was Bluetooth® equipped and easily connected to my mobile phone, making it safe to talk hands free.

The W204 C Class interior is roomy for driver and passenger, but leg room for rear passengers can get tight if either are on the tall side or like the seat back. This model had basic power seat functions, and the console/armrest had plenty of storage inside. The two level glove box was roomy with plenty of storage space, and featured an air vent to keep it cool. The dual front to back cup holders also worked well to hold more than just a water bottle, like an iPod or other electronics. The W204’s trunk is quite roomy and there was no stuffing in suitcases or the other various items I was carrying for my 10-day trip. I was also impressed with the use of space within the engine compartment, and could see that this model was designed to accommodate more than just the base engine.

C300 at GWS Autocross.  Photo by Harry Newman
To test its handling and sportiness, I attended our section’s autocross. The electronics caused the car to correct itself during maneuvers around pylons, cutting power, keeping the operator out of trouble, just as it should if it were in a real-world situation. Once the program was defeated through the steering wheel controls, the car maneuvered excellently with only a hint of the advanced electronics. On the road, I took it on the legendary Tail of the Dragon in the Smokey Mountains. An eleven-mile road with three hundred and eighteen curves from Tennessee into North Carolina. This twisty road traverses up and down hills deep in a heavily wooded National Forest. A road that you do not want to speed along, but quite that fun to drive in the right car. The C300 was sprightly and handled well on the tight hairpin turns, the right car for this kind of drive!

Leaving the mountain roads and heading back to the Interstate, while driving through a small town, the local constable saw me and quickly turned around and tailed me until I reached the town limits. A black-on-black Mercedes-Benz, even one that is a stripped down rental car, turns heads!