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1953 220 Mercedes Cabrolet A

With a four-speed, fully synchro transmission, this vehicle has a six-cylinder overhead cam engine and original brown leather interior.
While working his way through college, Mr. Malamut became quite fascinated with German automobiles. Working at a VW/Porsche dealership, he enjoyed using his spare time collecting and repairing many lines of German cars. Quickly, an appreciation for the quality of Mercedes cars was formed.

In the next decade, he attended an auto show at Fashion Island in Newport Beach where he saw a beautiful 220 Cabrolet A where he saw a car similar to this one that was meticulously restored and shown by its owner, Jim Weins. After talking with Jim, he told him how much he loved the car. Naturally, it wasn't for sale.

Mr. Malamut then searched for several years and found that purchasing a nicely restored Cabrolet A was beyond the budget. Upon scanning various periodicals, he found an ad where a seller was selling two identical 1953 Cab A vehicles that were mainly parts. One had the beginnings of a restoration where the frame was stripped and painted. The other was just piles of parts.

He purchased the two parts vehicles for $6,000. At the time, Autoland was ten-years-old. He also owned a Volkswagen dealership. After taking two repair bays and parking the parts cars there, he hired a couple of restorers from the east coast to help with the restoration. They spend a year sorting out the best of the parts from the two cars with the mission of making one good car out of the two. The process began with a total ground up restoration.

The parts were sorted (in particular, the chrome), and picked the best pieces for rechroming. Having never painted a complete car, Mr. Malamut decided he would like to tackle this feat with this one. The car, in pieces, but after the assistants prepped the various parts, he sprayed them one-on-one in a makeshift spray booth that built with 2 X 4s as framing and plastic sheathing as walls. He would wet down the floors and spray three to four coats of beige Mercedes lacquer. Then, they would color sand and buff each panel. It was a daunting task, but car started to come to life once their was paint on the various surfaces.

As the Mercedes inter support of this vintage are made out of wood, they then were perplexed by how to handle this task and none of the crew had experience with major woodworking. Mr. Malamut had raw oak stock from the previous owner, using it to create replacement pieces with the raw stock. It was quite difficult as the restoration fell to a standstill.

Then one day, one of the car detailers of Mexican descent, sensing his frustration, approached Mr. Malamut and said, "Let me help you. I can make the wood for you." He replied, "You have cars to wash," and sent him on his way. They continued to move forward with continued frustration.

Soon, it dawned on him, he seemed sincere; maybe he knows how to work with wood. Calling him over, he asked him to say more about his woodworking abilities. He said that when he lived in Mexico, he worked in a furniture shop, and his job was to build furniture.
Mr. Malamut apologized, and asked if he was still willing to lend a hand. In short, the man was an expert. It took him little time to shape the panels like a real artist. For this car, one has to make the inner panel first, and then tack the metal panel to the wood support before putting it in place to check the spacing of the door's opening. Then, the outer metal panel is removed while working with the inner panel, carving it while making slight adjustments, then checking the outer panel to check the fit.

This three-month process was needed to fit the doors, top, etc. When the young man finished, the car began to take shape. All the mechanical refurbishing was done along with attachment of the doors and numerous chrome pieces. While fitting the chrome pieces, new problems arose. Some of the pieces fit well, others were too short or too long.

Scratching their heads, they couldn't find the problem, Mr. Malamut called Jim Weims. He explained these cars were hand-built and each piece should fit the vehicle. Each piece had a number on the back. These numbers are the last two digits of the ID number of the vehicle. His suggestion was to take all the pieces from both cars and separate them by ID numbers. Then fit the pieces to the vehicle being restored with the matching ID number, and the problem would be solved.

Magically, after sorting the pieces, they all fit perfectly. They then completed the interior and top work, and the car was complete. The Mercedes was finished in 1981 and still sports its original paint job. It runs beautifully and has required only oil changes and very little maintenance through the years. Mr. Malamut reports that today, he would feel quite comfortable cruising down the freeway at 70 miles per hour.

This vehicle holds a special place in the collection as it's one of a few that Mr. Malamut has personally brought back to life.