Coupe de Grace II ….three plus decades later

Carchitecture
VIN: WDBBA25ABB002268
MODEL: MB 380 SLC
MILEAGE: 93,250
s-l1600-3Factory brochure 1981

In April, 1981, an engineer/inventor living in East Grand Rapids, MI, drove to Loeber Motors in Chicago to take delivery on a special order Mercedes Benz 380 SLC coupe.  One of only 3,789 produced from very late 1980 through 1981, the model designation was quite rare, however, adding nothing to the value*.  The MSRP $46,638 at purchase was reduced to $43,000 cash ( = $ 117,850 in 2016 $).

Norman Rautiola selected the coupe for his wife, Kathleen, who drove it 88,500 miles (~ 3000 mi./yr) until it was donated to the Holland, MI Hope Rescue Mission 32 years later.  Always garaged, no pets, non-smoking, the primary miles gained on the fair weather commute between Grand Rapids and the Nartron Corp. HQ in Reed City, MI.

CEO and founder of Nartron, Mr. Rautiola holds > 1400 patents, notably the first keyless entry system for automobiles, and in 1995 Nartron invented the electronic sensory device for touch screen technology.  Listed by Inc. Magazine as a top 50 innovator in the nation, the list of Nartron 1sts is extensive.  Of signifigance to car enthusiasts, many of the patents will be utilized in the inevitable development of the perhaps unwelcome “driverless vehicle”.

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Courtesy JEFF BRODDLE | CADILLAC NEWS©, 10June2008

The Apple I-Phone on the left and the control panel on the right being held by CEO Norman Rautiola have one thing in common: sensing technology pioneered years ago by Reed City’s Nartron Corporation.

As 2nd owner, I found the car to be exceptional, requiring attention to only normal areas of maintenance to drive in “as new”condition;

  • replacement of outer sway bar links, bushings, steering dampener, rubber suspension components
  • Oxygen sensor and idle control unit
  • Radiator hoses and thermostat
  • Precautionary, replacement of OE timing chain tensioner, strengthened timing chain guides, and new chain rails

Adding four Michelin Defenders, aligned and balanced, resulted in a safe, reliable, modestly spirited ride.  The profile is elegant, the 111 inch wheelbase a far more comfortable ride than the 97 inch SL roadster, and much better proportioned.  Although the roadster has the open top panache  (overrated), like ø Miss Piggy, the coupe, with the sun roof open, is like ♥ driving with Marilyn Monroe in shotgun.

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 ↑ 2x click to enlarge

A big plus, the increased length and lowered footwells, allow exceptional room for two additional passengers…think, Helen Mirren and Vanna White.  Backseat comfort, unlike most coupe designs, which are restricted to dwarfs, snot-nosed kids, or double amputees.

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Finished in 473H, “champagne”, the color varies from japanese pewter to gold, depending on the sun.

Note, below, two examples of the short version, which appear rather clumsy with the elongated bumpers.  Ugh, insert a frown face, in both directions, a double yuk.

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Below

  • the burled walnut transmission, hazard, and window lift cluster
  • rear seat with armrest, sumptious pleated cowhide
  • unusual butt-end leather stitching (only year offered) vs. standard piping

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Investment grade, the coupe would only rate a D, however, for driving pleasure at < 12% of the original purchase price, a resounding A for the purist. The coup d’grâce never sleeps, it just needs to be rocked.

 Not for sale

*IN THE U.S.A., 1972-1980, the same coupe wore a 450 SLC badge, and in 1982 it became the 500 SLC.  All three, virtually identical, less minor differences in cubic inch displacement of the V-8 engines. Euro versions were available in six cylinder, however few were imported.

 

©insightout2016

 

Yappy Hour, Reigning Dogs

dateline: Jackson Center, Ohio

Alumapalooza III

A new feature in the cascade of events for this unique rally; an hour for dogs to share their owners with other owners.  The owners, far more discreet than their beloved pets, are content to ‘talk’ without resorting to the mandatory sniffing of each other’s private parts.  Maybe next year.

 

Dozens of high-end breeds; dachshund, weimaraner, beagles, greyhounds, Scotties…..and a crowd favorite, the bulldog on the skateboard.  Boogeying down Bambi Lane.

 

Some fast, aloof, intelligent, powerful, miniscule, or alert, and others, rescue dogs like our Jack, the result of hasty, unplanned dog sex.  A dog’s eye view of the party.

 

Jack is considering accepting donations for his favorite cause, a national system to counter the dreaded wave of kanine kidnappings (think amber alert).  Seen below maintaining a vigil by his box trailer, to discuss strategy with other potential victims.

 

Among the dogs, few disappointments other than the absence of the corgi, favorite of writers, Graham Mackintosh (Pili) and A/S Life’s own Bill Doyle (Tasha).  However an unconfirmed rumor, started by a Welsh Terrier of ill repute, speculated that the lady below was planning to attend Alumapalooza IV in 2013.

 

Also, missing, not a single Lassie, as seen in this low-res file photo from 1955.

 

Lynn and I plan to adopt a collie puppy this year, a female, and we’ll name her Melon.  Like the movies of her forbearers, she will become melon collie and that will be sad.

 

©insightout2012

Schmoozing Rhubarb

Surrounded by bluffs more than one hundred feet high, carved by the Root River during the pleistocene era, lies a valley too beautiful to describe.  The centerpiece, a bucolic small town of less than 800 people, Lanesboro, MN, by state proclamation, has been declared the Rhubarb Capital of Minnesota.  The first Saturday in June is the designated date for the only festival devoted exclusively to a rhizome (an androgynous plant that can be either a fruit or a vegetable, but not once mistaken for a cross dressing pumpkin).

So Lynn, Jack, and I leave Rochester for the 40 mile trek, passing first through Chatfield, MN, home to Billy Funk Trucking.

Try saying that fast, three times in a row

Lanesboro has been featured in, get this, lineup:

  • Great American Main Street Award, 1998
  • 50 Best Outdoor Sports Towns; Sports Afield
  • 20 Best Dream Towns in America; Outside Magazine
  • The fluff Sunday newspaper supplement, Parade Magazine

AND, drum roll, Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

In spite of that we were not deterred and forged ahead to be welcomed by:

 

Vibrant downtown unchanged for 50 years

The festival is held in Sylvan Park, a pristine setting with premier people gazing, while…

in pink socks….

Courtesy of an extraordinary a capella vocal quartet, The Rhubarb Sisters, let’s bring them on…

Don’t let their upscale dress fool you, the sisters have TALENT

Followed by their understudies below, the Rhubarb community chorus, who balance lesser talent with an overdose of enthusiasm

I was particularly enthralled with the beautiful lady behind the “H” in rhubarb.  Not mentioned in the town bio, in ages 18 and over, women outnumber men, 100 to 85.1.  You have to love those odds, I’d like to be 0.1 for a day.

There are the young,

The old,

the oldest

and in-between the buns

Makes biking to the United Methodist Church an attractive option

The outrageous

and the mundane

A mime clown juggling  rhubarb sticks on fire

Even Jack served as a judge, in an olympic forum contest among youngsters, as to who grew the largest leaf and stalk combined.  The winner was determined by accurate measurements and capricious, arbitrary, canine oversight.

Hmmm…lemme see now, anybody wanna bribe the judge with a rhubarb pie dog treat?

We ended the day at the Peddle Pusher restaurant (which had been the local drugstore through 1985) with the daily special, Chicken rhubarb salad on a croissant (with walnuts, diced fresh onion, and bits of apple).  Delicious + a pie to go from the Lutheran Ladies and a torte from The Sons of Norway.

Lynn held her own against a Texas Star quilt

My favorite, “old blue eyes” with or without a nasal cannula accessory

It really doesn’t get any better, anywhere, than Lanesboro on a June in Saturday and sharing it is a pleasure.  Hard to recall a day where I’ve been more proud to be a citizen of this country.

On the way out I find that we are being stalked by three very hot adolescent women, in the rear view mirror.

On County Road 8, headed westward, the refrain from the Rhubarb National Anthem (sung to America the Beautiful) rings between my ears and my heart:

Oh beautiful for rhubarb stalks

For red and green and pink (and pink)

For lovely green expansive leaves

Above the kitchen sink

Oh rhubarb plant, oh rhubarb plant

God shed His grace on thee (on thee)

And crown thy good–and darling–

Would you share your recipe ?

Keep on trunking.

© 2004-2011 Church Street Publishing, Inc. “Airstream” used with permission.