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David Abarr

The second year of MBCA's Mercedes Freude (the joy of Mercedes) was held in beautiful Newport Beach, California this past October, based at the elegant Hyatt Regency Newport Beach 

The second year of MBCA's Mercedes Freude (the joy of Mercedes) was held in beautiful Newport Beach, California this past October, based at the elegant Hyatt Regency Newport Beach 

The event is offered in partnership with the newly relocated Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, now in nearby Long Beach.  This year's Freude attendees were treated to a multi-day program packed with memorable events, and time with some of Stuttgart's most exquisite machinery. 

Being able to spend time with old and new friends helped make our Freude celebration an even more special week. 

A visit to the Petersen

One of the highlights of our week was a private tour and reception at the famed Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. The museum's futuristic architecture makes a stunning  backdrop to one of the finest car collections in the world. Currently on display is an exhibit featuring Andy Warhol's "Cars" art prints displayed with some notable examples from the history of our favorite car company, together for the first time (see article on page 14 of this issue). In preparation for the 100th anniversary of the automobile in 1986, Mercedes-Benz commissioned Andy Warhol to create a major series of his famous silk screen paintings depicting key vehicles from the company's history. Unfortunately, Warhol passed away in February 1987, having completed only part of the commission. 

Displayed alongside the art were rare treasures from Mercedes-Benz: the experimental 1971 C111, the 1937 W125 Grand Prix racer, the 1954 W196R Formula 1 Grand Prix car (on loan from the Indianapolis Museum), a Gullwing, and a Benz Patent Motorwagen replica. Freude attendees enjoyed an in-depth, docent-led tour of the Warhol exhibit, the fascinating upper floors of the museum and  of course, the famed vault. The Petersen Museum never disappoints. 

The Classic Center

The Classic Center’s Mike Kunz and Nate Landers offered Freude attendees group tours of the new and expanded facility, showing off the gleaming shops including the upholstery, paint, main workshop, and body shop. 

At the time of our visit, the Classic Center's showroom showcased several significant examples of the famed W196 Gullwing. Also in the shop was chassis #2 of the 190SL which was actually completed several months prior to chassis #1. Nate and Mike also conducted a tech session outlining the overall scope and goals of the Classic Center operation that included a discussion on parts and suppliers during and post COVID lockdown. 

Tech sessions

Tech sessions this year featured an in-depth overview and wide-ranging discussion on parts procurement featuring just-retired Classic Center parts manager Tom Hanson, famed parts tracker Blue Nelson, MBZ Parts owner Sheila Heaney, and Belinda Clontz-Sarooei. All are West Coast experts in the field. 

The end of week highlight was a panel discussion on current classic Mercedes-Benz  values, chaired by Tyler Hoover and MB Market's Blakley Leonard and Ryan Hemphill. Panelist Tyler Hoover is famous for his YouTube channel and collaborations with Doug Demuro and Ed Bolian. The informative talk focused on two recent record sales from this past summer: the W196-S 300SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe (see The Star, September-October 2022) and the W124 AMG Hammer. Members found the discussion insightful and entertaining.

Debüt show 

The Classic Center also graciously hosted Debüt, our first annual Freude Car Show. This was a fun concours for everyone and attracted some spectacular machinery.


As the event chairman for this year's Mercedes Freude, I would like to thank all those who attended, and especially everyone whose hard work and dedication helped make this year so outstanding.  Looking forward to seeing you at Mercedes Freude 2023.