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I was nine years old when we had to sell the car I had grown up with, my mother’s Mercedes-Benz 190 in Astral Silver. I stood in a friend’s courtyard to take a last look at the car with its little star before it changed owners forever.
Even though I was still very young, I wanted to drive this car, which I connected with so many things in my life, at least once all by myself. It was a farewell full of tears — and on top of that, there was not even a drop of gasoline in the gas tank, so the engine didn’t start.
A child’s dream comes true
At that exact moment, when I was nine years old, I swore to myself,
Shareen, one day you’re going to drive your own black Mercedes-Benz 190, with loud music on the radio
It’s hard to believe, but even ten years later this wish hasn’t changed. And what’s more, two years ago my wish was fulfilled. When I was 16, my father gave me a blue-black Baby Benz. Born in Bremen, it had originally been made for export to France, but it spent the first 20 years of its life in Stralsund. And then it entered my life.
I hadn’t even started to take driving lessons, but my father had always had his eye on 190 models that were being offered for sale. For me, a car’s important qualities were its looks and its performance, but for my father the top priority was the fact that the Mercedes, which was safe anyhow, had an Airbag.
Not a pampered vintage car
And then he found it: my Baby Benz. Although at that time we had no urgent need for a Mercedes, my father knew this was the right car for me. However, he bought the car with the thought in the back of his mind that it only had to survive the first year or two, when I was using it for driving practice. That’s because the car already had scratches and defects. All told, it was absolutely not a pampered vintage classic car. If my father had only known back then…
After long weeks of anticipation — and lots of WhatsApp photos — the moment finally came. I was able to look at the first car I could call my own. To touch it, sit down in it, smell it. And once again, I burst into tears. Of course. It was almost embarrassing.
Pimped and styled
During the two years before I came of age, my little car was pampered, vacuumed, scrubbed, polished and, of course, slightly individualized. I realized fairly soon that white turn signals could lead to heated discussions.
Simply being able to ride as a passenger in my own car was a thrilling experience. So was the first song I heard on the audio system I had installed myself, the sound of the sport exhaust, the gleaming eight-hole wheel rims, and the blue LEDs in the footwell, which people smiled about often enough. But that’s exactly what I wanted my car to look like — exactly the way it looks now. And that’s why I love it as much as I do.
Speeding along with my copilot
Then came my first drive, with my beginner’s driver’s license and Papa at my side. On that day I knew that my Benz loved me back. The engine was hot, and drops of sweat were rolling down my forehead. A 22-year-old five-gear stick shift is not quite the same as the transmission of the Hyundai i30 I drove at my driving school.
My father considered it important to practice things with me that you couldn’t learn in driving school, such as driving fast. He believed, rightly, that I would sooner or later try to find out just how fast a two-liter engine can go. So he at least wanted to be there when I did it so that he could give me instructions.
Even though 122 hp is not an overwhelming power rating, for a car with just 1.1 tons of curb weight it’s entirely adequate for speeding it up to 220 km/h. And that’s how come just a few days after passing my driving test I was racing along the A9 highway at a (GPS-measured!) speed of 216 km/h. It was definitely a peak experience, with my father sitting in the front passenger seat and giving me instructions like a Copilot.
My love for Baby
Since that day, I’ve driven well over 20,000 kilometers in my Baby Benz, many of them on highways, but most of them in Berlin traffic. And even though this Benz was originally bought so that I could gather my first scratches and make my first small rear-end collisions with it, today it has not a single scratch or dent on it that was caused by me.
I fell in love with this car, and I’ve invested a lot to make sure this love affair would continue for a long time.
As a student I don’t have much of an income, but I’ve spent almost every cent I earn on my little black Benz.
The helping hand at my side
Of course I’m lucky in that my obsession has enabled me to get to know lots of people who are at least as crazy as I am. Among them are some very helpful people without whom I wouldn’t be where I am now. One of them is my father, who considers it very important that I deal independently with everything related to my car, but also offers me a helping hand whenever I need it.
Women who love cars
Ever since I started to document my daily life with my car on Instagram, I’ve been getting increasing attention from people all over the world. As a student of automotive technology at the Technical University of Berlin, I can demonstrate not only that I consider Mercedes-Benz vehicles terrific but also that my interest goes even deeper.
I’m learning more every day, but my store of knowledge already goes beyond pretty interior appointments and diamond radiator grilles. That’s why I’m inspired by women who work in the automotive business, whether it’s in a workshop, as a racing driver or as an engineer.
P.S.: A big “thank you” to the photographers Simon Laslo (photos number 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11) and Korhan Parlar! My car has never looked this good before.