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How to Own and Maintain a Classic Car: An Interview with Pierre Hedary

In just a couple of weeks, the Piston Foundation will be gearing up for a brand-new Pistons & Pizza event in Palm Beach, Florida. It will be a fun opportunity for car enthusiasts, young and old alike, to experience and learn about a bunch of cool classic cars while also enjoying some great pizza. Pierre Hedary, is a master technician and restorer of classic Mercedes-Benz cars, is excited to serve as guest speaker. Pierre is the owner of Pierre Hedary and Company a Mercedes-Benz specialist in Titusville, Florida. We asked Pierre a few questions about his work and what sort of advice he would give to those looking to own a classic car. Here’s what he had to say:

By John Margaritis

January 28, 2023

Why did you focus your career on Mercedes-Benz?

First, I grew up working on these cars. My dad, George, loved all Mercedes-Benz (MB) cars. He was an expert in repairing old fuel injection pumps and many other parts of these cars. I was there next to him from a young age and he was my model. I wanted to be like him and I wanted to work on these same cars that he loved. Second, you must experience a car in order to appreciate it. And let me tell you, the W115, 3.5 liter engine that MB made between 1968 and 1973 is an amazing experience to drive and to work on. MB was at its prime between 1950 and 1995. The mechanicals of these cars were the best. I want to honor the original designs and the technical intentions of these cars.

What is the best way to buy a classic car?

Let the car find you. Shy away from advertised cars. Look instead at estates, mechanics or long-term owners who are selling because of financial reasons or for being unable to enjoy the car any longer. The car that was never intended to be for sale, is the best car to buy.

Should one look for a project or look for a restored classic car?

There is no such thing as a classic car that does not need something, no matter how well restored it is. Every car needs something! Restorations are difficult and often expensive. First, find a car that has been taken care of for its entire life. Ideally, buy a car that has had one owner who maintained the car well and never restored it or get a car that has already been properly restored. You may have to make some trade-offs when looking at a specific car, such as giving up on desirable characteristics like color, features and options.

What is the smartest way to restore a Classic car?

Well, if you decide to start a project, be prepared to be very involved. Try to do as much of the work yourself, assuming you have the time, interest and skills. First, set clear goals: what parts will you restore, what is the desired restoration timeline, what is your budget, is the car going to be concourse material or will it be a driver’s car, are there any parts of the car that you wish to keep in the original condition, etc.? Second, get the car’s service books in order to familiarize yourself with the parts and the repair process. Third, get a coach, someone who is familiar with the car you bought, who can guide you during the restoration process. Fourth, use genuine parts. The bottom line is that you should never hand your car over to a restorer without your involvement.

If you decide to avoid a project and instead buy a restored car, get a car that is restored properly. Get lots of advice before you purchase the car. Remember cosmetics (body, paint, etc.) are harder to restore than mechanicals. It is easier to find a good mechanic to repair the engine than a good body shop to repair a fender. This is where the Piston Foundation can help. We need good mechanics to work on the mechanics and the body as well as the cosmetics of the car. They are hard to find. We need to train an army of new mechanics in order to preserve the beautiful work that has been put into these classic cars!

Should a collector modernize a Classic car or keep it original?

There is no need to try to modernize a MB. These cars are so well engineered, that it is best to keep them the way the original engineers intended. However, if you buy certain British cars such as MGs or Triumphs, they could be a lot more fun with some modern upgrades.

What are the best values in the collector’s market for MB today?

You can look, at the market as a whole and also at cars individually. There is always a good deal out there. For instance, the 500 or the 450 SLC from 1978-1981 is a wonderfully engineered car. It has a great aluminum V8 engine. There were only about 2,700 5-Liter cars made. Another interesting car is the W123 Turbo Diesel from the 80’s. They may not be the prettiest of them all, but they are a great value.

A Classic Car Seminar with Pierre

Pistons & Pizza rolls into Palm Beach on February 16th, 2023 at the Hagerty Garage. There, you will have the chance to meet with Pierre and listen to his detailed talk on classic Mercedes-Benz vehicles. For the budding car enthusiast, it’s an event you won’t want to miss!

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