Holiday reading reveals a Rolling Stones Merc mystery

| 19 Apr 2012

I went on a half term break to Tenerife. Very little real life car excitement here. A huge number of W123 Mercedes variants survive in the warm and usually dry climate but other than a nice-looking 190 Fintail I saw nothing else lurking.

It gave me the opportunity to get stuck into the Keith Richards autobiography I gave up on months ago. To be honest there was not much else to do (except eat) because it was raining most of the time, although I was being entertained by the dramas in the life of a noisy American lady who would tell anyone who'd listen that her husband had run off because he’s decided he’s gay, only to then decide he’s not gay because he’s shacked up with another lady all of a sudden. Perhaps it’s a classic case of ‘helping them out when they’re busy’ rather than full time gay?

Who knows? Certainly Keith Richards was never confused and his book is actually rather good with plenty of automotive references.

Blue Lena his well loved S3 Flying Spur is very fondly recalled as a great car for ‘fast night driving’. It had a secret compartment for drug stashing (drugs figure a lot in the book as you might guess and if you are considering taking them up as a serious hobby a quick flick through it might put you off) and it is important in Keith’s life not least for the fact that its back seat was the spot he and future long-term partner Anita Pallenberg, on drive to Morocco, first had a coming together.

Must have been quite a trip that because Keith tells how at one point the poor Bentley got stoned by a mob and he ended up in front of a Moroccan judge. At the time Anita was still with Brian Jones who, the way Keith tells it was a major pain in the bum. He was also very short and needed to sit on a cushion to see over the steering wheel of his Humber Super Snipe.

The famous late-night meeting with the scenery on the way back from a gig at Knebworth sometime in the 1970s is written of, but what damage the car sustained is not related; only that his son – who was in the car Bentley at the time – left a bloody hand print on the dashboard.

One mystery is the Mercedes convertible Keith talks about rolling sometime in the late '60s. Apparently he lost control when all the power to the brakes and steering disappeared, which, if you think about it, must mean it was a 300 W111 cabriolet although I'm not certain brakes and steering ran off the same circuit as they did on the 600. In any case Mr Richards insists the car was built in 1947 'probably out of scrap panzers'. Anyone got any ideas what it was?