Tracking down old and obscure cars for stories gives a chance to play detective, but it can sometimes feel like trying to find a needle in a long row of haystacks.
So when we decided that we wanted an original Mercedes 500E for our latest Meet the Ancestors video, I suspected that – as a rare groove car that came here in tiny numbers two decades ago – I was going to have my work cut out.
But as it turned out, it couldn’t have been easier, thanks to Mercedes uber-fan Talbir Bains. He’s a man who has pretty much assembled his own heritage collection of the brawniest products produced by Merc and its various tuners in the Eighties and Nineties.
Indeed, his response to my first tentative question as to whether we could turn his 500E into a film star was tellingly simple: “Which one?”
Because in addition to two 500Es, Talbir has a fleet of tuned SEC Coupes, a 1987 V12 SEL Brabus, a W124 560E ‘Hammer’ that used to belong to George Harrison and – my personal favourite – a 1992 5.6-litre W124 Brabus estate that could well be the world’s greatest Q-car.
As for the 500E, what can I say? It was the first time I had driven one and, as a confirmed W124 fetishist, I wasn’t disappointed. It couldn’t muster anything like the toys or even the cabin quality of the modern CLS we compared it against – but even after two decades, it still felt properly quick once that big V8 got wound up.