Mercedes Benz Cabriolet: Smiles up; Top down

It was not too long ago that Montecasino decided to give back to the guests who choose to spend the time and money at the Tuscany styled establishment. They called it the 'Platinum Privelege' and for two months, the patrons who played there were able to rack up as many points as possible in order to be placed into a draw to win something special. What was the special prize? A silver R800k Mercedes-Benz E350 Cabriolet. The decision to buy this particular car was a small challenge within the Montecasino Marketing Team. We had the budget, but couldn't agree on what car would give us the best yield of interest. If you have any recollection of the car arguments at most weekend braais or pub nights, you'll know that arguing about what is best is almost as difficult as arguing one's religion. Okay it wasn't that dramatic and in the end, there were four names that crept up. BMW - who would have thought? Mercedes Benz - imagine the arguments now. Audi - They seem to spoiling the fun often these days, and Jaguar - they too are climbing well on the reputation ladder again. But what could you buy for R800,000 that would be beautiful, appealing and rewarding? You could go for the mid-super saloons such as an M3, but that would appeal to one end of the market: The go fast wannabe racers, the petrol-heads, the young, rich, buff boys, the JHB club owners. And that's a fairly small market. You could look at the cheaper S5 Cabriolet; but that too is aggressive and not as poised as some other Audi S cars. So the decision to bag the Benz was mostly out of the fact that is was new on the showroom floors, somewhat exclusive on SA roads, and most of all, beautiful and graceful but without having that 'only for ladies' air that the SLK seems to have inherited.

The E350 sat on the Casino Floor at Montecasino, until 9pm on Thursday 29th July when the final draw took place. One lucky Montecasino patron walked away having won the silver beauty, courtesy of Montecasino. The man was beaming, visibly impressed and surprised by his win. When he sat in his new wheels, the excitement overflowed! He was an instant celebrity on the casino floor, with many coming to congratulate him and take pictures with him.

The car had to be moved from the casino entrance to the VIP parking the very next morning, and the opportunity to drive it was handed to myself: A short drive with the top down; from one end of the Montecasino boulevard to the other, around three dual lane traffic circles was enough to convince me of a few things: 1) R800k is a fair sum to spend on a V6 convertible, but if I had the pocket to afford it and a wife that would allow it, I would do it in a heartbeat. It's a special car, with a special comfort in driving it. 2) I was never a fan of convertibles, fearing that my skin would be scorched by the sun, that the wind would irritate me and that I wouldn't be able to be myself in the car with the outside world looking in. But you know what, I wouldn't mind the eyeballs, the wind is minimal and the winter sun felt amazing on my skin. The tiny breeze through the cabin was a little cool, but I did have time to turn on the AIRSCARF which put that right immediately. Good job on that one Mercedes Benz.

I didn't want to get out of the car. I wanted to stay inside it, and keep it to myself. But alas, I need to take a bite of reality and start convincing my wife that we may need to relook our budget priorities. It's a much better investment than say, property or holidays. Isn't it :)?

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