Slot Classic CJ-53

The African continent suggests exuberance, hardness and adventure. This is how Neil Vincent and his cousin Eric Cecil saw it, both of them car racing enthusiasts. The latter used the coronation of Elizabeth II as the pretext for a rally that became the most difficult and prestigious of the world championship events: Coronation Safari Rally.

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Our Mercedes 220S was entered with the number 26 in the sixth edition of this competition, which took place in 1958.

Ronnie Adams’ partner was Jim Heather-Hayes. Along 94 other competitors, they began the race in Nairobi on a Friday, and already early on were penalized, often due to their going over the speed limit. What was important in this competition was to cross the finish line with the car in good shape and reach the checkpoints on time but without exceeding the speed limit – failing to do this carried penalties.

Our 220S was fifth, Ronnie being the first European to cross the finish line, a true accomplishment in this rally.

Aside from excelling in competition, the 220 was an elegant sedan that only the very wealthy could afford in the early years of its production – its target customers were the successful company managers of the 1950s, so as to boost the brand’s image of luxury and exclusivity.

Vicente Arroyo, extract from the CJ-53 booklet.


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