The president of the Mercedes-Benz Club of South Africa shows us his wonderful collection...
"They’re not all in place; we’ve just come back from a big car show,” says Waldo Scribante. He’s itching to return his cars to their designated spots, all while I’m happy simply ogling one of the country’s most impressive and varied Mercedes-Benz collections spanning more than a century.
As is so often the case with great collectors, Waldo’s love for the German brand formed even before he could properly pronounce the marque’s name: “My father had a late-1950s 219 Ponton; I remember it to this day. My fondest memory is us going on holiday in the 219 driving over Prince Alfred’s Pass while towing a caravan. Back then, you still had to get out and open gates to enter the pass.”
Some of Waldo’s oldest cars, which includes a 1913 Benz 10/20PS, a 1938 W142 320 and a 1935 W23 130, are housed in a separate garage, while the bulk of the collection spanning the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s are kept in the main garage. There are numerous sedans but they’re no ordinary four-doors; you’ll find Benz’s first “hot rod” (and the founding car of AMG), the W109 300SEL 6.3, together with a W116 450 SEL 6.9 and its gargantuan 6,9-litre V8. The latter sports a beautiful period blue velour interior.
Waldo’s collection incorporates a number of W111 coupés and cabriolets, some models even equipped with the rare manual transmission. Two of the most desirable drop-top models in Mercedes’ history are parked behind one another, a cream W113 280SL “Pagoda” and W121 190SL (replete with a picnic basket and blanket – does it get more inviting than that?).
While it may seem an enormous privilege to have access to so many cars, it does take Waldo hours of work a week to maintain them. That’s evidenced by a wall-mounted board detailing what work is lined up for each car.
“If I could find more time, I’d like to do more mechanical work on the cars myself. I perform some of the work – I have all the tools and a car lift in my workshop – but specialists do the rest. I send the cars requiring full restorations to Cape Town.
“I often hold club events at my garage, too, but that invariably leads to hearing about more cars to buy,” Waldo says with a smile. He’s sourced some vehicles in his collection by sheer luck, including discovering a special Benz in the basement parking garage of a high-rise Cape Town building.
Waldo isn’t only a car collector and owns several classic commercial Mercedes-Benzes, plus a vast model-car collection. “My aim is to have a 1:18-scale model of every production Mercedes, plus show and racing cars.” It’s a sight to behold, and every little kid’s dream, whether they can pronounce “Mercedes-Benz”, or not…
Waldo Scribante (57) studied medicine and then specialised as a radiologist. These days, he spends most of his time maintaining his collection and managing the club, and fits in the odd overland trip in a Geländewagen.