Bruce’s 124 Concours Story
When our Managing Director Bruce Greetham talks about some of the cars he has taken to concours events, few raise quite the same level of excitement as the 124.
Buying a Mercedes 124 had been an aim for some time, and when he did finally get it, the car had an important role to play. It was the main family car, and rather than just being used on tours and holidays, it was a daily driver.
However, as time passed, Bruce was able to purchase a different car to use for family purposes and the 124 was set to go in a different direction – it was quite a journey. It was career-shaping.
After taking some time to think what he would do with the 124, it was decided he would take it to concours standards.
“Concours was always in my mind and something I have enjoyed from an early age.” Admits Bruce.
“I always wanted to have some sort of rewards for my efforts with the 124. You ask yourself how far you want to take it? So that year, I took it to Street Class.”
In the Mercedes-Benz club, Street Class is the entry level for concours events. Bruce’s 124 wasn’t to have a fairy tale introduction and only managed to finish third in its first year at Street Class. He returned the year later and finished second, but it was third time lucky the following year again when the car finally won the Street Class category.
But what next?
“Well the next category was concours elegance.” explains Bruce.
“That’s a big step-up and the stage at which you need to start taking things off the car and either replacing them or refurbishing them. So, refurbishment was a big part of the project.
“The paintwork was done, the pipework was changed, the underbody was cleaned and the wheels came off. It’s a thorough job. I managed to retain most of originality of car. It had done more than 100,000 miles so had seen a fair bit of activity over the years!”
In each of the first two years at elegance level, the car would finish second. Bruce knew that to really push the car on to win in this category, it would need some more work.
He said: “I needed to up my game. I knew what I had to do.
“I took the rear axle out of the car, all of the floor panels were polished, brake pipes were changed, and various bits and pieces were refurbished or replaced.”
All of these works were done out-of-hours around a full-time job as a commercial truck mechanic. Weekends and evenings were spent in the small, cramped garage at home preparing the car to the highest possible level.
“I was determined to see it through and I did enjoy it.”
Finally, the hard work and significant investment of both time and money paid off. Bruce took the car to the Haynes Motor Museum where the fourth attempt at winning the elegance category would finally result in success.
The success continues
After finally getting the car to the level required to win the elegance category, it was rewarding for it to then feature in a couple of Mercedes-Benz Club magazine articles. The club itself also recognised Bruce for his commitment to getting the car to that standard.
He was soon invited to judge at some Mercedes-Benz club events himself, with his eye for detail in the cars an invaluable skill for those in such a position.
However, he wasn’t yet finished with his 124. After success at the concours elegance category, he was entitled to enter the Master Class event. It’s another step-up which would see the car competing with the best of the best in cars of that type. You can only enter the event upon winning the elegance category, so the standard was always going to be incredibly high.
“The next one was the big one” acknowledged Bruce.
“I became master champion in that car. So, that year I had completed everything that I had wanted to do with that car.
“Financially, I put quite a lot of money in to the car. It does take money – a lot of money. But, it doesn’t outweigh what you get when you win. It’s a tremendous feeling.”
The Master Class event also saw another tip of the hat toward Bruce and the work he did with classic Mercedes cars. Mercedes-Benz invited him to take part in another capacity.
He explains: “The event was in Milton Keynes and all took place on a hard standing. It’s not quite as elaborate or grand as a stately home, but that was where the Mercedes HQ was at the time.
“They had just launched new e-class coupe and I was asked to bring along my 220 coupe and put it alongside launch of new model outside the HQ. I happily accepted! It was a brilliant event with both that and the victory in the Master Class with the 124.”
The 124’s legacy
Following the success of the Mercedes 124 in the Master Class event, Bruce felt it was time to do something different. That something different ended up being SLSHOP, a fine legacy indeed.
Bruce explains: “I had done a couple of magazine publications through Mercedes club and I had done a few write-ups of events as well, so I was quite used to the media side of what the cars were about.
“However, things took off when I went to the classic car show in Malvern near where I live and met Sam Bailey. At the time, Sam had just managed to get the SLSHOP on the world map. He was there with his family at the time.
“I could see that an SL had pulled up into the car park – an R107. I put my business card on the windscreen of the R107. The phone rang shortly after, and the rest is history!
“Basically, we got together, did a BBQ at the Stockwood site and talked. I looked at the workshops and could see the potential. We looked at each other and thought “I could do with a bit of this”.
“That’s how SLSHOP started from that point onwards. It became a fully-blown business. I came on board as a mechanic running the workshops, and that’s what got us going. It’s been continual growth ever since.”
As for the 124 itself, that was sold on to a gentleman in Humberside who still owns it to this day. He remains in regular contact with Bruce to update him on where the car is up to and also asks for his help when required.
“You never know, it may return to me one day” adds Bruce.
Read more about Bruce Greetham’s car history here.