Sport Cars

Nostalgia in Napa Valley: Mercedes supercharged cars revive history in California’s vineyards

Immersed in the golden hues of California sunlight, a convoy of immaculate pre-war Mercedes supercharged vehicles embarked on an epic journey. This trip, known as the Sonoma Tour, is etched into the calendars of classic car connoisseurs as an opulent excursion. Leading the parade was the celebrated Mercedes 680 S Kompressor, a beacon of 1930s luxury on wheels, replete with the era’s renowned engineering and outstanding craftsmanship from Sindelfingen.

From the rugged Pacific coast of Monterey to San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate, the tour ended amid the lush vines of Napa Valley and offered an unparalleled display of automotive nostalgia. The rarity of such events, where yesterday’s supercars roam freely outside of the usual concours elite, is a precious event. These vehicles bore the unmistakable Mercedes star, had prestigious grilles and a level of technology that set standards at the time and is now being revived on the California Tour.

Not only are Napa and Sonoma counties known for their sunny charm, but they are also revered as the source of some of America’s finest wines. Their climatic advantage provides abundant sunshine, much different from the cooling fog of the nearby Bay Area, and allows for diverse wine growing. This climate also provides an idyllic setting for road trips like the Sonoma Tour.

Mercedes Classic’s Michael Plag tells an intimate story of the Mercedes 680 S Kompressor, detailing its transformation from its original black and purple facade to its glorious restoration to its former glory. The restoration, which began in 1998, spanned five years and honored the craftsmanship embedded in the vehicle’s Black Forest beech wood frame – a tribute to the legacy of Paul Daimler’s innovations and the subsequent advancements of Ferdinand Porsche. The car is now worth a whopping 15 million euros, a stark contrast to its original price of 30,000 Reichsmarks.

By reaching for the steering wheel of the 680 S Kompressor, the driver is transported to the decadence of the 1920s – a time when mastering the unique arrangement of pedals and brakes was part of the art of driving. When you turn on the supercharger with a firm press of the pedal, the car comes to life with a characteristic rumble and hurls it forward in homage to its previous performance.

Driving through Napa Valley in these venerable machines gives the feeling of traveling back in time. The opportunity to drive these prized supercharged cars over long distances is rare and was a special feature of this tour. Despite the Sonoma heat, these Mercedes models demonstrated remarkable resilience and their engines ran cool, below 70 degrees Celsius, even on long journeys.

The tour, which ended each day, opened up to the epicurean delights that stand side by side with the majesty of the cars. The local gastronomic and wine offerings steal the spotlight for a moment, offering an experience where the luxurious world of vintage cars and winemaking intersect, making the Sonoma Tour a multi-sensory banquet.

The 2023 Sonoma Tour was a privilege – a ride full of exclusivity and wrapped in the luxury of vineyard aesthetics. With a number of international collectors and enthusiasts at the helm, these classic compressor models became the protagonists of a rolling showcase.

It offered an irreplaceable picture of automotive history, a moment when the golden age of the automobile mingled with the quintessence of winemaking.

Looking to the future, the expectation of a similar gathering of this magnitude seems like a tempting mirage. As these Mercedes classics made their way through the revered wineries, they illustrated the fusion of history and modernity – a feast for the senses. A testament to the enduring fascination with historic supercharged vehicles, the Sonoma Tour provides a timeless appeal on a journey of passion for participants and observers, culminating in a remarkable chapter in luxury automobile history.

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