Garry’s tenacious nature spurred him on to express interest in the cars again, but, as before, he was advised emphatically that they were not for sale. However, with his quarries in sight, Garry wasn’t about to give up the chase so easily, and he continued to make contact with the cars’ owner about every 18 months over the ensuing years — each time receiving a firm ‘no’ in response to his purchase offers. All this time, Garry was also well aware that the three-pointed-star grapevine was working overtime in Europe and the US, with much speculation that these cars were in New Zealand. Indeed, from time to time, he was asked to confirm these rumours while travelling in Europe or the US — naturally, and for obvious reasons, he politely denied any knowledge of their whereabouts. Of course, if the time ever arrived when the owner was prepared to sell, Garry was determined to be in the right position to buy both cars.
All this dogged persistence finally paid off when he was contacted by the cars’ owner, at first to make enquiries about the potential cost of restoring the roadster. Garry politely obliged by providing a schedule of costs relating to his own experience of restoring his roadster, while at the same time continuing to express interest in the cars.
Then, finally, the call Garry had been waiting for came one Sunday morning at 9am. “Hi Garry, Michael here. I want to sell you the cars today!” Barely able to conceal his excitement, Garry negotiated a suitable price that was subsequently approved by his wife, and a deal was finalized subject to a visit and inspection of the cars the following Wednesday. And so, in April 2007, with the required bank cheque burning a large hole in his pocket, Garry headed to Te Kuiti to re-inspect the cars he had last seen over five years before.
Unfortunately, time hadn’t been kind to either of the Mercedes, and Garry feared the overall condition of the cars had deteriorated even further. The Gullwing was housed in an old shipping container that had been left sitting in a paddock on the outskirts of Te Kuiti, while the roadster had been left to rest 10 kilometres away in an abandoned old farm shed.
The Gullwing’s ongoing deterioration had been expedited due to dampness within the container, while the farm shed was open to the elements. As well, Garry discovered 300SL parts scattered quite literally everywhere — roadster parts were thrown in with the Gullwing, Gullwing parts were with the roadster, and the