Mercedes Benz Club

Note: As the cyber attack on our website interfered with the last edition of our Starlite this was listed under “Upcoming”.

Just when you wondered where the beautiful cars hide in the winter, you can find some of them, at least 400 of them snuggled together in 88,000 sq feet of an underground secured storage complex.

Toronto Section member,  Gary Shapiro, entrepreneur extraordinaire and President of Auto Vault Canada found the perfect solution to the age old question of where to hide you beautiful Mercedes-Benz from your wife or where can I go on a Saturday, meet fellow enthusiasts and look at wonderful cars while it snows outside.Gary Shapiro at the side of his 280SL

The facility in the northern part of Toronto is open by appointment and to the car owners only. Our Toronto members had an exclusive invitation to attend in particular to see Gary’s new acquisition a 1971 Pagoda. This discreet facility in its 11th year of operation is full secured with video and 24 hour physical security service, probably the most comprehensive in North America.

Although many fine cars are stored here from Rolls Royce to Maserati, the highlight for us is the vast array of Mercedes-Benz cars including the show piece, Gary’s 1971 280SL which is surrounded by a teller’s rope.

This beauty is an American version that was purchased in the US and sent to the Dominican Republic where Performance Vintage Classicos spent 18 months completely restoring the car with some very special Shapiro effects. This firm specializes in Pagodas and 190Sls and all parts come from the Classic Centre in California. They are currently working on a black Pagoda with a sunroof. Given the lower cost of labour in the Dominican Republic, this restoration is more feasible.

The body colour is a standard metallic silver but the interior is a special red with matching soft top, tool kit and shoes for Gary.280 SL - matching kit

Now, one could say that judging points are lost due to the non period original modifications and colour which include the goose neck mirrors, rear power aerial and earlier wipers, but Paul Bracq probably would give the car a nod as he was the designer anyway of these earlier features.

In production currently is matching luggage from a specialist in the Catskills in Upper New York.

The Toronto Section members who own Pagodas were impressed with the quality of workmanship on all aspects of the work and it does set a benchmark for quality that equals other restorers and it should be noted that the company was reluctant to change the original specs of the car but the customer is always right.

Gary is also available to assist in the purchasing and restoration of any Pagoda, 190SL or 3.5 cabriolet

Mercedes-Benz Representative Mohommad Zuie Sales Expert for AMG at  the new 130,000 sqft dealership of M-B Canada at Yonge and Steeles was on hand as well to meet the 32 Toronto members and talk about how we can work together to enhance the brand awareness.

Gary is offering a discount to the Toronto Section members as well as making a contribution to a charity on behalf of the members.

Coffee, donuts, croissants and danishes contributed by the Toronto Section were devoured as the members viewed the many other makes in the facility and we look forward to sunny days and dry roads and to tempt Gary to bring his Pagoda to our Stars of the Autobahn and Cobble Beach.

It was our last Advanced Driving School of this year.  The weekend starting with rain and while clearing up it was a pretty chilly weekend. With wet conditions the event started with cautious driving and and there is lots of learning when it is slippery out. It did dry out but never turned into nice weather till Sunday afternoon.  But fall weather aside it turned into a great experience of class room, practice and track sessions.  As usual the Trillium is organized and stays on schedule – rain or shine.  We would like to thank them for a fantastic year of working together and providing an opportunity of such a great set of events.

To all interested for next year; email me so we can gauge participation and interest level.  This type of event surely is a fantastic gift for any car enthusiast or just to yourself 🙂



May 31 turned out to be a perfect sunny day in the suburbs to test the skills of young and seasoned drivers. This was the second Safe Driver – Safe Family driving school for the Toronto Section. Frank and Mary Alice Cozza and Ernie Fancy Director North East Region with his wife Bonnie  came to Toronto to sample some Canadian hospitality, food and to share their skills and help. Miss Lauren Howe, second runner up for the Miss Universe Canada pageant joined in the afternoon to talk to the young drivers about their driving experience in the SD-SF program

The event started on Friday afternoon when the instructors and helpers had a first briefing. After a site visit of the training facilities we had a shared dinner at a popular local buffet restaurant. Early on Saturday morning, the set up and cone arrangement got the activities started on time for the 43 participants. A big thanks you goes out to our sponsors K. J. Beamish Construction Co. who lend us the pylons needed for the course layout and an opulent lunch donated by Pizza-Pizza Canada.

This year’s Safe Driver – Safe Family event had a triple purpose to not only train seasoned adult as well as young student drivers but also to train the new MBCA Regional Instructors. Dr. Jim Roberts, Chair of the National Driving Committee Doug Dees, President of the MBCA Educational Foundation and Harald von Langsdorff, Section President and Section Sports Director Peter Spitzer were at hand to get the event underway and to observe the activities.

In the morning, the groups went through the classroom session, hands on technical inspection of their cars, demonstration on proper seating, followed by the driving clinic.

Collision avoidance and the slalom maneuvers completed the activities before lunch followed by figure eight, the newly introduced Hoegl Parking Challenge and the grand finale of the timed auto slalom, always a the highlight for participants.

Our resident film producer Christopher Dew added by his camera crew of Gunter Barkowsky and John Osbourne did the filming and editing for the websites.

The newly accredited Regional Instructors are:

  • Christopher Dew
  • Norbert Egli
  • Ernie Fancy
  • John Geist
  • Michael Hoegl
  • Joyce Hughes
  • Richard Kunst
  • Mariela Castano
  • Harald von Langsdorff
  • Peter Spitzer

Timing for the Young Drivers Auto Slalom results:

  1. Kelsey Baird
  2. Taylor Baird
  3. Alexander Alexopoulos


TIming for the Hoegl Parking Challenge Youth

  1. Kelsey Baird
  2. Carter Rock
  3. Shannon Hughes

Timing for the auto slalom resulted in the following adult winners.

  1. Michael Hoegl
  2. Peter Spitzer
  3. Richard Kunst

Timing for the Hoegl Parking Challenge Adults

  1. Jim Brindle
  2. Annette Hoegl
  3. Peter Spitzer


The afternoon ended with some small gifts from Mercedes-Benz Canada for participants who traveled to Toronto as well as prizes for the winners of the autocross. Certificates were given to the successful drivers and Regional Instructors.

Afterwards we retired for some R&R to the Section President’s house in the country to have fine wine, German beer, cheese, chili and butternut chicken on the patio overlooking his private pond.

Many thanks to the attendees, students, helpers and our new MBCA Regional Instructors for a great event.

Doug Dees


May 25, Sunday morning, it could not have been a better day.  After a brutally long and harsh winter and still cold and wet May it cleared up over the weekend and was a stunning day.  Mid 20’s and clear was the perfect day for a cruise from the GTA to Parry Sound for lunch.  Seems like the younger AMG crowd and some of the V12’s cruised at a different speed than the classics – or “vintage” as the crowed so kindly referred to anything more then 5 years old 🙂

The group left from the Colossus theater in Woodbridge and gathered a few along the way up Highway 400 towards Parry Sound.  In Parry Sound we gathered at the harbor front displaying the 20 cars that made it all the way. After some Pizza lunch we got a closer look at the machinery varying all the way back from a ’66 230SL to an over 800 HP supercharged C63.  John with much pride showed his 230SL Pagoda in near perfect shape while Michael showed his RenTech 7.4L V12.

The way back was just as pleasant and as the group dispersed after lunch some chose a mix with some country road on the way back home.  A fun day out with the Mercedes Benz Club of America Toronto Section.


by Doug Dees

Mika Häkkinen joined with Mercedes-Benz Canada and Johnnie Walker Distilleries as their official spokesperson to kick off the Canadian “ JOIN THE PACT” campaign to not Drink and Drive. Over a million signatures have been collected around the world whereby   a $20 taxi voucher will be given to early responders for each pledge. The second tour will be launched at the Singapore Grand Prix with the objective of collecting another million pledges.

At this official press launch, I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with Mika to discuss the activities of the Mercedes Benz Club of America (MBCA) and the MBCAEF’s “Safe Drivers-Safe Families” program.  I emphasized our commitment to have his message delivered as part of the MBCAEF program at our driving events as part of our partnership with Mercedes-Benz Canada.

A special C63 with the Johnnie Walker was on display with requisite Johnnie Walker leather clad ladies for photo ops.

Executives of Mercedes-Benz Canada, Johnnie Walker and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario were also present to lend their support for this international campaign.

Mika will be at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June to further promote the “Join the Pact” campaign. To sign up MBCA members can go to or use the hashtag  #ImNOTdriving .