If you’re anything like us, whether we’re talking about watches or cars, you know the feeling of losing yourself to YouTube. With literally countless hours of footage, it is a true proverbial rabbit hole if you’re not careful. Spending hours and hours watching videos can lead to some pretty interesting content to be discovered. With that in mind, and the fact my home country of the Netherlands has just been sent into another hard lockdown, here are a couple of YouTube suggestions to get you through the downtime. Just don’t blame us for any complaints coming from your significant other.
Two 1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 300SL Gullwing cars – Jay Leno’s Garage
We start things off with arguably one of the best car-related channels on YouTube; Jay Leno’s Garage. A fascinating gathering of cars, presented by perhaps the biggest car guy on the planet, in a cheerful and factual manner. What Jay does is present not only the car, but also any backstory with humour and detail, often including his personal experiences with the brand or car in question. And what’s even better, he does this by letting industry insiders, brand-reps, and car owners do the talking whenever he can.
Just ahead of the Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays, Jay Leno features automotive royalty with a pair of extremely rare and valuable Mercedes-Benz’. He features a 1952 Mercedes-Benz W194 300SL Gullwing that raced in the Carrera Panamericana, alongside a road-going 1952 prototype of the Mercedes-Benz W194 300SL. Both cars pre-date the official introduction of the production version of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing, which would be presented at the 1954 New York International Auto Show.
How that came about is a story in its own right as the roadgoing 300Sl finds its origin in a race car, the W194 300SL shown in the video in fact. It found success as a race car in 1952 despite being underpowered compared to the competition. The big 3.0 litre straight-6 engine produced around 175bhp whilst Ferrari and Jaguar were making over 200bhp at the same time. Low drag and low weight meant the 300SL could hold its own in endurance racing. It came second in the 1952 Mille Miglia, and it came in first and second in the Le Mans 24 hours race.
There are tons of interesting details about this pair of cars, pretty much all explained in the video below. Of course, Jay talks about the Gullwing doors, but also the cantilevered engine, the plaid seats, the tilt-down steering wheel, the knock-off racing wheels, the dual spare wheels in the trunk and much more. And of course, one of them is taken out for a drive!
Taking a look at the image above, of the 1952 racing car side by side with the prototype from 1952 and the final version that was put on sale in 1954, the changes to the body become quite apparent. It’s touched upon in the video and you can easily see the more narrow and sleeker profile of the prototype. The design basically morphs from a purebred race car into this gorgeously shaped 300SL Gullwing. Mercedes-Benz built 1,400 coupes between 1954 and 1957, and 1,858 roadsters of the 300SL between 1957 and 1963. Its iconic design also served as an inspiration to the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, featuring Gullwing doors as well.
For more brilliant content on all sorts of cars, visit Jay Leno’s Garage on YouTube.
Coachbuilt Rünge Cars – Petrolicious
One of my favourite YouTube channels related to cars is Petrolicious. Along with a brilliantly managed website, the channel offers excellent, almost documentary-style clips of all sorts of interesting cars. The Petrolicious segment I want to bring to your attention today is “Soul Made”. Through a series of videos, all done in the same style as the other segments produced by Petrolicious, Soul Made covers all things affiliated with historical cars. In each episode, they pay attention to something that surely would resonate with any Petrolhead. Scale cars, handmade fitted luggage, how an original Nardi steering wheel is made, and much, much more.
The most recent episode covers Christopher Rünge and his coach built cars. The story of how Christopher Rünge ended up building cars by hand can be compared to some of the most interesting independent watchmakers, like Dutchman Machiel Hulsman. He started with a basic set of tools, and some books to guide him along the way, as he set off to build his own cars. Fueled by his fascination in postwar coachbuilt sportscars, Christopher Rünge builds bespoke aluminium-bodied cars that sort of resemble early Porsche’s.
As shown in the video, he does everything the old fashioned way, starting with determining an era and style of a car, and selecting a chassis. He then builds a wooden buck, just as they did in the old days, and hammers out and rolls each panel by hand until it has the desired shape. And that’s everything from bodywork to firewalls and inner panels needed to build a solid structure. Everything is done like the great coachbuilders used to do, including the handmade bespoke interiors.
The video tells the story of how Christopher Rünge’s work started as a project and turned into a business without losing the essence of why he started coachbuilding cars in the first place. Its again similar to some of the most passionate watchmakers we know and can be best described as a never-ending pursuit of perfection. You can check out this specific episode below;
The rebuild of a 1965 Mini Cooper S 1275 – Hagerty
Part of me always wanted one for myself, to mess around in and work on for myself. Even though I am 2.01m tall, I know a classic Mini with the seat put back all the way works for me. Not the easiest to get in and out of, but once seated I’m fine. The idea had been pushed to the back of my mind though, but writing about the ridiculously expensive Spectre Mini reignited it in a way. And low and behold, what did I recently stumble upon during one of my YouTube deep-dives? A rebuild project by Hagerty, of a classic Mini!
Hagerty is an online platform with a YouTube channel I check up on from time to time. It features videos on car news, barn finds, classic cars, and more. One of the segments is called Redline Rebuild and this is basically a breakdown of a certain car, from start to finish, spread across multiple videos. Here’s the first one, released about three weeks ago;
By the end of last month, Hagerty introduced the latest Redline Rebuild, the aforementioned classic Mini Cooper. It is a 1965 Austin Mini Cooper S to be exact, in bright red. The previous owner mentioned it smokes quite a bit, and in the first video, we see clear evidence of this. So far four videos have been released, with each one going further into detail of the rebuild. This mostly focuses on the mechanical side of things, so the engine is pulled out, torn down piece by piece, bored out and fixed where needed and reassembled before it will eventually go back into the car.
If this is your sort of thing, like it is mine, you’re in for a fun time. A new episode on the rebuild is uploaded once every week or so, and I’m curious to see how far they will take it. Is it going to be left an original Mini Cooper S, or are they going to improve on it one way or another? We just have to wait and see! And in the meantime, they have just uploaded an hour and a half video about the DeLorean DMC12 and its role in the Back to the Future franchise on the Hagerty Drivers Foundation channel.
“Ford Escort” MST Mk1 – The Late Brake Show
My final recommendation for the holiday season is one that I only recently discovered for myself but immediately grabbed me. The Late Brake Show is hosted by Jonny Smith, someone that might be familiar to you due to his work on The Fifth Gear motoring show on TV. Once again we have a mix of topics, on cars both old and new.
The most recent video by The Late Brake Show is about an MST Mk1, which is a pumped-up classic Ford Escort MK1 which cannot be called a Ford Escort MK1 anymore. It is the second project car featured on the channel and is a proper restomod. The car is built by MST-Cars which is a UK-based company specializing in building classic Ford Escort MK1 and MK2’s into fast, stripped down performance machines. Complete with newly built bodyshells, engines, bespoke interiors and everything.
As we’ve seen with other restomods, the possibilities are endless as you basically start with a blank canvas. MST Cars will offer four different levels of, well, madness really. They’re called Fast Road & Touring, Fast Road & Track, Group-4 Rally and Ultimate Rally and each one hints to how far MST Cars take the upgrades. The humble little Escort is turned into a proper hooligan for road, rally or track use. If you want, you can have a 330bhp engine in a car that weighs less than 1,000 kilograms. Again, such work doesn’t come cheap as a top-spec Stage 4 MST MK1 starts from GBP 125,000.
These types of companies, much like Singer or Spectre, bring a romantic and analog piece of motoring into the 21st century and up to modern standards. In the process, all the kinks are worked out and the performance is ramped up significantly. I can only applaud such projects as it keeps the hobby alive despite the massive EV revolution going on these days. Enjoy the video of the MST MK1, and afterwards I highly recommend you to check the video on the MST Mk2 as well.