Posted by: Jerry Garrett | May 30, 2017

Driving My Mercedes To Italy – Days 17-25 Crossing The Atlantic Ocean

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 10.41.08 AMCAUCEDO, Dominican Republic

The Duesseldorf Express cargo ship left here Sunday at 7:30 a.m., bound for its next stop, in Lisbon, Portugal.

It is scheduled to arrive there Tuesday morning, June 6, after a voyage of about 3,500 miles.

That’s an average of about 325 miles a day.

To put that in perspective, imagine driving from, say, San Diego to Bangor, Maine – by way of Miami – at an average speed of 14 m.p.h.

I’ve been tracking the Duesseldorf Express, one of about 200 ships operated by the Hapag-Lloyd line, since it left the port of Los Angeles on May 13. That’s where it had loaded a container, with my 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL inside, for a month-long voyage to Genoa, Italy.

I like to think of my Mercedes as being on a trans-Atlantic cruise right now.

Consider this, though: The Mercedes is just returning to from whence it came – almost 45 years ago. And by the same manner of transport: A cargo ship. It was manufactured at the Mercedes plant in Sindelfingen, Germany (“West Germany” back then). And then shipped to the United States. (I don’t know what port it left from, or arrived at – but if readers know, please leave a comment!)

Somehow, mine has still the European headlights (not the American-market quads).

This may be an unexpected stroke of good luck, because I might have had to convert the car back to European specifications, to get it through customs. (A friend of mine said she imported a Thunderbird to France a few years back, and she was forced to outfit it with “European-spec taillights”, for whatever reason. That was costly, she said, as well as “stupid-looking.”)

Actually, I’m led to believe the Mercedes is old enough now, so as to be exempt from most modern regulations, on lighting, emissions, fuel economy and (ominously) safety.

In all, the Mercedes’ voyage from LA to Italy will comprise at least 5,600 miles – probably more, since the ship will be traveling a rather circuitous route through the Mediterranean Sea, around various islands.

Genoa’s Voltri port is where I hope to claim it, so I can start driving it around southern Europe for the next few months. This is a developing story that still has a lot of loose ends, to say the least. I don’t know if the thing will start – it will have been two months since I parted ways with it – or if I can get it to my rental apartment (which is about 100 miles away from the port where it will be unloaded). Or if I will be able to afford $6+ a gallon Italian gas, in a car that gets 11 m.p.g., if I am lucky.

I will need to stop once for gas, before I can even get it home!

Jerry Garrett

May 30, 2017




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