Ten years of tinkering with a car

Dirk Barlage restores classic cars – particularly Mercedes. His favourite car is as old as he is.

 convertible Mercedes 190 SL, built in 1959 – and therefore exactly as old as he is – was the first classic car that Dirk Barlage bought, and is still his favourite. Barlage is a fan of historic vehicles – he has five sitting in his garage. “When you restore a car, you have to work systematically and persevere with it. This is an approach that I use in my job, too,” says Barlage. The qualified precision engineer works in product management at Krone. At present he is working as Project Manager on the new TU70 container chassis.

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AGE: 59
SINCE: 1984

As a student in his mid-20s, he scraped all of his money together and fulfilled a dream by purchasing the SL convertible. “I completely rebuilt the car; I restored many of the parts and worked on it by hand,” explains Barlage. “That is important to me: I don’t want to just put it together again from new parts.” It took around ten years. “Back then I didn’t have much time to work on it as I had started a family and was renovating a house – with a heated garage, of course.” The first car was followed by a Mercedes SL Pagoda and a coupé, among others – he largely remained loyal to Mercedes; a Chevrolet pick-up is the only exception. He recently discovered it at the classic car market in Bockhorn. The market is the biggest of its kind in Germany, an important meeting point for classic car fans.


Restoring an old vehicle yourself requires more than just technical skill. “Today you can acquire replacement parts fairly easily online, but in the past you had to be very well connected,” says Barlage. He is a member of the Mercedes Benz club, and has also taken part in restoration courses at the manufacturer’s training centre.

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The 1959 Mercedes is now worth around 25 times what Dirk Barlage originally paid for it – but he has spent around 3,500 hours working on it. And the tinkerer would never sell it, anyway. “I don’t want to trade in the vehicles – for me they’re not just ‘garage gold’. It is just a hobby, and one that I find wonderfully relaxing.”

Photos: Sandra Sommerkamp privat

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