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Ron Robbel - 1929 Mercedes SSK Gazelle
  I purchased the "rights" to buy the Gazelle at a charity auction in 1989 for $1,500 which included all the basic parts to be used with a VW. I ordered everything else I wanted from Classic Motor Carriage Company and had it shipped to Tacoma, WA, where I lived at the time. I also purchased the frame to use a Ford engine and drive train since I had purchased a 1979 Pinto with a V 6 engine with an automatic transmission. All the suspension parts including the engine fit the frame perfectly without any extra welding, cutting, etc.
The car sat unassembled for eleven years until I retired in 2000 and moved to Bend, OR. It again sat until about three years ago when I decided I had to do something with the Pinto and the Gazelle or I wouldn't live long enough to ever get it done.
Rather than go with the old Pinto parts, except for the engine and transmission which were rebuilt, I elected to go with all new parts including a Mustang II front end. The cost to rebuild the Pinto parts would have cost almost as much as all new parts so the car is practically brand new. I bought a tilt steering column from Flaming River since the Pinto steering column sat too low and that has worked out nice.
The body work was the most challenging since the fiberglass parts did not exactly line up as one would expect and one rear fender sits a little farther from the body than the other. Unfortunately, this was not noticed until the painting was completed and the assembly begun. While doing the inside body work extra insulation and plywood was installed to strengthen the body and doors wherever possible. That decision has resulted in a much more solid car both in body strength and in sound.
Remarkably, the upholstery kit that came with the car fit well, as did the convertible top, tonneau cover and side curtains. Although a little modification was needed here and there and I added more foam rubber to the seats to make them sit better the finished product looks very good.
The wiring harness I bought with the car was pretty much junk so I had an electrical shop build and install a decent harness so I wouldn't have to worry about electrical problems. Both horns were bad so I installed a small Toyota horn out of sight and they are now just for show. I know I can buy new ones but for now I am going to leave it as is. No one can tell where the sound is coming from anyway. Rather than install an outside antenna for the radio I modified the bottom of the windshield frame so I could attach the antenna lead to that and that serves as the antenna. I just wish I could locate a shaft mount radio with a CD player rather than cassette tapes but I have been unsuccessful in that search so far.
As you can see by the pictures I had a lot of engine parts chrome plated and the only other thing I've done is install dual exhausts. Because a V 6 with duals can sound pretty sour I added a crossover pipe in front of the mufflers to equalize the pressure and that has resulted in a sweet sounding car that actually has people guessing as to what engine I have in the car. With that engine and the light weight of the car it is pretty quick and I have to be careful not to attract any speeding tickets.
I decided to paint the car so it didn't look like all the other Gazelles and the fenders are a 1994 Ford Titanium Gray Metallic which was left over paint from the 1936 DeSoto Airflow I restored. The body is silver with some maroon paint mixed in to present a nice subtle contrast with the burgundy upholstery. The first paint job did not turn out well so the car was stripped and it was redone courtesy of the paint shop. The brown hood strap had to go since it didn't look good with my choice of car colors so I had a local tack shop make a black one for me and it looks a lot better.
The car is titled in Oregon as a 1929 Gazelle Replicar and if, or when, I can get the DMV to accept that it is a special interest car I will be able to use the 1929 plate I have for the car. If they won't I will just use the plate for car shows.
I was able to do much of the mechanical work myself but left the body, upholstery and electrical work to the pros.
As for how much money I have spent on the car, it is anyone's guess and I doubt that I will ever sit down and add up all the invoices. If someone asks and I knew how much I might be inclined to tell them and then be ready to answer the proverbial question...are you ever going to get your money out of the car? So, I won't know and won't care since that is how I spend my hobby dollars.
It is a fun car to drive and I plan to take it down to Phoenix and leave it at our place there. That will bring me a lot closer to CA and more likely that I will be able to make the show there next year.




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