One of the Canadian politics' most famous cars - Pierre Elliott Trudeau's 1960 Mercedes Benz 300 SL roadster - is hitting the road again. But it's undergoing a six-figure restoration first.
Trudeau's sons, Justin and Sacha, share ownership of the sporty silver car. They recently approached Victoria car restoration expert Rudi Koniczek to bring their father's car back to peak condition.
Mr. Koniczek, who has an international client list of Mercedes owners, will strip the car down "to the nuts and bolts" in a project that's expected to last two years. He refused to say what the job will cost but said similar restorations start at $100,000 (U.S.).
The iconic prime minister, who died Sept. 28 2000, often left the media and security people in the wake of the sporty car as he drove away from Parliament Hill.
When sons Justin, Sacha and the late Michel were small, they would cram into the two-seater convertible for weekends at the prime ministerial retreat at Harrington Lake.
Mr. Trudeau, according to chauffeur Jacques Deschambault, would roll up his sleeves and work on the car, which was purchased new in 1960 for an estimated $8,000.
Two summers ago, the car turned heads when Justin drove it through downtown Montreal in tandem with a new 2003-edition Mercedes 300 SL. He was considering changing the colour but decided against it because "maybe it's a heritage car or something."
The Trudeau sons have decided to drive it themselves. If it was to have gone to a museum, Mr. Koniczek would have recommended they leave it as it is - worn red seats, hints of rust, questionable paint job, original key fob and well-used owner's manual.
The car, shipped from Montreal, arrived in Victoria Nov. 25. Mr. Koniczek took it for a short spin.
Restoration will take the car down to the bare bones before each engine and body part is restored and reassembled. It will be re-painted the original metallic silver.
Sacha made the first contact with Mr. Koniczek when he was in Victoria last spring visiting relatives. He toured the shop, which was overflowing with Mercedes 300 SL gull wings and roadsters. (circa 1954-1963). Justin visited in October.
The restoration was confirmed with a handshake as are all Mr. Koniczek's dealings.