Ever really love your car enough to join a club that meets each year to talk about what makes it so fabulous? Mercedes-Benz owners have one of those clubs and I was happy to join along on their last annual meeting at their North American production plant.
The Mercedes-Benz Club of America (MBCA) is the largest Mercedes-Benz enthusiast organization in the world. They call this meeting StarTech, in honor of the star emblem that is part of the brand.
StarTech 2013 brought together auto experts in the fields of restoration, maintenance and performance.
Events included everything from parade laps where owners got to put their own MB on the famed Barber Motorsports Track to pottery classes at a nearby company that sends handmade pieces out around the world (yes, mostly wives took part in this event, but the guys would have had fun, too, promise).
Lessons shared at Classic Car Motoring, a Mercedes-Benz authorized paint and body shop, could be applied to all kinds of vehicles. And the off-road tour in the ML-Class would impress any driver.
It was also pretty neat to hear from the Mercedes-Benz executives, talking about why they picked Tuscaloosa for their plant and how they adjusted to life in ‘Bama, quite an adjustment from Germany.
The highlight of the event (in my humble opinion) included tours of the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International production plant (MBUSI), headquartered in Tuscaloosa. MBUSI is the only facility to produce the ML-Class and GL-Class vehicles for the North American market and will soon add the next generation C-Class to its line-up. We took several hours walking through the facility, literally watching the vehicles coming together. You know what the experience reminded me of? Have you ever seen the movie Monsters Inc., when the doors are flying through the air on an assembly line of sorts? Same thing. Except these were car parts moving through the air, right up to the point that Mercedes refers to as “the marriage”, where they merge the engine to the frame with a couple dozen bolts. I thought this was the coolest part of all.
Connecting with other Mercedes-Benz owners who share the passion makes the entire trip worthwhile, though.
If you have a Mercedes-Benz, you should consider joining the group. They offer members-only discounts, including savings on vehicle purchases, parts, service and accessories. Membership is $49/yr. You can find out more at www.mbca.org.