It’s not unusual to see a hipster tooling around Silver Lake or Williamsburg in a beat-up old Mercedes. What’s rarer is to find those 35-year-old sedans, coupes and wagons restored to mint condition. That’s the particular obsession of J. G. Francis (above right), who with the help of Sean Johnstun, founded Mercedes Motoring, a boutique restoration company based in Glendale, Calif.
Francis says he had an epiphany after buying a 1979 300SD for $700. “I’ve heard people say somebody should make a car that will last forever, ” he says. “Mercedes did that 40 years ago.” The engineering may be superior — and that diesel engine still gets competitive gas mileage — but it’s the design that attracts many of the company’s clients. The classic colors, like mint green and China blue, and a boxy profile make these cars distinct from the S.U.V.’s and egg-shaped hybrids now crowding the roads. “I have never been drawn to things that are over the top, ” Francis says. “I like things that are subtly amazing.” mercedesmotoring.com.