Old-fashioned Family Vacation: The sweet smell of success

When we last left the Suddards, who were traveling by 1966 Mercedes 230S from Ormond Beach, Fla., to visit us here at Hagerty, they were still progressing north despite experiencing a few problems along the way. So it was with some relief that they made it to Detroit, Mich.

Since Tim Suddard is the publisher of Classic Motorsports magazine, a stop to tour the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn was nearly mandatory for this bunch of enthusiasts. After that, the family headed north along the eastern coast of Michigan toward a stop at Mackinac Island, where they boarded a ferry for the car-free resort area — not a hard sell for this road-weary group. After riding bicycles around the island and doing a bit of compulsory fudge shopping, the tired family rolled into nearby Harbor Springs.

Harbor Springs offered a quick visit with a friend and prominent local car collector who was kind enough to let Tim and son Tom drive some pretty cool classics. The Suddards then headed toward their final destination, Hagerty’s hometown of Traverse City. Their arrival offered the family a chance to reflect on the journey they had just completed with their Mercedes, now affectionately dubbed “Merman” in dual homage to the swimmer, Ethel (think fins) and the memorable monster in “Cabin in the Woods.”

“I wish we had had a little more time to sort the car before we left,” Tim tells us. “But overall, other than the alternator problem and some adjustment still needed in the rear suspension, we found that a well-built, comfortable classic like this old Mercedes is a great way to travel.”

Suddard also pointed out that traveling by classic car is great for people who enjoy talking to strangers, because every time you stop, people want to gawk and talk cars. As for the seemingly obvious pitfalls, he offers this: “Back when these cars were new, that is how people traveled. Our folks would have thought nothing about taking a car like this on vacation. Have things really changed that much?”

After an enjoyable few days spent meeting with the folks at Hagerty and touring the facility, as well as visiting local highlights like the Sleeping Bear Dunes (sleepingbeardunes.com), the family set their sights on home and the nearly 2,000-mile return trip back to Florida. Would their luck and the weather hold?