Mercedes-Benz opens its second-largest classic car center in Long Beach

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ByDave Kunz via KABC logo
Saturday, August 27, 2022
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Given Southern California's mild weather, time has been kind to Mercedes-Benz. Which is why the only Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in the U.S. is located here.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Mercedes-Benz has built some timeless cars over the years. Given Southern California's mild weather, time has been kind to Mercedes-Benz.

Which is why the only Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in the U.S. is located in the Southland.

"We have our number one, or our top classic center in Stuttgart, in Fellbach (Germany), where the brand was born. But our second one, and so far second-biggest and best, is now here in Los Angeles," said Dimitris Psillakis, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.

It's not just a classic center for service and restoration, but it's a brand new one, replacing the former location in Irvine that opened in 2006. The restoration team quickly outgrew the facility in Irvine, and was eager to move into quarters with more work space.

"It's much larger, it's purpose-built, it's much more efficient for us, and you know, we can really step up the business with this new facility," said Michael Kunz, long-time manager of the operation.

The new Classic Center is set within Mercedes-Benz's enormous building in Long Beach, the former McDonnell-Douglas factory. A pricey investment in the 40,000 square foot portion of the larger building, but one that the company feels is important.

Psilakis was in town for the ribbon cutting and grand opening on the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.

"I think classics are always classics, and the classics follow the trends of the time. So, we respect our past... we live today, but also designing and taking care of the future," Psillakis said.

Mercedes-Benz likes to say the center has parts for pretty much every car they've ever made, and if f they don't have a particular part, they have the engineering drawings going back decades, and they can have the part made.

Procuring parts is an issue when it comes to restoring and maintaining classic cars. As older technicians age out of the business it's a challenge to figure out who will take over for these technicians but Kunz says looking forward they will look towards new talent. Kunz has hired many McPherson graduates over the years.

"It is a challenge, but we have a collaborative relationship with McPherson College in Kansas. We have quite a few students who came through that college as interns, later employees. So that builds our talent base," Kunz said.

There are young people getting degrees in automotive restoration at McPherson. Skilled hands that will be able to work on these cars for decades into the future.

So whether your Mercedes is 30 years old or 100 years old, this gleaming new showroom and service department is the place to keep it in fine fettle. But keep in mind, the work here is not inexpensive, since it's essentially a Mercedes-Benz dealership for vintage rides.