At one point or another, Mercedes Benz and its cars have been staples of Philippine roads since the post-World War II era. Any motorist, pedestrian, public utility driver or casual traveler in the Pearl of the Orient Sea from the 1950s to the present day is sure to have an experience with the vehicles from Stuttgart.

It is this experience that CATS Motors, Inc. recently highlighted in the Philippine press launch of the 'Mercedes Benz and Me" campaign. Held at the Hyatt Hotel on March 11, 2005, the event portrayed the various experiences of Mercedes Benz owners worldwide, whether in Europe, Asia, North America or even in Africa. For starters, the event highlighted the recent Mercedes Benz commercial, which showed longtime owners/caretakers of different Mercedes Benz vehicles and their love affair with their respective Stuttgart-based four-wheelers.

One example of a longtime Stuttgart seduction is the Khoo family. Over three generations of the said family own Mercedes Benz vehicles, starting with living patriarch Khoo Kay Hong's grandfather. He acquired an elegant 220a as his ride and was so impressed by what the car had to offer, he and his successive generations have owned 19 models from the limited edition Evolution 2 to the Classic 300SL to the E55 AMG to the A Class. At present, ten Mercedes-Benz across three generations proudly line the Khoos' driveway. And although a lot may have changed in 50 years, one thing remains the same - Mercedes-Benz will always be part of the Khoo family.

Another story involves the Kennedy family of California. On one sunny day in 2003, 23-year old Dan Kennedy (in a 2003 E320) was driving his family home from dinner when they were rear-ended by a drunk driver on along US Highway 101 in Santa Barbara, California. The vehicle was a total wreck, but everyone in the car survived with only minor injuries. Dan even played in his college soccer game the following day.

On the local front, perhaps the best Mercedes Benz experience could be attributed to Manny Dimaculangan, an architect/building contractor. A father of three kids, Mr. Dimaculangan learned from a fellow classic car enthusiast told Manny that a nearly-restored 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL roadster was in the market and that he should immediately work to acquire the unit. As any dyed-in-the-wool classic-car enthusiast would respond, Manny went straight to pursue the seller. The car was in fairly good shape but shortly after acquiring it, the car was sent to a local classic car restorer for two years for further restoration and detail perfection. Using Standox paint (a preferred refinishing paint for twoscore-and-up Mercedes-Benz vehicles) for the exterior and sourcing for parts in Germany and United States (for parts and exterior-interior trim), Mr. Dimaculangan managed to give a classic car look to the 190SL, prompting a fellow motoring journalist to give it a test drive around town one Sunday during the cooler months of Metropolitan Manila.

The roadster's open top gave a panoramic view as well as wind-in-the-face gush of morning air still unspoiled by the oncoming traffic in the hours to come. Another enjoyable sight was looking at people's smiles as they went around the car admiring this pristine roadster parked along the curb, as he and Mr. Dimaculangan sipped java coffee in one of Manila's open air cafés.

The 190 SL Roadster, introduced at the same time with the 300 SL "Gullwing (nicknamed for its doors, which flap up and down like birds' wings)", was considered the latter's "little brother" because of its smaller engine displacement and body size. Aesthetically, the 190SL had the same curvaceous looks minus the wing doors and a smaller engine displacement. Of all the 25,881 units produced until 1963, this 190SL is one of the few surviving units in Asia.

In keeping with the image of the vehicle as a premium brand, one of the best stories is the Giorgio Armani CLK-Class Cabriolet. Provided with a personality to complement the Mercedes-Benz brand and personalized by renowned Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani, the Armani CLK Cabriolet exerts a highly distinctive, luxurious, sporty and masculine air thanks to the colours and materials used. Only 100 units of this elegant vehicle will be offered worldwide as part of the exclusive Mercedes-Benz Designo program.

The Designo range allows discerning customers to personalize their Mercedes-Benz using a selection of exclusive material and paint finish options. Each of the 100 vehicles represents the common design philosophy of Mercedes-Benz and Giorgio Armani and will be issued with a certificate that confirms its special-edition status. Giorgio Armani worked closely with the Mercedes design studio in Como (a town in northern Italy) on what was his first automotive design project. "We very quickly found a common language. It was fascinating to see how Mercedes-Benz turned my design ideas into reality with such attention to detail. I think the result speaks for itself," said Mr. Armani.

And even the average Juan de la Cruz can join the Mercedes Benz and Me campaign. All you have to do is send a photo showing the special bond you share with Mercedes-Benz or even a photo depicting your dream Mercedes Benz vehicle, along with a short write-up about why the picture holds such special memories.

Closing date for this contest is on 14 May 2005 and one can send his or her photograph (plus essay) by visiting or snail mailing the required paraphernalia to CATS Motors, Inc. Greenhills, 1008 EDSA Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila or CATS Motors, Inc. Global City, West Car Plaza, 32nd Street corner Rizal Drive, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Entries will be judged on how much emotion one's story evokes, style of presentation and language used, photographic skills, and public voting (via the Internet).