Mercedes Magazine, 1989
In automotive terms, California is Reincarnation Country.
In evidence, we offer Scott Restorations. Located on an unassuming back street in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, and run by a kindly, unassuming fanatic named Scott Grundfor, this firm produces some of the best 300SL restorations on the planet.
If that claim sounds extravagant, Grundfor’s own rivals concede it. Scott’s SLs have such beauty, freshness — youth. They confound assessment.
Indeed, upon completion, entirely authentic as they are, they have as much “Scott” in them as Mercedes. They’re more than restored, they’re redefined — resurrected. Yes: reincarnated. Grundfor isn’t satisfied until they take clear aim at the Ideal.
And he’s justly proud of his perfectionism. Standing over the most exquisite maroon 300SL Gullwing we’ve ever seen, he nods, bemused.
“If you cut this car in half, you’ll see we’ve treated every piece of metal in it. That’s the California specialty — cosmetic perfection. Mechanical restoration is fairly standard, but aesthetically, California produces the world’s most perfect craftsmanship.”
And what of so-called “overrestoration?” — always a lively debate among restorers. Where do you draw the line?
Grundfor doesn’t hesitate. “Overrestoration is making a car into something it never was — chroming pieces that were never chrome, that sort of thing.” He pauses. “And I guess it’s true that my cars do look better than when they came out of the factory. But that’s because we figure out what the factory was trying for-and finish the job. We’ll take the sand pockmarks out of a cast intake manifold, for instance, remove paint-runs from a firewall,adjust the gaps on the doors.”
“Our goal is to reproduce what the factory intended — the identical plating, types of screws, size of screwheads. Probably one in fifty pieces from the factory came out as perfect as ours do. That’s our advantage — we have time. ”
Sandy-haired and bearded, Scott Grundfor, 41, has done restorations long enough to develop fully the aesthetic values of his trade. When asked if he likes to see his cars driven, there’s a catch in his breath.
“I wish I could say yes…but, no. That’s because the value and rarity of these cars has changed their character completely. This car, for example,” he says, gesturing again at the maroon Gullwing. “It was a $150,000 restoration. The finished product is worth, at the moment, about $400,000. People buy and sell SLs as they buy and sell works of art. And driving them on the street depreciates them — as well as risks destroying them.”
Incidentally, the quality of this maroon car’s restoration, at $150,000, was sufficiently exquisite that, at the Newporter Invitational, perhaps the most fiercely competitive sports car show in the world, it was eligible for six awards — and won five! That level of nigh-brutal domination lends credibility to Grundfor’s sentiments about protecting his flock.
When it came up that a particularly fine restoration (his firm completes approximately one major job every two months) was today being driven regularly on the street, Grundfor made his feelings plain.
“I’ve got to say, it hurts. I mean, I suffered with that car.”
The point is clear. Scott Grundfor isn’t “building cars” so much as bluechip investments, show-winners. the most exotic expressions of automotive high art. Just as you don’t haul around a Renoir on the subway, you must consider very seriously whether or not to squander a Scott-restored 300SL on the open road.