Cary Grant's 1959 220 S Mercedes-Benz Cabriolet
The Master Craftsmen at Alter Ego Motorcycles have added a new project car to the shop in Tucson, Arizona. The elegant vintage 2.2 liter-inline-six engine, 3000 pound German Mercedes in the photograph, "co-starred" with the late debonair Hollywood leading man, Cary Grant, in the 1959 hit movie, "North by Northwest". At the conclusion of the movie, Grant purchased the automobile. North by Northwest Director and Producer, Alfred Hitchcock, might have been equally smitten by the sophisticated auto, too, as, he had a special protective bumper made for the Mercedes-Benz so it wouldn't sustain damage in a scene where a police car rams it from behind. The Hitchcock thriller starred Grant as a man mistaken for a spy, and, the movie unfolds adventures and romance which followed this case of mistaken identity.
One of the wealthiest stars in Hollywood during its heyday, Grant loved automobiles and owned several Rolls-Royces and other luxury cars, including this Cabriolet. The Master Craftsmen at Alter Ego are returning the vintage automobile to its original "persona" from 1959. As examples of the reinstatement process, the original radio will be reinstalled, and several modifications subsequent owners of the car made, will be reversed. Alter Ego Master Craftsmen will be manufacturing several parts to put the car back in time, to 1959, such as making a perfect reproduction of the air cleaner.
This now famous vintage Mercedes is named in a variety of internet sites, as one of the most legendary movie vehicles of all time. Additionally, the movie North by Northwest is now considered to be the most important movie Alfred Hitchcock produced. Hitchcock was acclaimed for his brilliance in production and direction, but, may be most famously noted for showing up in each of his films as an "extra".
Actor Cary Grant appeared in films from the 1930's to the 1960's and starred in several other Hitchcock films. Once told by an interviewer, "everybody would like to be Cary Grant," Grant is said to have replied, "So would I..." Perhaps he was reflecting on the transforming power of the media and the metamorphosis the big screen had brought to his life.
Born January 18, 1904 in Bristol, England as Archibald Alexander Leach, his childhood was a troubled one, but, after Paramount Pictures signed him in the 1930's he had a debonair and charming persona formulated for him, which he very comfortably slipped into, including a new "more American" name. Legendary actress Fay Wray helped him select the first name, "Cary", and he selected his own new last name from a list of surnames Paramount compiled. He became an American citizen in 1941. While he started with Paramount at $450 per week, he was a savvy businessman and was one of the first actors to go independent when he did not renew his studio contract. At times, he even negotiated a share of the gross revenue for films he appeared in - something quite uncommon at the time. He received more than $700,000 for his 10% of the gross for, "To Catch a Thief", while Alfred Hitchcock received less than $50,000 for directing and producing it.
He retired from acting when his only child, Jennifer, was born to his fourth wife, actress Dyan Cannon in 1966. It is said he retired to give his daughter permanence and stability in her life. He was 62 years old at the time.
Grant was married five times, and, died at the age of 92 on November 29, 1986 of a cerebral hemorrhage after a sudden stroke that day, and, it is said he was in excellent health until that last day.
While memories of Cary Grant live on through the many films he starred in during his career, it seems a unique sort of legacy to have his beloved Mercedes returned to original state by Alter Ego. When the original "persona" has returned, the beautiful vintage automobile will be auctioned by its current owner, giving the legendary movie Mercedes opportunities for more adventures in the future.