2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

Monceau Automobiles is reimagining classic Mercedes for a brave new world in which sustainability and eco-friendliness are paramount. The eSLC is the first fruit of this labour and we’ve driven it before anyone else. Words Albert Mensinga. Images Noortje Blokland.

A new beginning We are the first magazine in the world to drive Monceau Automobiles’ stunning electric SLC

A few months ago, I met Roel Pollen of Monceau Automobiles in Genk, Belgium. In my search for quality electrified classics, there’s enough to be found but few are to my liking. As we speak, dozens are building them and thousands are thinking about it. In my world, a solid plan is a solid basis for success and Roel’s creation demonstrates how a classic car could work well without a petrol engine.

“On the move, there’s no engine burble, just a subdued thrum from shiny Michelin rubber. Bliss”

His choice for SL and SLC is smart: the 107-series Roadster and Coupe are built like tanks and already have much of the inherent smoothness associated with electric propulsion. Cruising 50 to 100 miles to an easy lunch then filling up and driving home again, in typical detour style, is what you do in a 107, right? If you agree, then Roel’s modern take on Mercedes-Benz’s finest could be right up your street.

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

At first glance

Readers tend to look at pictures first before deciding to read an article, and I am without any doubt that the appearance of this Magnetitblau metallic SLC is convincing enough to pull in everyone. What a glorious sight! Of course, both the weather and location complemented today’s subject like ice cubes in a gin and tonic. The Monceau eSLC chassis #001 is insanely attractive from the outside and 24-year young snapper Noortje Blokland instantly fell in love with said car: “The colour, the shapes, just look at it begging to be loved!” She went to work like a lunatic and attacked like a hungry wolf. Both doors invite to keep the love going, if your heart is big enough. I must say it’s all a bit overwhelming because the level of quality inside is as high as it is on the outside.

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

Here’s the deal: a carefully sourced donor car is fully restored before being fully converted to contemporary EV standards. The new instrument cluster incorporating a subtle OLED screen is the only giveaway that this SLC is actually an eSLC. There is no leather upholstery, instead a fantastic reference to W198 300SL Gullwing heritage. I’m happy because I’m a Pullman interior and cloth seat fan. The steering wheel is huge and historically correct. To me, the cabin feels very much like home, as an SLC should. My legs and feet rest OK and I’m ready to go. The dials look period but are very contemporary without being overstated. I turn the key, the dash says ‘Keep your foot on the brake’, I hear a woosh and a click, the dials wave at me and we’re ready for take-off in utter silence.

The drive

With a 40kg electric motor up front producing the equivalent of 200bhp/442lb ft torque, performance is up to V8 standards. I slide the transmission into D (the only other options are Neutral or Reverse) and squeeze the throttle. We’re on a deserted US airbase and there are open routes to explore. The Monceau eSLC is not yet road legal but it’s not far off; by the time you read this, the car should have launched.

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

Mercedes Enthusiast is the first magazine to get its hands on chassis #001 and it was worth the wait. On the move, there’s no engine burble, just a subdued thrum from shiny Michelin e.Primacy 205/60R16 rubber on a very rough surface. Bliss. The level of comfort is amazing given what lies beneath.

Is this really a battery-powered SLC? After a handful of sharp corners, my conclusion is that this 50/50 weight distributed coupe is a 1,580kg jewel that respects its heritage and legacy whilst offering a highly successful and alternative take on the classic formula. The acceleration is velvet-like, the steering has familiar playfulness and body roll is comparable with a very well sorted V8. I recently drove a 450 model and the eSLC feels entirely more capable than that car. Need I say more?

Roel’s story

After an exciting afternoon at the airbase, entrepreneur and Monceau Automobiles’ Managing Director Roel Pollen and Technical Director Klaas De Craemer invite me to their workshop. “Back in 2018, I sold my two companies and met Klaas via the internet,” Roel explains. “I had the idea to start up an EV company. Klaas had just finished his EV Mazda MX-5 which worked well and got some media attention. Back in the day, I did economic environmental studies and now 20 years later I had the urge to finally put that knowledge into practice.

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

“Sustainability and business can go hand-in-hand,” Roel continues. “It often makes more sense to be sustainable because many old practices can be viewed as flawed thanks to current insights and technology. Try to imagine the change from electric cars to petrol engined cars. That would be pretty insane! In my mind, in the near future more people will drive less. And when they drive a car, it will be electric. Classic cars can’t be the odd ones out. It would be a shame if classics became artefacts presented in museums and magazines. In the near future, I can see classic cars being treated like steamrollers at a farm and country fair. The horror!

“There are enough models out there begging for conversion to meet contemporary standards,” Roel explains. “Think of Volvo, Citroën DS and Mercedes-Benz. The 107-series is a perfect base for sustainable transportation. And since just over 300,000 were produced, no one should cry over US-conversions going electric.

“To complete the picture at Monceau Automobiles, our third partner is Tom Van de Cruys, a very experienced CEO linked to the international energy business, and an electric car fan pur sang with Mercedes-Benz family roots,” Roel continues. “The three of us developed and created the eSLC you drove today. This car is a result of intense development and the very first customer-ready Monceau Automobile.”

So why Mercedes-Benz? “I’ve been a petrolhead since I was a young boy. Things were getting out of control when my brother and I rallied our [one of 244] De Tomaso Deauville. We then picked a less rare 350SL and enjoyed that without any perils,” Roel smiles. “I left my Italian car habit, switched to Das Haus and I never looked back, as you can see with my daily, 209-series CLK200 Kompressor Cabrio.

“In 2018, I had my hands free, so I sourced cars in the US, shipped them to my garage, improved them and sold a few.” Including 107-series Mercedes?

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

“Yes, an Oregon, ex-Wieden+Kennedy Orient Rot 280SL, an Alaskan time capsule, and a 1971, 4.5-litre 350SL – number 26 from new,” Roel answers. “Americans are huge fans, maybe thanks to Bobby Ewing. After I met Klaas, I saw a great market opportunity. Restoring a car up to spec and removing the V8 is basically a ‘cradle-to-cradle’ approach. Isn’t it a waste to ditch a 1,600kg car just because 300kg of it is considered obsolete?”

So tell us more about the eSLC’s specification and development. “In 2019, we made a full 3D scan of an SLC and planned the process from there – full mechanical and software simulation and all that. We use Dutch battery technology, plus a Swiss motor and charger mixed with high-tech components from the US,” Roel reveals. “Batteries and components are liquid cooled, hence the dual temperature dial inside. The power is mainly limited and controlled by the electric motor’s temperature, so cooling is important. Batteries are distributed between front and rear to get that 50/50 balance, creating a fantastic driving experience. Automotive engineering company TeKshift is part of our alliance.

On the home stretch

“Prior to the official launch in September, we’re in the process of fine-tuning the software which is crucial for optimal performance and reliability. The hardware is near perfect, as you may expect from a ground-up restoration. If we sophisticate the car any further – which is an option – it will lose the typical 107-series feel. At this moment, we use professional references and expert drivers to finalise the car.”

So, what’s next for Belgium-based Monceau Automobiles? “Well, as you can see in the workshop, there’s a W111 and R107 ready for full restoration. After the press launch of #001, I expect these two to follow – maybe even this year,” reckons Roel. “We collaborate with restoration specialist SL Classics in Germany and are on course for six cars in 2022 – our first full year in operation – and then grow from there. We are focusing on the 107-series initially, but any iconic Mercedes-Benz model from between 1950 and 1985 is a possible Monceau product. We only focus on Mercedes classics.”

Dial set with dual temp gauges and OLED display. ­­ Dashboard is wrapped in high quality leather.

“Isn’t it a waste to ditch a 1,600kg car just because 300kg of it is considered obsolete?”

Just the facts

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

  • DRIVELINE Permanent magnet axial flux electric motor synchro
  • MAX POWER 200bhp
  • MAX TORQUE 442lb ft
  • TRANSMISSION Direct drive with original 3.92 differential, RWD
  • WEIGHT 1,580kg
  • 0-62MPH 7.8sec
  • TOP SPEED 105mph
  • CHARGER 22kW (standard)
  • RANGE 174 miles
  • PRICE €169,000 (excluding VAT)

2022 Monceau Automobiles Mercedes-Benz eSLC C107

Figures supplied by Monceau Automobiles; range according to WLTP. Find out more at Web monceau-automobiles.com. Liquid cooled battery packs up front and out back. ­Two charger options available; standard is 22kW. Roel’s 350SL replaced a De Tomaso rally toy. Good weight distribution aids the e’s handling. ­­ Upholstery inspired by the 300SL Gullwing’s. MD Roel Pollen (left) with Technical Director Klaas De Craemer.

“With a 40kg electric motor up front producing the equivalent of 200bhp/442lb ft torque, performance is up to V8 standards”
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