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    Japan’s Masterful Mercedes W124 Mechanic


One man’s love for the 90's-era auto keeps the young classics on the road and their owners’ dreams alive.

Welcome to Das Auto Ganz, a specialized repair garage in Matsusaka City, Mie Prefecture, run by passionate petrolhead and Mercedes W124 enthusiast Motoya Nakamura. With the local area renowned for high-class fare, like top-ranked Matsusaka wagyu beef, it’s fitting Nakamura should deal with equally sought-after commodities.

Amidst the gloomy skies and icy gusts flowing in from nearby Ise Bay, Nakamura emerges from the drivers seat of his jet-black FUSO Fighter and strides toward the weather-worn garage. With the pounding drumbeat of rain on the roof, he pulls open the doors and opens the hood of one of a handful of coveted Mercedes W124 models sitting silently in the dark, radiating power and prestige. 

1 of just 502 examples of the 190E Evo II
2.5L 16 valve Mercedes 190E Evo II
1 of just 502 examples of the 190E Evo II

Owners of 80s-90s era Mercedes-Benz vehicles from across Japan trust Das Auto Ganz to repair their cherished assets — including an extremely rare 190E Evolution II, one of only 502 to be produced. 

Nakamuras story is one of a chance meeting, an oath to the gods and his father and a lifelong passion for automobiles.

MODERN MASTERPIECES  While the automotive industry is constantly evolving to keep up with technology and increasingly demanding customers, some cars have attained legendary status thanks to their timeless design and unique character. The Mercedes-Benz 500E/E500 — part of the brand’s highly regarded W124 series — is one such modern masterpiece and the model Motoya has dedicated much of his working life to.

Motoya Nakamura's own W124 E500 (E60)

Production of this top-of-the-line model spanned from the fall of 1990 to 1995, resulting in a limited run of just 10,479 vehicles. Today, these “young classics” remain highly desirable worldwide, and Nakamura and his small team at Das Auto Ganz currently service around 10% of all the 500E vehicles on Japanese roads.

A GAME-CHANGING ENCOUNTER  Nakamura clearly remembers the first time he laid eyes on  the powerful low-slung saloon. He stumbled across a magazine article showcasing the 500E’s unveiling at the 1990 Paris Motor Show. “It was a game changer. The design was like nothing I’d ever seen, and the beastly 330 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 DOHC engine left me completely awe-struck.”

In its heyday, the Mercedes-Benz 500E came with a hefty price tag of $82,000 (equivalent to roughly $187,000 today), a sum out of reach for the young Nakamura. However, fate had something in store for him. Around twenty years ago, he found a 500E by chance at a used car dealership and he snapped it up. And although he only held onto that first car  for six months, he quickly acquired a 1994 model that remains his pride and joy to this day.

FUSO Fighter carries Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140 (S600 V12)
Motoya Nakamura and mechanic

THE DRIVE TO SUCCEED  While the 500E model became an obsession for Nakamura, his journey to opening his specialized garage began in childhood. My grandfather and father were in the forestry business and heavy machinery and trucks are essential in that type of work. My love of cars and machines is largely due to family influence, he says. 

However, his father was vehemently opposed to him working with cars. I remember him saying to me, Keep your hobby your hobby; it will never pay the bills. Despite these warnings, Nakamura was determined to be a success. Soon after his father passed away, he went to a local shrine and prayed at the altar, declaring , Dad, Im going to be successful; let me open a car garage. He opened Das Auto Ganz in 2011. 

TRIED AND TESTED  Over its decade-plus years in business, the company has honed its technical skills and ability to address a wide range of problems and deliver on its promise to provide accurate and speedy repairs. Nakamura points out that his experience driving a 500E and facing breakdowns himself has proven invaluable. He says, I used to have no one to go to when something happened to me. I want to be what I didnt have — a garage that can respond immediately in times of trouble.

E320 Mercedes W124
E320 Mercedes W124
E320 Mercedes W124
Mercedes W124 AMG
W140 S600 Mercedes-Benz
E320 Mercedes W124

Specialty stores like Das Auto Ganz face unique challenges in repairing young classic cars like the Mercedes W124. With the end of production approaching  30 years, parts supplies are dwindling, and, according to Nakamura, finding certain parts like headlights is particularly challenging. However, he and his team are committed to scouring the globe for the necessary components to ensure the cars remain roadworthy.

CUSTOMER CONNECTION Das Auto Ganzs clientele are more than just customers; they are a passionate community of enthusiasts, and even occasionally drive en masse in a fleet of  15 or more 500Es. They are drawn to the garage by  Nakamuras technical expertise, passion and frank personality.

Motoya Nakamura works under Mercedes W124.
Nakamura-san's tools

I told you before, just leave the damn thing alone!”


“When a new customer comes to me with information they picked up from a magazine or the internet and says, ‘I need to repair this part because its going to break down, Im generally gentle at first, politely suggesting that theres no need to panic or do anything right now. However, as my customers return and get used to my style, my personality starts to emerge, and I end up telling them, “I told you before, just leave the damn thing alone!”

Customers are enamored by this frank treatment and have given Das Auto Ganz the nickname — “Motoyas Dojo.” For customers, the garage is not just a maintenance shop but also a place to learn  how to deal with their precious cars.

Mercedes W124 Das Auto Ganz
FUSO Fighter Mercedes W124

FUSO FIGHTER TO THE RESCUE  Nakamura uses his FUSO Fighter loader to transport  customer vehicles under his charge. To him, it’s more than just a truck; it’s a statement of intent. The jet-black exterior and powerful engine embody his desire to help those in need and deliver the best service possible. “I chose a Fighter because I travel long distances and wanted a truck with plenty of room and reliability. I drove a first-generation Fighter while helping in the forestry business, and I’ve always liked the FUSO brand. It’s durable; it has power, and, above all, it’s safe to drive.”

Nakamura states that, “My love for cars and helping people is the driving force behind my work. I enjoy what I do and want to support others who share my passion.”

MFTBC is part of the Daimler Truck AG global network, which includes Mercedes-Benz trucks.