July 19, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

“I was always a car fan,” says Mike Tushner, president of Telesystems LLC. “When my kids were little I fixed and sold cars several times.”

Make that more than several. Between 1984 and 1988 he bought, restored, and sold around 30 cars.

He knows and appreciates cars of all types. By 1988, however, family and work life overtook the time for his hobby. He quit working on cars, and turned his energy towards running his telecommunications business.

MikeTushner1Towards the early 20-teens, however, with his children gone, his wife, Connie, knew that Tushner would benefit from working on a car again. She began looking for a car for him to restore, and, ultimately, feed into Tushner’s love of car culture.

“A perfect Sunday to me is hopping in the car and going to a car show,” Kushner says. “I’ve never had a car I felt was worthy of being in a car show.”

The couple specifically wanted to find his dream car, a 450 SL Mercedes Benz convertible. The SL class is a style of sports car Mercedes made between 1972 and 1989. The 450, specifically, was made between 1986 and 1989.

Many executives drive Mercedes Benzes. The vehicle is the definition of “luxury sedan.” But to Tushner, this car is more than a symbol of luxury.

“The style of that car has an iconic look to it. I always thought it was a classy-looking car,” Tushner said. “In the early 1980s I had a picture of the 450SL.”

That iconic look possibly comes from the fact that during the 18 years Mercedes made the SL class, the German auto maker did not change one thing about the body style.

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The Tushners thought it would take a trip to a different state to get exactly the car they wanted. They did…but it wasn’t a long road trip.

“I finally found a 560 SL on Craigslist, just outside of Crescent, Iowa,” Tushner says.  The car was sitting in a garage. It hadn’t been driven in years.

It looked as though it hadn’t been driven at all. In fact, if owners Chuck and Teresa Troxel said they just purchased it from the factory, Tushner may have believed them.

The soft top had rarely come out of its compartment. The car had always been hand washed, and soap was never used on the soft top. Those weren’t the only pleasant surprises.

“The fuel filter was original,” Mike says with awe, even five years after owning the car. “The mechanic who replaced it said he could tell because it had this factory goo on it that the dealership missed when they cleaned it up.”

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The paint is original, except for the hood.  A rock once skipped across the hood and damaged the paint, so the previous owners had it repainted.

Although Tushner wanted a 450 SL, he was happy to find a 560 SL. The number in front of the SL reflects the engine size, meaning the 560 SL runs on a 5.6 liter engine as opposed to a 4.5 liter engine, and the 450 had a three-speed automatic transmission whereas the 560 had a four-speed automatic transmission.

Tushner paid $6500 for the car in 2011, but he’s gotten a million dollars worth of enjoyment out of it. He attended a car show last year and saw a 560 SL about his age, but not in as nice of condition. Seeing that gave him the courage to place his car in the Lauritzen Gardens All-European Show and Shine. Although the show is not judged, he spent the day happily chatting with fellow car enthusiasts.

“For me, it’s something I enjoy driving,” he says. “It’s not as flashy as some cars, but it was my dream car.” B2B

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