It took me 11 years, Shs24m to restore my Convertible - Khimji 

Firoz Khimji in his red Mercedes Benz convertible.

What you need to know:

  • Khimji says although it has cost him a lot of time and money to make his Convertible roadworthy, he is still proud that it is the only one in Uganda and probably East Africa and could fetch him a lot of money should he decide to sell it.

“Where do people hide such cars?” Asked one of the classic car enthusiasts upon sight of the red Mercedes Benz convertible during the annual vintage and classic car coronation drive in July 2022.   

Designated by Mercedes Benz as W111 Series, the 220 SED Mercedes Benz Convertible 1965 model was manufactured on December 29, 1965. Worldwide, there were 2,729 pieces of this particular model manufactured by Mercedes Benz and one of them is owned by a Ugandan. 

Firoz Khimji, a classic car collector, says his Convertible Mercedes could be the only car of its type in Uganda, and probably in East Africa. It is a rare and much sought after model by classic car collectors. 

Khimji recalls acquiring the five-seater convertible in 1993 from a popular industrialist. Khimji was interested in and aware of the convertible but could not find it until it was advertised in the newspapers. When he called the owner, he realised that the cost was reasonable. 

“After agreeing to buy the car, I travelled upcountry past Jinja Town to inspect the car. I noticed that it could not be driven so I used a truck to transport it to Kampala,” Khimji says.    


Running on a 2,196cc petrol engine, the two-door five seater convertible has a soft top. Its original design from the 1960s is amazing because of the technological thought that went into its petrol fuel injected engine. Technically, it has a little fuel injection pump, which in itself, is like a little engine because it has its own air filter, temperature sensor and an altitude compensator. When you change from one altitude to another, for instance from Kampala City to Mombasa City in Kenya, the compensator automatically readjusts the amount of fuel that mixes with the air sent to the engine for combustion. 

Its engine compartment is mechanical and straightforward, meaning it is simple to service because of plenty of working space with less stress of identifying a mechanical fault. Physically, it is a long car that even has enough space in the boot where an adult can comfortably sleep. 


Maintenance is not an easy venture, but it is also not impossible. According to Khimji, spare parts of the 1965 convertible are available but very expensive. They are sourced from eBay, Mercedes Benz sites in the United Kingdom, US, Europe, Germany and Australia, depending on where you the part you want as long as it is original. 

“The frequency of service is dependent on what needs to be serviced. I personally do most of the service and maintenance. Where I fail is when I bring in a mechanic if its additional heavy work such as bleeding on the brakes that requires more than one person,” Khimji adds. 

Journey of restoration 

The 11-year journey from 1993 when he acquired the car to 2004 was all but characterised by endless restoration, coupled with costly ventures. Khimji remembers spending many weekends with mechanics who sometimes spent days and nights, putting the convertible in a perfect mechanical condition. After the mechanical bit which included overhauling the engine, suspension system, fuel system and the interior, the last phase was the body work. All the restoration took place as he worked in Nairobi with Kenya Airways. 

“I restored the car slowly and gradually looking for genuine parts from different parts of the world. The leather work, dashboard, interior, engine and many other areas took a long time and money. It is difficult to put an exact cost to restoration but it ranges between $5,000 (Shs17m) to $7,000 (Shs24m),” Khimji explains. 


When full, the fuel tank carries approximately 65 litres. The furthest Khimji has driven it is Entebbe. It has performance capacity to be driven up to Mombasa in Kenya because it is a strong and reliable car. 

“I have taken time to put it in a perfect mechanical condition. With classic Mercedes Benz brands, you cannot afford to go wrong with service. When well serviced, it cannot let you down. The most expensive spare parts I had to source for were the rear lights that I imported from Europe,” he adds.   

The mechanical soft top that covers and uncovers the convertible in case of change of weather is mechanically operated. To uncover, you have to manually unlock it and two people, one on each side, retract the roof from down. When you want to put it back again, you remove its cover, unlock the two locks on each side to hold the roof, lift it up to put it back again and lock again. 


The convertible is one of a collection of three of Khimji’s classics. The other is a Volkswagen Beetle and a BMW 3 Series E21 1982 model.  


With 0 to 100 km/h (62mph) in 16.00 seconds, a maximum top speed of 96 mph (155 km/h), a curb weight of 2910 lbs (1320 kgs), the W111 220 Sedan has a naturally-aspirated Inline six-cylinder engine, petrol motor, with the engine code M 180 IV / 180.940.

This engine produces a maximum power of 95 PS (94 bhp - 70 kW) at 4800 rpm and a maximum torque of 169.0 Nm (124 lb.ft) at 4800 rpm. The power is transmitted to the road by the rear wheel drive (RWD) with a 4 speed manual gearbox.

On the topic of chassis details responsible for road holding, handling behaviour and ride comfort, the W111 has coil springs, double wishbones, anti-roll bar, front suspension, swinging axle and rear suspension. For stopping power, the W111 220 Sedan braking system includes drums at the front and drums at the rear.

The W111 model is a Sedan car manufactured by Mercedes Benz, sold new from year 1959 until 1965, and available after that as a used car.