posted on December 9th, 2016

You could say that fresh air means a lot to Turo member Valerie W. Three years ago she was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery and was told that she had to immediately get treatment for acute myeloid leukemia in order to save her life. So she was admitted into the hospital for 48 days to begin treatment.

Valerie is a nurse and is used to taking care of people, especially her kids. On top of being severely ill, it was hard for her to miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and her daughter’s birthday — all things she’d never missed before. “But another thing I really missed was fresh air,” she says. “I was in strict isolation and was so sick, I couldn’t enjoy fresh air.”

So after a total of 99 days in the hospital and conquering leukemia, Valerie was determined to live fearlessly and enjoy her life to the fullest. It was around this time that she was introduced to what would become her beige 1982 Mercedes-Benz 380SL roadster convertible. “I grew up on a small farm and my dad has always been wheeling and dealing, buying things and selling things,” Valerie explains. She was home visiting and recovering, when her dad said he’d found a great little car. “He brought it home on the Fourth of July,” says Valerie. “I saw this beautiful convertible and I said, ‘This doesn’t belong here, this belongs with me in Memphis, where the wind can blow through my hair.’”

Valerie had driven a Miata before she had kids and later swapped it out for a minivan — which she loves — but this Mercedes had a sense of retro style. It reminded her of the Ewing 450SL on the show Dallas and of the white 450SL in the movie Beaches. She says, “I remember thinking, ‘I have to have this car.’” So her dad had it fixed up, drove it down to Memphis himself, and it’s been hers ever since. “I love the car,” Valerie professes. “My kids have even accused me of loving it more than them, but that’s just not true.” She relishes the seven mile drive to the office where she works, and spend her breaks outside with the car.

When Valerie learned about Turo through a Forbes article, it seemed like the right choice for her Mercedes. “I thought there should be a service that focuses on older, classic cars for rent, like Airbnb, and I also thought there would be some interest in my car.” Valerie described the harried way the guys at the valet hustle to get her keys first, so they can be the one to drive her convertible.

So far Valerie’s Mercedes has only been rented twice, but both travelers were very happy with their experience. The first woman wanted to drive the car because it was the model that she took her driving test in. “It brought back memories of being younger and getting her license for the first time,” Valerie recounts. The other traveler was in his thirties, and he wanted a special car to take out on his birthday. “He had a Chevy Camaro that he drove normally, a nice car, but he always liked a classic Mercedes and he lives here in town. He’s the one who took the photo of the car at the lake,” she says.

So if you find yourself near Memphis, TN in Valerie’s neck of the woods, you might consider treating yourself to a retro 450SL and few hearty gusts of fresh air.

Kamala Puligandla is a writer and an editorial assistant at Turo. She is always on the hunt for a strange story, a great snack, and the perfect outdoor spot to consume them.