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Posted on Thu. Jun. 05, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Drivers and their European-made cars to gather for Eurofest this Sunday at IPFW

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Fourth annual Eurofest

What: “A Gathering of European Cars.” Bring your European-brand car, whether you drive it daily or store it and only get it out on nice days.

When: Sunday. Registration is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Vehicle reception is 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Awards are at 4 p.m.

Where: Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Lot 16, 2101 Coliseum Blvd. E. Enter at the light off St. Joe Road.

Cost: $10 registration for each vehicle entered in judging.

Etc.: This event is sponsored by Three Rivers Section of the Mercedes Benz Club of America.

Information: Contact Julie at 348-1369 or Jason at 1-574-457-6541.

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It's almost as if fate put Julie Bruggner in the seat of a Mercedes-Benz.

One day in 2006, she and a guy she was dating stopped in at what is now Mercedes-Benz of Fort Wayne. The dealership was closed, so they weren't approached by any salespeople.

“He wanted to look around,” she said. “I kind of wandered around.”

Then something caught her eye. “I said, 'What's that?'”

It was a 2003 Mercedes-Benz SL500 convertible — and for some reason the doors were unlocked.

So they slipped into the two-seater and were looking around when a van pulled up behind them. It was a woman who worked at the dealership, and she said, “That car's not supposed to be open.”

Then she asked Bruggner, “Would you like to take it for a drive?”

Of course she did. “I swear I wasn't a mile down the road and I thought, 'Oh, my God, I've gotta have one of these.'”

So she bought it and is still driving it today. Bruggner's car, as well as other European-made cars, will be at Eurofest on Sunday at IPFW. Those who drive European cars are invited to enter the car show, which will award prizes in several categories.

This is the fourth year for the car show, which initially was for only German-made vehicles and was timed to coincide with Germanfest.

They had a small turnout the first year, so “we said, let's push this a little harder,” Bruggner said.

They opened it up to all European cars and called it Eurofest.

“Last year was a crummy day — cold, threatened rain,” she said. “We still had almost 60 cars registered.”

This year, they're hoping for 100 cars. Not only does the event draw out spectators, it provides car owners with “motivation to clean it up and get it really nice,” she said.

Bruggner describes the car show as a great event with great people. The vehicles provide a natural conversation-starter.

She belongs to the local Mercedes-Benz club, which has about 65 members, about 20 of whom show up to events. They go out to dinner together, drive in parades and take road trips as a group. She joined the club because she was looking for people who enjoy getting out and going places in their cars.

Bruggner admits to being a “car person.”

Her first car was a 1969 Camaro she bought in 1976.

“It was a muscle car,” she said. “I was a teenager.”

But she grew up, and life and financial issues got in the way of her buying another cool car.

That is, until that fateful September day in 2006 when she purchased the SL500 convertible.

“It has the handling of a sports car and the ride of a luxury car all in one,” she said. “It's a hot little car.”

Bruggner admits her rear-wheel-drive car is “not terribly practical,” especially in the winter. So she replaces her performance tires with snow tires when the weather turns cold.

The car now has 138,000 miles on it. She hopes to keep it at least until it turns over 155,000 miles, because she'll get a mileage award.

Eventually, it will have to be replaced, but, “I honestly can't see myself owning anything other than a Mercedes,” she said. “I think they are well-built cars. I think they're very safe; they're comfortable.”

 

clarson@news-sentinel.com


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