When Nelson Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in East London, South Africa paid tribute to the leader with a gift made specially for him: a red S-Class.
In a video produced by Mercedes-Benz South Africa, Philipp Groom, who still works for the automaker, explains that a few days after Mandela’s release, they decided to build a car by hand.
They brought the idea to management, who agreed to donate the parts, and the workers offered to build the car during unpaid overtime.
Footage from the plant shows workers dancing and singing in celebration as they work on the car. “All workers wanted to be part of this, they wanted to touch this vehicle,” Groom says.
Receiving the red W126 S-Class, Mandela said the colour would remind him of the blood spilled by South Africans in the struggle to end the Apartheid system.
The car is now at the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg.
Here’s Groom presenting the car to Mandela:
And a short video about the car:
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