The notice from organizers said a local gathering of Mercedes-Benz owners from across the Carolinas would take place "rain or shine." As it turned out, they got both.

The 12th annual dock party June 14 at the Dunbars' home west of the Ashley also brought out maybe its largest number of convertibles, coupes and sedans, which parked on the lawn and crowded the driveway. Guests ate Lowcountry cuisine, and a few car owners took a dip in the Stono River.

The Mercedes-Benz Club of America-Carolinas section - which encompasses South Carolina and western North Carolina - sponsors the event. It's one of a half-dozen or so jaunts the group takes during a 12 month period.

The Charleston excursion has stood out over the years. According to the MBCA Carolinas website, "The highlights of the year seem to be our annual dock party in June" and the club meeting and Christmas dinner in December.

"This appeared to be the biggest ever," Katherine Dunbar said. "We stopped counting cars at 28," she said. More than 60 car buffs were in attendance.

Katherine and husband Henry Dunbar have hosted the get-together all dozen years from their Lazy River Drive home in the Parkdale neighborhood. They are long-time Mercedes-Benz owners and club members.

She said many Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts arrived from North Carolina. ?Bill Hopper, the eastern regional director of Mercedes-Benz Club of America, drove the 540 miles from Washington, D.C.

The only crimp in the dock party was intermittent showers, notably in the afternoon.

"The rain didn't hold anyone away," Katherine Dunbar said. "But it sure gave some guys a run for their money when it started pouring. Convertible tops flew up as well as windows in every vehicle," she said.

Among the more exotic Mercedes-Benzes at the event was a local lawyer's 58-year-old model, she said.

Steve Schachte's 1956 190 SL won the "oldest car award." He restored the auto and is up to speed on its history.

The Carolinas club almost went inactive in the late 1990s before backers including local Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts rallied in support. It's recovered in a big way since then.

"Our group is a mixture of serious Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts and regular folks who just enjoy getting together with friends," notes the write-up on the MBCA Carolinas page of the national club's website.

"Events are held regularly throughout the year." For the most part, "the locations vary so that members in any part of the section will have something to do that is in close proximity to their hometown," it says. By contrast, the Charleston dock party remains on the calendar year after year.

For more about the Mercedes-Benz club, visit

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or