It's probably the secret desire of countless car buffs to at sometime in their lives tour Europe in a brand new car picked up at the factory.

If that car is a Mercedes or Porsche, the bigger (and more expensive) that dream becomes.

For hundreds of Americans, 1994 will be the year that dreamtime becomes reality. And, as you might expect, the Stuttgart-based car makers have an efficient, user-friendly system well in place that takes all the guesswork, frustration (and some of the fun) out of the process.

Historically, and perhaps counter to general perception, factory pick-ups (aka tourist deliveries) do not necessarily represent major financial savings, although the more expensive the car, the better the numbers begin to look.

The big advantage comes if you're planning an extended stay overseas, in which case you get the use of your new car instead of having to rent a vehicle. Combine this with free shipment home and you'll at least pay for part of the cost your holiday.

And for those enthusiasts who have an on-going love affair with their motor cars, a mere visit to 'mecca' is an unforgettable experience, especially when tied to factory and museum tours and a couple of days of Stuttgart sight-seeing.

The key to a successful and angst-free factory delivery is to work out all the details with your authorized dealer several months prior to your planned pick-up date. They will place your order and fill you in on all the required paperwork such as temporary insurance, customs documentation, shipping procedures and so on.

It is important to note, however, that just because you're taking delivery at the factory - where they actually built your car - does not mean they will look kindly on last minute changes of mind about color, engine, upholstery or accessories. What you ordered is what you'll get. Punkt.

Also allow plenty of time for the delivery process - the better part of a day, in fact. Because before you get the keys, your car has to be located, checked over thoroughly, washed and oval zoll number plates fitted.

A member of the delivery team will then go over all the documentation with your before finally introducing you to your new "ride." The factory visit and museum tour can take several hours more.

Tip: Please don't take your precious car right out into the commuter traffic around Sindelfingen or Zuffenhausen without thoroughly familiarizing yourself with all the controls. Also, make sure you know the route to Stuttgart, the autobahn or your hotel. There is nothing more frustrating than to be driving in an unfamiliar city in a brand new, expensive car...and be totally lost.

November 1993