Mercedes-Benz GLA Forum banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone, I'm excited to learn and contribute to this form. After just over a year I can say I love my car. My vehicle has pretty much every feature except the tacky body kit, and Keyless GO (I couldn't order it for my early delivery).

I've named my little baby the White Knight. I often take snap-shots with the hashtag #WhiteKnight online. Humorously, once I started posting, I noticed a lot of likes from white supremacists. I didn't quite realize that the name has a very different meaning to them. But, I don't let those crazies make me change the name of my baby. Plus, I get a kick out Neo Nazi's and other racists liking posts from a gay, Jewish, disabled guy who drives a pretentious Mercedes and lives in WeHo.

I bought this car from Scottsdale Mercedes while in AZ opening an office for my West Hollywood CA based business. I'm happily back home and I now get service / support at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills.

I work in technology and am very 'tech and design savvy'. I also love to invent, tweak, and design modifications for my toys. Outside of technology, my interests include: Disability Issues, LGBT Issues, Science Fiction, Fine Dining, Fashion, EDM, and Nightlife.

I have an ambulatory disability which effectively means I can't control the movement of my ankle joint. I must wear braces in order to stand and walk, but they're not that effective. As a result, I use a lot of different mobility devices to get around. These include:
  1. A series of canes I designed that I've affectionately named 'naughty'. I've keep sets of two with different paint-jobs to match different outfits / moods / types of dress.
  2. A rollator (walker with 4 wheels and bicycle style hand breaks). I also custom designed this device with carbon-fiber and titanium parts, mounts for my electronics, a more supportive walking position, and to look cool.
  3. A series of 3 EPAMDs. Which I'll explain below
  4. My main one is Based on the RMP (robotic mobility platform) by Segway and features customized brackets to secure myself in the device and programming that was designed for disabled use by the company and can be tweaked by me at will. I've only had this device since April 2014 when the company updated the specifications for both Segway's and the type of RMP my device is based on. This is my main source of mobility away from home and around my very pedestrian friendly neighborhood. I can also swap the tires and fenders on this device to suit different environments and have my normal setup, a 'formal' setup as well as a 'beach' setup.
  5. A Segway i2. I used this for several years before I got my RMP. It also has a custom setup to mount me to the device, but the new one is A LOT better. It has some minimal custom modifications to the software to make its use easier for me, but I can't tweak it at will. This device also supports the same tire and fender changes as the RMP.
  6. An old Segway p133. This device is much smaller and weighs about 1/2 as much as the i2, but has really limited range and performance. It's also harder to use. It's also pretty ugly. But, it's specifications make it great for use when I've got to get in and out of my car a lot or have to fit in a car with limited storage space. I'm working with Segway, the Chinese firm that recently bought it, my doctors, and my insurance to replace it.

Back to the part you guys care about, my GLA 45 AMG. My car has several modifications to make it safe and easy for me to use. As I mentioned, I have trouble driving with the peddles. When I do, I have to move my entire leg up and down instead just bending my feet. This is rather uncomfortable and makes my 'foot' driving pretty jerky.

The first change is related to the Distronic system. I can set the speed all the way down to 1mph. The stalk can be pushed in to operate the breaks. I can also allow you to hold the stalk toward you in order to break, but that's not as smooth. Additionally, the first change and the stalk back feature can easily be programmed on any Distronic Benz. I can hold the stalk forward to both accelerate faster and start the car moving from a complete stop. Finally, anyone could still drive the car normally without a special license, and significant learning curve. Unfortunately, I don't have the same level of control with my hands. In order to perform some maneuvers, I've still got to use my feet :crying:. Also, In order to get the full AMG experience, I've got to put the pedal to the metal >:D.
Second, I had them lower the car a bit more to make it easier for me to get in and out. This also makes the car feel even sportier!
Third, I've got a special setup in the trunk to safely load my mobility devices, hold them in place while enjoying the performance of my AMG, and prevent potential damage to the rear of the vehicle when loading and unloading the car. Additional, there are a few other mobility related tweaks that are much less interesting.

While it's far from perfect, I do love my #WhiteKnight and have found it pretty much ideal for my situation. In the past I've usually driven more 'pure' sports cars. I'll list them below. (FYI: I started my first business at 14 and first moved out on my own soon after I got my license while still in HS. I started college just before my 17th birthday.)
My Past Cars Include:
  1. 1994 Mercedes S500: I inherited this from my grandfather. I had someone drive me around in this car. Once I learned to drive, I loathed the thing. I traded it in for my Audi.
  2. 1998 Audi RS4: My first car I bought when I got my learner's permit at 15.
  3. 1998 Porsche 911 Cabrio: I bought soon after and kept along with my A4,
  4. 2001 BMW M5: This replaced my A4. I reluctantly sold it around 2004 when I no longer drove enough to justify two cars.
  5. 2001 BMW Z8: This was my favorite car, I kept it even as my disability became worse. I initially put my Segway in the passenger seat until that became too hard at which point I took out the passenger seat! My relatives partially blame this car for accelerating the complications of my disability. By some time around 2008 or 2009, I could no longer drive the car. I still held on hope that I would get better, but sadly gave up in 2010. I regret getting rid of it to this day.
  6. 2008 Toyota Prius: I succumbed to the 'green car' trend when this updated model came out and was one of the first to get it. This was a company car which I probably drove a total of 100 miles. I usually had an employee drive me places in it instead. I took out the passenger seat added a 'work space' and replaced the passenger-side seat with out one. I got rid of it in 2010.
  7. 2008 Ferrari California: Enamored by the vehicle itself, and seeking the potential for a car with mobility modifications so that I could more easily drive, I regrettably bought this car. Fortunately, my love of the Z8 kept me from trading it in. I also hoped to either reduce the mileage I was putting on the Z8 to help increase its value as a classic. I HATED this car. Everything about it annoyed me. The disability-related driving controls were hard to use and annoying as ****. There was always SOMETHING wrong with it. I didn't enjoy driving it. It attracted WAY too much attention. Parking the thing was a nightmare. Finally, even with the special modifications, It was really hard for me to use. I got rid of the thing in just under a year.
After getting rid of the Prius and the Z8, my job situation changed and I rarely had to go more than a mile from my home. Complications of my disability were making it harder for me to spend too much time away from home. I was also jaded about the driving options available with my disability and concerned about driving in general. Reluctantly, I decided to not have a car. Instead, I used car services when I needed to get around further.

In early 2014 things changed. I was feeling a bit more confident. I no longer wanted to turn down clients and stay out of my office because of my disability. Technology had advanced and I'd had a lot of time to come up with ideas to make driving fun and easy again. Additionally, I'd also really missed the experience of being behind the wheel. So, I decided to look into the potential of driving again. My #WhiteKnight is the result of that work.

123 Posts
Glad to hear that you're more confident now and welcome to the forum!

I don't suppose you can link me to your twitter page with pictures of your GLA? Or you can post them here too. Would be great to see your set up inside. I tried searching for it and found people actually dressing up as a medieval knight lol.
Also good to hear that you've been having fun for the past year with your GLA. Do you plan to go on trips with it or modifying it? From the description of your rollator and 'naughty', you're a very handy and tech savvy person.
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.