I’m actually unhealthy at retaining automobiles for a very long time. I purchase them searching for an expertise and after I really feel like I’ve gotten probably the most out of that have, I transfer on. Traditionally, if I’ve saved a automotive greater than a few years, it’s been the exception to the rule, and that is positively true of my 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280SE.
I’ve had this massive inexperienced hunk of West German steel for nearly a decade, however now it’s time to ship it on to its subsequent proprietor. I’ve discovered myself within the thick of emotions concerning the course of, although, and I assumed that perhaps it could be good to speak it out with you, strangers of the web. So, right here’s a love letter and a goodbye to the automotive my spouse and I named the Large Child.
Method again at first of time, I obtained a significantly gnarly rushing ticket with my Fiesta ST that I’d been utilizing as my day by day driver. I liked that little automotive, however as just about anybody who owns one will inform you, it encourages you to do unhealthy issues. It had additionally been a very long time since I’d owned a basic automotive and I missed the expertise, so I figured it was a very good time to promote the Fiesta and purchase one thing that was rather less hazardous to my license.
At that time, I’d owned a handful of basic automobiles. I’d had a 1966 Volvo 122S, and a 1977 Alfa Romeo Alfetta, amongst others. I’d owned BMWs and an Audi, numerous different Volvos, an RX-7 and even a Honda Accord, however I’d by no means had a Mercedes, and one thing concerning the stacked headlights and large upright grille of Mercedes’ W108 and W109 chassis made me fall in love. As a bonus, the sedan fashions had been (and nonetheless are, in my view) fairly undervalued. So, I satisfied my spouse to affix me on this flight of fancy and we began purchasing.
After searching for a month or so, we got here throughout a inexperienced over tan 1970 automotive with the straight six engine and a life spent in California. That final bit was key, as a result of these automobiles like to rust. We drove out to the sunny San Fernando Valley to drive it and fell in love. We fell a lot in love that we broke the cardinal rule of shopping for a used European automotive, and didn’t get a pre-purchase inspection. This was a mistake, and an costly one at that.
We purchased the automotive for an honest worth and set about driving the hell out of it after organising an preliminary service appointment to vary fluids and filters, look every thing over and provides the chassis a much-needed greasing. Issues had been good for round six months till we began having issues with the cooling system. First, we discovered that the water neck had corroded to the purpose of failure when it dropped all its coolant in an underground parking storage. That was a couple of hundred bucks to repair with a used half.
Then we observed it getting heat with regarding pace, however chalked that as much as somebody sooner or later eradicating the fan shroud. We added one for round $100 and whereas it helped, one thing was nonetheless not proper. Then the bomb dropped and what I assumed was a blown head gasket ended up being an aluminum cylinder head that had corroded internally to the purpose the place it was blasting coolant into the combustion chamber.
This was not solely a shock, however an costly one as a result of my octogenarian very German and really grumpy mechanic advised me that to seek out and refurbish a very good used cylinder head and set up it together with all the opposite “whilst you’re in there” components could be virtually $7,000. Whereas most individuals would have walked away at this level, my spouse and I doubled down and okayed the restore.
Now, I don’t need to get into all the historical past of a basic German automotive breaking, as a result of there isn’t sufficient web on this planet to cowl that intimately, however I discuss these large fixes as a result of they bonded me to this automotive in a means that no different automotive I’ve owned has. Trauma-bonded, certain, however bonded nonetheless.
All these items occurred earlier than I turned a journalist, too, so the automotive was getting used repeatedly, which is sweet for any automotive, however particularly a basic. Earlier than too lengthy although, I obtained my first journo job at CNET and began getting press automobiles, which signifies that the Large Child began sitting, lots. First it was exterior on the road when my spouse and I lived in LA’s Koreatown. Then in an underground lot once we moved downtown. Positive, I’d attempt to begin it up and let it heat up each couple of weeks and drive it each time I didn’t have one thing else that I wanted to drive for work, however the massive outdated Benz took a backseat.
Quick ahead to now. My spouse and I are renting a home in Pasadena. I’ve my 911 which I exploit principally as a day by day, since I don’t e book myself many press automobiles, and I’ve a venture motorbike which goes to take up quite a lot of my time this summer time. The Mercedes nonetheless doesn’t get used sufficient, solely now I’m beginning to really feel actual guilt over it prefer it’s some form of unhappy, uncared for canine that spends life chained to a tree.
Each time I am going out to start out it and heat it up, I’m shocked and excited that it fires proper up and idles superbly. Once I take it out for a drive from time to time, it at all times appears prepared to stand up and go, to be out on this planet and make individuals joyful. Frankly, it deserves higher than I can provide it and that’s why I simply listed it on the market.
I by no means thought I’d promote the automotive, but it surely’s unfair to only let it sit below a canopy for the subsequent decade, undriven, whereas my spouse and I and the world change round it. It deserves somebody as excited as I used to be after I purchased it and somebody who perhaps needs to get into basic automobiles however doesn’t need to take care of one thing else that’s too sluggish, too ponderous or too helpful to drive and revel in.
The perfect factor I can do for this automotive that I really like is to let it go, and that hurts. I really feel relieved at lastly itemizing it, and really feel responsible for being relieved. The perfect factor I can do at this level is to aim to manifest the correct of purchaser and provides them one of the best likelihood for fulfillment that I presumably can and as soon as the Large Child is gone, look to the horizon for the subsequent nice automotive expertise.