Friday, March 16, 2007

I'm probably too expensive for you

So goes the adage "There's nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes". I was reminded of it again recently when a Mercedes mechanic told me "I'm probably too expensive for you." I only asked him to look at the springs.

This is what happens when you find a saggy old heap, heave it off its chocks, wipe off the leaves and mould, and contemplate driving it. It's a free Mercedes!! And with so many surprises inside - rusty old tools in the trunk, hand scribbed yellowed notes in the glove compartment on maximum warp speed and valve adjustments, under the hood there, a mouse's nest, and looky here in the radiator, a honeycomb. Sweet. What else is living in there? Finding Liz and Jon's 1976 Mercedes 240D which had been abandoned for over 6 years was the beginning of a love affair requiring more sweat and tears than a Rocky Balboa comeback. Welcome to The Golden Grease.

Makki came with his tow truck just before Thanksgiving to slog the car onto the back of his truck and whisked it out to Maryland to JK's auto repair shop. And there it remained for several months where JK and the crew got the engine running, flushed out the fuel and cooling systems, 4 new tires, unseized the brakes, new hoses. The next time I saw it, the starter died. Then the brake pads went up in flames. New pads, discs and master cylinder. The racing throttle and the belching black smoke as I wrestled the car around DC like a crazy dog was exciting. Then the transmission died - of course! Throw in some new windscreen wipers, lights, furry seat covers and 6 months later, The Grease is back in action. On its maiden voyage, beyond an electrical short somewhere behind the radio, it drove a 400 miles to Boston for a vegetable fuel conversion by Greasecar ( Happy days. Now this cranky 31 year old is on a strict high fat, low carbs diet.

One Mercedes wasn't enough for Greaseball needs, so in January, we bought a white 1984 Merc 300D off Ebay for $750. Bargain. The transaction took place in a sketchy junk yard in some woods in Maryland off a seller from Cote D'Ivoire. The drive back to DC was action packed - bad sleet, no lights, no turn signals, no stop signals, bad brakes and a transmission that never got above 2nd gear. But with just 250,000 miles on the clock, the car was a relative puppy fresh from the Mercedes Benz factory. New lights, tires, transmission flush, throttle adjustments, brakes, and wheel balancing has got this beast workable for a long road trip. The shocks failed back in the 90s so it bounces along like the pimpmobile it was meant to be. The Slug is enjoying its own grease conversion by Greasecar complete with onboard filtering system. We will have to put up some photos of that! It's the envy of all around and Sluggy is now enjoying some yummy grease from an Italian restaurant. We think it has quite a bit more power on grease than on diesel! And smells of donuts..

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