The Failures

Bought once, sold twice – My Mercedes 230CE

Hand built by germans. Rusted to within an inch of its life by England. Bought by an idiot.

There was a time, though it seems so distant now, in which I had something called ‘disposable income’. I’ve forgot what it’s like to have that, but as my mind whirrs into action in an attempt to remember the details of this particular shed, that’s probably a good thing. We wouldn’t want a repeat of history, would we now?

Back in the day, that long forgotten income of a disposable nature allowed me to buy beer more frequently than I can now. I like beer, so that’s good. What’s not good is consuming that beer and then hitting eBay. All while the other half was fast asleep upstairs, blissfully unaware of what my drunken browsing would allocate to the portion of my money not in the beer fund.

One hangover, £252 and a road trip to Birmingham later, I was the ‘proud’ owner of this festering pile of Germanic tin. I swear I could hear it muttering “Bitte töte mich”. That’s “please kill me now” in German.

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Stop it! I can see you getting sucked in by its handsome lines, just like I did while bleary-eyed and armed with a mouse and a PayPal account. Don’t let it happen. This car was an abomination. Think about it, what you’re looking at here is a beautiful Mercedes coupe. A £252, beautiful, Mercedes coupe. Cars of this ilk don’t carry price tags like that for no reason.

Giddy with my new car, I didn’t even bother to bring it home. Instead, I deposited it at the garage I worked at after having booked it in for an MOT. It was bound to pass after all, what could possibly go wrong? It started, it stopped, it seemed to carry its 230,000 miles well and the manual (yes, MANUAL) transmission happily selected all gears. I was onto a winner, I had to be.

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I don’t think I have ever heard raucous laughter like I did when the W123 went up in the air for its inspection. Obligatory references to the Titanic and the associated rust were mentioned. The apprentice sighed as he surveyed the floor strewn with rust and detritus freed via the liberal stabbing of a Mac Tools flat-head screwdriver, all wile other mechanics flocked from their ramps to come and see the rolling comedy show that I had brought in.

The emissions tester wasn’t even turned on – the car was condemned mere minutes into what must have been its first MOT in a decade. Yup, true to form, I’d bought a lemon. A rotten, putrid one at that. There was no lemonade to be made.

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What you’re seeing above are two highlights. Namely the jacking point that could no longer be jacked and on the right, one of the rear suspension arms. Or at least what used to be one of the rear suspension arms. Add to this more rot in the chassis, the strut tops, the boot floor, the seat-belt mounting points, the scuttle, the A, B and C pillars, the bulkhead and the inner wings and, well, you can see the problem.

Rather than waste any more of my ‘disposable’ income on the heap of a 230CE, I instead took it home, took the pictures you see here and then stuck it back on eBay. 99p, no reserve, just to get rid of it and hopefully recoup some of my initial outlay. And do you know what? It bloody worked! A chap with endless feedback relating to multiple purchases of Mercedes-flavoured chod was the winning bidder, and win he did – £310 ahthankyouverymuch.

Cheque arrived. Cheque cleared. Win.

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Err, not quite. Six months later – and despite speaking to the buyer a number of times – the car was still on my driveway. This annoyed me somewhat, so I put it back on eBay and sold it for £250. Man came, man collected, man paid. Woot.

See, not all of my cars result in 100% failure, though the Rover 800 Vitesse I bought next would not be an example of that scenario.

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