By now it should be fairly apparent to you that I’m somewhat of a sucker when it comes to knackered cars of a German ilk. Like, say, the W126.
I don’t know why, maybe it’s the giddy thrill of buying something that once cost £50,000 for less than the price of a nice meal for four. Maybe my motoring whereabouts have simply put me in the purchasing path of these cars via nothing more than fate. Maybe I’m just a moron who buy cars that really should bypass one last owner and instead go to scrap yard.
Either way, I’ve had a lot of’em, as this S-Class goes to prove. This one cost DOUBLE what I paid for the last W126 though. I know, right, big spender or what? Yeah, this was a whopping £200.
As discovered. £200 for that honey! Mega bargain, right?
Now in my defence, this W126 wasn’t a purchase I planned. I was actually taking a colleague to a trimmers to collect her car when I spied this beast. I obviously had to ask about it, though said line of questioning failed to include important things like “does it run?” or “does it even have an engine?”. No, “is it for sale?” was pretty much it. And lo, it was, for just £200. So I bought it.
It’s worth considering that I bought this car on the strength that A) it existed and B) I was able to see around 65% of it with my own eyes. In Pollitt car buying economics, those factors were sufficient enough to see me withdraw ten crisp £20 notes from an HSBC hole in the wall.
Back to the office I went, where I was ridiculed mercilessly. Such mockery is like white noise to me these days though, so I plodded on, made some calls and arranged to have it transported down to Bristol where my friendly MOT man could sort it/laugh at me/set it on fire.
Bye Mercedes-Benz 300SE, off you go to your new life…
…wait, that’s a different recovery truck.
Yes, those recovery trucks are indeed different. But, before I get to the reason why, let’s have a look at what I’d bought.
It was a G-plate W126 Mercedes-Benz 300SE, meaning it was big, had a straight-six engine and, on paper at least, was the epitome of motoring luxury in the 1980s.
It had been owned by a well-to-do Surrey man who had lavished it with care and attention throughout its life.
It sort of ran. Ish. Kind of. Sometimes.
The interior smelled like old biscuits and stale urine.
I later discovered it did not come with the wheels that were on it when I agreed to buy the car. This would be a cause for dispute for a normal person. I considered it the norm in relation to my car-buying past.
Now, about those mismatched recovery trucks…
Those of you who buy and sell the odd car will be familiar with a website called Shiply. If you’re not, don’t worry, the premise is simple. It’s a sort of eBay for transport. You pop on what you have, where it is and where it needs to be, and various agents bid for your business. It’s a good service, when it works.
The collection of the big W126 went smoothly and to schedule, happy days. Its delivery, however, went a little bit awry. This was because the company that had my car sort of, well, it lost it. When I was told this, I was left holding my phone, struggling to find the appropriate words to respond with. We were, after all, talking about a behemoth of German motoring, not a Hula Hoop. Still, I was assured it was “somewhere” and that I’d be updated as soon as it was located.
Turns out it was in Essex. You don’t need to be a geographical genius to work out that Essex is nowhere near the roads that link Sussex to Somerset, but still, that’s where it was. Apparently snow was to blame, forcing the driver to retreat to base. Random, but hey, at least I knew where the car was. As such, I let my MOT man know and everyone waited patiently.
A nice W126. Not lost in Essex.
When it finally arrived with MOT man, it shocked everyone by going on to pass. Impressive and somewhat unheard of for a Pollitt purchase, but hell, I wasn’t going to question it.
I was, however, advised to get some wheels that actually fit the car. Oh, and a new battery wouldn’t go a miss. Oh, and it ran about as smoothly as a tea trolley on a cobbled street from time to time, so I should look into that, too.
I was beginning to question the pass. But, as it finally had a shred of legality ,I wasn’t going to question it. Until it died, 300 yards from the MOT station. BIG YELLOW TAXI, PLEASE!
When it eventually got home, I set to work finding out what was wrong. Turns out, after much help from car forum chums and other sources, the fault was within the distributor, sneakily hidden in the graphite tip in the middle. I say sneakily because the bastard didn’t look like it had come to any harm.
Anyway, a few quid at Euro Car Parts later and we were in business and let me tell you, she was smooth. Silky, soft, like someone had poured honey on Sienna Miller’s bottom. SMOOTH. I was in love (with the car, Miss Miller’s rump is never in question).
With the love high, I whacked on some new (borrowed) wheels which, despite being Mercedes-Benz, seemed to make the W126 look like it was the property of a drug dealer. I didn’t care though – they fitted the car and that was enough for me.
I also cleaned it to within an inch of its life, too. Then, like some sort of seedy pervert, I ushered it around the back of a local factory and took lots of pictures of it.
And there we go, a Pollitt car that was a success.
OF COURSE THAT’S NOT HOW THIS ENDS!
I did drive it around a bit, with Bristol, Kent and Hove all being regular stop-offs. It was smooth, it was bafflingly good on fuel when I wanted it to be, yet when the loud pedal was buried into the carpet it was also fairly nippy for something the size of a Tesco Express.
Impressive all round, really. Until that is, when returning from a showing of Fast 5, it started to to smoke. I thought nothing of it, instead choosing to believe it was fog or mist or the condensed spirits of badgers that had been killed on the A21. Whatever I nominated it to be, it was NOT going to be the car.
It was though, because it blew its own gearbox into a million tiny pieces the next day. So that was the end of that.
You’d think that’d put me off old Mercs, wouldn’t you?
Well, it didn’t…
300SE. 1989 – 2012. Rest in peace. You shed.