Clocking up miles - Revcounter 455

By: Guy Allen, Unique Cars magazine

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True discovery takes miles and miles

When you buy a car you generally have a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into, even if you haven’t clapped eyes on it before. In this digital age, it’s pretty easy to get hold of a gallery of photos and maybe even a video of the thing running. Sometimes you can almost smell the leather and oil vapour.

That is of course if you have access to all those advantages. I can think of at least two recent purchases where I wasn’t sure what colour the damn thing was, and another where I wasn’t even sure what model it was. There is such a thing as being too trusting, but it worked out fine in all three cases.

Even once you have your scone-grabbers on the keys, there’s only so much you can absorb across the first few drives. I reckon it can take hundreds of miles (or kilometres, if you prefer) before you really get a handle on a car. Or is that just me? Perhaps I have the automotive equivalent of a blocked ear.

It’s possible, but I don’t think that’s the case. For example, when we bought the second-latest addition to the fleet, the 1989 Benz 300SEL, aka the luxo barge or land yacht, I kind of knew what we were getting into. It’s big, it’s not particularly powerful, and it cost a paltry $8000 – an easy winner on metal-per-buck.

When we collected it, I was warned it had barely been used over the last couple of decades, so we immediately drove it from Melbourne to Canberra, via Cooma, and back. It’s since done several long trips and the experience has been a revelation.

First, it’s an astoundingly good distance car, if all you want is to cruise up the highway more or less around the speed limit. It’s now the traveller’s car of choice, even ahead of the far quicker and more current BMW E39 540 M-Sport.

And it gives every sign of being indestructible...yeah, I know, that really is tempting fate. It’s taken a few thousand miles, but I’ve discovered there’s still astonishing value for money out there in classic car land. Who knew?


From Unique Cars #455, July 2021

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