Piston Slap: Daily Driver It Ain't!
I have a 1989 Mercedes 300CE. Fantastic car, if I’m honest and it has made me fall in love with straight-6’s as well as old school German solidity. Not to mention it is nice having the only seafoam green Mercedes I have ever seen, making it incredibly unique. That being said, in the 6 months that I’ve owned I’ve had to put almost two thousand dollars into it for various wear parts. While it is to be expected with a 22 year old car of any ilk, the added cost of owning a European car have begun to take their toll I’m afraid.
The knowledge that the M103 has a tendency to blow its head gasket around the mileage I have on it now (135k) is also disconcerting. I can work on it on my own, but parts are expensive and there are an inordinate amount of redundancies that accompany that. Recently, a spark plug cap dry rotted and began arcing. Without any of the specialty tools necessary to properly remove it, it took me about an hour to get the plug wire free. Absurd, frankly. Also, several new problems have begun creeping up: The air conditioning does not work well, the driver side window will not go up or down, the insane vacuum powered everything is beginning to go, and the interior has seen better days.
For work, I was unexpectedly thrust into a delivery roll, and as such I put more wear on it then I would prefer. Naturally, this came about with little extra compensation. It hurts as well that I seem to get roughly twenty mpg on premium gas. This hurts when I have to drive as much as I do. My question to you would be: Is it worth buying something newer and more reliable/efficient? Unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot of money (figure around 4k-4.5k max) to spend, and being what the used car market is, the smart move is probably keeping the 300CE. However, I just wanted an outside opinion.
I have a strange fascination with large cars, yet I like some degree of handling to go along with it. Due to that, a CVPI is near the top of my list. Also, living in the North East a 4WD/AWD car would also be nice. Subaru Foresters and Jeep Cherokees have piqued my interest. Basically, what I want is something reasonable fuel-efficient (I’m ok with 20mpg if it can be done on 87 octane) and something durable and cheap to run. Easy to work on would be a useful bonus as well.
Sometimes you folks make this too easy. It’s as if I told myself:
“Self, you aren’t exactly having a fantastic month. While not as nuts as Jack Baruth trying to get Porsche Public Relations to pull their heads out of their…sandboxes…its kinda like that. Let’s hope and pray that TTAC’s Best and Brightest pitch you a slow meatball, so you can bat one out of the park with little effort.”
You Mister John, are my savior. And my hero: not only do you know of the trials and tribulations of owning a German Engineered vehicle from the “good old days” without being an experienced tech from that era, you described it in vivid detail. Even better, you openly admit to a far more logical replacement: Panther Love.
That’s not to say that a 300CE isn’t worth the effort. Problem is, a daily driver it ain’t. Very few whips that old will pass muster when put to the test of a delivery vehicle. I can think of a handful of American and Japanese motors with a binder full of service receipts, but that’s not the point. You must join me in the land of multiple vehicle ownership. Quite honestly, it’s the only way to fly.
If you like large cars, need a durable commuter and don’t mind under 20 MPG on regular gas, get a late(ish) model Panther. Quite frankly, its one of the best partners for your current ride, and your driving needs and lifestyle. All the best to you as you explore your need for Panther Love.
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