Piston Slap: The Spare 300E Needs a National Bricklin Museum?

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta

Fabio writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I have been asked by an uncle if I would like to his 91 Mercedes 300E (he has supplied all of his children and is now moving to the extended family). It has 230K km (140K miles) and looks to be in pretty good condition. He’s mentioned that it has been very reliable. The purchase price would be negligible and the insurance is reasonable. One of my concerns is that I would be using the car as my daily driver (it would be replacing my current 99 Grand Am (170K miles) and I wanted to get another take on that – is it reasonable, or is it not a good idea.

I’ve read a bit up on that vehicle and it seems to have a decent reputation for longevity (with the required maintenance). I was hoping if you could provide some insight as to whether this seems like a feasible idea, or would I just be better off sticking with the Grand Am.

Sajeev answers:

Short answer? This is a great car from the good old days of German engineering, but I don’t see you stomaching the occasional $1-3000 repair bill if you use it on a daily basis. Older cars aren’t good daily drivers, especially German ones with somewhat pricey and hard to find replacement parts. Unless you have a lot of faith in the car’s service records and age/brand of replacement parts, you should avoid this vehicle at all costs. That’s my general advice, unless you have something that might sway me otherwise.

Fabio answers back:

Sajeev, I’m fairly certain that the car was well serviced (my uncle was the only owner), however I will have an independent shop take a look to see what the lay of the land is. Now I’ve got to see how I can say, “No, you can keep your free Mercedes.” :-)

Are there any circumstances that you would acquire such a vehicle (see how I’m looking for an answer that I would like to hear, instead of the right one)?

Sajeev:

Damn, son! Why didn’t you say that before? I can do this cake-eat-it-too scenario!

So do you have the room to keep a second car? Collector car insurance is cheap, and yours probably applies. So honestly, having a Grand Am and a 300E for occasional use would be quite fun. And quite awesome.

Fabio:

I currently park on the street, but I also have a private spot behind my house (off of the alley). I’d have to see from my insurance about the classic car insurance.

Sajeev:

Shop around, there are plenty of providers of classic car insurance. And they all have different rules. I use State Farm and my brother uses the National Corvette Museum for it…seriously! Everyone is in this game!

You are on your way to owning two cars, that’s the smarter move than one old car only!

Fabio:

Yeah. What could possibly go wrong? :-) I’ll see if we have the Canadian equivalent of the Corvette museum up here – perhaps the National Bricklin Museum?

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

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  • Alwaysinthecar Alwaysinthecar on Sep 09, 2011

    Reading these comments makes me think maybe I took a wrong turn and ended up in Cuba or something. You people are complaining about 20 year old cars with tons of miles on them. This isn't about collecting vintage cars as future assets, but driving an old used machine that may or may not keep running without upkeep and expense. There's not going to be any free lunch either way. Just a pricier lunch for perhaps some healthier food or a run to McDonalds to at least keep you from starving.

  • Andy D Andy D on Sep 10, 2011

    MY daily drivers are a pair of 88 BMW 528es The maintenance is a fairly constant series of small issues. But I can keep the cars maintained to a level where they dont fail to be reliable. My first 528e , managed 350 kmiles in 12 yrs without a breakdown requiring a tow truck. But to have to pay a "professional" would be a deal breaker.

  • Kat Laneaux I get the point that Musk is making. I wouldn't want everyone to know my secrets. If they did, they could or would shout it out to the world. But then, if Musk certified certain folks and had them sign Confidentiality agreements, which would allow them to work on cars that Musk had made, that could allow others to work on his cars and not confine vehicle owners to be charged an arm and a leg for the service. It's a catch 22. People are greedy little buggers. If they can find a way to make money, they will even if it wrong. People...sad.
  • 285exp I have been assured that EVs don’t require maintenance, so this seems pointless.
  • Slavuta "The fuel-economy numbers are solid, especially the 32 mpg on the highway"My v6 Highlander did 31 over 10 hour highway trip
  • Aja8888 As I type this, my 4 months old Equinox's Onstar module that controls the phone is broken. Yep, 4 months (never worked right from day one). Replacement will be a REFURBISHED unit since no new ones can be obtained (from China?). I really don't miss the phone via Bluetooth. And I have a great Garmin that I have used for years for trips which has free lifetime maps and traffic.
  • Bd2 There's a reason why talented American execs have been leaving Stellantis in droves.Tavares seems intent in following "Le Cost Cutter" Ghosn into driving his company into the dirt, whilst "justifying" his ever expanding compensation.
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