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Reader test: Mercedes-Benz 380SEC

2008-08-11 15:10
reader, Merc

Duncan Harmse

I am still not 100% sure what part of my anatomy bought my 1984 Mercedes-Benz 380SEC.

Clearly not may brain, as when I bought the car 14 months ago at the then-"reasonable" fuel prices it was not going to be cheap to run, even as a weekend car. Yeah sure, not 3 km/l like the Camaro ''79 I had, but not light either.

She doesn't even have 140 000 km on the clock yet, and had a full service history with all the books and invoices, and even a medical kit when I bought her. But they all stay at home. Paranoid? Yep, no one's going to steal any of that.

The spare wheel has never been used, and when the opportunity to use it came up, I refrained and "limped" to a petrol station to pump up the existing tyre before repairing it. Obsessive? Maybe.

My Indonesian Island

But why does a 26-year-old buy a car with the carbon footprint of a small Indonesian Island? Mmmm....

Well women aren't particularly attracted to it even with its two doors, electric seats, electric windows, cruise control and strange little arms that scare the living crap out of passengers when they bring the seatbelts to within arms reach.

It doesn't have ABS either, as I found that out the first night I got the car and almost mounted a pavement. Which brings me to its handling; it's ship-like.

The hydraulic self-levelling suspension and titanic boot space do come in handy though. It has room in its bootfor 10 boxes of wine - and that's 12 bottles in a box, not the boutique boxes with 6 bottles. Life is way too short for smug, overpriced wine.

But I still maintain there is no better sound than that of a V8, even if it is German and only has a 3.8 litre capacity with around 150kw (albeit when it was new...) on tap. It still gets to 200 km/h, though.

No room for taxis

It's the size of the car that made me fall in love with it, the colour, the absence of two doors, the
pillarless windows and the fact that taxis on the N2 towards Cape Town don't push in front of it.

It's built like a tank too; just ask the lady who drove into the back of me two months ago, Mercedes - 1, VW - 0.

What next? Well, I am on the lookout for a 280S two-door from around 1968. The car that is so pretentious, and would feel at home in Camps Bay or at a Los Angeles film producers mansion, or for that matter driven by an Italian crime boss.

I'm not selling this one just yet though, and short of the oil price reaching $200 a barrel, will carry on driving it. It puts a smile on my face, and the thought of anything small or diesel depresses me.

One thing is sure though, I have no chances of dating an environmentalist and I'll stay out of Cape Town when there is an Green Peace convention. It's a small sacrifice to make.


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