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A Pragmatic Choice

Mercedes C63 after a jaunt round town.

The time has come to say goodbye to my Mercedes C63 Estate, possibly the best car I have ever had (so far). The image here will illustrate the reason why. After some very careful driving I managed to get the average MPG up to 23.2. And careful driving is not really what the car was about. It was about noise, acceleration and more noise. Yet if driven quietly and carefully it was an extremely capable car although the suspension was a little harsh. The rear tyres lasted for 23000 miles, incredible for a rear wheel drive car with 450BHP, and servicing was no more expensive than any other comaparable vehicle. It was the thirst, and the fact that I only ever put Shell V Power in her that combined to make using her as an everyday hack unaffordable.

BMW_Instrument
BMW 520d and its astonishing range.

So we come to the BMW, an ordinary but newer car, a 520D Estate, also capable and solid but soooo boring. It does not make my willy tingle, something the Merc did whenever I got in and it started with a roar like Zeus clearing his throat. The pragmatic part however is it cost around £85 to fill the Merc for around a 230 mile range. The Beemer is a similar price for the cheapest diesel to fill but the range is well over 700 miles. In fact I can confidentally set off knowing that I need not worry about where or when to fill up whereas with the C63 and my Shell V Power pedantry, the smaller range gave me the sort of anxiety that I imagine drivers of electric vehicles suffer.

Essentially then, the BMW 520d is like an ugly mistress; it does the business when required without complaint and who knows, I may grow to love her.

C63 – The Journey Begins

Been running this car for around 6 weeks and already covered 3500 miles.  What a tremendous vehicle, I absolutely love it, it is such a joy to drive and I rarely stretch it and go more than 3000 rpm, it doesn’t need it.  It is comfortable, easy to drive and feels so well made and secure.  I will admit that it is not too easy on the pocket, but I am not surprised.  When I first got the car the average MPG over the previous 12000 miles was 16.5, I have now got it up to 17.5, but I am driving quite long distances across the motorways of Northern England.  I am also trying to fill with Shell V Power or failing that at least a BP, Esso or other 97RON.  It is a little pricier, but almost universally recommended for these engines.

A tale of two journeys..

17mpg at rush hour
M602 – 4:00pm rush hour traffic just outside Manchester with 17mpg!

25mpg is possible.
After a 4:30am drive to Liverpool across M62. Just over 25mpg, it can be done if the conditions allow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the throaty rumble and noise that really is the car’s USP though.  I was driving towards Bradford from home, The Better Half and No.2 Son in tow and there is a tunnel under the airport.  As we approached No.2 Son and I dropped the car windows and I dropped a couple of cogs.  I enjoyed the Tinkie Tickling noise for a moment.  The Better Half looked across with a withering look, “you are both so childish….”

It’s quiz time

OK, quick question for you, what has a naturally aspirated eight cylinder 6.2 litre front engine in a V format with a power output of 451bhp, 443lb-ft torque and drives the rear wheels?

Oh, and it’s an estate (other configurations are available).

Yes, correct.  It’s a C63 Mercedes.  And it’s mine.

Mercedes C63 W204 frontage

70,000 miles, FMBSH and a prodigious thirst, it is possibly the fastest car I have ever owned.

I traded in the Mazda and to be honest I’m glad to see the back of it.  Don’t misunderstand, it was (is) a very capable car and was exactly as all the motoring magazines and pundits said.  It was very good to drive, well made, quite good value for money (except for trade-in!) but I found it very disappointing.  If one wanted to drive like a loon, as though one’s pants were on fire and get the back end out round corners all without breaking too many speed limits, it was great.  However if one had to be in Newcastle at 07:00 in the morning, wanted to listen to Radio 4, wanted somewhere to put one’s phone and keys and it was raining, it was a miserable and claustrophobic place to be.  Artics cut you up because they can’t see you, one felt vulnerable on motorways and the fuel gauge would drop from 25 miles remaining to less than 5 in around 3 miles.  Every time a corner was taken the keys would slide from the centre console and disappear under the seats.  3/4 vision was very poor with the roof up and the lack of any sort of storage space in the cabin was infuriating.

I hope the Merc and I get on, we are going to firm friends with the local Shell garage and spend much money with my local tyre man.  I can’t wait.Mercedes C63 badge

Taxi!

Not wishing to swank, but spent the New Year festivities in Marrakesh, and a good time was had by all.  However, the point of this missive is to remark on the multitude of taxis in the city.

There are two types of motorised taxi services available, the ‘petits’ taxis and the ‘grande’ taxis. The petits are nearly all Dacias, all in a uniform dirty beige and only able to carry three passengers.  They can only operate within the city, but because of their limited carrying capacity, there were four of us, we never used them.

Merc W123Now the grande taxis were much more interesting.  Similar colours but almost uniformly big old Mercedes Benzes.  E Classes (Einspritzung – Fuel Injection) with various engine sizes of the W123 range (1976 – 1985)

 

There were also many of the older W114/115 range with engine sizes ranging from 2.0L petrol (Model 200) to the 280D and 300D.

The condition of the magnificent vehicles was fairly poor, battered and worn but considering their mileages still running and working well beyond their design life.  850,000KMs was on the speedo of one that we sat in.

I suppose that the dry warm conditions of the area has contributed to their longevity, but there was something special about the W114/115 class; light and airy yet satisfying solid feeling.  Modern cars seem so dreary.

 

Forlorn Mercedes

I have done the drive from Harrogate to Leeds more times than I care to remember, and when I had a ‘proper’ job in Leeds it was of course a daily commute.  On the Harrogate Road, near the Esso garage on the right as one heads south to Leeds there is an Edwardian (I think) semi detached house typical of many in the area, but with a red Mercedes R107 500SL in the drive.

It has stood without turning a wheel for at least 12 years, maybe more.  The paintwork is looking shabby, the tyres appear to be still inflated but there are plant pots surrounding it and a very forlorn 500SLcar it looks too.

I would love to know the story behind this, that model of car in good condition can sell for up tp £50,000.  I suspect that this particular example may be beyond salvage now, but why has it been left to decay?  I have had several examples of these over the years and enjoyed every one, it seems so sad to see one in this condition.  I wish I had the nerve to knock on the door and inquire.