The old blue Merc has never been wholly reliable; when I picked it up it was to replace a Volvo estate that I had bought opportunistically and which I hated (I got it from an acquaintance, cheap, I simply had to match a demeaning trade-in price he’d been quoted, and it came with a full service history, etc). But I bought the blue Merc mainly to restore an old *124-based estate to the family and more mainly as a Christmas gift for Trezza who loathed the Volvo more than I did (it was one of those rare moments in the writer’s life when I had a few quid coming in).
Now, I can hardly bring myself to roll out a comprehensive, unredacted list of all the visits it had to have to the mechanics for major surgery in the first few months – it was by far the most expensive motor I had ever known, and I say this as a man who once had a penchant for Saab 96 shooting brake V4s. Still, although the auto box has not been changing gear properly for two years, it has been relatively reliable over the same period, save to say it hardly shoots away from the lights and also save to say that it has become one of those vehicles you ‘need to know’ in order to drive.
Early on under our ownership the automatic fob-locking gave up, but it still centrally locked via the key – though sometimes the key needed some persuading – and often the tailgate was out of synch with the rest of the doors. Recently this ‘facility’ packed in and it was every door for itself. Then it worked again. Then it packed in again and this time it seems to be a done deal. It feels rather pre-historic to have to go round checking all the doors are locked one-by-one (dear burgler, I always leave one unlocked), and then letting passengers in by leaning over to reach for the handle to open up. Still, this matter does not render it so far gone that I regard it as a banger. Nor does the next development, though I feel that the next development is somewhat sinister. The next development is this: when you leave the lights on and open the door this is normally accompanied by a shrill warning sound to alert you to the fact. It’s an annoying noise, but it’s meant to be, and it works. Now the noise has become feeble and croaky: it sounds like a sick duck dying it’s last.