Quack, sponsored by Autocar

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.

* We’d had a banger of the same type before what we used as a van. Dylan finished that one off. Bloke note: 124 refers to the chassis.

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15 Responses to Quack, sponsored by Autocar

  1. Geraldine says:

    My car is exactly the same as this (except it’s black) so if you ever come and visit you will feel right at home! I’ve had it for 17 years and it has hardly ever let me down, although now the battery is complaining about the cold weather so I have to cosset it a bit more. There is 200,000+ on the dial, it has helped me move house twice, carried my sons, all their friends and all their stuff on the usual school rounds, shifted huge amounts of trees and plants from garden centres, carried our dogs everywhere (they love it), borne the brunt of my fondness for furniture auctions and has generally been one of the most reliable parts of our household. I love it to bits and hope it goes on forever, as maybe yours will too? Don’t give up on it yet!

  2. Bilbo. says:

    You didn’t mention it’s ride on the back of a beakdown truck recently. The ultimate ignominy for any banger. 🙂


  3. calvininjax says:

    What must Janis have been thinking of? 😉

    Oh Lord, won’t you buy me
    a Mercedes Benz.
    My friends all drive Porsches
    I must make amends.
    Worked hard all my lifetime
    no help from my friends.
    So Lord, won’t you buy me
    a Mercedes Benz.

  4. calvininjax says:

    PS It must be the official Mercedes Benz Day.


  5. Stephen Foster says:

    That’s exactly as it should be Geraldine, the trouble with this one is that it’s rather nice inside with leather seats and I’m a bit prissy about it … I know, I’ll trade it in and get one that’s more knackered. Is yours for sale?

  6. Stephen Foster says:

    That was a different banger. There is at least one too many bangers on the Fleet at the moment.

  7. RAF says:

    Digressing ever so slightly.
    Was the Mogul at the Brits last night?

  8. Stephen Foster says:

    At the Brits rather than the Brit yes the fickle little PHW.

  9. RAF says:


    JayZee or James Beattie

    No contest.


  10. Stephen Foster says:

    Mr Zee is their m8 – I phoned my son one day and eventually after discussing Stoke and other matters I asked him where he was. ‘Oh, in LA,’ he said (I didn’t even know he was out of the country.)

    ‘What are you doing there?’ I asked most casually.

    ‘We r with Jay Zee, he’s talking about doing some stuff with us,’ he replied.

    Things are different on Planet Mogul. Have you seen this?


  11. RAF says:

    Next time he is out there maybe he can let Beyonce know that I’m more than happy to throw one up her if Mr Zee isn’t cutting it in the old Boudoir.

    No I hadn’t seen those T-Shirts , but I think I might get one now.


  12. Geraldine says:

    What do you mean, mine’s more knackered?!! It’s not for sale at the moment but I must admit it did have a ride on the back of a breakdown truck once…

  13. Stephen Foster says:

    Good point, what the hell do I mean?! 🙂

  14. Stephen Foster says:

    If your impish good looks don’t get her, your smooth talking ought to do the trick.

  15. raf says:

    Yeah I was just saying the very same to my Mrs.

    H 😉

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