Have you ever bought a consolation prize car?
Allow me to explain. A couple of months ago I was infatuated with getting a 1966-74 Mercedes-Benz 280. This is a big 4 door German sedan from the era when their reliability was measured in light years, not 5-10 year periods. Want proof? These cars are still on the road today in third world countries as taxicabs!
I found the car I wanted and was ready to bid on it (I had seen it at an auction) and had even managed to overlook the quarter sized hole in the hood from a battery arcing through it. When I met the former owner, he told me that the transmission shifted erratically but not to worry because they are all like that. Suddenly, I wasn’t as interested in purchasing a 1966-74 Mercedes-Benz 280, but I wanted an impractical car. Feeling sorry for myself I did what any self-respecting car nut would do, I scoured the classifieds and auctions for an equally dubious car that had some fault I could live with. I looked at any and all European makes. Everything I saw was either too beat up, too expensive or did not have that “wow, my wife might not actually kill me for getting this” factor, until I saw her.
The ad read something like “mint condition original right hand mini’s for sale”, what a coincidence! I love mini’s, they are funky, easy to park, great on gas and have loads of character, and the one I was looking at came in under budget. I called the seller and made an appointment to see the car… to be fair I was 80% sure I was going to buy it before I saw it. The Mercedes had left me devastated, I wanted my questionable investment!
I asked the seller if there were any issues with the car that I should know about? He said, “Make sure it has oil, and coolant”; apparently they leak a bit, fortunately, this was not a deal breaker for me. He assured me that there are no glaring issues with the car; he also told me he would take the dead rodents out of the engine bay prior to my delivery.
It might have gone down as the easiest sale in the history of car sales. I did not argue the price (it was a great deal already), I did not ask for anything to be done to the car (the seller offered to do a small laundry list of items, I graciously accepted) and I did not ask for any type of warranty (the seller would have kicked me off his property if I had).
That is how my classic iconic German luxury sedan from the late 60’s morphed into the most recognized economy car in the world. I love my Mini; I love it with all its faults. It has more character than even the most boisterous senior at a retirement home and is loads of fun to drive. I often joke that it is the most fun you can have in a car going 60 kmph.
I would never get rid of my mini. I can’t help but wonder what a classic Mercedes sedan would look like parked next to it…