Sunday, August 7, 2011

New Bike Car

Soon after my surgery and after I accepted an offer for my new/current job, I started perusing classified ads.  As I sat in bed with my leg elevated, I decided it was time to start driving a car with an automatic transmission (I was tired of constantly shifting in traffic), a car befitting my new job status, yet a practical car -- a safe and spacious family car that would be comfortable on long trips and also would be a good bike trip car.  Not a minivan.  Not an SUV.  A car that would last forever-ish.  A low mileage, mid '90s Mercedes wagon seemed to fit the bill nicely.  I looked on Craigslist and eBay and Autotrader and every other web site I could find.  The better exemplars seemed to fly off the shelves.  One car was literally sold from under my nose.  I kept looking...  And looking.  Every car seemed to have something wrong with it.  Bad upholstery, rust, questionable mechanical history...  Or it was sold already.  A week ago, I was looking at a promising late '90s car on a web site of a dealer in Santa Barbara (yes, I was searching far afield), when I decided to look at the dealer's other inventory and found the burgundy car up there.  Owned -- yes -- by a little old lady from Santa Barbara.  With 54,000 miles!  Coincidentally, we were going to Santa Barbara the next weekend for a three-day FVC booster shot.  The dealer wasn't marketing the car terribly aggressively and it was still there when I arrived at the lot on August 6.  A thorough inspection and a fair price later, and on August 7, we caravanned back to Oakland in two cars.

It's a '93 300TE wagon.  Late '90s and later e320s feel like much smaller and faster cars.  That's dangerous for an impulsive driver like me.  Mid-90s e320s feel like boats and I am a land guy.  This one feels like a tank.  It feels massive and ponderous and stable and incredibly secure.  It's not that much fun to drive, but it's a hell of a lot of fun to own.  It's a perfect car for family trips -- my Mazda 6, which we drove many times to Santa Barbara and Palm Springs, and to many double centuries, is not a great road trip car.  I am looking forward to more comfortable and easier-on-the-body long trips with and without my bike.

The car isn't perfect, but the imperfections are cosmetic and minor.  There are some discretionary things I will do:  replace the tape deck (remember those?) with a CD player and get the windows tinted for more privacy and cooler environment.  Otherwise, I'm thrilled with the car.  As for its name, it's a tank, it's red, and I'm from Kharkov -- it must be "T-34!"


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