I stopped into the BK to grab a Whopper J for a buck, and as I was strolling up to the entrance this faded old Mercedes diesel comes clattering up. Any other make of car, I would have called it "ratty". But even in it's battered condition, a Mercedes has class. "Tattered", perhaps, might be a good word.
Motor still clacking away, the big door swings open and out springs Tony.
Tony, a wiry kind of a guy, hefts open the enormous hood, reaches in, flips a switch that kills the engine, and slams the hood, like this is the way everyone shuts off their car at the Burger King.
I knew I had to talk to this guy.
"Yeah, I could fix that, but..."
I'm sure he could fix most everything on this car, but this Mercedes is Tony's "work car".
As you can see, it works hard.
The 1983 Mercedes 300D has well over 200,000 miles on it, 280k, I think he said. Tony says it's the most reliable car he's ever owned. I had to grin.
As we ate, Tony told me he worked for many years as a mechanic but just got tired of it. Now he's doing electrical work. Hence the trunk full of tools.
For grins, he collects air-cooled, two-stroke Yamaha motorcycles of a similar vintage as the Benz. He said he thinks at one time he may have had fourteen of them.
This summer, he thinks he might get back into drag racing the bikes again.
Spring will do that to ya.
All words and images copyright 2009 Jeff Blackwell
Born in Detroit.
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