Memorial Day 2016 is marking the end of a soggy spring in central Iowa. I combined a joy ride with car lot visits in the Des Moines Metro area pondering which car to get for my wife. I decided to take the scenic route home which took me through some small towns. I recalled some 20 years ago seeing a white Mercedes Benz Heckflosse in a side street in Slater. On a whim I decided to try my luck.
BINGO! There it was parking on the very spot. Today I was ready with a Canon SureShot digital camera that replaced a much loved Nikkormat SLR from the 70’s. I parked on the opposite side and digitally sampled some Kodak moments: 3/4 front, straight-on side. I need 5 good ones, that is what Paul’s writer’s guide says. Get the dashboard through the passenger side window it suggests.
As I approach the car from the right rear the owner came out of the house and struck up a conversation. “It’s a 1966 200D. My BiL had it in a garage for 17 years because of a bad head gasket. He called me up and asked if I wanted it. So I went down there to Texas with a trailer and brought it back. A head gasket is no problem for me,” he said. “I am a mechanic, a diesel mechanic at that.”
I asked him if I could sit in the car to take a shot of the dash. He obliged without hesitation. I recalled how fascinated I was as a kid when I first peeked through the window of a 200 Benz. The upright band speedometer was out of this world for me. It topped out at 160—-km/h of course. This one tops out at 100 mph.
This Benz features some modern conveniences. There is a navigation system on top of the dash (beats aiming through the star) and the radio is certainly not from the sixties. The air conditioning was most likely installed as a dealer accessory when the car was purchased new. Beyond that there are more signs pointing to the Benz’s battle readiness: good quality and properly inflated tires, parking stickers on the windshield and up to date license plates.
The owner opened the hood without any encouragement from my side.”For some time I used it to commute to work at Camp Dodge,” he pronounced. Camp Dodge refers to the Iowa National Guard site near Saylorville Lake and I just bypassed it myself coming from Des Moines. It’s a perfect commute for this Curbside Classic with the road stretching through corn and soybean fields and then gently curving through the Des Moines River greenbelt. In my imagination I see him navigating the wafting Benz with a content smile on his face while listening to the Diesel’s audibles entering the cabin. I imagine its percussions are a bit too agricultural. Witness the sound insulation under the hood.
Things look very well sorted there. However, the owner volunteers that the oil consumption is going up. I am optimistic that he will give the engine a once over in due time.
May this veteran Diesel carry on. And thank you for your service!