Mercedes Purgatory: Where W123s Awaited Their Bio-Diesel Reincarnation

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The height of the W123 Bio-Diesel boom here was a few years back; it’s subsided since then, undoubtedly for the very reasons that Perry has laid out in his CC today: these cars weren’t quite the paragon of worry-free million-milers as they were hyped up to be. But at its peak, there were at least two pl;aces in town specializing in them, bringing tired old freeway commute veterans up from California and other parts of Oregon to be re-purposed for a higher calling: guilt-free motoring.

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West Side Motors in the Whiteaker District was the most active one, with a lot full of old Benzes awaiting either a new dino-free lease on life, or perhaps to donate their vital parts so that others could carry on.

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Doesn’t time fly? Seems like it was just yesterday we were reading about BioWillie (Willie Nelson’s ambitious bio-diesel venture that has largely imploded), and all the veggie-oil burners? Well, bo-diesel is still around, but it turned out not to be quite the panacea its boosters tried to sell us on. Recycling used oil into bio-diesel is of course a great way to use up that stuff, but at the same time, we’re being encouraged to eat less fried food, so it’s not exactly a growing commodity.

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Of course, bio-diesel can be made from almost any virgin plant oil too, but optimism about that came to a bit of a crash during the drastic run-up of food commodities a few years back, and the awareness that growing plants to feed our cars, either ethanol or bio-diesel, would inevitably be at the expense of feeding our selves, to one degree or another.

There’s a regional biodiesel plant and distributor (Sequential Fuels), which gets most of its feedstock from potato chip plants and such. But the expiration of the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit at the end of 2013 is undoubtedly going to hurt.

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Meanwhile, there’s still a number of W123s clattering away with BioDiesel stickers, but in greatly diminished numbers. Folks have moved on…to Subaru XV Crosstreks. Driving an automotive hairshirt isn’t for everyone.