A woman's perspective of living with and loving a Mercedes-Benz Maniac
Authored by our own Bonnie Fancy.
Reprinted with permission from The Star Magazine. May/June 2007 Issue
Before I met Ernie all I knew about cars was that if you put the key in the ignition and turn it, the car should start, and you would be good to go. If the car didn't start, you would swear at it and call the garage. I have learned a lot in the last 34 years, especially about his favorite marque—Mercedes Benz.
Lesson number one was that older cars may be worth more than newer ones. After traveling from Massachusetts to Portland , Oregon and back in a 1966 250, I honestly don't know why this is so. Older cars have no head rests, no FM radio or CD player and if they break down in a place like Cadiz, Nebraska, people are very sympathetic but they can't help you.
Lesson two was that restoring a car is hard work and takes all kinds of bizarre twists and turns. My living room was once decorated in 1960 220SE. The seats had come back from the upholsterers before Ernie was ready for them. Until he was, they provided extra seating in the living room. The re-chromed bits were under the couch along with some of the wooden interior. I think there is still a 220SE grill hanging on the cellar wall like an ancient shield.
My kitchen appliances have also taken a hit. Ernie had to take me out to dinner after baking a steering wheel in the oven to seal the cracks. Hub caps must be grease free in order to paint them. At least that was what he told me after I found the hubcaps to the 220 SE in the dishwasher.
Lesson three. Mercedes Benz people would rather you take pictures of their cars then of them or their children. Ernie attended my high school reunion with pictures of “the children”—Mark, James, 220SE and 280SL.
More than once I've been called out to the garage to get pictures of a rusty fender, or a filthy engine and its various hoses. This is so he will know how things go back together. I'm not sure why I get asked to take pictures of engines at concours events.
After I discovered I had more pictures of Mercedes Benz automobiles then I did of my children, I got Ernie his very own camera. The Minuteman Section even gave him his own digital camera. Somehow I still end up taking pictures of cars and their various parts. At least they are not pornographic.
Lesson four. Junkyards are major tourist attractions. On the Route 66 tour, a highlight for Ernie was looking at various junkyards in the Southwest. The dry air and lack of road salt means the cars don't rust out, and they are in excellent (?) condition. I told him if it wouldn't fit in the trunk, we weren't getting it. We have a deal: for every junkyard I visit with him, he has to go to an antique store with me.
Lesson five. Tools and odd car parts that are needed can make excellent birthday and Christmas presents.
Lesson six. All social events are centered on cars. I once fell asleep during a talk on tires, but most of the events have been interesting and fun.
Lesson seven. If you can't beat him, join him. I didn't marry him so he could be off doing car things while I stay home. I've learned to enjoy rallying, car shows, and long road trips. There are worse things we could be doing.
I've met a lot of interesting and nice people at Mercedes Benz Club events, and I've seen parts of the country that I never dreamed I'd see. While the car lovers talk about cars, those of us who love the car lovers talk about grandchildren, pets, cooking, photography and the many other things we find we have in common besides cars.
Most events that last longer than one day offer alternate forms of entertainment for those who are not as enthralled with cars as others. There have been shopping trips, sightseeing trips, and seminars on quilting and other needle work.
Lesson eight. You know that look that your children had on their faces Christmas morning when they saw all the wrapped presents? That's the same look your Mercedes lover will have on his face when he views a private collection or tours the classic center in Irvine . It's that look that makes it all worthwhile.