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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. July / August 2010 Issue.

In restoring cars, it is easy to accumulate a number of odd parts. It starts when the part ordered doesn't fit the car you are working on even though the seller said it would. All sales being final, the part goes in a box with other parts. One way Ernie got a lot of odd bits was at an auction. He thought he was bidding on one item on a table; actually he was bidding on the contents of the whole table. He was philosophical about it.

“I can probably sell these and make my money back.”

They disappeared into the garage attic never to be seen again until just recently.

Another way parts pile up is to replace one, say a windshield wiper motor with a rebuilt one. If it were me, I would throw away the old one because it is unusable. No, it went in the box with the other parts because, “you never know; I might need this someday.”

The most insidious way parts pile up is via the Parts Car. A parts car is one that is so beat up and rusted that no one would even think of restoring it. These cars are useful in providing various parts that can't be found through Mercedes Benz or through the trading post in the Star. You just have to haul these derelicts home and strip them down. Currently, two parts cars inhabit our back yard. These two early to mid-sixties 220's are minus grills and some other parts.

There are, at least according to my resident expert, some usable bits of chrome (they just need to be rechromed), maybe some window glass, and possibly some of the inner workings. Once he gets rid of the usable stuff, what's left--A large, steel, residential motel for rodents, or, depending on how fastidious the neighbors are, a major eye sore.

These two cars are in such poor shape they are almost unrecognizable as Mercedes Benz. A friend from up the street told me she and her young son play “punch buggy” and every time they pass our house, Josh punches her and says “Punch Buggy.” Well, at least he's got the right country.

Now that we are planning on relocating, it's time to get serious about unloading some items. How do you get rid of old car parts?

First and foremost is the Trading Post in “The Star”, or an ad in your section newsletter might get rid of some of the stuff. There are other ways to consider, however.

I have gone on record as saying how much I don't like automotive flea markets.

However, my prejudice is based on being a potential customer. Recently, Ernie rented space at a flea market in hopes of selling off some of the extraneous car parts he had accumulated. His goal was modest. He just wanted to make enough money to cover the cost of the space. I looked at the pile of bits and pieces, some with a patina of rust and the first thing that popped into my mind was “Dumpster bait.”

“You really think people are going to buy this stuff?” I was incredulous.

“Sure, those things alone are worth about twenty dollars each,”

I looked at the little rusty metal box type things with screws and hooks on them. I had no idea (still don't) what they were. Incredibly they sold. People were ecstatic to find this “thing”.

“Is that a framitz to a '37 Gizmobile?” asked one man in a voice, giddy with excitement.

Ernie assured him it was and named a price. The customer pulled out his wallet and paid without haggling. I decided Ernie had under priced the framitzes. Still, they were gone, and by the end of the day, so were most of the large items as well as miscellaneous small things, and Ernie had made a profit. Good, less stuff for the dumpster when we move.

It is the parts cars that have me concerned. Do we really want or have to transport these things down to the new place? Isn't there someone who will take them? For a few minutes, at least, it looked like there might be.

A while back a man pulled into our driveway and came to the front door. Only strangers do that. He wanted to know about the cars up back. “Are they Mercedes Benz?”

I called Ernie to the door. I figured they spoke the same language. Ernie sent him around back and said he'd be up in a minute. While my husband was putting on his shoes, I said.

“I don't care how much he offers, take it. It's cheaper than having them hauled away.”

Ernie surprised me. “Heck, he can have them.”

The two men walked around the cars and talked. Ernie showed him the current restoration project and they talked. It started to get dark, so Ernie turned on the garage lights and they talked some more. Eventually the man left. He had decided he didn't want the cars. That's how bad they are.

There used to be a junk dealer up the street who would take the old hulks to his yard in the city, but he has become reluctant to take old cars. I don't know if it is an environmental thing or not. I do know that my environment would be much improved without them.

I've even offered to break them down for Ernie. Heck, even I know how to use a hack saw and a sledge hammer. Well, maybe I'll save the good bits and try sell them to someone. Anything leftover will be cut up small and put out with the trash.

I know! Maybe my cousin who runs the avant garde art gallery in Buffalo will take them. I'll tell him they are a work of art depicting the death of the gasoline age. Nah, he's not that gullible.

Bonnie Fancy