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. Posted March 2011.
The Beatles had a song called “Drive my Car”. The chorus was, “Baby, you can drive my car.” In the world where I live it's “Not so fast.” The Mercedes Maniac in my life is just a tad reluctant to let others drive his car. When the boys got their licenses, they each asked the same question; “So, when do I get to drive the Mercedes?” The answer was a resounding “NEVER!”
It was explained to them that they had cars of their own which they had restored. They could drive those. Then came the teenage “Buts”
“But, Dad, what about the Prom? Most of the kids will be renting limos; the Mercedes would be way cooler than that.”
“But, Dad, her father would like to see the Mercedes.”
“NO!” It isn't just the kids who can't drive the Mercedes. Back when we had the 280SL, I was driving it for a while, a short while as it turned out. Once Ernie found out that I was driving it to the mall and the grocery store with its attack carts and up the dirt road to the day camp the kids attended, the situation was rectified. I was disappointed. It had done my ego a lot of good when a kid in a souped up something or other pulled up beside me at a traffic light, looked at me, and revved his engine. I think he was challenging me to a race. It was kind of cool. Needless to say, Ernie didn't find out about that until much later.
Sometimes, on road trips, Ernie will get tired and allow me to drive the Mercedes. I drove some of the way back from Irvine at the end of the Route 66 tour. Apparently, though, I was having way too much fun driving through the Rockies, uphill, around sharp curves then downhill again, with little, if anything in the way of a guard rail. It was fun, but he drove the rest of the way home.
In retrospect it probably wasn't my driving, it was his concern about the depression he was pushing in the passenger side floor, as he stepped on an imaginary brake.
As bad as Ernie is, though, there are others who are worse. One member of the club didn't even want to drive his own car. He wanted to keep it as pristine as when he bought it new. He also wanted to keep the mileage down to make the car more desirable to any future owner.
He was even more reluctant to let his wife drive it. “All things being said, he really didn't want me to use it but when I insisted, which was very rarely, he was not the least bit happy and would run out and inspect it thoroughly upon my return,” she told me in a recent e-mail.
Another woman tells me that while her husband tells her that she may drive the car any time she wants to, he puts a lot of rules and restrictions on it.
“'If ‘so and so' goes with you, make sure she kicks off her shoes before she get in the car, no smoking, make sure she doesn't lean on the car or place her purse on the car; park safely; let the car warm up before you take off—you always gun it; you can't go here or there—there's no safe parking,” she said.
She added that while he doesn't run right out to inspect it after her return, he still does it only more discretely. “And more likely than not, I will take the blame for a blemish that has been there all along.”
The up side to the problem is that if she wants to go to the beach or someplace dangerous to the car, he will take her there, as long as he drives.
I asked one man if he let his wife drive the Mercedes. He told me, “She doesn't want to drive this one. She couldn't drive the last one; it was a standard.”
When I asked him why she didn't want to drive the Mercedes, he claimed not to know and said I should ask her, so I did.
“I could never do it to his standards and I don't even want to try,” she said.
She added that with young children it would be impossible to keep the car as pristine as he would like. “He'd check it every day for dirt and scratches,” she said.
Parking it at the grocery store or Walmart would be an issue as well. Like yours truly, she is concerned about the damage caused by the attack carts. She said that by not driving a Mercedes, especially his, she has more freedom and can relax more. It also means the kids don't become neurotic about riding in the car.
Not all of our beloved maniacs are so rigid, though. I asked a couple of other club members how they felt about their spouses driving their cars as part of my decidedly unscientific survey. This is what they said.
“I let my wife drive my prized 200S E 320CDI anytime. She uses it as ‘her car'. She is able and permitted to drive my beloved '60 190Db, but chooses not to. Something about old, noisy, slow and smelly,” one man said “[We] both enjoy driving our C5 and share our respect for its reliability, comfort and satisfying level of performance. We've always shared a love of fine cars of all types,” another said.
Some men in the club even allow their spouses to compete in autocross, and are thrilled when their wives win. They also prefer to navigate during a rally and allow their wives to drive.
However, for most of us, it seem that it's, “Baby, you can't drive my car.”