Having disproved the myth of the ‘bombproof’ mid-1990s Merc – read the last installment for details of the various electrical gremlins that afflicted it – my 1993 W124 is finally back on the road.
Mercedes came good with a genuine, brand-new heater fan and Steve, our friendly auto electrician, clamped it in place and rebuilt the wiper assembly, which he had previously had to remove to gain access to the motor.
The total cost, including fitting, came in at a wince-inducing £300, meaning that just getting hot air into the cabin has required the investment of a worryingly large percentage of the car’s £1000-ish value.
Lesson learned, anyway – any future problems are likely to be fixed by a good, old-fashioned bodge.
Perhaps sensing my diminishing patience, the Merc has been running better than ever since it was finished. The engine has lost the slight misfire it emerged from the valeting bay with, and everyone who has driven it has commented on its silky-smooth power delivery.
Fuel economy has settled down at a genuine 25mpg in everyday use, too – better than I was hoping for.
And it also seems that old Mercs are infectious. Because Vicky Parrott, erstwhile web reporter and now the newest member of the Autocar road test desk, has just splashed £620 of her own hard-earned on an equally venerable 190E 2.0.
It’s slightly tidier than the E-class, although it doesn’t have the W124’s leather upholstery or comprehensive service history. But a quick run around the block in it confirms that it drives with the same solidity and sense of permanence as its bigger brother, and has an even sweeter-shifting autobox.
It’s good enough to have attracted plenty of favourable comment from elsewhere in the office. I won’t be surprised if there are a couple more sub-£1000 Mercs in the carpark in six months time.