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Old 29th November 2013, 19:16   #1
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Talking "Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)

“Cars are inanimate, industrial process manufactured, pressed sheet metal panels, held together by nuts, bolts, welding and gluing. And now increasingly with electronic wizardry which is becoming too complicated even for the workshops themselves to keep up with.”

I should have slapped him right then and there. If I ever see him again – I will.

The man has no soul. He who gets into his prim Savile Row suit, his spit polished Crocket & Jones Oxfords, pockets his Louis Vuitton wallet as he adjusts his Mont Blanc fountain pen, wiping his classic special edition GBP £800 Wayfarers with his monogrammed Trent handkerchief; right before he swings his well coiffed self into the driver’s seat of a gleaming, black W124 500 E.

Possibly the only reason why I might grovel at his feet instead! And even consider entering into a civil partnership with him too!!

No.

My wife might have something to say about that…

Anyhow – I digress.

Neither am I rich (nor famous) and therefore do not so much as dare dream of owning any of the uber luxury items so casually mentioned above. I also believe passionately that cars, motorcycles, airplanes and boats have soul, feel pain, understand you when you’re down and will become an intrinsic part of you, not just your life. If people disagree with me, I smile beatifically as I politely ask them to, “go boil their heads.”

I do also happen to own a W124, albeit a much humbler 220E, which was born at the Tata-Mercedes plant in Pune, India back in 1996. Yes. I bought myself a 17 year old car as my daily drive, in exchange for two that were a little over 5 and 4 years old. Modern, frugal, diesel cars that would have gone on and on and on – for at least another 5 years.

Errrr… yeah.

To set the record straight, I’m a BMW man. Out and out. I love the damned Beemers, especially the current gen 5 series and had promised myself that the 1st luxury barge I will buy will be the 5 series. However the one and only Merc I have openly lusted after is the W124. I have cheated on my devotion to the BMW brand with this transgression and will continue to do so till my last breath. Adding to that list of ONE, is the W140 – some time in the future.

*So there*

This love affair began with my father in law’s W124 which was the same colour, same spec and the same engine as what I drive now. i.e. a 1996 W124 E220; which he kept immaculately for 9 years, before selling it on to make way for the 1st of his S 320’s. When his 124 was selling, I was frothing at the mouth to reach in and pluck it into my life, but was restrained from doing so by the abject fear of being ridiculed for driving my FIL’s car – even though I would have paid full whack for it. And a wife who was not far behind with a meat cleaver in her hand – explained a little bit down in the writeup!

Ego and self preservation of said ego make for dangerous bedfellows.

Fast forward a bunch of years and the inability to drive my Delhi registered cars in Bombay; causing me to flat bed them back to Delhi, selling them to fellow mad cap gentlemen and going searching for a less (ab)used W124 in the city as my daily drive. I saw a few, increasingly troubled at my hopes of finding a decent piece. The choice of fuel it sipped was not a consideration and I was quite happy to look for a good petrol piece as well. However, that’s easier said than done. In all fairness, all the 124’s floating around in the market are now 16+ years old, which means unless it’s in the hands of an enthusiast (or a kooky Parsi!) – it’s going to be telling it’s stories of the ravages of time. Needless to say, I was disheartened.

One such Sunday afternoon, after I’d gone around town looking at a couple of pieces, I rang a fellow enthusiast friend to ask if I could drop by and have a chat. He immediately said yes – and that he’d just finished waxing his own W124 a little while ago – and would wait for me, to take it out for a spin. I whacked my Linea into gear and sped off to the rendezvous. Walking into his building complex, I’m greeted by a metallic grey/black vision of beauty purring at the gate, he rolls his window down and urges me to jump in. Which I immediately did!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-tri-star-bw.jpg

So off we went, toodling along a back road, before he suddenly gets this slightly crazed look in his eyes, blips the throttle, drops it into 2nd and guns the sweet little 2.2 litre engine. I was admiring the quality of the interior and the trim, when I got this interesting little push back into the seat as a raspy growl fills the cabin. Then, I distinctly remember tasting the saltiness of my gonads.

“Why” you ask?

The back lanes of Juhu in Bombay have neatly growing bushes on the dividers, helpfully cutting out all the glare from oncoming traffic, making the area look pretty and helping to preserve the environment. What these bushes also do is cut out all view of anything of the oncoming traffic. Nett nett, a lady driving a cute little Honda Brio, shot out through a gap in the median, oblivious to the 2 ton hunk of metal bearing down on her from behind at almost three digit speeds.

I remember saying, “Oops” or maybe a word meaning the same thing but beginning with the alphabet “F.” All this while, this friend had slammed on the brakes, furiously switching down gears, as he started to desperately bear left. The all pervasive thought in my mind at that moment was, “Okay, so we won’t slam into that piece of tin foil head on, we’ll just broadside it….slowly’ish’”

This maneuver also proved two things – 1) The ABS worked 2) My gonads are saltier than I imagined.

Stopping to one side, we laugh self consciously about how embarrassing it would have been for him to have boasted of the prowess of the engine and then piled the car into another seconds later, testing the airbags in the process. I didn’t mention how much it would hurt or how costly the repairs would be – I thought it less than prudent to bring it up. He invited me to drive the car, which I readily accepted. And I fell in love. Again.

To cut a long story short, we finished the ride, parked and went up to have coffee. I mentioned my dismay at not finding a decent 124 that I could even take on as a project. Jokingly I also said, “If you’re ever selling off yours, you know who to call first right?” He summarily laughed it off as he had no intention to. Sell it that is, not not call.

Two days later, I get a call. “You’re serious?” says the same friend. I immediately perk up and ask him if the sun was yellow! 24 hours later, we settle on a price. I ask for some time to dispose off my two rides – since they will pay for his. And I go about figuring out how to break it to my infinitely better half that not only would we be buying a 2nd hand car (she abhors the idea), it would be one that was manufactured before our 1st son was born. Oh boy.

It went much better than I’d planned. We’re still married.

You see what I mean?
*Oh wait…*

Anyhow, without boring you with the details, suffice to say, telling her of the pleasures of being debt free, not having me nag her for the rest of her life that this was the 2nd 124 she’d had me let go off and the fact that I did all the dishes for a fortnight, meant that I had my way i.e. she allowed me to have my way!

Off went my rides, one having already found a loving home as the other one is also almost a done deal. I managed to run into some unexpected money before the cars sold, and so within 12 hours, bank transfers were arranged, papers were gotten ready and there I was plumped and ready at the dot of 5 pm at the door of the ex owner of my current ride. Aaaah.

So, you know how modern car design has gone all flowy and sexy? Some car companies have taken it to extremes too – some modern iterations of well loved cars being prime examples. I will not take names, because I hate receiving hate mail! Even my beloved Linea, as handsome a car as it is – suffers a bit from being all curvy and bootilicious. It’s easy to quickly brand them “She’s” for that very reason. I bring it up because….

My E220 W124 is christened, “Herr Kampfpanzer”

Seriously.

You see, the W124 is a MAN’s car. Apologies to all the lovely ladies part of the forum, and I’m HUGE on womens lib and being completely democratic with women’s rights vis-à-vis men. However, the W124 is an unblinkingly, unashamedly, unsympathetically testes scratching man’s car. There is not a single panel on this Mercedes that will qualify as a curve. It is a slab sided, pectoral snapping crotch rocket that does Red bull shots at will, because it can. It steps upto the plate, lets out a satisfied belch and says, “Who’s next?” at an arm wrestling convocation.

Errr…the moderators just called and asked me to turn it down. It’s embarrassing, they said….and I’m blatantly embarrassing myself apparently….

So, she’s not pretty. He’s handsome.

And he will beat the pants off most new Merc’s when you pull up at a posh hotel entrance lobby, purely by the stature and statuesque nature of his stance. I have experienced it already on a number of occasions – the most recent being at the JW Marriot, where by the time I’d opened my door to get out and run for a meeting, four (I kid you not – because I counted!!!) FOUR valets were at the door to take the keys to park him. And my request to park close by since I wasn’t going to be long, meant that the car was parked ON the porch – the absolute 1st time it has ever happened with me!!!

You’ll also need to bear with me, as this will unfold a little slowly in terms of driving report etc etc etc – because there’s lots to write about (and having you as a captive audience helps!)

I will also do some decent pictures ASAP, so please don't go all Kamikaze on me for not popping on some exhaustive pictures right away....


Last edited by bIte tHe bulLet : 1st December 2013 at 14:00.
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:16   #2
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A little bit about the actual car…

1. The exteriors are the metallic blue/black that the 124’s came in.
2. Interiors are stock and continue to wear the original light grey fabric. They are very well preserved, save for a small abrasion tear in the cushion of the rear bench, where the back rest meets the cushion unit.
3. All the electrics work, including the wing mirrors and the windows (save for the right rear window, which needs to be looked at by the friendly neighbourhood big boy!!)
4. The vacuum system, which controls the central locking, the power steering amongst other things, works flawlessly (testament to the phenomenal build quality of this line of Mercedes Benz cars!!!!)
5. The woodwork and interior trim are in fantastic shape.

The interesting bits…

A/ He wears a WALD body kit – substantially changing his stance and appeal manifold.
B/ He wears 17 inch AMG style replicas, shod on low profile Taiwanese tyres
(both mods are not what I would have necessarily carried out myself, but were done by the friend I picked the car up from – I have to admit, they have begun to grow on me)
C/ He also sports a very neat CARLSSON exhaust system, which adds to the very pleasing and distinctly sexy burble at start up.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-teaser-1.jpg
Teaser No 1 from the day I first set eyes on him!

The bits that need work…

i. Both C pillars, right rear tail lamp housing and front left A pillar have developed paint bubbles due to returning rusting – will need to have it fixed prior to next rains.
ii. Speakers (front & back) need replacing, the HU is a new’ish Blaupunkt and will do fine for the time being.
iii. Speaker grilles in front need to be re-painted due to condensation rusting (common to all 124’s)
iv. Front grille needs to be replaced due to ding and general wear and tear.
v. Steering wheel needs re-upholstery, as the top of it is worse for wear and tear.
vi. The front badge and rear badge(s) needs to be replaced, due to them starting to look a little ratty! (Pure vanity of course!)
vii. FRP fabricated bracket/housing to house small round fog lamps in the front bumper - colour matched to the existing WALD kit bumper
viii. Right rear window is dead as a dodo. Will explore and cajole the errant fellow and if all else fails, fire breathing, voodoo chanting witch doctors shall be summarily summoned!

Recently done so far… (all by previous enthusiast friend)

a) Front suspension completely re-built
b) Flasher/wiper combination switch changed to new
c) Front seat(s) side bolster replaced with new (4 pieces)
d) Full service 1500 kms ago
e) Auxiliary fan replaced with new
f) Rear panel under rear windshield replaced and painted due to rusting
g) Fuel pump replaced with new
h) Full re-paint to factory spec at a garage in Pune.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-teaser-2.jpg
Teaser No 2 from the day I first set eyes on him!!

Done by myself…

x. A thorough exterior paint protection and detailing job – done to a very high standard. Anyone want deets, please PM me – well worth the time and money.
y. Search for available speaker upgrade options – horrifically limited though. The Rainbows which are a direct fit are almost impossible to get your hands on without jumping through hoops, and the illusions/infinity/hertz's of the world all need mucking about with drilling/cutting, none of which I will so much as consider... *Ufffff*
z. Driven lovingly

More bits and bobs to come…

Last edited by GTO : 3rd December 2013 at 15:42. Reason: Moving your review posts to the top of the thread :)
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:16   #3
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The sublime ride quality, quality of craftsmanship, build quality (note the excessive use of the word ‘quality’ here!) is very well documented. The fact that loads of W124’s abroad easily clock over 300000 miles (not KilometersMILES!!) before the engine is opened up is just testament to how mad the engineers at Mercedes used to be! This was a workhorse – a luxury workhorse (by today’s standards, it would barely meet *basic* criterion now) but one must remember that the youngest iterations of these cars will now be 16 years old!


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-front-entrance.jpg


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-classic-simple-understated.jpg


Herr Kampfpanzer does not make a squeak that is out of place. The cabin is near silent (as much as can be expected in unruly Bombay traffic), the acceleration is a little nuts – easily outperforming most if not all modern B/C segment sedans and hatchback in a 0-100 run from a standing start… It’s very very hard to believe the age of this automobile!

All the switchgear feels like it was built by a stony faced German strongman, who took pride in watching a young whippersnapper try and destroy his creation(s), only to fall flat on the floor, exhausted and defeated! The seats are like those old time spring matteresses, found in my grandma’s home. Springy but firm, yet comfortable and supremely supportive at the same time. The bolstering is just about perfect to support your sides and your (my!) sizeable a$$.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-headlamp-controls.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-switchgear-cu.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-gear-lever-window-controls.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-reading-lamp.jpg


I though will admit one thing. When I first drove the car – many moons ago, I did not feel the 17 inchers effect on the ride quality. Now having lived with the car for nearly a month, as a daily driver - the 17’s look lovely but they make the ride a LOT harsher than it should be. I would change back to 16 inchers or even the stock 15’s in a heartbeat, but with the body kit on the car – it just looks far too under tyred to even remotely look aesthetically pleasing. As much as I believe in not letting form trump function – this is one of those rare times I will be forced to break the rule.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-bossmans-view.jpg


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-trim.jpg


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-reeking-quality.jpg


The air conditioning on him is pretty dang decent too! Because the individual temperature controls are almost certainly not functioning (my feeble attempts to tweak them, came to naught recently) I have had to resort to switching the ruddy thing off and on every once in a while, just so to preserve the sensation in my fingers and other assorted extremities!

The biggie…for a car that is longer than both the Safari and the Innova, it consistently manages to gob smack me at how little space it can make a ruddy U turn in! The turning radius is positively insane! Making a U turn in my Safari was a calculated, considered and fairly complicated operation in congested Bombay traffic (the fact that I’d mastered the art akin to a helmsman bringing a 100000 ton aircraft carrier to berth, was a proud accomplishment!) So imagine my surprise when I employed the same tactics with Herr Kampfpanzer, only to find that halfway through the U turn, I was staring at oncoming traffic in my own lane!!!

Okay – slight exaggeration, but then what’s literary liberty for huh?

The point being that it is very very tight, very likely a function of it being a rear wheel drive vehicle. Which brings me neatly onto my next little point. The W124 is comfortable, very comfortable, but for 4 people. The fifth sod who pulls the short straw to sit in the middle of the back bench – is an unlucky little boy. The transmission tunnel is pretty dang huge, and pretty dang wide too. Which means unless you’re a midget, you will either have your knees becoming very friendly with your chin (if you have your feet on the transmission tunnel) or your knees will become fast friends with your fellow passengers knees (which in itself is not a bad thing if you’re trying to get the moves on your fellow passenger!)

A little grouse, but not one that remotely affects me, simply because I will NEVER be sitting in the middle seat of the rear bench of Herr Kampfpanzer. Hah!

The large glasshouse ensures that there are hardly ANY blind spots. Slim A and B pillars help with that too. The view out of the rear window is pretty expansive but I still struggle with reversing the car into a parking slot – making either the better half or one of the boys step out and guide me into the last foot or so of the slot. To that end, I’ve been looking for an elegant way to wire a reverse camera into one of the rear number plate lights, keeping it completely stealth, so that I have eyes and have no punching / drilling to do on the body or the bumper.

Once you’ve come to terms with the size of the car (length more than breadth), you found that you automatically adjusted your driving style to suit the nature of the beast! Unless there’s a lot of space, I will no longer squeeze in behind/beside a bus. If there’s open road, I will take it from 2nd straight into 4th (no, there’s no hint of complaint from the engine either – as long as the speed threshold for the gear is reached)

The 3rd gear on the E220 is astoundingly tall. It will toodle at about 20 and happily go past 80 in 3rd, without complaint or fuss. But the 4th and 5th gears are when the true cruiser like nature of this car come to the front. Effortless is a word that comes immediately to mind! Already salivating at the thought of a long’ish’ drive over the weekend. There might be a little Delhi run being planned too!

Will keep whoever’s interested updated on that little nugget as well!
Attached Thumbnails
"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-simplicity-form.jpg  

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-indicator-stalk.jpg  


Last edited by GTO : 3rd December 2013 at 15:44. Reason: Moving your review posts to the top of the thread :)
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:16   #4
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So, the day I finally paid for him to be mine (I think I touched upon the fact that I was all buffed and polished at the seller’s door, at 5 pm sharp????) I reached, noticed that he’d been readied lovingly and was parked in the pride of place in the housing society.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-caught-headlights.jpg

The guard did give me a bit of the jaundiced eye, since I hopped off the auto rickshaw and promptly headed over to the gleaming Merc to peer lovingly at it! He probably thought I had designs on the car (if he only knew!!!)

That’s the thing I’ve noticed with the 124! Anyone and everyone seems to become all protective of the car when it’s around! Building guards will linger closer, parking attendants will help you park, car cleaners will smile longer and traffic cops seem to almost nod their approval as you go by!!!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-front-left-close.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-frontal.jpg


Back to the evening at hand. I was offered and I accepted a VERY strong black coffee as I looked at all the papers, signed some others (delivery notes, receipts and other bits and bobs) while we discussed cars at length, a project of his that would now start, because he would plough the money from this into that…etc etc etc.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-left-mid-rear.jpg

See? All boring rubbish’y’ kinda stuff. I was however eyeing the well used key lying on the table and the completely unused keys lying near the manuals!

Oh, that’s the other thing – all the manuals & all the duplicate keys exist (which in itself is like hitting the gold lode!) because it’s so rare to find the manual(s) anymore. So, with a firm handshake, the deal is sealed, all papers change hands as do the keys and off I trot down the stairs to my *new* pre-worshipped ride! I’ll admit – I was more than a little nervous as I pulled and pushed to find my comfort spot with the seat. I would also be mortified if I started the car and promptly stalled it as I’d try and pull him out of his parking spot. Turned the key, to hear the deep, pleasing ‘thrum’ of the petrol motor come to life. Gorgeous. Said a quick little prayer in my heart, slipped him into 1st and eased off the clutch, feeding a little bit of throttle in at the same time. (I was still guessing at the bite point and how much throttle the car needed to get going – thus the temerity!)

This friend and his handy man did stand by as though they were seeing off their newly wedded sister (they were looking at the departing car, lest you begin to think I had decided to have a bit of a gender changing life moment!!!) and I felt the slightest twinge of guilt for precisely 6 nano seconds. Then….I allowed myself to feel exhilarated. I had waited too long for this moment, and I was going to darned well enjoy it!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-left-rear-long.jpg


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-left-rear-mid.jpg

Drove him out of the compound, made the U turn to head home and joined rush hour traffic heading home. I’ve driven enough big cars to know how they feel, but driving something large in rush hour traffic in Bombay is a little bit tricky. The Safari though is brilliant for this matter, because everyone just gets the heck out of the way – this is a little different!!

For those of you who enjoy modern cars and their spectacular comforts – the W124 will come as a serious slap in the face.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-left-low-wheels.jpg


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-left-close.jpg


This. is. old. school.

"Old school" in the true sense of the word (and that’s a very very good thing!!!)
Everything feels chunky, solid, wooden (not surprising since there’s so much wood in the cabin) and don’t you gentlemen be getting all naughty thoughts now – keep your minds out of the gutter!!!

The steering wheel is BIG.

The clutch needs a good little heft, the steering inputs need you to work muscle groups in your arms. Not because all the mechanicals are shot – but because all the power assistance is handled by good old fashioned hydraulics! Resistance can be felt – and damn it feels good!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-right-close.jpg

I read someone’s blog recently where he said something very simple, but very very true.
“Every time I drive my car, I feel so much better about myself. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot more than I actually have. I feel a lot more special than I really am – and that’s the timeless magic about driving a W124!”

He could have taken the words out of my mouth! (I’m seeing if I can sue him for taking the words out of my mouth, prior to my opening my mouth of course – gotta make money however you can, you see!)

Reaching home, the kids came down to have a look and they were impressed. It take a long while to impress them – so I was most pleasantly surprised! Then the in-laws came down to have a dekko too…and they approved too. As a matter of fact, my father in law climbed into the drivers seat, started him and off he went on a little joy ride in his pyjamas, proving to his disbelieving wife that he could still drive a car…

Then it is decided that we are all heading to Mezzo Mezzo at the JW Marriot to celebrate! Quick shower and off we were for a much enjoyable meal. Waiting for the valet to bring the car back as we were leaving (this was prior to the 4 valets incident!), as the car came hurtling up the slope, pretty much 40 pairs of eyes turned together to look at him come and stop in front of us! Most just curious to see who were the mad-caps who still were driving around in a 17 year old car…some with a distinct look of envy too. *Score!*

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-front-right-wide.jpg

But, the day ended well!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear.jpg

Last edited by GTO : 3rd December 2013 at 15:42. Reason: Moving your review posts to the top of the thread :)
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Old 29th November 2013, 19:16   #5
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Lets chat about driving dynamics and living with the W124. I’ve had him long enough now to make an assessment on what I like and don’t like about Herr Kampfpanzer!

This is a heavy car (did I mention that this is a heavy car?) No?

Okay.

This is a heavy car. It weighs almost 2 tonnes!!!!

i.e. This is a heavy car!

With a relatively puny engine. Relative being a relative term of course! My previous Safari had the same displacement, almost the same BHP 2200 cc engine – but it ran on diesel, and it most definitely did not shift it’s a$$ the way the E220 W124 does.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-entry.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-passenger-footwell.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-aircon.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-bonnet-release.jpg

I’ve mentioned before about an incident concerning my gonads. We were in that situation, because of the tremendous speed that this car can build up very quickly and with absolutely no fuss at all. It literally is about “putting your foot down” and unleashing a rather well behaved hooligan! I’m not a big one for speed – and I’ve had the mickey taken out of me for it, by a precocious female friend, who is an absolute demon behind the wheel. She also drives a Safari and lets me know in no uncertain terms that I drive like a wuss. *Complete balderdash* because I’m sensible about where to put my foot down.

Bombay-Delhi cannonball run in 17 hours dead, is proof. In a Safari too.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-seat.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-bossmans-seat.jpg


To get back on topic, the first gear on the W124 seems too short, the 2nd feels okay, the third is like an autobox and the 4th and 5th feel effortless. But, pedal to metal – and they seem to take on a life of their own! It will accelerate, with no fishtailing or dramatics. It will start to sound raspy and exciting. It will drop jaws of boy racers standing by, because they don’t expect it to take off so!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-pipes-close-ups.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-tailpipe-low.jpg
The bad boy Carlsson's!

The Carlsson exhaust on Herr Kampfpanzer adds and aids hugely to that explosion. It makes the engine feel oddly tight (in a good way) and is something I said to this friend as soon as I started to drive it the first time (I was unaware of the exhaust system at that time.) I had just come off driving 4 different 124’s in the previous 3 hours and this engine felt positively feline. The engine responds with no lag, and it has a wide torque curve all the way through the 800-5000 rpm range, which is where you’ll be upshifting if you’re flogging the engine anyhow… I’m sure redlining it would be fun, but I personally don’t have the stomach for it. The 124 was never intended to be a corner carver in the avatar it was sold in India – the 500E is another matter and another beast (with a discussion about it at another time.)

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-antennae-working.jpg
The antennae works!!


"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-rear-view-mirror.jpg

If you’re choosing to pick up a 124 as a daily driver, stay with the stock size on the tyres and wheels. Don’t upsize.

Don’t upsize no matter how cool you think you look!

The loss of comfort and ride quality on Bombay roads is marked – and especially on city roads anywhere outside of the NCR. If I was in Delhi, this would be perfectly acceptable. Or if I was only going to use it as a weekend car (as did my friend who I bought it off from.) I wince every time I inadvertently go over one of our massively popular car breaker potholes, undulations, paver block mayhem infested roads. Apart from the loss of ride quality – the next big hit will be the suspension, which at 50k a pop on front and/or back can rack up to be quite expensive. I’m not sure how to deal with it at the moment, possibly stiffer springs that will protect the suspension and the cabin from the hell on the road. Exploring – and happy to take suggestions.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-wheel-side-profile.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-front-right-wheel.jpg

I’ve scheduled a day with the chap who will exclusively look after Herr Kampfpanzer. He comes highly recommended by my friend, since he was under his care even with the friend. The exercise is only to figure how to change a fuel pump if needed and trouble shoot the easier bits, so that I’m feeling a little more secure when I go out of town. I want to use the car for what it was meant to do. i.e. drive it’s guts out! Stretch it’s legs at every given opportunity and then some. He’s only at 122k kms with loads of life left in his strong heart, so I don’t intend to let it go to pot (pun intended!)

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-speedo.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-instrument-binnacle.jpg

I have mentally accepted that I’m going to be spending about 50k a year to keep him healthy. 2 services costing between 12-14k each and the rest on preventive maintenance. The way I look at it – I’m not servicing a loan for the car, so this is waaaaayyyyy cheaper than the interest I pay back on said loan(s)!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-one-way-rear-decal.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-yo-face.jpg

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-real-wood.jpg

Herr Kampfpanzer has always sipped from the Mobil1 fully synthetic well of goodness (as evidenced by his service history booklet) and that’s exactly what he will feed from in the future. I’m aware of the entire mineral vs synthetic debate especially with regards to old Merc engines, but all my previous cars have run on synthetics and the engines have been peaches. And in any case, it’s a moot point here, since he’s never used mineral oil before this!

Each to his own, and mine lies in the fully synthetic camp…!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-tbhp.jpg
Stating my loyalty!

The one thing that has thrown me a little (and this comes from having driven diesels for now the better part of 6 years!) is how ferociously quickly the fuel gauge runs down! I’m about to tank up today, so will have a fairly good idea about the ubiquitious, “kitna mileage deti hai?” question! With all my previous cars, I’ve always topped up at every visit to the gas station and it’s become a habit. The 124 has a 70 l tank, so filling up is suddenly considerably pricier than it used to be… Going by what I can guess at now – I’m expecting to see fairly dismal figures in the low 4 to mid 5 kmpl range. But the traffic where I live is atrocious, which would be a big contributor to it. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for now!

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-view.jpg
A driving view that I'm happy getting used to!

I will update the thread every once in a while when I have something interesting to say – although I’m almost afraid of all that I’ve said so far…!

Lets just say, I’m thoroughly enjoying the W124 and this is not because of the first flush of a new car.

*New* hahahahahaha!!!!

No, I’m enjoying it because I’ve always wanted to own one. I’m surprised on an almost daily basis at the craftsmanship of the Germans who manufactured this particular car. I love the fact that it feels and drives like a tank. I get a kick from the admiring glances bestowed on it from passers by as well as enthusiasts.

And most importantly (and I say this with the utmost humility) I revel in now becoming a part of a fairly small set of people who realise and appreciate the true value and worth of an old Mercedes Benz.

Herr Kampfpanzer, welcome home.

You and I are going to the grave together.

"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-tristar-colour.jpg
The offending tri-star that must be replaced with shining tri-star!



"Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)-front-left-long.jpg
Lets go make some memories together big boy!!

Last edited by GTO : 3rd December 2013 at 15:44. Reason: Moving your review posts to the top of the thread :)
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Old 29th November 2013, 20:01   #6
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Default re: "Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)

BTB
Hi,

Congratulations on getting the car of your dreams!

Enjoyed the superbly written first part of your saga, waiting for the next installment. You should seriously consider becoming a writer (unless you are already one).

Drive safe.

Cheers
Cyborg
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Old 29th November 2013, 20:13   #7
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Default re: "Herr Kampfpanzer" - The unfolding story of my Mercedes E220 (W124)

I think what seperates the dreamers from the people living the dream is that they are able to take the plunge.Incredible how you sold off TWO frugal diesels for a 17 year old Benz,and thats a decision from the heart.Big Kudos to you!

Now you just need those Oxfords,Wayfarers and Savile Row.I liked the story of valets,and everytime i see a W124 on the road i just immediately attach a lot of more respect to the driver than of a 220,221 etc.

Waiting for the next installment.Make it exhaustive! :-)
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Old 29th November 2013, 21:01   #8
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Originally Posted by Cyborg View Post
Congratulations on getting the car of your dreams! You should seriously consider becoming a writer (unless you are already one).
Thank you kind sir for all your kind words!!! I am fortunately (or unfortunately) connected with the profession of writing though...

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Originally Posted by avishar View Post
I think what seperates the dreamers from the people living the dream is that they are able to take the plunge. Incredible how you sold off TWO frugal diesels for a 17 year old Benz,and thats a decision from the heart. Big Kudos to you!
Hey big guy...after many years of being totally responsible and level headed, an event that we willingly undertook three years ago - pretty much changed the way I now live my life...

It also made me realise that unless you are passionate about what you do - whatever that may be; the food you eat, the books you read, the friends you make, the car you drive - it all amounts to jack when you come to balancing your life's cheque book at the fag end of your life.

I've wanted the W124 for many years, but allowed it to remain a forgotten want at the back of an increasingly cluttered brain.

Till an opportunity presented itself recently.
The car gives me pleasure. Visceral, physical and emotional... and I've now gotten to the stage where if a dream is remotely achievable, I have taken the conscious decision of chasing after it

Thank you for the lovely comment, and expect a lot more rambling, with some nicer pictures soon enough!

Last edited by bIte tHe bulLet : 3rd December 2013 at 12:50. Reason: formatting OCD!! ;)
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Old 30th November 2013, 12:50   #9
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Post deleted by the Team-BHP Support : Please do NOT post messages that add little or no informational value to the thread. We need your co-operation to maintain the quality of this forum.

Please read our rules before proceeding any further. We request you to post ONLY when you have something substantial to add to a discussion.

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Old 3rd December 2013, 15:57   #10
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Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to the Initial Ownership Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 3rd December 2013, 16:46   #11
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Very well written.
The car looks in excellent condition. It is very hard to make the gray interiors look clean on any car, leave alone a car of this vintage. This shows the effort that has gone in over the last 17 years.
Are you now, the second owner of this vehicle or the third?

To me the headlamps seemed to have 'fogged' up a bit or is it the camera playing the tricks?
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Old 3rd December 2013, 17:01   #12
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Hi BTB,
Delightful piece of writing and some great photographs to boot. Enjoyed it immensely.
I am glad that you got your dream vehicle and are enjoying it to hilt.
I suppose one shouldn't be now too bothered about mundane stuff like 'kitna deti hai' and maintenance costs.
Have fun !
Oh...and by the way you should cut down on your intake of salt y' see - not good for the BP I am afraid and worse there could be hell to follow if you were to spit out something accidentally.

Last edited by Guderian : 3rd December 2013 at 17:06.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 18:44   #13
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Originally Posted by S_U_N View Post

Very well written. Are you now, the second owner of this vehicle or the third?

To me the headlamps seemed to have 'fogged' up a bit or is it the camera playing the tricks?
Thank you sir S_U_N! I am in fact the 3rd owner of the car. Owned by a company and moved around on it's books for tax purposes to start with, before it was picked up by this crazy a$$ enthusiast friend as a project (and weekend drive) and now in my grubby little paws as a daily driver!!!

The headlamps are actually in spectacular shape (and all original too!) I was unfortunately shooting these pictures at some 12 pm - the vilest time of the day to do any photography. Adding to the time woes was the fact that my humble HTC was serving as my weapon of choice...

One of those times that I really really miss my EOS 30D!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guderian View Post
Hi BTB,
Delightful piece of writing and some great photographs to boot. Enjoyed it immensely.
Thank you much kind sir! I have followed all your ownership threads and had based my decision to pick up a Fortuner partly on what I'd read off your threads too...!

Thanks for stopping by and I promise to continue to ramble on slowly but surely...

Last edited by bIte tHe bulLet : 3rd December 2013 at 18:45.
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Old 3rd December 2013, 22:45   #14
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Congrats once again Avinash, I admit you got a better car than mine. (Ravi's car?)
Your writing skills are out of this world
Wondering if I will sleep tonight after reading this thread.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bIte tHe bulLet View Post
“Every time I drive my car, I feel so much better about myself. I feel like I’ve achieved a lot more than I actually have. I feel a lot more special than I really am – and that’s the timeless magic about driving a W124!”
Absolutely sums up a w124

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You and I are going to the grave together.
It will outlive you my friend. Pass it on to your kids (Graduation gift!)
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Old 3rd December 2013, 23:33   #15
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Originally Posted by vikramvicky1984 View Post
Congrats once again Avinash, I admit you got a better car than mine. (Ravi's car?)
Your writing skills are out of this world
Wondering if I will sleep tonight after reading this thread.

It will outlive you my friend. Pass it on to your kids (Graduation gift!)

Hahahahaha... Thank you Vikram for the compliments all around! You are an absolutely swell fella!

It is indeed Ravi's!

And may I please request that you sleep, so that more productive work can be achieved in the AM?

The elder fella's already eyeing it for the first date(s) he can go on once his license is here - I've warned him that I've been a martial artist, and one who will not hesitate to spill one's own son's blood!!!
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