Bruce Garrett Cartoon
The Cartoon Gallery

A Coming Out Story
A Coming Out Story

My Photo Galleries
New and Improved!

Past Web Logs
The Story So Far archives

My Amazon.Com Wish List

My Myspace Profile

Bruce Garrett's Profile
Bruce Garrett's Facebook profile


Blogs I Read!
A Musing
(Peterson Toscano)


A Tenable Belief
(Steve Boese)


A Brooklyn Bridge

Alicublog

Wayne Besen

Box Turtle Bulletin

Cherry Blossom Special (E.J)

Daily Kos

Mike Daisy's Blog

The Disney Blog

Disney Gossip

Brad DeLong

Demagogue

Dispatches From The Culture Wars

Egregious Moderation

Epcot Explorer's Encyclopedia

Envisioning The American Dream

Eschaton

Ex-Gay Watch

Hullabaloo

Joe. My. God

Made In Brazil

Pam's House Blend

Progress City USA

Slacktivist

Slacktiverse

SLOG

Some Guys Are Normal

Straight, Not Narrow

TBogg

Fear the wrath of Sparky!

Truth Wins Out Blog

Wil Wheaton

James Wolcott




Gone But Not Forgotten

The Rittenhouse Review

Steve Gilliard's News Blog

Steve Gilliard's Blogspot Site



Great Cartoon Sites!

Howard Cruse Central

XKCD

Scandinavia And The World

Dope Rider

Willie Hewes

The World Of Kirk Anderson

Ann Telnaes' Cartoon Site

Ted Rall

Bors Blog

John K

Penny Arcade

Friendly Hostility

Downstairs Apartment




Other News & Commentary

365 Gay
(GLBT News)


All Facts & Opinions

Baltimore Crime

Cursor

HinesSight

Page One Q
(GLBT News)


Michelangelo Signorile

The Smirking Chimp

Talking Points Memo

Truth Wins Out

The Raw Story

Slashdot




International News & Views

BBC

NIS News Bulletin (Dutch)

Mexico Daily

The Local (Sweden)




News & Views from Germany

Spiegel Online

The Local

Deutsche Welle

Young Germany




Fun Stuff

It's not news. It's FARK

Plan 59

Pleasant Family Shopping

Discount Stores of the 60s

Retrospace

Photos of the Forgotten

Boom-Pop!

Comics With Problems

HMK Mystery Streams




Mercedes Love!

Mercedes-Benz USA

Mercedes-Benz TV

Mercedes-Benz Owners Club of America

MBCA - Greater Washington Section

BenzInsider

Mercedes-Benz Blog

BenzWorld Forum

August 24th, 2008

Beauty Isn’t Just Skin Deep

Next October will mark my first year with Traveler, my Mercedes-Benz C300.  And I’m here to tell you that driving down the road and seeing that cute little three pointed star standing up at the front of my hood is Still magic…

I went to my local camera store (there’s a really good one all too conveniently located just a few blocks down Falls Road from where I live) yesterday morning to buy some ink cartridges for my art room printer.  I really need to get going on those wedding photos I took for a relative last month.  I was driving Traveler because I also intended to go to the hardware stores out in Cockeysville to get some stuff for the yard work I intended to do this weekend.  When I got to the camera store I parked on the street, in front of what looked to my eye, bizarrely, like a Mercedes-Benz pickup truck. 

WTF…???

I figured it had to be some guy’s old Mercedes sedan that had been converted into a pickup truck, because while Daimler is one of the world’s biggest truck manufacturers, as far as I know they don’t make small bed pickup trucks.  So this thing I was seeing in my rearview mirror had to be a conversion of some sort…

  

  

…Well…no.  It’s a Toyota Tacoma.  It’s owner stuck a Mercedes grill onto it.  If you look closely can see the bolts holding it over the Tacoma’s own grill.  It fools you though, because of the shape of the Tacoma’s hood.   If he’d put a little more work into it, it could be very convincing. 

But he’s not an enthusiast. (and I know its owner is a he because I saw him come out of the store shortly after I took these…)  He’s just being cute.  If he could afford that Tacoma he could afford a decent second hand Mercedes from around the timeframe that grill comes from.  And if he’s willing to flutz around with the truck to make it appear to be a Mercedes he could put some effort into working on an older one and getting it running.  He just wants the look.

I didn’t buy mine for its a status symbol value.  I don’t care about that.  I bought it because the way they’re designed and built just takes my breath away, and has ever since I was a teenager.  And now that I actually own one, I really regret not buying a used one when I could have afforded it.  It might have been more work to maintain, since Mercedes owners typically don’t get off of their cars until they’ve racked up tons of mileage.  But it would have been worth it because then I’d have had one to enjoy for more of my life then I have.

There are flashier cars.  I was browsing a car enthusiast blog the other day, reading a thread asking which cars had the best interiors.  Of course, there were plenty of photos of Bentleys and Rolls Royces in that thread.  But I was astonished to see how many people in there actually liked the look of the Cadillacs.   Huh??  There were tons of Cadillac photos in that thread.  One person posted a shot of the inside of a Maybach.  There were several Audi interiors posted.  A couple Maseratti.  The Maseratti were really nice looking.  I didn’t see anyone posting any Mercedes shots.  One idiot claimed the Maybach was just a glorified ‘S’ class.  Well it isn’t, but if I had the kind of money that buys a Bentley, I’d buy a Barabus tuned ‘S’ class instead

Yes…in my dreams…I know…  But that’s where my head is at with cars.  Style takes second place to engineering and craftsmanship.  At least British luxury car sumptuousness has real artisanship behind it.  The leather is all hand sewn in a Bentley.  It takes one skilled craftsman an entire day to do the leather work on just the steering wheel.  That’s what your money is buying.  Seeing people drooling over a Cadillac interior in the same breath seems grotesque.  If we actually put that much effort into the substance of our cars here in the U.S. I wouldn’t mind.  But we don’t.  That Toyota with the Mercedes grill tacked over its own isn’t all that much different from certain U.S. car models that essentially did the same thing back in the 1970s and 80s…

  

1975 Mercedes-Benz 240D

 

1979 Ford Granada

 

They even gave it a cute little hood ornament.  Of course, the Granada wasn’t as expensive as the Mercedes.  But even for the money you paid it wasn’t as well made as it could have been.  The irony here is that, particularly back in the 1970s, Mercedes styling was considered somewhat stogy…a bit boxy and drab.  But by then even your average Ford buyer knew they were solid as bricks.  What Ford was trying to there was copy that boxy stogy Mercedes styling a bit…but not too much…as a way of making its buyers think they were getting the engineering of a Mercedes too. 

An analogy I like to use is…think of a nice, simple Ikea desk.  Simple…basic…functional…not brazenly stylish, but beautiful in its own straightforward way.  Now think of that very same desk…but made out of solid mahogany, with mortise-and-tenon joints, and drawers on rails so perfectly fitted and balanced you can open and close them with your little finger and they don’t make a sound when you do.  That’s what it feels like driving Traveler.  That’s why driving it is still magic.  I didn’t buy it to impress anyone.  I love to drive.  I love exploring the highways.  Now I have a car that seems to love it as much as I do.  For all its creature comforts Traveler is a rock solid piece of engineering.  I have Never owned a car that was as able…and…eager…on the road as this one. 

Just yesterday I took a drive to York Pennsylvania and wandered around for a bit with one of my cameras and some black and white film.  I’m headed out the door now to go somewhere with that camera again.  The price of gasoline has been keeping me from behind the driver’s wheel for too damn long and the weather this weekend is great for photography so I’m out the door.  Household chores can wait.  And that little three pointed star on my hood leading the way down the road is as magic as the next horizon.

  

3 Responses to “Beauty Isn’t Just Skin Deep”

  1. Bob C Says:

    I’ll never be able to afford a 3-pointed star…..At least not one attached to an actual Mercedes.
    I’ve got this Volvo wagon, and the price was certainly right ($150 bucks!) And its ONLY got 350,000+ miles on it.
    And it runs absolutely flawlessly…..99% of the time. The people I bought it from took meticulous care of it.
    But Volvos are very well engineered, built very well (At least pre-Ford ones) and pretty simple and straight forward. Its the 2nd Volvo I’ve owned. I loved the other one too, the only reason I sold it was because a friend pestered and nagged me to sell it to him. I got 5 times what I paid for it from him. (Still regretted it)
     Hondas are pretty decent cars too, as far as longevity.
    I’m pretty impressed with your Mercedes. That one time you asked me to drive it scared the shit out of me! I figured that I’m the guy with the kind of luck that driving it down a block and across a parking lot would have been the exact moment 3 drunks in a stolen garbage truck would come flying into your car.

  2. Bruce Says:

    Never say never.  Time was I thought I’d never be able to buy another car, let alone a new one.

    But Volvos are good, solidly built cars too, and if you came into money you could easily stick with that brand and not regret it.  At least the pre-Ford ones.  I don’t know anything about the stuff they’re making now.  I have a couple friends back here on the east coast who own pre-Ford’s and yes, they are just about bomb proof.  And they’re the only other cars besides Mercedes that I’d want to have around me in an accident.  Volvo is the only other company I can think of offhand that made passenger safety as big a part of their design process as Mercedes. 

  3. Bob C Says:

    Looking at pics of the newest Volvos, I don’t really care much for the design of the bodies. It is always interesting to watch the evolution of….ooops, I mean "GOD’S CREATION" car body styles. From a 69 Camero to a 83 Camero, it is visually very different, but certain lines about it still say "Camero". The same with mustangs, except for the early/mid 80′s ones.
    I suppose you can still see the "Volvo Lines" in the newer models. But somehow the evolution of the…dammit again! I mean "GOD’S INTELLIGENT CREATION" just seems….wrong. One thing about Volvos is that they have a fairly distinct styling.
    But now air-resistance is a much bigger deal. So I can understand the changes demanded to cut down the resistance profile.
    If I came into the cash, I would be REALLY tempted to buy something along the lines of a fully restored older volvo:
    http://www.volvop1800club.se/eng/main.htm
    But I’m sure that the up-keep on something like that would be monsterous….especially if I actually drove it daily.
    It seems like for the last 20 or so years, when a large American manufacturer takes over some other line, or manufacturer, the quality just drops off.
    I don’t know if Volvos are still made in Sweden or not. I hope they are, because those workers and tradesmen tend to be very skilled and meticulous and take a lot of pride in their workmanship. (Like Mercedes) (It’s a Euro thing, we wouldn’t understand) 
    But one thing I heard is that Ford switched to using a cheaper, thinner steel for the bodies. And has gone cheap-o on a lot of the other parts. Volvos are heavy, and that affects mileage, but it is also what helps Volvos win any accident. 
    The Woman who owns "my" coffeeshop for me has a Mercedes, I’m spacing on the model, but it’s probably only a few years old. She also just got a new BMW. (Hmm…I didn’t think coffee business was that good these days!?) I talked to her about cars yesterday, she said she actually liked the Mercedes better, although the BMW is really nice. Her daughter drives the Mercedes now. But she wanted a 4-door so she can haul around her growing collection of grandkids (And she can easily pass for 30!) And I think she said she just couldn’t lay out the cash for anther Mercedes, or something like that. 
    But what I really think I want is a conglomeration:
    This:
    http://www.fanboy.com/images/buck-rodgers-toy.jpg
    Plus this:
    http://www.plentywood.com/images/Car%20Club/1959%20Cadillac.JPG
    (Or this: http://www.seriouswheels.com/pics-1950-1959/1959-Cadillac-Cyclone-Concept-lawn-1600×1200.jpg )
    Equals this:
    http://lh6.ggpht.com/_e-wL9EN2pJ8/SAptenudJ7I/AAAAAAAAANY/LeNEhmm8kGU/Mike_Myers006.jpg
    http://www.volocars.com/contentimages/contentimages/img_1856692548.jpg
    I guess I’ll have to have one made for me!
    I have an uncle who works for an electric car company (They ended up making glorified golf carts, and claim tht the "battery technology just isnt here yet"….uh…yes it is) I tried to sell him on the idea that if they made a car that looked like a cross between a Dr Seuss car and a Buck Rogers car, then people, especially boomers and younger boomers would buy them. He doesnt believe me, but then again, he’s a holy roller who thinks the battery technology doesnt exist, and I think he still believes that Tinky Winky blew up the WTC.
    There is a guy in Wichita KS who builds (Or retrofits, more accurately) electric cars. And most of them drive just like any other car. Neil Young recently went to him and had his 1958 T-Bird converted to all-electric. (At a cost of nearly $100,000, but it was VERY specialized and customized work)
    I dunno…maybe Delorians are the way to go? 

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


    What I'm Currently Reading...




    What I'm Currently Watching...




    What I'm Currently Listening To...




    Comic Book I've Read Recently...



    This page and all original content copyright © 2014 by Bruce Garrett. All rights reserved. Send questions, comments and hysterical outbursts to: bruce@brucegarrett.com

    This blog is powered by WordPress and is hosted at MomoWeb. Some custom design was done by Winters Web Works. Some embedded content was created with the help of Adobe Photoshop for MacOS and/or The Gimp. I proof with Firefox on either Windows, Linux or MacOS depending on which machine I happen to be running at the time.