As my screen name indicates, I collect Corvairs. But I’ve been doing it for so long, and I have so many, that I’ve got to chase other stuff just to keep the spark alive. I also collect older square body Chevy trucks, but they use a lot of fuel. So I find myself in Florida looking at two junk older Mercedes, I’m sure glad the guy didn’t cash my deposit check. So a quick Craigslist search turns up a 1999 CLK 320 Convertible, 44,000 miles, beautiful blue color, and a bunch of stuff isn’t working, but what Mercedes does have everything working after 20 years? So I handed over the meagre amount of cash, and I’ve already driven it 3000 troublefree miles. I did have 2 cheap retread tires, from Spain put on, probably a mistake. The convertible top doesn’t open, but they never do because of a very complex system that fails prematurely. The gas tank leaks from the filler like crazy when I fill it, I just make sure to leave the engine running and pull away from the gas station ASAP.
Three or four years ago I found myself in Northern California looking at a junk 6.2 diesel Suburban that wouldn’t have made it out of the parking lot, forget all the way across the country like I intended to drive it. So I left my deposit behind, and I’m on the hunt, which is the whole fun isn’t it? So a quick search on Craigslist for “station wagon” turn up a 1999 E320 wagon, I don’t get why the convertible is a CLK and the wagon is an E-Series, but whatever. The shiny silver wagon had 421k and a newer motor, and for 1500 bucks it looked and drove great. How coud I beat it? I drove it all the way to Maine, and put another 10,000 miles on it, it’s now parked waiting to get the EGR and heated air intake lamp off.
The bloody money light in the inspection States is nothing but a nightmare for the poor people. Cash for Clunkers was bad, the check engine light is worse. How do they expect people to take hours off of work to go for an inspection? Even if the check engine light is off, there still may be two pending codes which in New York won’t allow you to pass mandatory inspection. “We’ll change a couple sensors, drive it a hundred miles, and see what comes up when you bring it back”.
2 years ago I had a yen for a older diesel Mercedes sedan, and my search of Los Angeles craigslist turned up a V12 BMW, 1989 750il, with the glass headlamps… and I always liked those flat Bonneville Salt Flat looking wheels… So I’m on a plane, and $1,200 later, the car was a wreck, a shadow of its former self that a friend of mine owned five years earlier in San Diego. The tires were low on air, the cigarettes were overflowing from the ashtray, the battery doesn’t fit under the rear seat properly, so he put a clipboard on top of it and the rear seat is jutting up in the air, luckily it was only necessary to accommodate my luggage. Of course the oil hadn’t been changed in five years, so I changed the coaltar in the Walmart parking lot that night, and it ran out like water, and the oil filter cartridge disintegrated in my fingers. But I did manage to drive it to New Mexico with two fuel leaks on top of the engine, it’s amazing it didn’t catch fire! $2 of fuel hose, and it was all repaired. I put a trailer hitch on the Home Depot parking lot in New Mexico, hooked up another Corvair that I don’t need, and towed them back to New York without any further trouble at all. It did have the death wobble in the steering due to the terrible construction of the front suspension bushings, I replaced those and ball joints and tie rods and center link in Colorado, and th death wobble has returned a few thousand miles later.
But they’re interesting to drive, especially when you consider the ridiculous original purchase price, and the glove box full of repair receipts with lots of commas and zeros. They wallow around like marshmallows, but so be it.
I’ve also got a 325ix wagon that had a caliper seize on the way to,a Corvair show. I pried the pads back and snapped a vice grip on the hydraulic hose, it was fine for the rest of the summer and on and on and on.
You can see videos of my escapades on YouTube CORVAIRWILD