Mercedes-Benz wasn't always under starter's orders!
Jack Luxon supplied
Jack Luxon's first car was a 10-year-old Mercedes-Benz, with some unusual electrical issues, which he bought while serving in Germany.
Not a lot of people can say that their first car was a Mercedes-Benz.
OK, this one was made in 1952 – I bought it in 1962, while serving in Germany, for the equivalent of £60.
It was a 220 saloon. Until 1951 all post-war Mercedes had four-cylinder engines but this, and the 300 Adenauer, had an in-line six-cylinder, single overhead camshaft engine.
Sadly, the electrical system was only six volts and one of the problems with the car was that if I switched off the engine, and tried to restart after five minutes, it wouldn’t. I had to go away for a while until it had cooled down. I couldn’t risk running the battery flat trying to get it going too early.
It had semaphore indicators, as well as flashing, which was strange. There was a short circuit somewhere, which I think was in the indicator circuitry. The battery charge red light would come on if I went round a corner too fast or braked hard. I never discovered where the problem was but I guess it made me drive more carefully.
The car had a central lubrication system – pressing my foot on a button in the floor would send oil to all the lubrication points. I was never sure if it worked OK.
I wasn’t worried about fuel consumption as this was duty-free. We bought coupons from the pay officer which we presented at BP filling stations. It was quite cheap.
Later in 1962, I decided to go in for a new car, duty-free. I thought of either a Simca Elysee, Peugot 403 or Morris 1100. Sadly, I chose the 1100. These seemed to be put together by BMC with rusty steel – having it delivered at the beginning of the 1962-63 winter didn’t help as the Germans spread salt liberally.
While waiting for the Morris, I visited my usual filling station to buy some anti-freeze. The owner insisted on doing the job of draining and refilling the cooling system while I waited. He was able to open the drain tap on the engine but found the tap on the bottom of the radiator rather stiff and attacked it with a hammer, knocking it off completely. He managed to fashion a plug with rag wrapped round a piece of wood so I could get it back to camp where I had to take out the radiator and resolder the tap which I had carefully got working without using a hammer!
I’ve checked on Google for a 1952 Mercedes 220 for sale and saw one like mine available for only 49,500 euros! Perhaps I should have kept mine.
Tell us about the adventures you had in your first car – email your memories with a picture of the car to email@example.com or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.