A Mostly British Obsession

The Worst Car Ever

220SEver do something that seems logical at the time but later, from a more distant perspective, seems downright idiotic? Ever get sucked into another friend’s enthusiasms, without really knowing what you’re doing? Enter into my life this execrable Mercedes. The photo is of a similar car, I took no photos of mine–even then I sensed it would be a source of future shame.

At the time, my friend Dennis was really into old Mercedes sedans. I had just sold my 1973 MGB and was tired of it “nickel and diming” me to death…so I wanted a change of pace. I think I spotted the ad for this car in the Seattle Times. 1962 MB 220S, completely restored, $2600. It was for sale in Lake City by an old coot and cootess, and they must have been master hypnotists because I bought it without much thought.

To give you some idea of what “fully restored” meant, I found a receipt for an Earl Scheib paint job in the trunk…total spent, $139. You can’t even buy decent primer in quantities suitable for painting for that much, let alone enough paint, or anyone’s labor. The Mercedes hood ornament had been replaced by a fish (!), and the car had rusted out floors. The engine smoked and regularly refused to start, as I later discovered. The four-speed on-the-tree gearbox had no syncromesh left on any gear.

This car caught fire one day, which came as no surprise. I took the fish off, put the official Mercedes ornament on, and it was stolen within three days. And so it went.

Eventually the car refused to start in the parking lot outside of the Microsoft building where I worked at the time. I sold it for $67, and I also had to leave a pair of sunglasses I had left inside in it. I was glad to see it gone!


  1. Kevin

    Were the sunglasses the “kicker” in the deal?
    Buyer:”Well, I dunno. Yer askin’ a lot of scratch fur this heap. It’s a funny furrin’car to boot!”
    Roger:”Please. I’ll do anything you want. Just don’t hurt me like this car has already.”
    Buyer:”Ok, sister-boy. Jus’ throw in them fancy-Dan sunglasses and I’ll give ‘ya 67 bones.”
    Roger:”Oh, thank you, sir! I didn’t expect so much!” (small unintelligble whimpering sound)

  2. Roger

    That was pretty much it. I think I was asking $100, and the guy offered me $33, so we met halfway.

  3. Kevin

    Barnum was right after all. You, Jeff, and I are living proof.

  4. Alex

    I own a dozen of these cars in various shapes. It’s not really the car’s fault if you paid 2600 for what seams like a badly maintained and seriously neglcted and worn out example.
    THE FISH ON THE HOOD WAS YOUR DEAD GIVAWAY HINT TO STAY AWAY or offer what it was worth which is $200 for parts.
    Sorry, Earl Scheibs paint really blinded you on this one.

  5. ivan loar

    to bad “ebay” was’ent around….ya could have gotten much more!


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