For this post, you need to use your nose. There are several mental images of fragrant recollections you’ll need to conjure, to get the most out of this article. It’ll help you transport your mind to the parking lot with the sky blue 1987 Mercedes-Benz.
We all know what an old diesel automobile smells like. It belches a sooty cloud at startup and at full throttle, not that the 190D’s progress would hasten too much; under the hood are only 75 horses, sturdily built as they might be and coaxed with a manual shifter. But the real attack on the olfactory senses will be the 26-year-old interior that has been baking for all day long under the Finnish summer sun. I’ve been peering at it from my office window for a while now, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I could smell it all the way from there.
The Benz reminds me of the ones shot in Pyongyang, North Korea. While the ones belonging to North Korean officials must be pampered, a steel-sided W201 with steel wheels is absolutely agricultural in comparison. It’s a tool, it’s bought for towing. With Lapland plates, it’s easy to tell the 190D hasn’t been purchased to spend an eternity in the garage with Simoniz slowly spread on its flanks.
Even if midsummer nights in the North are brightly lit, the Mercedes has had a pair of auxiliary lights bolted on the grille. The sunshine has burnt the bumper plastics to a rock-grey shade, and the headlight washers have been discarded long ago.
But like the rear window sticker proclaims, the oil-burning W201 is a paragon for reliable motoring where the roads are straight and populated by reindeers. You can also easily see the inspection stickers on the driver’s side rear window; year after year the Benz will clatter through the roadworthiness inspection and earn a proverbial stamp on the paperwork. It’s probably not too far off to guess the first number on the clock next to the clock is four, if not five.
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Antti Kautonen]