Did you know, you can now buy a Ford Focus with a tiny little 1.0 litre engine? Ford have developed an engine that is small, efficient and kind to the environment, and yet it produces enough power to propel a good sized family hatchback around, without feeling unduly burdened. Other manufacturers are performing similar tricks. With the use of turbos and witchcraft, they are churning out wonderfully efficient power plants. Big, fuel guzzling motors are becoming a thing of the past. This is a good thing. It is understandable and logical. People want a nice car that doesn’t cost the world to run. In every sense of the word.
When I saw this big green tank of a Mercedes S Class pop up on Donedeal.ie, I recognised it as the car I drove past in Galway most days, and had often admired. Obviously I wouldn’t buy it, but it was worth a phone call. Talking to the owner, I said I’d be interested in viewing it. Just for shits and giggles. Not actually going to buy it. I mean, where would I put it? I haven’t space for 18 feet of luxobarge around the house. So I took it for a very short test drive and had a walk around to examine the paint and various imperfections. Definitely not the car for me. I told the seller I’d have a think about it, you know, to let him down gently.
Four hours later, I’m calling him, and I can hear myself say ‘Yep, that’s perfect, I’ll take it.’
WT actual F?
It was a daft thing to do but the 1992 Mercedes Benz 300se is sitting outside now, and I have no regrets. It’s no show car. It’s more ‘show & tell’. It is nearly 25 years old and I’m the sixth owner. It could do with a few bulbs, an indicator lens, possibly a wiper motor, new wing mirror glass, and a damn good clean. But, to drive, it is pure old school luxury. This was the car that Mercedes threw $1 billion at in the development stage in order to produce something special. Something that they could sell to new markets. This was the car that Mercedes used to break into America and Japan. It was sold with various engines, ranging from 2.8 litres to a whopping 6.0 V12. It was ministerial transport. Presidential transport. Very popular with world leaders and dictators, Vladimir Putin and Muammar Gaddafi were fans. Also, Joe Dolan had the coupe version.
Economical, it is not. The power delivery is smooth and insistent. You don’t get shoved back into the driver’s seat with much enthusiasm but it does pull and pull until you run out of road. I have no idea where the top speed is. It feels like it might not have a top speed. It may just carry on accelerating. The brakes are good – for 25 year old brakes. The car weighs around two tonnes and that weight is something you’re always aware of. The ride is composed. Outside noise is muted with the thick carpet, and double glazed windows. There is a sense of occasion when you sit in the oversized seat and point the imposing grille at the road.
A new Ford Focus is a much better car in nearly every measurable way. Indeed, most new cars are better that my S Class. But not many can match it for that sense of occasion.