I Met A Hero Today
My client with the vintage 1988 Mercedes project car we’ve been working on for the last month.
A humble man, he’s currently 95 years old, joined the British RAF (Royal Air Force) at age 16, flew a Lancaster bomber against the Nazis at age 17 in the Second World War. Then after the war flew in support of the Berlin airlift, flying in supplies to the starving residents of West Berlin.
He shared that he met Winston Churchill twice (Churchill remembered him on the second meeting), and recalled that Churchill handed out cigars to his entire squadron, insisting on smoking with them.
He dearly loves his car, having owned it since it was almost new, and plans to drive it another 5 years, until he’s 100. Such was the complexity of the service issues, he had all but given up hope of driving it again. It was our pleasure to make that happen.
The vehicle had a history of low power, stalling, not starting, which we diagnosed and corrected. Not too many people around that understand KE Jet, I’m starting to feel old. 🙂 I started my automotive service career in 1985, so 32 years later, this still feels like a new car to me.
Every member of my team who had a part in the resurrection of his beloved auto was there. Our parts manager Jared who sourced parts for a 30 year classic, our service tech who worked alongside of me on the vehicle over the last month, and our detailer Joe (also a veteran) who make it shine like new. Joe is in the photo with him.
Presenting his vehicle back to him, now purring like a kitten, fully serviced, detailed, waxed and polished was one of the proudest moments of my career, and I think for the rest of my team.
Of all the projects I worked on this year, this one was both a privilege and a pleasure, even more so now I know how deeply our efforts were appreciated. We not only earned a new customer, but a very special new friend.
Back Story – Vintage Mercedes Project – Cold War Warrior
The vintage Mercedes project car is on the road tonight, Jared, one of our Service Advisors is doing the overnight road test.
Just one year before the Berlin war fell, this Mercedes rolled new out of the factory. I’m a Cold War fan, student and history buff, having grown up in that era, so this project had a special meaning to me, one of the last Mercedes to roll out when “West Germany” was still a country.
Everything is done except for the engine oil leak reseal, will be doing that tomorrow. I wanted to get an extended road test in with the fuel injection system working correctly, and the transmission resealed.
The fuel injection system on this vehicle, a Bosch KE Jetronic, first debuted in the mid 1970s (though Mercedes used it until the late 1990s), had been a source of trouble for the previous servicing shop, and thorn in the owners side for some time. The vehicle had a history of low power, stalling, not starting, which we diagnosed and corrected. Indeed the vehicle was towed in not starting or running.
Few people still around understand Bosch KE Jet fuel injection system, I’m starting to feel old. 🙂
I started my automotive service career in 1985, so 32 years later, this still feels like a new car to me.
I personally drove it just a few minutes ago for the initial road test after the transmission work, runs and drives great, tires are noisy and ride rough, but there is some tread left on them, next year we’ll get a good set of Michelin tires on the car.
I’m VERY happy with how the car the car has turned out so far, I believe the lingering demons of starting and running have now been corrected, and the car is performing as it should. Working with owners who are deeply passionate about doing it right, and patient at the same time, has been a blessing.
I’ll check her again tomorrow morning, and baring anything else will be turning it over to Joe to do his detail magic on Monday or Tuesday.
Though we work on even the newest Mercedes, it’s always treat for me to be involved in the service of one of these icons of another, more simpler time.