1996 MERCEDESBENZ S280 THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 680 Total mileage 80,020 What’s gone wrong? Plenty. Plus it’s still massively thirsty
Last week, I complained that others were moaning about the Merc’s fuel consumption. As I’m this car’s kind-of-custodian, I take great offence at other people getting testy with it.
Previously, I’ve ripped into people for mentioning the words ‘fuel’ and ‘consumption’ –‘ What do you expect from an S-class?’ I asked snidely. ‘It wasn’t meant for people of your pay grade and social stature.’
In order to assess the wallet-breaking antics reported by my colleagues, I took P772 LSR away from the peasants and reprobates that frequent Classic Car Weekly’s offices in search of classier surroundings and people more accustomed to the finer things in life. Specifically, footballers. None of those nouveau riche Premiership starlets, mind you – I took the Merc to a Saturday league game. These footballers are so good that they shun the professional leagues so that they can pursue other, more rewarding avenues. Like estate agency. Or carpentry.
I loaded up the old barge with three friends and made the 60-mile round trip from Peterborough to Holbeach Football Club to watch some other friends play in a cup final. En route it became apparent that Richard Kilpatrick’s work on the car has instantly improved it. The new tyres give improved grip, and generate less road noise. It’s obviously still wallowy, but that’s mainly due to the soft suspension and the sheer size of the thing. You can still drive it briskly, but only if you can hold on to the ship’s wheel with all the force your biceps and forearms can muster while sitting in the captain’s chair.
The severe wheel wobble above 70mph (not that we’d ever go above 70mph, of course), meanwhile, has been replaced by a severe wheel wobble under hard braking. Dropping anchor at motorway cruising speeds provides a huge amount of feedback, albeit in all the wrong ways. Truth be told, it feels like the front left disc is warped.
Anyway, back to the trip. Initially I’d asked said Saturday league football stars to pose with the S-class and offer an opinion on it. Many of them drive premium German cars, and it would’ve been interesting to see if any of them could have guessed that our Mercedes cost the same as a set of front parking sensors on a new Audi.
However, as is the way with cup finals and amateur teams, the match dragged on a bit. In true Saturday league style, people got their entrance fee’s (£4) worth. There were two sending offs (three, if you include one of the managers), and it went to penalties. This meant that it was too dark to get a photograph of the footballers with the car.
However, an assorted mass of Long Sutton Athletic Football Club’s players did visit the car. Comments ranged from the positive – ‘I can’t believe you only paid £500 for this’ – to a less-than-constructive ‘It looks a bit ****, doesn’t it?’ Most did agree however, that the shape was classic luxo-barge styling, and that the looks would soon grow on people.
As far as fact-finding missions go, this one was a bit hit and miss – until I got home and did some sums. On the trip from Peterborough to Holbeach, using a mixture of motorways, B-roads, and a bit of town driving, I averaged 18.8mpg. Which is dreadful. I wasn’t even gunning it.
In short, colleagues, friends and amateur footballers alike are hesitant about the big lovable Merc. Watch this space, though – we’ll get to the bottom of why its economy is so dreadful eventually.
‘Comments ranged from the positive, to “It looks a bit ****, doesn’t it?”’
There’s a bunch of footballers in the boot. Honestly.