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  #1  
Old 06-11-2004, 10:32 PM
Joseph Bauers
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The joys of a Luddite vehicle

In talking with my MB mechanic friend today, I came to the conclusion that moderns MBs, and modern cars in general, are, to use his words, "PCs on wheels." He marvels at the technological doo-dads, but he says that keeping the fiber optic systems up and running in extreme temperatures and under varied driving conditions is proving more than a little challenging.

Made me feel even better about my 1979 300TD--the old non-turbo diesel, with lots of maintenance and repairs fully possible for the DIY guy.

My other Benz is a 1989 300SE (W126), which is on the cusp of the technological revolution, in a way. I have had a few electronic problems, but nothing compared to those apparent on the new W211 chassis, apparently.

Sometimes I long for the good old days of roll up windows, manual transmissions, hand chokes. Anyone else of a like mind?

Joe B.
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  #2  
Old 06-11-2004, 10:42 PM
Joseph Bauers
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Posted by W126: Yup.

I drove a '50 Packard for a few yrs ('97-'99). Year round -- battling the WI winters. The thing never failed to start and was a dream on the interstate with that OD.

Sold it to friend in Minneapolis who let it go to ***** and eventually was towed away. More than likely turned into a parts car -- RIP old friend.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Packards were awesome--did it have the flathead six? or V-8?

I actually had two 49 Chevies--3 speed on the column, inline six. Totally reliable. Pull out the hand choke, hit the starter button (button, ignition key was separate), and go.

Joe B.
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  #3  
Old 06-12-2004, 10:26 AM
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"...roll up windows, manual transmissions, hand chokes..." Describes my '60 220S Fintail perfectly. In the late '50s, supposedly, a Daimler-Benz spokesman was asked why, unlike Lincoln or Caddilac, Mercedes didn't offer power windows? The response - "If you can't roll down the windows you shouldn't be driving!"
I DO occasionaly have to adjust my carbs and points. but there's so much extra room to work under the hood, enough room for an extra engine! And you can actually SEE that engine, not some plastic 'pseudo-engine' disguise some marketing stylist dreamed up. Even worse is the so-called 'cab-forward' styling abomination so many new cars and trucks have adopted, where the dash & cowl cover so much of the engine you couldn't work on it if you wanted to! What's next? Eliminate the hood? And don't get me started on todays' microchip infested cars, where you need 27 tiny buttons just to operate the radio and computers adjust your seat and decide when (or if) you can have airconditioning. I like my Fintail so much that I rarely drive my 'modern' '72 250 (auto trans & auto choke) anymore.

Happy Motoring, Mark
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  #4  
Old 06-12-2004, 11:48 AM
Joseph Bauers
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Mark--I, too, had a 60 220Sb. Fiddled with the Solex carburetors a bit, but by and large, it just ran and ran. Its only drawback was the automatic clutch--it had a fluid flywheel and a weird servo that allowed for "clutchless" shifting. You touched the shifter level on the column, which activated an electronic switch that allowed the servo to use vacuum to, in effect, put in the clutch. It was MB's reluctant answer, at that time, to automatic transmissions. The Hydrak, as it was called, could be fussy, but I managed to keep it going for many years. Most MBs of this era, like yours, had a manual clutch and four speed on the column, a far superior system than athe Hydrak.

Joe B.
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  #5  
Old 06-12-2004, 12:44 PM
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I too like older vehicles. The engine in my sailboat is a flathead four designed in the 40's. However, I have found that the Pertonix electronic ignition that fits in the distributor and replaces the points and condensor is an improvemnt worth making. Did the same thing in my 71 Dodge.
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1977 300d 70k--sold 08
1985 300TD 185k+
1984 307d 126k--sold 8/03
1985 409d 65k--sold 06
1984 300SD 315k--daughter's car
1979 300SD 122k--sold 2/11
1999 Fuso FG Expedition Camper
1993 GMC Sierra 6.5 TD 4x4
1982 Bluebird Wanderlodge CAT 3208--Sold 2/13
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  #6  
Old 06-12-2004, 12:56 PM
KirkVining's Avatar
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Re: The joys of a Luddite vehicle

Quote:
Originally posted by Joseph Bauers
In talking with my MB mechanic friend today, I came to the conclusion that moderns MBs, and modern cars in general, are, to use his words, "PCs on wheels." He marvels at the technological doo-dads, but he says that keeping the fiber optic systems up and running in extreme temperatures and under varied driving conditions is proving more than a little challenging.

Made me feel even better about my 1979 300TD--the old non-turbo diesel, with lots of maintenance and repairs fully possible for the DIY guy.

My other Benz is a 1989 300SE (W126), which is on the cusp of the technological revolution, in a way. I have had a few electronic problems, but nothing compared to those apparent on the new W211 chassis, apparently.

Sometimes I long for the good old days of roll up windows, manual transmissions, hand chokes. Anyone else of a like mind?

Joe B.
Old Chevy and Ford trucks rule for do it yourself simplicity. I have an old 78 Suburban that I drove when I first went into business for myself 10 yrs ago. I don't drive it much because it drinks gas like a pig, but I still do all my own work on it because it and I are at about the same technological level. It was sold originally with a "trailer towing package" targeted at large boat owners. It is just one big huge simple chunk of heavy iron raw power. The 454 4 bolt main 4 bbl with the 400 trans and 4:11 rear with factory duals makes her just a stump ripping ***** who will never die.
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  #7  
Old 06-13-2004, 02:03 AM
Orkrist
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I've never had a truly "modern" or "electronic" car, except my Exploder, which I think is sort of on the fence. I'm actually kind of scared of them. I love cars and driving, but whenever I think about getting something to replace the exploder I want to go backwards in time. I just cringe at the idea of having a car problem and taking it to a mechanic, dropping it off, and having absolutely no idea what it could be, except a large and ambiguous bill.
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  #8  
Old 06-13-2004, 04:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Orkrist
I've never had a truly "modern" or "electronic" car
Same here...my 123 300D's as close as I've ever come to a "modern" car...and I'm perfectly content to leave it at that.

One nice thing about diesels is that they lagged behind g@$$ers in the electronics field. Dodge diesels didn't have an engine computer in them until midway through the 1998 model year, for example.
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  #9  
Old 06-13-2004, 12:08 PM
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While I enjoy my Fintail, it will never be my only vehicle. It's 44 years old and I'd like it to last awhile. Besides, around here I need something to drive in winter but with AC for summer. The newest vehicle I own is an '87 Isusu pickup. I bought it in 1990 and one of my criteria then was 'no computer'. Due to trucks being allowed some slack on EPA regulations at that time, it was one of the last gas vehicles sold in the US without a computerised feedback carburetter. Three years ago, after 120,000 mostly trouble-free miles with my pickup, I decided to get something a bit more comfortable and economical for my frequent trips to my parents home in Virginia Beach. I bought a friend's '84 Honda Accord for $550. It DOES have a computerised carburetter. So far (fingers crossed) the few problems I've had with the Honda haven't involved the electronics. (And 30 - 35 MPG ain't bad either!)

I often read the Tech Help Forum and there are often scary discussions about attempts to repair mid '90s Mercedes engine electronics problems, including $800 throttle actuators, $1800 engine computers and other expensive electronic components (Often getting replaced without successfully solving the problem!) Yesterday A friend called me about his 2000 ML320. His 'check engine' light came on and the Mercedes dealer told him it was an O-2 sensor. To save money, he asked me if I could replace it. I asked him, assuming the O-2 fault WAS a bad sensor and NOT a wiring problem, did they tell him WHICH of the FOUR $160 O-2 sensors on his ML320 needed to be replaced or did he just want to go ahead and change all of them? My friend changed his mind instead.

Every new car sold in the US today has some or all of this same technology. They say people want it & need it (but then, they don't want to pay for it when it breaks!) If this technology has become so difficult and expensive to repair, I wonder if manufacturers see it as a bonus to be able to force frustrated owners of faulty cars to buy new ones. I can see how a major electronics failure in a cheaper car would justify junking it.

Happy Motoring, Mark
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  #10  
Old 06-13-2004, 01:12 PM
Diesel Power
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Personally, I've never worried much about the electronics in newer cars. All but a handful of vehicles that I've owned, have had some form of electronics in them. I even have an OBD II code reader at home, so that I can self diagnose problems, if they do ever pop up. Thus far, I've had only one sensor ever fail, and that one was the ABS/speed sensor in the truck. It took me longer to crawl under it, than swap the part. As with any other high dollar component in a car, you don't want the one of the CPU's to fail, and you shudder when they do. The reality though, is that these failures are very uncommon.
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  #11  
Old 06-13-2004, 01:43 PM
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I like the older non-cpu cars becasue they are the only ones I know I can fix. The CPUizes cars are all guesswork for me.

My sisters 1998 Camry has 139,000 miles and has been absolutely trouble free. Without a doubt the longest lasting, trouble free car I have owned. Still looks and rides great.
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  #12  
Old 06-13-2004, 11:31 PM
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Diesel Power,
I noticed that the vehicles on your list are either Honda, Toyota or diesel powered. If I were shopping for a new or late model gas vehicle it would proably be a Honda or Toyota. I've been very pleased with my "84 Accord but maybe I should have bought that $6000 '98 Camry I looked at last year. They still seem to have the best track record for reliability, while Mercedes and other European vehicles have fallen below some American cars. As I tend to buy older, more affordable (say "cheap") cars, I expect they may have an assortment of typical used car flaws but I still prefer to reduce my risk of getting someone elses electronic nightmare.

Happy Motoring, Mark
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  #13  
Old 06-14-2004, 11:22 AM
Diesel Power
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mark DiSilvestro
Diesel Power,
I noticed that the vehicles on your list are either Honda, Toyota or diesel powered. If I were shopping for a new or late model gas vehicle it would proably be a Honda or Toyota. I've been very pleased with my "84 Accord but maybe I should have bought that $6000 '98 Camry I looked at last year. They still seem to have the best track record for reliability, while Mercedes and other European vehicles have fallen below some American cars. As I tend to buy older, more affordable (say "cheap") cars, I expect they may have an assortment of typical used car flaws but I still prefer to reduce my risk of getting someone elses electronic nightmare.

Happy Motoring, Mark
Well, right now, that Honda isn't living up to the reputation of the company. To be fair though, the Goldwing was "found in a barn" by the previous owner. He did alot of work to the bike, but glitches are still coming to the surface. It fouled a plug over the weekend, and it looks like the carbs are screwing up again.

It will basically amount to the tenth time they will be pulled to be "fixed." #1 plug was completely fouled out, while the other three looked normal. I was planning on riding it to Denver next week, but won't be able to get this fixed quickly enough to be able to verify that it'll be up to the trip.
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  #14  
Old 06-14-2004, 12:32 PM
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Diesel Power,

Funny you should mention Honda carbs. That's what's given the most trouble on my '84 Accord. Supposedly, these 3V Keihin units had all sorts of driveabilty issues over the years. I experieced intermittent flooding/stalling due to crud in the float needles, despite a new carb kit, new floats and a new secondary filter. These carbs have TWO separate floats & needles. I ultimately traced my problem to rust and a fuel pre- filter installed backwards by the previous owner. This time I replaced BOTH filters and cut open the old ones for inspection. Turns out the secondary filter near the carb was only a screen and was still letting stuff into the carb. So far I've been able to fix my problems and most parts (Except the $85 carb kit) are dirt-cheap for this car ($22 for a pair of brake rotors and $20 for the muffler!)

My gripe with new technology is that the engineers seem to have run out of major problems to solve so now they spend much creative energy redesigning systems and making things more complicated, expensive and difficult to repair. Some examples -
A friend was having stalling problems on her '90 300E. Suspect was the fuel pump relay.
The '89 has a $150 fuel pump relay but on the '90 the fuel pump relay is built into a $400 MAF control unit. Another friend asked about replacing the fuel filter on her '99 ML430.
Being between the frame and floorpan, it's hard enough to access, but Mercedes says the fuel lines must be updated so now it appears the gas tank needs to come out. I hear some other recent cars have the main fuel filter IN the gas tank so a replacement can be $300+. And what's up with eliminating the tranny dipstick on some newer cars (If you can't check it, it won't leak?) BMW has suffered from faulty electronic instrument panels and Mercedes automatic climate controls are famous for problems. And do todays cars really need interior lights that gradually fade out. What required a switch before now needs another expensive control unit. The heater fan wouldn't turn off in a friend's '91 Cadillac a few weeks ago until she disconnected the battery. Now it's fine (until next time!) And in many new cars that $50 accelerator cable has now been replaced by a multi-hundred dollar electronic throttle actuator. (I guess that makes my $85 carb kit sound dirt cheap) Sorry for my rant.


Happy Motoring, Mark
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  #15  
Old 06-14-2004, 12:52 PM
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PaulC,

Can one really find a new 'Luddite' vehicle in the US? Well you said 'no trucks' but you did say 'vehicle' and you didn't say it had to be a car. My vote - A MOPED.
If it HAS to be a car, I think you can still buy the cheapest Hyundai, Kia or Suzuki without automatic, ABS, power steering or electric windows.

Happy Motoring, Mark
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