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  #1  
Old 02-08-2007, 02:22 AM
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Take company car or drive my MB 300E?

I have been offered either a company car or have mileage paid on my personal vehicle. The problem is that the company car would be a new Ford minivan (which I loathe) and minimally equipped (not even cruise control!).

On the other hand, my car is an 18 year old 300E with 120,000 miles. The car is in excellent condition and I really enjoy driving it as it has all the features I enjoy (quiet, solid, safe).

The company mileage would be extensive at about 25,000 miles per year, in all seasons. Travel is typically long distance paved highways with minor distances of gravel and industrial road surfaces. I am reimbursed about $0.60/mile but I absorb all the costs and risks. As I see it these costs would barely cover the fully loaded cost of running my own car although it looks good if there are no big repair bills and you ignore the depreciation. The car has 120,000 miles on it now and it will have 200,000 miles on it in 3 years time. I expect that the car will have minimal resale value at that point.

I would appreciate your comments in this decision. Is the 300E generally reliable at this point in its age and mileage? What would be the probable repair items that may occur with this kind of driving? Would it be better to just suckup the deficiencies of the minivan and leave the ownership risks with someone else? Others who have used their own vehicle have generally stated that they are out a couple of hundred dollars each month but they are leasing new vehicles and paying for dealership maintenance and excess mileage charges.

I would appreciate your point of view as I would like to make an informed decision and balance the cost risks with my own personal enjoyment and safety while driving.

Appreciate your responses!

Paul

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  #2  
Old 02-08-2007, 03:18 AM
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Honestly, I don't think the resale value will vary too much unless the car ends up in considerably worse condition than it is now. And since it will be mostly highway miles, it should hold together perfectly fine. 60c a mile comes out to be 15k a year before taxes. I'm sure you can buy three more 300e's with that money. This choice should really be a no-brainer.
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  #3  
Old 02-08-2007, 05:14 AM
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I was put in a position like that a long time ago (about 1980-1981).

My job would require extensive daily driving around Northern California especially around the San Francisco area. I didn't know how extensive it would be, but did know it would be a lot.

The deal: The company would pay me up to $100 per month towards a car payment or cash if I kept the car I already had, plus all the gasoline I had to purchase, PLUS all the gasoline i used for personal recreational purposes, and on the weekends (and the boss said, I swear, "But don't take your girlfriend to Maine and Bangor"

But, any repairs and insurance were to be my own responsibility.

I had a 1972 Buick Skylark Custom sport sedan at the time but it already had 140,000 miles on it and it was a real gas guzzler. The boss suggested I buy a brand new K car (Lee Iacocca's wonder) the Dodge Aries I think it was....yuccck.

I thought this was my chance to finally get my first Mercedes, so I went and looked at used 1977 240 and 300 diesels, and really liked them, but the bank wouldn't finance them.

So, I wound up with a very nice looking 1977 Olds Delta 88 Royale coupe with 39,000 miles on it, an ex- company car for a printing company in SF that I found at the Olds dealer in Oakland.

Oh man, I was driving all the time. It was over 1000 miles a week, every week, just for business. After that, I was too tired to drive places on the weekends. That's 48,000 miles a year!

I was taking the car in every other week for an oil change, and that car was luxurious, but it had it's share of problems, and it cost plenty to keep it going.

So, in the end it was a wash. I suspect the boss knew he was going to have me on the road all the time, and the deal didn't hurt him at all, and knew I would be too worn out to drive much for fun while he paid the cars's gas. The mileage I racked up was enormous. (So it was worth it to get a comfortable and safe car).

I'm really sorry I didn't get to buy the Mercedes 240 or 300 Diesel (there were quite a few nice ones around in those days). I might even still have it today. Not that Olds, after 100,000 miles it began to fall to pieces. It was junked LONG before 1990

Being on the road that much, get the car that suits you best. I'd think the van would be pretty uncomfortable, after a long distance drive, so after awhile you would really feel hammered, and let's face it, they are not the most comfortable, good handling or safest thing out there. But I wouldn't think you would want to use up your personal car in the service of a job either. Though your Benz is ideal for this kind of service, and comfortable, long lasting and safe, so it could work.

When you are out on the road every day all the time, you just about see it all, every possible scenario. May be best to face it in a safe reliable car like a Mercedes
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  #4  
Old 02-08-2007, 06:25 AM
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Take the company car. Let them pay the personal property tax, insurance, gas, and maintanence as well as deal with the depreciation. I'm not sure but I don't think you would have to be responsible for paying any income tax as a result of the company providing you with a car.
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  #5  
Old 02-08-2007, 07:05 AM
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Been there, done that.
Take the company vehicle!!!
You'll enjoy driving your own car, everytime you get into it.
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  #6  
Old 02-08-2007, 07:07 AM
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Good to see you have several opinions to consider.

My opinion is that its a no-brainer to take the 60 cents a mile and drive the MB for all its worth. I presume you don't have to haul anything that would wear or damage the car.

The mileage you put on the car in a highway situation is the easiest mileage you can get - you won't wear the car all that much as long as you keep up with the maintenance.

I have done this previously with with a newer vehicle (small pickup truck). That truck now has 350k+ miles on it, never had engine work, and still runs fine. Plus I have extracted a significant portion of the money I paid for it with the mileage reimbursement.

I wish I could be in your situation with one of my old Mercedes diesels.

Extract all the money you can and enjoy driving at the same time.

Ken300D
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  #7  
Old 02-08-2007, 07:22 AM
LarryBible
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Been there, done that!

I spent about nine years driving 60,000 to 70,000 miles per year on mileage. As I recall, mileage was 25 cents per mile when I started doing this in about '89. I ran my 240D about 400,000 miles and then a new 96 E300D.

I bought the 240D almost new (17,000 miles) and after I retired it, I sat down and added up ALL expenses involved including purchase price, fuel, tires, taxes, insurance, maintenance... I mean EVERYTHING and I came out $16,000 to the good over that period of time. Now, I did all the service work myself, so if I had been paying for service it would have been a different number, but I expect that it would have been in my favor.

I can speak for myself only, but for me I would drive my own car rather than a company Tinny Van every time. I enjoy driving and an MB is a much more enjoyable car to drive.

My $0.02,
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  #8  
Old 02-08-2007, 07:27 AM
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Tassie, I'd opt for the .60 per mile ... you'll be driving in a car that's comfortable and safe. As mentioned highway miles are easy on the engine which should be good for hundreds of thousands of miles with regular oil changes and maintenance. If your 300E is pristine and you're worried about it sitting out all the time look for another 124 car to use specifically for business. The numbers cover that situation too. No way would I want to drive a Ford minivan any distance.
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  #9  
Old 02-08-2007, 07:35 AM
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In the early 80's corporate America began a move to get company owned vehicles off the books. At the time I was a salesperson and former financial controller. I knew we were going to get screwed on the deal.

The problem with driving your own car is the river that averages 4 feet deep. The problem is the 20 foot deep hole 1/2 way across. Everything is fine until, for instance, your transmission goes bad.

I am impressed that your company is giving you the choice. Financially speaking, there is no doubt in my mind that you will be better off with the company car. Image wise you will also be better off with the company car versus an old MB. Your customers may think your company can't afford a newer car.

Steve
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  #10  
Old 02-08-2007, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by softconsult View Post
Image wise you will also be better off with the company car versus an old MB. Your customers may think your company can't afford a newer car.

Steve
Actually, they would think otherwise.

It's amazing how the MB marque gives many the impression of wealth, as most neophytes cannot distinguish the price point of an 18-yr old W126 from an 07 S500...to them they are ALL Mercedes!

I still get nods for my ailling 300E...
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  #11  
Old 02-08-2007, 10:14 AM
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The 300E isn't worth much resale wise anyway. If you really want to drive it who cars about the mileage, or wear? Its a car enjoy it till its tired and get another.

25k miles a year is a lot to suffer with a crap car, I totaly understand. When I first got my SDL I very often drove my moms Olds when the SDL was laid up for repairs. I hated it, driving a van would be worse! Its a minivan, ugh.

Even today I rather drive the shot beater SD than the brand new Rav4.
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  #12  
Old 02-08-2007, 10:26 AM
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I'd take the 60c a mile and buy a Prius for yourself.

Assuming gas averages $2.75 a gallon over the next 3 years, and assuming you do indeed drive 75,000 miles, then you'll spend less than $4500 on Gas,, if you get the claimed 50mpg highway advertised by Toyota.

So, 75,000 x $0.60 = $45k over 3 years, minus $4500 or so for gas = $40k ish to buy a Prius,,,, I guess they're about $25k.

Not sure of taxes etc,, and you have to buy the Prius up front,,, but even with insurance costs,,, it still seems you'd be $10-$15k ahead at the end of the 3rd year,,, plus you'd have whatever the Prius was worth as well.

Enough for that twin-turbo upgrade on your 300E. : )

Of course the downside is you'd be driving a Prius.

Did that make sense? Math isn't my strongpoint,, I probably missed something.

Last edited by Juck; 02-08-2007 at 10:53 AM.
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  #13  
Old 02-08-2007, 10:36 AM
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It could always be worse.
 
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Of course, driving a Prius, your clients will take one look at you when you pull-up and think one of two things:

1. What a great guy, doing his bit for the environment.

2. Bloody hippy!
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  #14  
Old 02-08-2007, 10:47 AM
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If you showed up at my door with a Prius, I would'nt let you in.
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  #15  
Old 02-08-2007, 11:04 AM
Sportlines
 
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Actually, they would think otherwise.

"It's amazing how the MB marque gives many the impression of wealth, as most neophytes cannot distinguish the price point of an 18-yr old W126 from an 07 S500...to them they are ALL Mercedes!

I still get nods for my ailling 300E..."

In my experience, as with almost ever decision like this, it depends. It depends on the sales or service scenario. Are the customers always new or infrequent sales calls? Are the visits to the same customers over and over? Are you calling on the boss or underlings? Etc. Etc.

It also depends on whether said old MB is a nice one or a junky looking one.
In my traveling adventures, self-employed consultant, I have driven ''90 300E, '92 300E Sportline, and now '97 S320. You are correct that most people are impressed. I take pains to explain that the cars are old and cheap. Sales psychology varies depending on the audience.

Of course, I don't have the choice of a free company car. Actually, way back in the '80's when the employee owned vehicle program begain at my corporation, I was the maverick.
I happened upon a '79 300CD with 50K for sale by a friend. Believe me, I took major flack from management, co-workers, and customers. They got over it and I was happy in a very safey , butt friendly car.

Steve

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