Mercedes Quest

Wow does your bugeye story ring a bell! Let me share with you briefly one of my own.

Years ago I bought a 1960 MB coupe off ebay from a guy in Spokane. I went up there (from SLC Utah) in my Nissan truck but soon found there was no way the Nissan was going to pull the MB home. Too much weight for a light truck. Further there was no way the MB was going to tow on the dolly I had. The MB engine was out of the car so we put that in the Nissan (with the sellers tractor and a chain) and off I went back to Utah w/o the car.

Winter was setting in and I phoned the seller a few weeks later asking him if I could pick the car up in the spring. He told me he was retiring and had his home up for sale. Wouldn't you know it his home sold within days. He had to get everything moved for the new owners including my MB. Unbeknown to me he pulled it into the corn field of a farm a few miles away out in the snow and weather. When I heard that I freaked out and started making plans to go to Spokane in the month of January. I didn't have a heavy truck at the time so I went down to a trailer shop and had a class 5 hitch welded to the frame of my 57 Chevy Apache. I got a dual axle trailer from the rental place (which didn't make me hook up the lights) and off I went to Spokane in 10 degree weather with no trailer lights.

The 57 Chevy was a real problem. I really should not have done this trip with the Chevy - the frame it not stout enough nor is the suspension. And the king pins were loose. The gas meter didn't work so I had to carry three 5 gallon gas tanks with me in the bed. When I got to a gas station in Malad, Idaho I couldn't get the gas cap off. Frozen tight. There was a dense fog on the freeway that coated everything in ice. Visibility was about 10-15 feet. I borrowed some tools from the gas station and ended up destroying the gas cap in order to get gas in the tank. I borrowed some duct tape and taped up the gas inlet. Amazingly the duct tape worked the entire trip.

About 10 miles out of Malad the heater fan quit. All this in very dense fog below the dew point. I had no defrost and the windshield iced immediately. I would drive 2 miles and then have to scrape the windshield. And the ice is like paint - very thin and sticks like glue. All kinds of cold air was coming in the windows of the cab and I was freezing cold. Fortunately a guy and his wife pulled up in a big Ford truck and helped me get to the next freeway turnoff by turning on their flashers. For about 15 miles that is all I could see in front of me. Wow!

I got off the interstate (15) and luckily there was a service station there out in the middle of nowhere. Better yet it had a small motel. I got some food at the station and drove over the motel. There was no vacancy and this motel was really dilapidated. Since there was no attendant at 1 in the morning I slept that night in the lobby on some chairs put together to form a sort of bed. Fortunately the lobby had a good heater so I actually got some sleep.

Next morning I was off in the sunshine but the speedo cable starting buzzing loudly. I pulled into the parking lot of a store in some town along I-15 and tried to pull the speedo cover off to unscrew the cable. When I began to pull it away from the dash I got a puff of smoke and the engine quit. I put the speedo back in the dash and thank heavens the engine started. I spent the next 100 or so miles listening to a buzzy speedo cable which finally broke.

The truck pulled well (it has a 327 with a muncie 3 speed) and I made it to Coeur d'Alene. Spent the night in a Motel 6 and took off in the morning for Spokane. I picked up a few extra tie downs on the way into Spokane and then attempted to find the sellers new home. He (in his 60's) had moved in with his girlfriend (wife had died a few years earlier) and had given me the address before I left Salt Lake. When I got to the home he wasn't there and his girlfriend didn't know where the car was. I went into town and hung out for awhile and just about nightfall the owner makes it back home. He takes me out to the farm and we find the car in about a foot of snow and mud out in the field. He pulled the car out with his pickup and I started pulling the car up onto the trailer with a come along. Then it started to snow - and hard.

The seller told me to hang out in Spokane and not to drive through the mountain pass in the snow. I wanted to get home so I took off and headed for Coeur d'Alene. I made it up through the mountain pass with no problems at all. The road was well plowed. Instead of taking 1-15 to Boise and took I-90 since I had heard the weather was better in Montana. I remember pulling into a gas station some 30 miles outside of Dillon and heard a clicking sound in the engine bay. I popped the hood and found out two things - the engine was really, really hot and the old generator was making all kinds of noise. I left the engine running, gassed up and headed for Dillon. Didn't make it far. The battery ran down, headlights dimmed and then nothing. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere.

And now for one of the more amazing parts of the story. I was dating a gal at the time (in SLC) who's parents lived in Dillon. She gave me their name and number before I left and told me to phone her Dad if I had any issues. What a miracle. I was close to Dillon. I phone her parents (whom I had never met) and explained the situation. Her Dad came after me and in about two hours we had charged the battery and I had enough juice to make it into Dillon with no headlights. That evening we went to a few junkyards but couldn't find a generator for the truck. There were plenty of alternators but no generator. My Chevy had been converted to 12 volt but I wasn't sure what capacity the system had. It was getting cold so I spent the night at my girlfriends parents house. I phoned my girlfriend and she just thought it was an act of God that I had arrived at her parents. I heard later that she thought this was an omen and that we were to be wed. It never happened but it was an interesting thought. In the morning we found a tractor generator at NAPA that bolted on with some modifications. That day I made it back to Utah - Mercedes and all - with no other major issues.

Thanks for sharing your story - I'm sure there are many folks that can relate!!

-- Regards, Mj/SLC Utah

Return to Bugeye Quest page...