My wife and I flew out to the East Coast recently, for a week long vacation. We have some friends in Truro, MA who invited us out for a few days before they were scheduled to go to Europe for their vacation. The plan was that we’d fly to Boston, take the fast ferry to Provincetown on Cape Cod and spend some time with them until they left for Europe. We would stay in their house while they were gone, take care of their two dogs, go to the beach, eat good seafood, and generally enjoy ourselves and relax for a week. Who knew a hurricane would crash the party during our stay? In the end, Irene was pretty much a non event on lower Cape Cod. We didn’t lose power, it didn’t even really rain in Truro… but was there wind… sustained 55 mph winds with gusts a lots bigger than that for about a day. Anyway… upon our arrival on the ferry from Boston into Provincetown I immediately started to see Taxis, in fact, Mercedes Benz Taxis… surely a blog article was brewing.
These weren’t shiny new E classes or high end car service S classes like you might see in Manhattan. No, I’m talking late 1970s and early to mid 1980s vintage 280D and 300 turbo diesels. The old school Mercedes diesels that clatter along forever slowly belching black smoke from their tail pipes. They were mostly sedans, but I saw a couple of wagons as well. It felt more like I was on the Italian or French Riviera back in college than in Cape Cod. They looked so right cruising deliberately through the narrow 250+ year old streets of Provincetown and Wellfleet, MA. “What a great idea” I thought, whoever came up with this idea was a genius, of course, like so many other things, it happened a bit by accident, that this company ended up driving a fleet of diesel Mercedes Benz cars around.
After a week enjoying ourselves, walking around, exploring the beaches of Cape Cod, when our time was up and it was time to make our way to the ferry terminal in Provincetown from the house in Truro there was only one cab company to call… a call I was looking forward to making all week… to “Mercedes Cab.” The ferry left at 10:30am so, the night before I called Mercedes Cab and requested the car for 9:30. I was secretly hoping for one of the W123 wagons to pick us up, I had only seen two around town and I wasn’t about to request a specific car, I mean, who does that? But I hoped it was one of those cool old wagons. At about 9:25 the next morning I actually heard the cab pull up from inside the house. When I went outside I was happy to see…
This wasn’t going to be just another cab ride, this was going to be an experience, we figured, with some local flavor, and maybe some diesel fumes. Cape Cod native Jesse Cartwright was our driver for the short 15 or so minute drive from our place in Truro into Provincetown. As soon as we got in the cab I started asking him about the company. I told him I worked for a Mercedes-Benz dealer and that I would just have to write a blog article about the Mercedes Cab company. “We’ve got about 10 cabs right now, two wagons and the rest are sedans” Jesse said, “the company’s been around since 1983, the owner started with one car, a Mercedes diesel, and it just grew from there.”
The company serves what’s known as the ‘lower cape’ from Eastham in the south, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown on the upper most tip of Cape Cod, not a huge distance, but where the bulk of the tourist traffic is concentrated I would guess, it’s just such a great niche. The wagon we were in was no show winner, this car was, like many of the fishing boats in the Provincetown marina, a working machine. Chipped paint, some surface rust here and there, but it’s not about a perfect vehicle, it’s about the best tool for the job, and I’d be hard pressed to think of a better tool for this job.
“We’re coming up on one of our old cabs here, off the the left, you’ll see it here, coming up, there it is.” Jesse pointed off towards a maroon colored W114 chassis Mercedes diesel from the early to mid 1970s parked in a gravel lot next to a warehouse building just as we were leaving Truro, “That one finally died” he said sadly as he took another sip from his coffee cup. “Yeah, I grew up here, when I was a kid we’d be on our bikes all day, riding around, my parents would just tell us to be back by dark, this was a really safe place to grow up, it still is.”
Jesse has a Mercedes-Benz diesel himself, as his personal car we learned. As we entered Provincetown he announced, “You know, I’m gonna take a little detour to avoid a busy intersection up here.” We hung a left off the main drag into town, “Well, it wasnt’tthat backed up today, sometimes this is all backed up” he waved his hand back and forth, “This way I can show you my car, it’s on the way.”
“What is it?” I asked.
“A 1979 300SD, a friend of mine had it, I traded him a Subaru and a surfboard for it” he announced as we rounded a bend… there it was, I got out and took some pictures while Jesse and Michele waited in the cab.
“I found the original hood emblem for it in the trunk, the star was broken out of it, but I put it on there anyway, I thought it looked cool” Jesse added, “and I put on that turbo badge, ’cause it’s one of the first turbo diesels they made.”
As I got back into the wagon I realized our ride was almost over. Jesse told us about the band he plays Bass in, Squidda. Judging from their Facebook Fan Page they’re pretty prolific on the Cape, it doesn’t look like too many weekends go by where you can’t catch them playing one of the bars along Commercial Street in Provincetown or somewhere else on the cape. (Check out the band and ‘LIKE’ Squidda on Facebook by clicking this link)
How cool is that? Jesse drove this 300SD all the way out to Lake Tahoe for the Winter season last year, put chains on the tires and drove it everyday he was there. How’s that for adventure? “Yeah, it made it up the mountain, everyday, no problem. My buddy was mad when I came back and he saw I was still driving it, he never thought it would make it, but it did, it was a good trade” he concluded.
A Mercedes-Benz film crew actually traveled to Cape Cod to shoot a short movie about “Mercedes Cab” for the Mercedes-Benz.tv website. This video, like all things Mercedes-Benz, it’s extremely high quality. It tells the story of “Mercedes Cab” in about 4 minutes with great photography and commentary. Click the image below to watch this great video on YouTube.
It’s no secret, these diesels, even these 25 and 30 year old models get very good gas mileage and their longevity is, of course, legendary. You might have seen my article about the Mercedes Benz High Mileage Award Program, the current highest mileage record, according to MBUSA is a Greek Taxi Driver with a 240D from the 1970s with over 2 million miles. See a photo and more info about this Greek Taxi driver and the MB High Mileage Program here.
Thanks to Jesse and Mercedes Cab for getting us where we needed to go in style, see you next time. And thanks to our friends Oren and Rick for the best place to stay we could imagine and the fun dogs to walk and feed and play with while we bummed around Cape Cod for a week!
See more photos below of our trip to Cape Cod and some of the other Mercedes vehicles we encountered while on the cape.