This year marked the 4th Annual Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally. More of a driving tour than a true rally, as there is no time, speed or distance to keep track of per se, unless your keeping track of the next meal time. You don’t need a fancy car to participate, you just need a good attitude and a car that’s at least 20 years old. Heck, on the 1st Walleye 1000 I drove an old Mercedes I bought for 3,000 bucks!
This year we had 60 people, 2 dogs, 31 cool old cars (20 years old and older), 2 days and 400+ miles over back roads along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin and Minnesota. We started in Prescott, WI and took a circuitous route covering about 200 miles over some pretty incredible back roads en route to a hotel in La Crosse, WI. all 60 participants had dinner at Piggy’s Restaurant in downtown La Crosse.
Sunday morning it was up for another day of driving, there were storms overnight Saturday, but we didn’t get rained on at all during the driving part of the event. Sunday was gorgeous and the event culminated in the finisher’s dinner at Axel’s Restaurant in Mendota.
The 2016 Walleye 1000 will be June 4 – 5 , 2016. If you’re looking for a lot of laid back fun with a group of people as eclectic as the cars they drive, check out the Walleye 1000 website to learn more. It’s about as much fun as you can have on 4 wheels.
The Intermarque Car Show, held for the past few years in Osseo, MN… and a show that’s been going on for more than 20 years at some venue around the Twin Cities, is, HANDS DOWN, one of my favorites of the year. This year the big day was Saturday, May 16th.
I tried something new this year… in an effort to share some of the fun cars that show up to the event with friends around the country, and the world, that probably won’t ever make it to the show, I brought a friend a long with a video camera. We talked to some folks who were happy to share the stories of their cars. These are just some of the videos, uploaded to the DaveKnowsCars YouTube Channel, we shot that day, some are still being edited, so check the YouTube channel again soon for more. (scroll below the graphic for more).
The great thing about this show is that it’s so laid back and the collection of cars is about as eclectic as yo can imagine. This year there were two Volvo 544s parked next to each other, a Citroen Mehari, a Suffolk Jaguar SS100, more MGs than you could shake a stick at (including a couple of pre-War models). All the clubs come out and park together and mingle… it’s what the collector car hobby is all about. You bring what you’ve got and nobody cares whether your car costs a million dollars or fifteen hundred dollars.
Intermarque is a multi-marque organization that incorporates all the different vintage, foreign car clubs in the area in an effort to consolidate event information and car activites… so everyone knows what’s happening inside our little collector car world. Brian Cornell and Andy Lindberg spend a lot of time each month putting together a great online newsletter ‘The Intermarque Monthly” available for free download at Intermarque.org.
A big thank you needs to go out to Brian Cornell, John Engstrom and all the Intermarque Volunteers that made this show happen, it’s truly a gem of a show and we’re lucky to have such a rabid group of enthusiasts that make it happen, year after year.
“Hey Dave, I want to consolidate the cars I have stored in a couple of barns and sell this stuff off, can you help?” It’s the kind of call I always look forward to receiving. This time it came from a car guy buddy I’ve known for a few years, a long time SCCA member, ex-ice racer, ex-everything racer and all around good old hopeless car guy. I had heard about his ‘collection’ (or hoard) a handful of times, but had never seen it.
When he called me back in April he explained that the farmer he had been renting one of the barns from for more than 15 years sold the property and he had to have the cars out by August 1, so, he wanted to sell a bunch of these cars off “I’ve just realized I’m not going to get to all of them” he explained over the phone… a realization some car guys never actually even come to.
He has about 35 cars / vehicles, that were spread over three different barns at two different locations separated by about 25 miles in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area of Minnesota. In April of this year I went out with him, to both locations, to take these photos, and to help him take some kind of inventory of all the ‘stuff’. I told him I would take photos, but that I didn’t want to post them anywhere until he was ‘ready’ to field the calls I figured would probably come rolling in.
I have no vested interest in the sale of any of these cars, (although I hope to buy one of the ex-‘Catalina Auto Rental’ Mini Mokes before they’re all gone) If you’re interested in something you see in the photos call the owner TOM SCHRAMM in Minneapolis, MN…
He told me to post his mobile phone number here… 612-578- six six tw0 tw0. (more photos and additional description of my trip out to see all this stuff below).
He recently moved all of the cars to one location, about 1/2 hour West of Minneapolis, they’re now housed in two buildings on one property.
All of these cars are somewhere on the ‘project continuum’ (obviously) and we all know that it can be pretty labor intensive to sell such an amalgamation of stuff. He says he’s ‘ready’ to sell them, and in fact, a few have already been sold (one of the MGBs, the Alfa GTV, one of the bugeye sprites) but many other interesting cars remain.
Highlights include: A Moretti 850 Tour de Monde Coupe, 10+ ex-Catalina Island rental fleet Mini Mokes, a couple of Mini Cooper Ss, two Morris Minor convertibles, a Datsun 2000 Spider, a bunch of other Minis, a couple of VW based Pumas (1 coupe, 1 convertible). It was simply an overwhelming day climbing through this stuff.
Mini Cooper and a couple of ex-Catalina Island Mini Mokes.
Thames Freighter van.
Ex-Catalina Auto Rental cars, stacked like cord wood.
Red cars are Mini Cooper S models, one early car w/ sliding windows.
Moretti 850 Tour du Monde Coupe.
Minis everywhere, vans, woody wagons, race cars, all kinds.
All classic and exotic cars are welcome, all nationalities, all makes and models. The ‘featured marque’ for the 2014 event is Mercedes-Benz, so expect a good turn out and a showing of classic as well as modern Mercedes-Benz cars.
Please scroll all the way down to see the official event announcement and to see the map of the Arrowwood Resort so you can see the approach and car show parking area.
This is a FREE event! It’s free to show your car and it’s free to attend, so come join us!
Scroll down for more info and for photos of last year’s event!
Actual physical address of the Arrowwood Resort for mapping directions:
Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center
2100 Arrowwood Lane NW
Alexandria, MN 56308
The basic question “What are the fundamental differences between the Mercedes Benz C300 Sport and C300 Luxury models?” was posed to me once again today, this time, in an email from a potential customer. I’ve been thinking about documenting the real differences with photos and posting them to the Dave Knows Cars Blog for a long time, now I’ve finally done it with photos and text explanations of the differences, read on…
Since the introduction of the ‘new body style’ C class (W204 internal designation) this has been a common question, as there are essentially two versions of the C300, a Sport and Luxury model. The differences are largely cosmetic, the only real mechanical difference is the slightly different suspension on the Sport model, but for all practical purposes, they’re the same car.
What’s the same between the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury? Some of the things that are the same include: the base prices, every interior and exterior dimension, every piece of sheet metal, leg room for all seats, trunk capacity, wheel size, gas tank capacity, the engines, horsepower and on and on.
What differences are there between the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury? As mentioned above, most differences are cosmetic, they are clearly illustrated in the photos below.
Front of the cars, most notably, the C300 grille, but also look at the lower front bumper of each car.
The grilles of these two cars are completely interchangeable. A conservative Luxury grille can be removed and a sport grille with the embedded three pointed star can be installed or vice versa. The upright hood ornament and flat Mercedes-Benz star and laurel badge are interchangeable as well. It is common for Luxury model buyers to switch out the grille for a sport grille, as many people like the Sport grille look. Many 2011 Luxury models actually come from the factory with the Sport grille installed and a flat hood badge, with the change noted on the window sticker.
The C300 Sport and Luxury are both equipped with true dual exhaust and chrome tipped dual exhaust pipes coming out the back of each car. It’s fairly unusual to see a Luxury with the rear deck lid spoiler, I was surprised to see this one equipped with it from the factory.
Standard headlamps are high output halogen on C300 Sport and Luxury models. Bi-Xenon headlamps are available as part of the C class Lighting Package (new for MY 2011) from 2008 to 2010 Bi-Xenon headlamps were included in the Premium 2 Package (P2 Package) for C class models.
C300 Sport VS. C300 Luxury Prices
The base prices of the two cars here are the same. To get a Luxury model it costs $410. That essentially includes the upright hood star and Burl Walnut interior trim (Sport comes standard with Aluminum Trim). To get Sport styling is “No Charge” (see N/C on window sticker). The window stickers for each subject car here are posted below for your reference. They are equipped differently in terms of options, but you can see that the base prices are the same.
What about the interior?
The window sticker for the Luxury above mentions “Luxury Interior” what does that really mean? C300 Luxury models come with a 4 spoke steering wheel while the Sport comes with a three spoke sport steering wheel. There is a slightly different stitch pattern on the seats between the two cars, but unless you’re looking for it, you’ll never see or notice it. All C300s with Cashmere interior will have a 4 spoke wheel, as they do not make the tan / brown wheel for that interior in a three spoke version.
Mechanical Differences: Suspension
The only real mechanical difference between the Sport and Luxury model is the suspension. The Sport model has a slightly tighter suspension system, as a result it handles a little more aggressively with less body lean when pushed hard, it’s a little more firm over bumps in the road. The Sport model sits about 5mm lower than the luxury model in the front. Both of these cars are built for markets all over the world, so don’t think that 5mm is going to make it harder for the Sport model to go through deep snow in Minnesota or that it’s going to constantly be getting scraped on driveways and pulling into parking lots. They design these cars for the lowest common denominator, for roads and conditions all over the world. Both the Sport and Luxury have plenty of ground clearance for regular driving in normal conditions.
I’ve gone on test drives in both cars, back to back, and I find very little difference to be honest. The Sport is a little stiffer, but they’re both very comfortable. The C300 Sport doesn’t begin to compare with the stiffness of a BMW 3 series, for example. I think it’s a much more comfortable car for everyday driving and it handles beautifully under all sorts of conditions.
Available Options on C300 Models Whether Sport or Luxury There are all sorts of available options for the C300, I’ve listed just a couple with the photos below… the rear deck spoiler (described above) is available for either model.
Of course there are many other available exterior options on C300 models, these are just a couple mentioned here.
Mercedes-Benz has regularly offered customers the choice between a Luxury or Sport model, across a number of car classes. I think of the two versions of the C class as more marketing tactics than anything else. The Luxury was created for the traditional Mercedes-Benz buyer, perhaps an older person interested in downsizing from an E class into something smaller. The C300 Sport was designed to compete directly with the young BMW 3 series buyer who wants something more aggressive and sporty looking.
I’ve seen this marketing concept turned on its head many times… an older woman comes in and wants “the new C class with the star in the grille” and then decides she wants the Sport model with the cool AMG wheels. I’ve seen the young couple come in and specifically ask for the Luxury model because to them “It just looks like a classic Mercedes”. Then you’ve got the folks who want the slightly softer ride of the Luxury with the Sporty look, so we switch out the Luxury grille for the Sport grille with the star in it.
The C300 Sport is clearly the more common model. To give you an idea of just how many more Sports there are out there than luxuries just look at our inventory. At any one time Feldmann Imports might have 25 – 30 new C300 sedans in stock, if we have 25, 23 of them are most likely C300 Sport models.
We’ve all read about the new facelifted 2013 GLK350 in the usual motoring press publications and online… I’ve read several synopsis of the new car, and they’re all the same, nobody ever really lays out the differences side by side, with both cars sitting next to each other, until Dave Knows Cars. This article will be laid out in a similar manner to my “Differences between the C300 Sport and C300 Luxury” article (one of the most visited and commented on posts on the Dave Knows Cars Blog).
The goal here is to educate the reader about both vehicles… the 2013 model and those GLKs built during the 2010 – 2012 model years. This should help you decide which car might be right depending upon whether you’re looking at new cars, Certified Pre Owned examples or both… this should help you weigh the options.
The 2013 GLK350 get mechanical as well as cosmetic changes. Let’s start on the outside….
The most notable cosmetic differences start in the front of the vehicle. The 2013 model gets a new grille with chrome topped horizontal bars, the front bumper and lower front fascia are all new. ALL the metal panels on the two vehicles are the same, only the plastic wrap around bumper and lower front fascia have changed. The new 2013 model gets a sporty chrome front skid plate at the very bottom of the front fascia, as well as standard LED daytime running lamps (similar to the C and E classes). The other major front end difference is the new headlamp shape / style for the 2013 models.
The rear ends of the vehicles have changed in a similar way… the 2013 gets some visual updates, but also some new technology. The rear plastic bumpers are all new on the 2013 model GLK class cars. You’ll notice that the 2013 GLK has chrome down low on the rear bumper, the red lights integrated into the rear bumpers are in a difference place and a different shape, the 2013 model also gets a new tail pipe treatment.
In addition to the visual enhancements and a new tail lamp shape, the 2013 GLK350 gets LED rear tail lamps while the 2012 models still use regular incandescent bulbs. The rear license plate is also lit by LED lamps on the new 2013 models.
Moving to the interior of the vehicle… the 2013 GLK gets many of the changes that we saw appear in the 2012 model C classes in terms of dash layout. The 2013 models get the new steering wheel we saw appear int eh 2012 model C class cars… but also, all the vents have been upgraded and their shape has been changed to emulate the SL and SLS round shaped air vents. Like the rest of the new Mercedes-Benz model line, the display within the instrument cluster is now full color, not just white pixels on a black back ground.
Since 2010 the gear shift selector for the GLK has been in the console between the seats, so the cup holders were just in front of the arm rest. Well, the new 2013 GLK models have the same electronic transmission selector, on the steering column, to control the 7 speed transmission as the GL, M, S and E class vehicles from Mercedes-Benz. This makes room for more cup holders and storage under that little roll back wood piece where the gear shift selector used to be.
Mechanical upgrades for the interior, beyond the transmission selector relocation includes the addition of the same Electro-Mechanical steering system that is found in the 2012 model ML350, it no longer uses a hydraulic power steering system. This makes the vehicle very easy to turn and maneuver at low speeds, say, in a parking lot, but the steering stiffens as speeds increase. The other big change on the inside for long time Mercedes-Benz owners is the change in position of the cruise control and turn signal stalks. For 20+ years the cruise control stalk has been the upper most stalk on the left side of the steering wheel while the lower stalk has always been the turn signals / wiper controls. Thanks to all the potential customers Mercedes Benz surveyed during the redesign of the 2012 model ML350 (mostly women, mostly Lexus owners) the positioning of these two controls were changed. Apparently, if you’re a driver of Japanese cars, you’re used to hitting the upper most stalk for teh turn signals and people were constantly turning on the cruise control when trying to signal a turn. Interestingly, this happens on almost EVERY SINGLE test drive I’ve ever been on with anyone who hasn’t owned a Mercedes-Benz before. I tell people as we’re getting int he car, they still hit the cruise control as they’re attempting to signal the first turn out of the lot.. no joke.. it happens almost every time.
So, we’ve covered all the enhancements you can SEE on the GLK.. but what lies under the hood. The new GLK350 get the newest Mercedes-Benz direct injection V6 engine that appeared inthe new ML350 in 2012 and now resides in the 2013 model E class cars. The new V6 ups its horsepower from 268HP in 2012 to 302HP for the 2013 model year… ft./lb of torque also increases…. and while we’re increasing numbers… let’s touch on the improved fuel efficiency. The new 2013 mode GLK gets a couple of more miles per gallon according to the EPA (who always have conservative estimates, far less economy that actual owners experience).
My wife recently completed a 22 hour round trip drive in her 2012 GLK from Minneapolis to Toledo, OH… she averaged a little more than 26mpg on the highway with the cruise control set at 74mph. 5 miles per hour better than the EPA states on the window sticker, so it might not be too much of a stretch to think the new GLK is capable of about 30mpg on the highway. If I have a chance to take an extended road test in a new 2013 GLK, I will report back here and let you know what I find.
So the first face lift of the GLK is out and about, available at dealers today. The new direct injection engine is certainly noteworthy, the new steering system is too, but in my eyes, not a huge deal. There will be a number of option packages for the new 2013 GLK… an Appearance Package to include 20″ wheels and stainless steel roof rails among other things. The next big thing in the GLK world will be the GLK350 BlueTEC diesel arriving in the U.S. in early 2013. There will be a lot of talk about it… it should be good for mid 30s MPG… but chances are we will sell few of them sue to the general distaste the American buyer has for diesel (unfounded of course, it’s really a pity). Those who want them are nuts about them.. those who don’t are just as nuts in their distaste for them.
My next article will focus on my thoughts about the used GLK market.. it’s been very strong since the GLKs were released…and chances are it will remain strong.
When I saw this article about a cross country road trip in a Mercedes Benz E63 I thought of the DaveKnowsCars readers who might like it. I was also afraid the guys at web2carz.com “The Original Auto & Lifestyle Online Magazine” might be having a little too much fun. How does a cross country road trip to photograph a Porsche collection in a brand new E63 AMG press car sound? Not a bad gig if you can get it.
What I like so much about this article is that it isn’t another review like you see in so many magazines and on so many other websites… this is a real world experience of a few car guys buddies taking a road trip… what’s it like to put in a lot of hours behind the wheel? What’s the interior and trunk space like? This article will shed some light on a real car guy’s real world experience in the legendary Mercedes Benz E63. The article was written by Web2Carz.com Staff Writer Andrew Krok, accompanying photos are by automotive photographer Jeremy Cliff. Reprinted in its entirety with permission.
A Very German Road Trip
A long journey to the heart of driving excitement.
We were somewhere around Fremont on the edge of Indiana when the rain began to take hold. I remember saying something like, “Are we sure these wipers don’t go any faster?” Suddenly, there was a terrible roar all around us, and the sky was full of what looked like rain. And a lot of it, at that. Here we were, no more than three hours into our hastily-planned, yet much-anticipated road trip, and God was already trying to piss us off.
Driving in blinding rain, on a highway with very narrow shoulders, in a $100,000 car that’s not your own, can be quite the harrowing ordeal.
People go on road trips all the time. They even make shitty movies about road trips, featuring Tom Green doing something so incredibly stupid, yet so incredibly expected. But our trip was different. It was a gross, physical salute to the art of driving – but only for those that can afford the cost of entry. Luckily, we sidestepped that last part.
Our faithful steed on this trip was a collection of everything right and beautiful with automobiles, ground up and run through the Mercedes-Benz brand sausage stuffer from hell. The E63 AMG would be Darth Vader’s ride if he traded his job as a Sith Lord for an upper-management position at a Fortune 500 company. 550 horsepower from a twin-turbo V-8 engine, forced into the pavement through all four wheels, burbling and cracking and growling its way across a landscape wrought with fire and death.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top, but the car was painted black, with matching black wheels, and an exhaust note that would send the animal kingdom’s most vicious predators running. It was big. It was angry. And it was about to take us 1,800 miles to the East Coast and back.
On top of being addicted to nicotine, I’m addicted to cars. In order to get my fix above and beyond the nine-to-five, I freelance for a magazine that focuses entirely on the Porsche 911. I’d been sent a mission from the head office – get to Connecticut and write a feature on a handful of incredibly-rare 911s, all currently owned by one of the largest and most highly-celebrated Porsche collectors on the planet, Richard Sloan.
So, after figuring out dates and securing a car for the trip, I set off on Friday evening to pick up two photographers and a friend. We each had a bag with a weekend’s worth of clothes, along with sleeping bags, pillows, and the like. That fit in the trunk easily. What made it difficult, though, was the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of camera equipment we also needed to bring. We were professionals, after all, and pros need egregious amounts of lenses, strobes, tripods, camera bodies, and remotes. And we made sure to put that equipment to good use, as you will notice in the wallpapers we’ve included at the end of the story.
The awfully-spacious trunk was packed, quite literally, to the brim. We managed to get the trunk lid closed on just our second re-arrangement of all the items inside, and we were still stuck with two backpacks and two pillows to shove into the passenger compartment. Despite a very full car, the E63’s air suspension kept the vehicle from looking like the rear springs had given out – clearly this car does not screw around. Nearly an hour after we began, it was now time to spend 14 hours staring straight ahead in the pitch black.
The biggest issue leaving Illinois was the traffic. At 8 o’clock on a Friday night, every highway was filled with lazy drivers, shuffling along at whatever speed they deemed appropriate. The laser-guided cruise control in the E63 was getting a workout, speeding up and slowing down for every idiot in the left lane who can’t be bothered to move to the right.
Indiana wasn’t much better. It was still early enough in the night to where some commuters and vacationers were on the road, but once we moved past the cities and out into more sparsely-populated areas, we were able to stretch our legs and let the cruise control do its thing. That’s when our trip was renamed the AMG Inclement Weather Driving Academy.
Driving in blinding rain, on a highway with very narrow shoulders, in a $100,000 car that’s not your own, can be quite the harrowing ordeal. But Mercedes really has their shit together in this regard, because it’s not like they want you to crash the damn thing. Between the Lane Keep Assist and the fat, grippy tires, the E63 pushed forward with nary a complaint.
We had stopped for gas the first time right before we entered Ohio. Thanks to an obscenely low fuel cost, nearly a full tank’s worth of premium cost us under 60 dollars. Not too shabby, considering a 22-gallon fuel tank translates to a fair chunk of change if you’re not the typical, well-heeled M-B buyer.
I-80 in Ohio, for those of you who haven’t driven it, is boring. Very boring. And there’s almost always some degree of construction that creates miles of backlogged cars and trucks. Thanks to our late departure, though, this wasn’t a problem. It was past midnight, and we were alone, save for the occasional long-haul truckers that do little more than give us reason to change lanes.
The E63 took everything we could throw at it, and it powered through without even a modicum of hesitation. Aside from the rain, which is nobody’s fault, the car exhibited no strange issues. Except for that whistle. That stupid whistle, undoubtedly a loose piece of trim somewhere underhood, which sounded like a pissed-off bird. Who knows, maybe there actually was a bird under there. We were making good time, so we opted not to check.
I never thought I’d catch myself saying, “Oh thank goodness, we’re in Pennsylvania,” but when it’s going on three in the morning on Saturday – and you haven’t slept since Thursday night – you’re thankful for whatever state you’re about to cross into. It’s one step closer to getting some sleep. More than that, I was the one with my name on the papers for the car; anything that happened on the trip was on me. Fear is an excellent stimulant; every time my eyelids got heavy, I imagined my co-drivers Billy or Jeremy careening off the road, sending us all to a Thelma & Louise-style death.
With Pennsylvania came our first relief from the rain. As we moved further into the Appalachian mountain range, however, all the water vapor sitting on the ground turned into fog. Thick, penetrating fog that brought visibility down under 100 feet. With another thin shoulder and a fear of somebody not seeing us, we turned on the rear fog light and pushed forward, driving straight into the literal unknown.
The GPS on the map proved an excellent co-driver, alerting us to slowdowns on the route, as well as zooming in far enough to tell us when sharp curves lay ahead, obscured by the ground-level cloud cover.
As we made our final push out of Pennsylvania and into New York, both the fog and rain subsided. But it’s not like the car gods were ready to let us have fun. Nope, now it was time for early-morning traffic. Thankfully, we took a bypass around New York City, but even the White Plains congestion proved difficult to manage.
Then we met the worst driver on the planet. This person (because being gender-specific, while accurate, will likely be seen as misogynistic) in a Toyota RAV4 did everything in their power to bounce between the edges of the lane like a bowling ball rolling down an alley with the bumpers up. She even cut off an unmarked police cruiser, but he didn’t pull her over. It made me wonder why I cared about speed limits so much. Thankfully, the E63 didn’t give two shits what the speed limit was, as we made sure to use every inch of available power to move as far away from that RAV4 as possible.
Connecticut, our destination, proved to be the most brilliant part of the entire road trip. For one entire day, we had no rain and no traffic. Combine those factors with hilly terrain and speed limits that were generously high, and we finally got to have some good ol’-fashioned back road fun. The all-wheel-drive did an excellent job of keeping the E63’s shiny side up, and the brilliantly precise steering put the vehicle exactly where we expected it to – not necessarily a trait in every 4,500-pound luxury sedan.
As much as we wanted to spend the whole weekend driving, most of the time in Connecticut was spent facilitating the photo shoot for the magazine feature. After a single night’s sleep at a Days Inn, where we accidentally stole a pillow, we finished up our required photography and set out for Illinois. With significantly more seat time under our belts, and save for a little bit of rain again in Ohio (seriously, screw you, Ohio), we had a clear and straight shot back home.
The E63 kept pushing the entire way, showing absolutely no signs of relenting in its mission to try and earn us all speeding tickets. Even when I made it back home after dropping everybody off, a mere twelve hours after departing New England, I struggled to get any meaningful sleep. I was just too wired up, too excited to drive the car even more. I may have even dreamt about it. The car is just that exemplary; it invades your dream-space. It’s like Freddy Kreuger, minus all the murder.
Did we reach any sort of meaningful level of self-reflection, wherein the trip itself became an allegory for all the great and wonderful things about life? No. Did anything crazy happen to either the car or any of its drivers? No. Did we hit the speed limiter? We wish.
So what, exactly, did the trip teach us then? Well, it taught us that the E63 AMG is one of the best road-trip cars you can buy. It’s everything you need – power, luxuriousness, fun-factor – turned up to 11. The gas mileage isn’t abhorrent (roughly $300 for the entire 1,800-mile trip), it’s so comfortable you want to spend even more time inside it, and there’s enough trunk space for two professional photographers’ worth of equipment.
That’s also what makes it a bit of a sad story. Most E63 owners are well-off enough to the point where a road trip seems foolish compared to round-trip airfare, so the cars will more likely see duty as suburb-crawlers and grocery-getters. I certainly didn’t see any other performance luxury vehicles being driven across the country on my travels, but I’m secretly hoping that they’re out there, somewhere, disregarding efficiency and having an absolute blast in the process.
I had the opportunity to put a brand new 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 through its paces yesterday. As the new ‘entry level’ Mercedes, this much hyped and long awaited front wheel driver did not disappoint. My full written review of the new CLA will appear in the next print version of the SL Market Letter. As you probably know, I’m doing most of my writing there these days, and most of my blogging over at the SL Market Letter website. While we spend most of our time on classic and collector Mercedes at the SL Market Letter, we do our fair share of reporting on new vehicles; road tests, reviews and general news coming out of Mercedes-Benz.
Interested in more info about the SL Market Letter? We don’t just cover SLs, but all collectible Mercedes-Benz cars! The publication has been in business for more than 30 years and is generally considered the foremost authority on Mercedes Benz collector car prices and price trends. There are hundreds of classified ads in every issue… from million dollar 300SL Gullwings to affordable classics. There are modern cars like late model AMG machines, sedans, coupes convertibles and everything in between. Check out more information about the SL Market Letter by clicking here.
2013 marked the second year for the Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally, open to interesting cars more than 20 years old, the event is a leisurely two day driving tour covering about 500 miles of scenic Minnesota and Wisconsin back roads. I needed an excuse to put a few hundred miles on my 1973 Mercedes 280C last year with other like minded car enthusiasts, so I came up with the inaugural event last year. This year turned out to be extra fun behind the wheel of a 1984 Porsche 911 Targa. The skies were threatening enough all weekend, I never took the top off, but the roads were twisty and smooth, I don’t know that I’ve ever had such fun on public roads.
(A Little Walleye 1000 video from behind the wheel of Tobin’s Porsche 911… narration begins at about 30 seconds… thanks to Kool and the Gang for the music playing on the CD player).
The weekend of June 8-9, 2013 marked the 2nd Annual Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally. The spirit of this event is one of laid back camaraderie among people who have a passion for vintage cars.
The idea is that the guy with the MG Midget with a rusty door and a fender in primer is as welcome as the guy who just wrote the last check for his 300SL Gullwing restoration and wants to put some miles on his new million dollar car. The motto of the event it ‘Check your tires, check your oil, check your ego at the starting line and let’s go!’ Everyone is equal, no matter the size of their engine or their pocketbook. No jerks allowed.
SL Market Letter editor and publisher, John Olson, came along with his very original 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL fintail. SL Market Letter subscribers on the event included David Steingas of Wayzata, MN who put his 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL through it’s paces with some very spirited driving. Frankly, I didn’t know a 280SL could do some of the things he was doing with his car as I tried to keep up in my 1984 Porsche 911… apparently I have a lot to learn about what Pagoda SLs can and can’t do. SLML subscribers Dick and Marty Olson were on the tour with their 1968 280SL, silver with dark green hard top. SLML subscribers Bruce Kelly of Lake Country Classics in Minneapolis was the navigator for Warren Rauch in their W126 chassis 500SEL, not what you normally think of as a rally car… but they were probably two of the most comfortable people on the event.
Other cars on the event included several 1980s vintage Porsche 911s, a 1965 Porsche 356 a 1970 Triumph GT6+, even a Citroen 2CV that made it just fine despite having far fewer cylinders than the rest of the field.
While not technically a true rally (there are no checkpoints or timed sections) the Walleye 1000 is simply a chance to get out and drive some great roads in our vintage cars, stop at some nice restaurants and visit some quirky roadside attractions with new and old friends. A car show is created each time we roll into a small town along the way.
Stops included Slippery’s Restaurant along the Mississippi River in Wabasha, MN, the site where several scenes of the movie ‘Grumpy Old Men’ were filmed as well as the National Eagle Center in downtown Wabasha. Saturday night accommodations were in La Crosse, WI, again, along the Mississippi River where we had dinner at Huck Finn’s Restaurant on the water. Special parking was secured for the group, it seemed wherever we pulled up there was an impromptu car show.
Sunday began early with more great, very twisty roads, up and down the bluffs along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River. We traversed roads with names like ‘Pretzel Pass’ and ‘Alligator Back Rd.’ the roads were great fun, taking concentration and a good bit of caution as there were no guardrails to save you from a mistake. While not a speed contest by any measure, there were plenty of opportunities for spirited driving for those who were so inclined.
The most bizarre stop on the route had to be headquarters of F.A.S.T. Corporation in Sparta, WI. F.A.S.T. stands for “Fiberglass Animals Shapes and Trademarks.” In business for almost 40 years, this company is responsible for 75-80% of all fiberglass attractions in the United States. Everything from ice cream cones and elephants to gigantic Paul Bunyan figures and Coke bottles. There is a huge grass field behind their plant building that they call the ‘mold yard’. All of the molds for all of the projects they’ve completed are strewn about like an alien amusement park. Visitors are welcome to browse through this creepy landscape of lichen covered leprechauns and circus animals. There is a photo opportunity around every corner which some of us took full advantage of.
Elmer’s Car and Toy Museum (and Salvage Yard!) in Fountain City, WI was another stop that really defies description. There is a salvage yard full of cars from the 40s – 80s covering acres and acres, but it’s the eclectic car and toy collection that is housed in all of the barns on the property that is most amazing. Over 100 cars and between 600 and 700 pedal cars, toys, dolls, wagons, automobilia of all kinds. It simply can’t be described. Elmer himself literally invites you to go inside his house to see the Ford Model A sitting in his family room, just off the kitchen. It must have been taken apart to get it inside there where it was then reassembled.
Added safety and convenience is right behind the group the entire way, friend and past MBCA Twin Cities Section President Dave Bortner brings up the rear in his GMC Yukon with beautiful hydraulic car trailer in tow, just in case someone does break down and needs a lift to the next bit of civilization. Dave is a great sport for taking on this duty, especially considering he has about the nicest 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 that he could bring along instead. For the second year in a row there were no mechanical failures to speak of. One of the 280SLs did have a fouled plug late Saturday afternoon, but it wasn’t anything removal and a little cleaning couldn’t take care of.
The 2014 event is already in the works and we’d love to have more participants next year. There were just 11 cars on this year’s event, the event could easily handle double that. We’d love to have participants from all over the Midwest come up to Minneapolis for the event, SLML subscribers are welcomed and encouraged to sign up. We depart from somewhere in the Minneapolis / Twin Cities metro area Saturday morning and return Sunday by about 6:00pm for the finisher’s dinner. Next year’s event will be held the second weekend in June – Saturday, June 14 – Sunday, June 15, 2014. Visit the Walleye 1000 for more information and pictures of the 2013 and 2012 event!
Mercedes Benz, like many other automobile manufacturers bundle common options for their vehicles into packages. Mercedes-Benz has used their Premium Package line up over the last 5 years or so as their container for large bundles of various options, rather than being a set of options for a specific purpose.
Some manufacturers have a ‘Sport Package’ with specific options like tuned suspension and bigger wheels or a ‘Winter Package’ with a heated steering wheel and heated seats and exterior mirrors. Mercedes has similar packages, but their most common option packages are the Premium Packages.
Mercedes-Benz Premium Packages bundle common amenities that have historically high ‘take rates’ by buyers, things most people want in their cars. Mercedes Benz offers a Premium 1 Package, Premium 2 Package and in some cases, a Premium 3 Package. They’re generally abbreviated as P1 Package, P2 Package and P3 Package. For this article we will be exploring the contents of the P1 and P2 Packages on the 2013 model year Mercedes-Benz E350 Sedan.
It’s important to realize that Premium Package contents vary by vehicle class with Mercedes-Benz, and even within body style within class. The E class sedan’s P1 Package is different than the E class wagon’s P1 Package and the E class Cabriolet’s Package is different than both of those. To further complicate things, the P1 Package often changes slightly on each class and model every single year, so there is a lot to keep track of, especially if you’re considering a Certified Pre Owned vehicle… the 2010 will have a different P1 Package than the 2011.
2013 Mercedes Benz E class Premium 1 Package (P01 Package):
COMAND with hard-drive-based navigation, 3D maps, 10GB Music Register and MB Apps compatibility
harman/kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound system with Dolby Digital 5.1
Gracenote media databaseand iPod / MP3 media interface
SiriusXM Radio, SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Weather (with 6 mo service)
Enhanced Voice Control for audio, phone and navigation
Active multicontour driver seat (E63 only)
Heated and Active Ventilated front seats (heated seats standard on E550; package adds Active Ventilated front seats)
Heated front seats (E350 and E400 only)
Power rear window sunshade
What does the Premium 1 Package cost?
E350 / E400 Hybrid: $4,000
E63 AMG: Standard
One interesting piece of information that most people are surprised by when I tell them… I have probably seen hundreds of 2013 E classes, I have NEVER seen one without the Premium 1 Package. Some people say they don’t need or want navigation, I don’t need the upgraded sound system, I want a ‘base E class’ (usually in order to keep the price of the car down, in the end, it’s always about money). They simply don’t exist… or at least they don’t exist in very large numbers because very few people want such a basic car. If you do want a non P1 Package car, your best bet is to place a factory order for it, build it as you want it and hope you never have to trade it in or sell it as a used car because it will be a tough sell indeed.
As far as the Premium 2 Package goes… the P02 package always includes everything in the P01 Package plus some other things.
2013 Mercedes Benz E class Premium 2 Package (P02 Package):
Bi-Xenon headlamps with Active Curve Illumination, Adaptive Highbeam Assist, headlamp washing system and corner-illuminating front lamps
There are the packages, but what if you want the KEYLESS-GO option but you don’t need the entire P02 Package? Some options are available as stand alone options, KEYLESS-GO for the 2013 E class happens to be one of them, so it is possible to get a P01 Package car with KEYLESS-GO as a stand alone option, it save you about $1,500. There are other such examples of stand alone options that come bundled in other Premium Packages, some classes offer a special Lighting Package which will give you Bi-Xenon head lamps, unrelated to the P02 Package. Again, there are always exceptions and if you dig all the way into it, things can get complicated quickly.
A short, in person visit to a dealership with a row of new E classes to look at will make your life easier. If you don’t want to be ‘bothered’ by a salesperson, visit a dealership after hours. If you just walk down a row of new cars, look at the window stickers, see how the cars are actually built and optioned, the smoke will clear for you very quickly. You can spend forever on mbusa.com building your ideal car, but you’ll be disappointed when you call a dealer only to find that you’ve built a unicorn that doesn’t exist in any dealer inventory. This is extremely common, people submit the exact car they’ve built online to me via email and, in most cases, there is an easier, better or cheaper way to get what they want on a car without having to also pay for a bunch of stuff they don’t really want.
I’ve never cared for ‘base price’ advertising with cars… you can say an E class ‘starts at $53,500 (per the window sticker above), but if I’ve never seen an E class without the $4,000 P01 Package, and they all get the ‘destination and delivery’ charge added to them… any E class you’d actually want to own is $58,000+ in 2013.
In the end, it depends upon each potential owner… what do you, the guy who’s about to buy a $60,000+ car want? Are you looking for the best deal (read, cheapest car), do you want what you want, exactly how you want it? Maybe a factory order is best for you then. Try a European delivery if you want. If you want a nicely equipped car that makes sense, you can usually find it in your local dealer’s inventory. If they don’t have what you want, they can probably perform a ‘locate’ or ‘dealer trade’, they can find what you want and truck it in for you, but remember, the ‘best deal’ is always on what’s in stock… Mercedes-Benz will make you a pink E class with gold plated wheels if you want them to, with money, you can buy anything… but for most of us, a P01 Package E class is all the car we’ll ever need.
I am beginning to compile a comprehensive list of all the Premium 1 and Premium 2 Package contents for the most common Mercedes-Benz vehicle classes starting with the 2008 model year. I will add them to the blog soon.