Category Archives: Featured Article

Thoughts and insight about the car business

Walleye-1000-Vintage-Rally-Featured

2015 Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally – Recap and Photos

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.

Some photos below and almost 200 photos on a flickr page here.
Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally Porsche 356

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Videos from the 2015 Intermarque Spring Kick Off Car Show in Osseo, MN

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).
Intermarque-Spring-Kick-Off-on-YouTube

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.

Schramm-Barn Find Catalina Mini moke collection

Hoard of 35+ Cars Including Ex-Catalina Island Rental Fleet Mini Mokes Finally Sees Light of Day – Most For Sale

“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.

Have a look a 100+ photos on the Dave Knows Cars Flickr page.

Click here for a a PDF of the Excel spreadsheet of the inventory of all the cars and basic descriptions.

Click here for an a 4 page PDF ‘map’ of each barn and location of each car, so you can figure out what’s in all of the photos (#s on map correspond to #s on inventory sheet)

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.
Austin Mini Moke Collection Barn Find
Mini Cooper and a couple of ex-Catalina Island Mini Mokes.

Barn Find Thames Frieghter
Thames Freighter van.

 

Barn Find Austin Mini Moke
Ex-Catalina Auto Rental cars, stacked like cord wood.

Barn Find Austin Mini Moke

Barn Find Austin Mini Moke
Red cars are Mini Cooper S models, one early car w/ sliding windows.

Barn Find Austin Mini Moke

Barn Find Austin Mini Moke

Barn Find Moretti 850 Coupe
Moretti 850 Tour du Monde Coupe.

Moretti 850 Coupe

Barn Find Austin Mini Moke
Minis everywhere, vans, woody wagons, race cars, all kinds.

VW Puma Convertible
White Datsun 2000, red Puma Convertible.

VW Puma Coupe
Purple Puma Coupe.

Barn Find Datsun 2000 Roadster

Barn Find MGB

Barn Find Triumph Herald
Triumph Herald w/ detachable hard top.

Mini Cooper Barn Find

1969 Austin 7 Mini
1959 Austin 7.

Morris Minor Convertible
Early Morris Minor Convertible.

Mini Ranger Kit Car
Mini Ranger kit car.

Vanden Plas Princess Mini Cooper pick up and Vanden Plas Princess.

Mini Cooper Race car
Mini Cooper race car.

Mini Cooper S Parts
Tons of Mini parts and pieces everywhere.

 

“Keels and Wheels” in Alexandria, MN! Speed Reunion Vintage Car Show and Chain of Lakes Classic Boat Show

2014 marks the third year for the ‘Speed Reunion’ vintage and exotic car show being held in conjunction with the ‘Chain of Lakes Classic Boat Show’ at the Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, MN.
speed-reunion-2014

See vintage and exotic cars and a huge classic boat display. Classic wood and fiberglass boats will be displayed on land as well as in the water.

The event will be held Saturday, July 12 from 9:00am – 2:00pm see the flyer below for all the necessary info or DOWNLOAD a pdf version of the flyer to share with your car club!

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

Approach map for show cars…
speed-reunion-alexandria-mn

Event photos from the Speed Reunion 2013:
Speed Reunion Car Show Alexandria

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Differences Between Mercedes Benz C300 Sport and Luxury Models

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.

The two cars illustrating the differences here are both Iridium Silver, 2011 model Mercedes-Benz C300 4matic models.

Front of the cars, most notably, the C300 grille, but also look at the lower front bumper of each car.

C300 Luxury: Traditional type Mercedes-Benz grille, upright star hood ornament, round fog lights integrated into lower air dam with slatted black lower grille.

C300 Sport: Aggressive sport grille with embedded star (a la DTM C class racing cars, SLS AMG, SL, CL, etc), flat hood badge, LED daytime running lamps integrated into more aggressive AMG body styling down low, black mesh venting in front airdam.

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.

C300 Sport: Pronounced AMG body styling along the rocker panels and under the doors running from behind the front fender to in front of the rear wheel well.

C300 Luxury: Softer, more conservative, less pronounced rocker panel / under door trim running the length of the car.

C300 Sport: 17″ 5 spoke sport wheel (new style for 2011).

C300 Luxury: 17″ 5 twin spoke wheel.Standard wheels on the C300 4matic Sport and Luxury are both 17″ and they are the same width all the way around… no staggered width, or wider in the back than in the front… they’re the same all the way around the vehicle.

 

C300 Sport: Clean, painted rear bumper, aggressive lower rear underside ground effects.

C300 Luxury: Chrome strip accent along rear bumper, more conservative underbody ground effects, less visible (the trunk lid spoiler is optional equipment, this Luxury model happens to have it).

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.

C300 Sport: Headlamps are ‘blacked out’. The little piece of plastic trim between the actual surface of the light and the glass covering is black plastic on the Sport models.

C300 Luxury: Headlamps are surrounded with mirror-like silver trim.

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.

C300 Sport: Window sticker of Sport subject car, notice “N/C” for Sport Package. Most 2011 Sport models I see seem to be built with the Burl Walnut Wood option.

C300 Luxury: MSRP of our C300 Luxury subject car. $410 cost for wood trim and the hood star.

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.

18″ AMG twin spoke wheels are a popular upgrade now available on 4matic C300 Sport models, in years past these wheels were staggered and therefore only available on rear wheel drive models. From 2010 forward they’ve been available on C300 Sport models, not available from the factory on the Luxury model.

Panorama Sunroof: Notice the entire roof of this C300 is black glass. This is the Panorama Sunroof option. A large glass panel that opens all the way up. When it’s closed, the front and rear passengers can look up and see the sky. It makes the back seat feel quite roomy and bright.

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.

GLK350-difference-2012-2013-facelift

The Differences Between the 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK350 and the 2012 GLK350 In Pictures

2013 Mercedes GLK350

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….

2013 Mercedes Benz GLK350 Palladium Silver

Our subject 2013 Mercedes GLK350 in Palladium Silver, this is a fairly standard car, with the new style standard wheel and NO appearance package. This is the standard GLK350 ‘look’ for MY 2013.

2012 Mercedes Benz GLK350 Arctic White

This is the standard equipment 2012 Mercedes Benz GLK350, NO appearance package, this car has the standard GLK wheels for 2012.

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.

2013 mercedes GLK350 changes

Have a close look at our 2013 GLK350 here: New grille, front bumper and lower front fascia, notice the new LED daytime running lamps which replace the standard round fog lamps on the 2012 model GLK350. Fancy new headlamp treatment too.

2012 Mercedes GLK350 head lamps

This is the 2012 model GLK350… different grille, lower front bumper and fascia are all white plastic… no chrome, round fog lamps instead of the LED daytime running lamps, different headlamp shape.

2013 Mercedes Benz GLK350 Wheel

This is the new, standard equipment, 19″ wheel for the 2013 model GLK350. A larger 20″ wheel is available if you opt for the “Appearance Package”.

2012 Mercedes GLK350 19" Wheel

This is the standard 19″ wheel for GLK vehicles built between the 2010 model year and 2012.

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.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 LED tail lamps

The rear end of the new 2013 GLK350 reveals a new plastic bumper, the lower part of the bumper incorporates a chrome ‘skid plate’ and new tail pipe treatment. New rear tail lamp design boasts LEDs.

2012 Mercedes GLK350 rear styling

The rear end of the 2012 GLK appears a bit more simple and less stylized. The tail pipes don’t seem as integrated here, different tail lamp 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.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 LED tail lamps

The 2013 model GLK gets a new tail lamp, LED tail lamps in fact. They light up more quickly when the brake pedal is applied and LEDs last longer than traditional bulbs, while using less energy.

2012 Mercedes GLK tail lamp

The original 2010 – 2012 GLK350 tail lamp, uses regular incandescent bulbs.

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.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 new interior

Big changes on the inside of the new 2013 GLK… notice the vents, steering wheel and full color instrument display. If you look closely, you will see there is NO gear shift selector on the console… read on for more info about that!

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.

2013 Mercedes GLK interior

This is the interior of the 2013 GLK… no more gear shift selector in the console, now it’s on the steering column like most of the rest of the MB product line. This leaves more room for additional storage and cup holders under the wood roll back compartment in front of the climate control

2012 Mercedes GLK interior

This is the 2012 GLK dash and interior. Doesn’t seem quite as intricate or rich looking, still a great vehicle though, just a different look.

2012 Mercedes GLK350 interior

Transmission selector of the 2012 model, like the 2010 and 2011 models, are situated in the console, good cup holders are right behind the gear shifter.

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.

2013 mercedes GLK turn signal placement

Changed after 25+ years, the turn signal stalk is the upper most stalk on the left of the 2013 GLK350, the cruise control is below. The little stalk in between the two is the power steering column adjustment.

2012 Mercedes GLK turn signals

This is a shot of the 2012 turn signal / cruise control placement. This has been the standard placement of cruise and turn signal stalks since at least the early 1980s as far as I can tell.

2013 Mercedes GLK350 gear shift placement

Notice the steering column mounted transmission selector… this new placement gives you new space for additional cup holders and more storage in the roll back console area.

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).

2013 Mercedes GLK gas mileage

A shot of the window sticker of the 2013 GLK350… according to the EPA the car gets 19mpg in the city and 24mpg on the highway, about 3 miles per gallon more than the outgoing 2012 model.

2012 Mercedes GLK gas mileage

This is the window sticker of the 2012 model… 16mpg city, 21 mpg highway, combined fuel economy of 18MPG. Real owners always get better than these estimates.

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.

amg_roadtrip

A Very German Road Trip: The web2carz.com Team Experiences the Mercedes Benz E63 AMG

Mercedes E63 amg review web2carz
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.

Mercedes E63 amg review web2carz

The E63 is a like a bear, in that it’s pretty cute and cuddly … until it decides to rip your face off.

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.

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This is roughly mid-way through packing the trunk. There’s still plenty of space!

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.

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Being able to see the road ahead was a luxury, given the awful weather we encountered.

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.

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We spent most of the photo shoot getting high.

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.

Here is a link to the original article as it appeared on Web2Carz.com.

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2014 Mercedes CLA250 Video Review – CLA250 Looks Good in Jupiter Red, Drives Even Better!

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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.

I shot three videos of the Jupiter Red CLA250 I borrowed from my friends at Sears Imports Mercedes Benz in Minnetonka, MN car, one was an exterior walk around, the other covered the interior (and there’s more room in there than you might think), the third was a detail of the inline 4 cylinder turbocharged engine. The exterior walk around video is embedded below, you can check out links to the others at the SL Market Letter Website.

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.

2nd Annual Walleye 1000 Vintage Rally Video and Photos! Participants Drive Twisty Roads Through Wisconsin and Minnesota and Visit Crazy Roadside Attractions Along the Way

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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.

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Participants go over route directions and maps before departure.

(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.

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“Spirit of the Walleye” award winners, Jim and Kim Larsen… who completed the rally in their Citroen 2CV with 1/4 – 1/2 of the cylinders as the rest of us with big smiles on their faces the whole time.

Visit the Walleye 1000 website for more info and to see photos of the event!

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.

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Authentic, as usual, Olson with his ’63 300SEL sedan, one of the few models the Mercedes factory actually used for rallying in the early 1960s.

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.

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Group photo over looking Lake Pepin from the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River.

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.

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Steingas navigates a twisty Wisconsin country road in his ’71 280SL.

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.

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Tobin’s 911 among the ‘fish out of water’.

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.

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Olson’s fintail next to a fiberglass fish mold at F.A.S.T. Corp., Sparta, WI

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.

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Hoping the Porsche 356 isn’t mistaken for a piece of cheese by the giant mouse.

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.

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Elmer’s Car and Toy Museum, Fountain City, WI. Ron and Karen Scott’s very nice ’80 450SLC in foreground.

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.

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Diagnosing a fouled spark plug Saturday afternoon, this was the extent of the mechanical failures of the weekend.

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!

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Mercedes Benz GLK250 BlueTEC Diesel Video! Great Gas Mileage and Long Engine Life… Classic Mercedes Diesel

Click on the 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK250 BlueTEC diesel video above to see a walk around of the new diesel GLK . These  long awaited GLK diesels have started to arrive at dealer showrooms! While they have just 200 horsepower they pack a whopping 369 ft./Lbs. of torque… all from a miserly turbo charged inline 4 cylinder engine capable of well over 30mpg on the highway.

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How do those horsepower and torque numbers match up, what do they mean? Consider the fact that a 2013 Mercedes E350 produces 302 horsepower, but has just 273 Ft./Lbs. of torque… with

The EPA estimates printed on the window sticker show 24mpg city 33mpg highway with a combined number of 28mpg. Chances are you’ll get closer to 40mpg with cruise control on the highway.

This particular car is Pebble Grey with a black interior and very well equipped. It has the P1 Package (Premium 1 Package), Multimedia Package, Lighting Package, Lane Tracking Package as well as KEYLESS GO and a number of other stand alone options.

The response to these vehicles has been great so far… hopefully supply will keep up with demand.

Have a look at the engine detail video I took just a few minutes after this one, it will give you a look under the hood at the 4 cylinder inline, turbo charged engine. Link to that video on Youtube here.