Tag Archives: Dave Tobin

Dave Tobin-Vanagon-Westfalia

Adventure, Love, Loss and Redemption in VW Bus: How I was Reunited with my Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia 12 Years After Selling It

Dave Tobin-Vanagon-Westfalia

You might ask yourself, ‘What does this post have to do with Mercedes-Benz vehicles?’ The short answer is, nothing at all, but this is a story worth telling.

This blog post isn’t about Mercedes-Benz cars or SUVs, it’s not about ‘great deals’ or 1.99% APR financing. This is about experience, human experience and adventure on the open road of America. It’s about deciding to do something you’ve always wanted to do and doing it… but of course, like all things on the Dave Knows Cars Blog… it revolves around a vehicle, a very special vehicle… a 1982 Volkswagen Vanagon Westfalia Camper. For those who aren’t familiar with this VW, the Westfalia is a standard Vanagon that has had a camper conversion done by the German company, Westfalia. Each VW Westfalia is equipped with a pop up camper top, two queen sized beds (one in the top, one in the bottom), a two burner gas stove with propane tank mounted under the van, a sink with electric faucet and 13 gallon water tank, a refrigerator, two fold out tables, swiveling front seats (so you can turn them around and hang out in the back), cabinets, drawers, a closet with rod for hanging clothes and vanity mirror, power inverter with 110V electrical wall outlet as well as exterior electrical and water ‘hook ups’… essentially a small house on wheels.

It has an air cooled engine, not unlike the engines in Volkswagen Beetles of the late 1970s, this van weighs about 4,000 pounds and has a whopping 67 Horsepower (not a joke), I was passed by a hay truck in Pennsylvania once, going up a hill (that’s not a joke either). It has a 4 speed manual transmission.

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Dave Tobin, 25 years old in 2000... just beginning the great AdVANture.

You might want to go to the bathroom and grab a beverage, and maybe a box of Kleenex if you’re the sentimental type (like me) then start reading…

It was 1999, I was 24 years old, living in downtown Chicago. After just a couple of years at my first job out of college, I realized I was in a soul crushing, dead end, corporate black hole. I started squirreling away money with the intention of buying a Westfalia, quitting my job and going on the road… with no particular destination in mind, the roads I would travel, back roads only, were to be my destination…

After looking around and making some calls, all over the country, I found an ’82 Westfalia in Greeley Colorado on AutoTrader for $4,600. It looked completely original and intact in the photos. I called the guy, a college professor, and liked what I heard. I always thought I’d get a later wasserboxer model, but this example just seemed to speak to me. I booked a one way ticket to Denver, took a wad of hundred dollar bills and flew away.

My brother was living in Vail, CO at the time, so he had come down to pick me up at the airport to take me out to see this van in Greeley. I didn’t have much of a backup plan, if the van was bad or rusty or not what I wanted, I would have to buy another plane ticket, but when I got there, I was very pleasantly surprised.

Original white paint, ZERO rust, everything worked (except maybe the heat), all the accessories and screens were intact… the only thing missing was the front table top… not a big deal. I gave the guy his full $4,600 asking price, which seemed completely fair at the time. I got in and headed back to Chicago. It was late February or early March if I recall so it was a cold ride home but I was smiling and giggling to myself most of the way, I couldn’t believe it… I couldn’t believe I was driving this thing. I had never driven one in my life, in fact, it was the first one I had ever really been in.

Back in Chicago I prepared for the trip for about the next year… saving money, going through the van to make sure it was really ready for months on the open road. In March of 2000 I walked into my boss’s office with a piece of paper, my resignation, and put it in front of him. It really caught him off guard, he had spent a lot of time mentoring me, showing me the ropes of the international import export business. I was on the fast track in the organization and he just couldn’t understand why I’d ever want to leave. “Dave, if you play your cards right you’ll have your own branch in a couple of years, why are you doing this?”

I didn’t have a good answer, “It just isn’t what I want to do” is all I could come up with. I told him I was going to travel the country in a VW bus and then maybe go to graduate school… the truth is, I didn’t know what I’d do after the trip… if it ever ended, I was kind of hoping I’d figure it out on my way.

I left in mid-April of 2000… equipped with a lap top, digital camera (1.5 mega pixels!) and a 56k cellular modem I could hook up to my cell phone. I planned to take pictures and write a new web page entry at the end of each day’s travels, upload it to my website so friends, family and former colleagues could follow along (this was before the days of blogs… at least I had never heard of a blog at this point). Of course, everyone thought I was insane. ‘Why is he doing this?’ they chattered amongst themselves.

I turned 26 years old about a week into the trip. It was a big birthday… because it was the year 2000. All my life I remember thinking… in the year 2000 I’ll be 26, man, that’s a long way off, that’s old, etc. I spent the next 6 months traveling the country… on state routes, East, West, all over. Route 66 to L.A., PCH up the CA coast, all over.

People followed updates on the website to see what I was doing, where I was. I met all sorts of people and did all sorts of things, from planting corn on an Amish farm in Pennsylvania with a team of Belgian horses to boiling crabs for dinner on a California beach with a crab fisherman, I visited the ‘Largest Totem Pole it the World’ in Foyil, OK, I excavated Anasazi ruins in Arizona, I drove 17 Mile Drive in Monterey, CA and attended the 50th Anniversary Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance… all sorts of things. See all the details of the vehicle, what was packed into it and the trip itself by visiting the Official AdVanture USA website.

Tobin-Volkswagen Westfalia Amish-Farm

Planting corn with a team of Amish mules, Lancaster County, PA, May 2000.

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Oklahoma Route 66, 'World's Largest Totem Pole' June 2000.

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Westfalia at an IN-N-OUT Burger, Los Angeles, CA, July 2000.

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Rubbing elbows with the beautiful people, Ralph Lauren in his 1936 Bugatti Type 57 Atlantique, Pebble Beach, CA August 2000.

I dubbed the trip “The AdVANture, an adventure in a van”. The newest version of the website and travelogue can be found here: Check out the AdVANture Travelogue: 12,000 miles on the back roads of America in a VW Westfalia
Although this newest iteration isn’t totally complete at this point.

In mid-September I was back in Colorado… in Vail, high altitude for an air cooled VW. After a few days with my brother I went out to start the van… it turned over, but wouldn’t fire. So with the help of his neighbor, an Australian VW mechanic, and a timing light… we reset the ignition timing to run at high altitude. I was to set it back to normal, sea level timing that evening once I reached Western Kansas.

Things didn’t go well that day… I was too low, too fast and to make a long story short, the oil light went on, my rear view mirror filled with blue / white smoke… I had blown the engine.

Volkswagen-Westfalia-Tow

Towing it away, blown engine and all... I wouldn't drive the Westfalia again for almost 12 years.

Luckily I wasn’t far from my parents’ house in Kansas, about three hours away. A tow truck came to get me and we towed the Westy back to my parents’ house. My dad had the nicest 1991 Vanagon Westfalia I had ever seen at the time, it had about 20,000 miles on it, he had purchased it because he thought we’d go camping together in our vans, but we never did. He ended up selling it. I can only think what someone would pay for that van today.

Anyway… I sold the van to my father, sort of a ‘mercy sale’. It had a blown engine and he was generous enough to give me $2000 for it and a plane ticket back to Chicago… I got on with my life.

The AdVANture was a wonderful experience, the people I met, the things I saw. It all felt like a dream in the end.

My father ordered a GEX engine for the Westy, had it installed and eventually sold it, in 2002, to a young kid in his 20s not far from my folk’s home in Kansas.

So ten years went by… life happened, I moved to Minneapolis, got married, bought a house, started working for Mercedes-Benz (something I wish I would have done years earlier). I’ve owned some vintage cars since… mostly vintage Mercedes, an Alfa Romeo… but in the back of my mind VW campers always lurk… and so do I , on VW forums like ‘the Samba’ discussion boards, the classifieds. I’ve always been impressed with ‘the Sambas’ execution, content, it is a great VW resource… I’d comb the classifieds just seeing what was out there. The market blows me away, the money Westfalias pull these days, even the old ones with lots of miles, they have a cult following.

So, a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine from high school called me because he was interested in buying a Westfalia. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we talk a couple of times a year… he lives in Cincinnati, I’m in Minneapolis. It’s one of those friends you can go months and months without talking to but when you finally get on the phone, it’s like you were never apart. He wanted a Type II, something from the late 70s and wanted my help finding one.

That night about midnight I hopped on carsabi.com, a nationwide Craigslist aggregator that allows you to search Craigslist nationally. I was looking around for a van for my friend in Cincinnati and a white Vanagon Westfalia caught my eye, listed for sale in Kansas.

The ad said something like this: 1984 Volkswagen Westfalia. Camper. Approximately 144,000 miles, new engine installed in 2001, only 7,000 miles on new engine. $4,300.

Wow, I thought… I ended my trip with about 136,000 miles on my van, my van got a new engine about that time and my parents live about 2 hours from the town in Kansas where this van was. Could it be? Could this be my old van? I kept looking at the ad.

There were the usual 4 poor quality Craigslist photos, all bad angles, bad lighting, it was a rainy day when the photos were taken and kind of dark… really bad photos and they were driving me nuts.

It had black steel wheels and chrome hub caps, like my van, but it was listed as an ’84 model.

Mine was an ’82 and I don’t think chrome hub caps were stock equipment for an ’84, I’ve seen later Vanagons with the old school chrome hub caps, but someone would have had to go out of their way to put them on.

This van had a black bra on the front… I had put a black bra on the front of my van.

The pictures were so dark I couldn’t tell if there was a lower grille for a wasserboxer radiator peeking through the bra.. the whole front just looked like black bra… could it be an air cooled ’82 with no radiator grille, I just couldn’t tell.

All of this was happening in like 15 seconds, my heart began to race. There was a photo of the stove and camper area, stickers were plastered all over the cabinets, but the interior color was right.

I finally noticed, a 3/4 shot of the passenger’s rear… through the closed van I could see that the head rests were different on the front seats. Oh my god… I thought.

Early Vanagons came with front seats without arm rests and solid head rests, later Vanagons got head rests with a ‘cut out’ in them and seats with arm rests. I always wanted later seats in my ’82 so I could have the arm rests on my long trip. After about 5 and a half months of my 6 month road trip I was in Utah and passed a junk yard as I was driving up a hill, I could see down into the junk yard and saw a row of old Vanagons. I pulled in there and bought a blue seat out of about an ’86 Vanagon… it had arm rests and that head rest with the cut out.

I looked at the interior photo of the stove and camping area of the van and could just see the back edge of a blue seat on the driver’s side… that was the seat I bought at that junkyard in Utah in September of 2000. OH MY GAWD! This must be my van, mistakenly listed as a 1984 model, not two hours from my folks place in Kansas.

I couldn’t call the guy that night as it was past midnight. I figured I’d call when I got to work in the morning. I could hardly sleep that night… All these questions were ripping through my mind. Is this really my old van? Could I buy this thing? Could I really do this, I already have a ’73 Mercedes coupe in the garage, what will my wife say? All the things that go through your mind.

I got to work in the morning and the phone just started ringing, I was busy all morning and finally called the number in the Craigslist ad at about noon.

“Hi, I’m calling about the Volkswagen Westfalia on Craigslist” I said when the guy answered the phone.
“Oh, yeah, you just missed it, I just sold it” he replied
My heart sank, I felt sick.
“Oh no” I said
“Well, I didn’t sell it, I traded it in for a Corvair this morning at a dealership”
“Really? I saw it was listed as a 1984 model, is it really an ’84?” trying to make sure it wasn’t an ’84.
“You know, I’m not sure” he said “I bought it from my buddy in March and I thought I was going to keep it and fix it up, but I just don’t have the time so I traded it in”
Seriously? Who doesn’t know what year their car is?
“Okay, can you tell me the name of the dealership where you traded it in? I think this might be my old van and I’d really like to buy it back” I blurted this out… then realized it was probably best if I didn’t let anyone know about my history with the van… if the dealer found out they may smell desperate blood in the water and raise the price.

The guy told me where he traded it in and I called them right away.

“Hi there, I hear you just got an old Volkswagen camper in on trade this morning” I said to the guy who answered.

“Uh, yeah, we did, how did you find out about that so quick?” the guy asked me… it was a little dealership in North central Kansas.

I told him I just called the guy who had it on Craigslist.

“I’ve got a quick question” I continued “what year is it? The Craigslist ad said it was an ’84.”
“Well, I’ve got the title right here, let me see…. it looks like it’s an ’82”

BOO YA!

“Okay… so, I think I might be able to take that off your hands” I said real confident like “it will be a quick sale for you”.

“Well,” the guy started, “there was a guy here when it was being traded in who is interested in it, he put some money down on it and is working on getting his financing lined up.”

Are you kidding? I thought… you can’t finance an old $4000 VW Vanagon with a non-original engine that needs work.

“Really?” I said “I’ll give you $500 more than whatever that guy is paying you, let me give you my name and number so if his deal falls through you can call me. I have a stack of hundred dollar bills sitting next to me and I’m ready to buy it now.” I was desperate and didn’t frankly care if he knew… I’m sure he smelled blood in the water, but it’s important, especially if you’re out of town, to be very clear about your interest if you want to be taken seriously by the dealer on the other end of the phone. I waste hours a month with potential out of town buyers who find a car on the internet, but I’m smart enough to treat each one as if they’re dead serious, until I learn otherwise, as a result, I sell a lot of cars out of state and ship cars all over the world… the web has changed everything in that regard.

1982 Volkswagen Westfalia

Camping in the Redwood Forests of Northern, CA - August 2000.

Ultimately, it took a couple of days… but the other guy’s deal fell apart (of course), my dad drove up two hours to look at the van and to confirm what I suspected, that this was the van I lived in while traveling the country 12 years ago. My dad test drove it and said it drove really well, the engine is great, suspension was still good (I had installed KYB gas adjust shocks on it and new Michelins right before my trip, they were still on the van). I paid $4,500 for it… which was certainly full retail, but my dad paid almost that much for the engine and install from GEX.

Apparently it’s been sitting out in a Kansas field for the better part of 8 or 9 years so the fiberglass pop top is really faded and all mildewed, the paint is dull and chalky, but still no rust anywhere. The pop top canvas is ripped all over, the ash trays were full of cigarette butts, but the van doesn’t smell, amazingly. There were Grateful Dead and Phish stickers all over it… so it certainly served someone else well for their travels. The cabinets still had food and junk in them, but no mice or bugs. Some cosmetic TLC and it will be just like it was, mechanically it’s awesome and still… no rust… but the seams are starting to crack here and there, so it’s good I got to it when I did.

I sent the money to the dealer and had a transporter pick it up. It was delivered to me here in Minnesota, in the parking lot of Sears Imports, about two weeks ago. I couldn’t believe what I was looking at when it rolled out of the transporter. I just couldn’t believe it. I even got tears in my eyes, which I tried to hide from all the guys at work who had come out to see this thing. I had been talking about it for the past week while I was Fed-Exing paperwork back and forth and waiting for the transporter, everyone at work knew about it. Most of them think I’m nuts… “You paid how much for that piece of junk?” I would have paid $10,000 if I had to… it didn’t matter, it was fate.

It’s sitting in my driveway and I still can’t believe it. My wife has fully embraced the Westfalia and my enthusiasm for it (God I love her). While I was cleaning the outside she took the shop vac to the inside and went through the whole thing with 409, twice. She asked if they made new carpets for Westfalias and I said yes… you can get just about everything for these, she’s all about a new carpet kits, all the way around, and new pop top canvas and on and on.

So… what was once lost is now found… through the years I have thought about that trip, often, and thought about the wonderful vehicle that made it all possible. So many people don’t understand the fascination… it’s just an old VW van, ‘You’re driving that thing across the country?” people would ask. Hell yeah I am.

I always wondered… “Would I ever own another?”… I figured I would at some point, but I never imagined I’d own the same one, the exact vehicle, but here I am and it’s sitting in the driveway.

I probably won’t quit my job and take off again, but I will certainly have some adventures, new and different adventures, in this wonderful vehicle again. This time, with my wife, with our kids when we have them, new adventures in a new stage of life, but the same vehicle, a vehicle that transcends so many things and has the ability to bring so many different kinds of people together. Just a vehicle? No Way… it’s a Volkswagen Westfalia.

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May 2012, the day it rolled off the transporter... needs some TLC, but it's all there.

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Local Twin Cities Mercedes-Benz Club Member’s Vintage 1971 280SL Featured in Brooks Brothers TV Advertisement

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Click screenshot to view ad on YouTube.

I got a call from my buddy Bruce Kelly over at Lake Country Classics a couple of weeks ago about an advertising agency here in Minneapolis that needed a vintage Mercedes-Benz roadster for a TV commercial. Bruce just seems to be the guy that people call for this sort of thing no matter what kind of car is needed, people just know to call him. He called me to see if I could get a hold of a friend we have in common, and fellow Twin Cities Mercedes Benz Club member, Mark Flaten. The ad agency was looking for a vintage Mercedes roadster, and ideally, one in a light color, to use in a Brooks Brothers TV spot. Bruce and I both thought of Mark’s car… an absolutely pristine 1971 280SL roadster in the classic Mercedes color combination of silver over red leather.

Bruce’s shop, Lake Country Classics, finished a complete restoration of Mark’s car last year. It is one of the most pristine and correct cars of this type and vintage I’ve ever seen. I got Mark on the phone, told him that this ad agency was doing a Brooks Brothers ad and they were looking for a car like his the next day… and that if he was interested he should give Bruce a call ASAP. He did, and…

About a week later, Mark forwarded me this link to the finished ad on YouTube. They did indeed use his car for several hours the day after we spoke on the phone. He was well paid for the three hours the agency used his car, he was on set the entire time with the car. In the end it’s a couple of seconds on film, but it’s a fun story and will certainly ad to the interesting history of the car. Click this link to view the video on YouTube.

Mercedes-500E-sedan

1993 Mercedes 500E Purchased by Customer in Dallas, TX Arrives Safely, New Owner Happy with Service and Buying Experience

Mercedes-500E-sedan

This 1993 Mercedes Benz 500E sedan was traded in here at Sears Imports about a month ago. It was placed on eBay twice, it was posted to Autotrader.com, cars.com, even Craigslist here in Minneapolis. This is a very rare car as you may know, a join venture between Mercedes-Benz and Porsche and good for a little over 160mph when it was new back in 1993. It would be an understatement to say there was a lot of ‘action’ on this car while it was here in the Sears Imports inventory.

My phone rang off the hook with interested parties, my email inbox was constantly filling up with inquiries from across the country. While most people I spoke with just wanted to talk about the car and then explain how they’d love to buy it, but their wife wouldn’t let them, or they had nowhere to store it… a handful of real players were interested in the car and were ready to put their money where their mouth was.
sears imports mercedes 500E

The one thing  holding most people back from actually purchasing the car, and understandably, was the lack of any service records with the car, older cars like this are often times sold by their records.

Thankfully, the night before the auction ended I got a call from the independent shop owner who serviced and maintained this car for its previous owner after he saw it on eBay. He was able to tell me all the work he did to the car over the last 4 years or so… receipts added up to almost $13,000. While it was almost too late for anyone to use this information for their eBay bidding, some eBayers did see the updated description and several of them called me.

Within a few minutes of the eBay auction ending I got a call from a gentleman who had a few questions about the car. We talked, discussed other cars he owns and is interested in, I told him about some of the cars I’ve had over the years. We were just two car guys, albeit with very different budgets and amounts of disposable income for our car hobby, I’ll tell you that much! In a few minutes we put a deal together on the 500E. There was another 500E on the market at the same time, a green one in California, which I had seen for sale and heard all about, everyone who called about our silver car made it known they were also looking at “a green one in California.” In the end… the guy who purchased our silver car also bought the green one in California, I couldn’t be happier for him and I’m glad they’re going to a very good home, somewhere where they will both be appreciated and well cared for.

In the end, our car sold between $11,000 and $12,000… an absolute steal according to the mechanic that maintained the car over the past few years, but the market is what it is and in late December of 2011, that is the market value, the amount someone will actually pull out of their wallet and fork over for this particular 500E. My guess is, that in 10 years, even 5 years, we’ll look back on this purchase and think it was a good deal.

I was happy to receive the survey (posted below) that everyone who purchases a Mercedes-Benz vehicle from a Mercedes-Benz dealership gets via email, filled out and offering praise for the car, purchased sight unseen, and the buying experience here at Sears Imports.
Mercedes-500E

1984 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

Classic 1984, Ultra Low Mile Porsche 911 Cabriolet in Platinum Metallic Just Arrived at Sears Imports!

1984 Porsche 911 Carrera Cabriolet

WOW! This 1984 Porsche 911 Carrera just arrived on a truck from Chicago. This was a trade in at a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Chicago recently. Our friends at this dealership know us as a place that is interested in this sort of thing, actively buying interesting cars from around the country.
used 1984 porsche 911 for sale

While many new car dealerships would rather not have convertibles in their inventories going into Winter, much less vintage and classic cars…  at Sears Imports, we cater to all sorts of motoring tastes and we know a great car when we see one. So, we purchased this car from our dealer friend in Chicago and had it shipped here to Minneapolis. It just arrived today.
used 1984 porsche 911 for sale

This car has just under 35,000 original miles (see photo of odometer below). It is a 1984 model, the first year for the 3.2 liter flat six motor which replaced the 3.0 liter motor used in the 911 SC models between 1977 and 1983. This color is called “Platinum Metallic” with brown leather interior, it also has 16″ color matched alloy wheels. This car cost just over $41,000 when new in 1984. Of course it has the 5 speed manual transmission.
used porsche 911 minneapolis

I am still learning about the history of the car, I need to speak with our GM, the gentleman who purchased the car, to get all the details, but looking at the Carfax it looks like the car was originally sold to Oklahoma by a Texas Porsche dealer, more recently it looks like it resided in Lake Geneva, WI… a Summer getaway for the well to do from Chicago. I will post more history when I learn more about the car.

The interior and exterior are in excellent condition, there are no dash cracks (so common on these older 911s if not garage kept), the leather seats are in excellent condition, carpet is very clean and unsoiled, no weird smells on the interior. The top is in excellent condition, the back window is generally clear with some light scuffing, but overall, very nice. The top boot is present with the car as well as the car’s tool kit and original owner’s manual.

Based on the stellar, original condition and low miles of this classic 911, the price is $26,900. Sears Imports Stock#20113, call me for more details.

Dave Knows Cars Blog Gets New Home After Dave Tobin Accepts Internet Sales Position at Sears Imports Mercedes Benz In Minnetonka, MN

It’s official! As of Monday, July 25, 2011 I work as an Internet Sales Manager for Sears Imports Mercedes-Benz in Minnetonka, MN. Sears contacted me regarding a position they believed I might be a good fit for recently and after several meetings and some serious thought, I decided to accept the job. I work out of Sears Imports Mercedes-Benz showroom on Wayzata Blvd. in Minnetonka, the North frontage road of I394 just west of downtown Minneapolis.

I leave Feldmann Imports Mercedes-Benz in Bloomington on the best of terms after more than three years. I enjoyed my time at Feldmann’s. I learned a lot and will always be grateful to the Feldmann family and to their entire organization for hiring me when I had no automotive industry experience and bringing me up through their ranks. Feldmann Imports is a quality organization full of good people.

An opportunity presented itself to me at Sears and I know I would have looked back in ten years and said “What if…?” if I didn’t accept the job and jump in with both feet. Of course, I’ll miss my friends at Feldmanns, but I hope to make some new friends at Sears.

I’m looking forward to getting started tomorrow morning (as I’m writing this Sunday night, tomorrow is my first day). I will be handling internet sales, interacting with customers as I have been for the, past few years via the internet, email, and phone. The difference with my position at Sears Imports is that once a customer is ready to come in, they come in to see me. I don’t make an appointment for someone else, I don’t hand the customer off. You talk to me via email or on the phone, you come in to see me, we look at the car, I answer your questions, I handle the entire transaction.

It’s a different method, but I’m looking forward to giving this new process a try, getting back in front of the customers I get to know via email and on the phone, and watching them drive off into the sunset in their new (or new to them) car with my business card in the glove box.

I drove over to scope out my new digs Sunday evening, there were lots of people walking around the lot looking at cars.

2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster Available for Pre Order Through Dave Knows Cars and Feldmann Imports!


This is not a joke! Feldmann Imports Mercedes Benz in Bloomington, MN has access to ONE allocation of the new, not yet released, 2012 Mercedes Benz SLS AMG Roadster. That’s right… a convertible roadster version of the highly sought after SLS AMG supercar is being released to dealerships later this year and Dave Tobin from the Dave Knows Cars Blog has access to one allocation at Feldmann Imports! Contact me (Dave Tobin) today for more details. 

Our allocation is for one 2012 SLS AMG roadster with a planned build date of July 2011, delivery will be several months after that. The buyer of this car will have it built to their specifications in terms of interior and exterior color, options, etc. Unfortunately there will be no test drives, you won’t be able to see one before the order is placed, I suppose you’re counting on 125 years of excellence and innovation from Mercedes-Benz to not let you down. I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed.

Feldmann Imports has sold two SLS AMG cars since their introduction (as many as we have been able to get our hands on). One was delivered in June of 2010, see blog post about that car here. The second has been built and is due to arrive here at Feldmann Imports for delivery to its new owner next week, February 2011.

SLS AMG coupes have been running in the $190,000 – $225,000 price range depending upon how they’re equipped. The buyer of the roadster can expect a similar price. No official pricing has been released, nor have official photos of the car been released.

There are two photos that were leaked (probably on purpose) of an SLS AMG Roadster sitting outside the gates of the AMG head quarters in Germany, with black tape over the badges and some of the body lines… as if there is any question as to what kind of car it is.. sitting right outside the gates to AMG.

The roadster will have a soft convertible top that is said to retract in about 8 seconds and can be retracted while traveling at speeds up to 35 mph. It will have conventional doors, like the classic 300SL roadsters that followed the original 300sL Gullwing coupes of the 1950s. We expect the rest of the car (inside, outside and under the hood) to be quite similar to the coupes that have already been delivered.

A classic 1962 Mercedes Benz 300SL Roadster. This car was restored and sold recently by Spirited Automobiles located in British Columbia, Canada (click photo to visit their website). They are absolute masters of the classic 300SL.

A firm commitment to buy the car and a sizeable deposit will be required to secure the allocation. Please feel free to contact me if you’re  serious and interested in such a purchase. (more photos below)  – Dave Tobin

2014-mercedes-E350-Luxury-Price

2014 Mercedes E class Video Comparison! Differences Between 2014 Mercedes Benz E class E350 Sport and Luxury Models

Explore the differences between the 2014 Mercedes Benz E class Sport and Luxury models with this video from Dave Knows Cars! The new 2014 Mercedes Benz E classes are arriving at dealerships across the country. Mercedes Benz is offering something new for the 2014 model year, in conjunction with the serious E class facelift, they’ve started to offer two different models… A Luxury model and a Sport model.

The differences between the two cars are largely cosmetic, much like the C class cars from 2008 – present. There are slight suspension differences between the two cars, the Sport model sits several millimeters lower than the sport model and has slightly stiffer suspension, although the difference in ride quality is minimal, they are very similar.

They are identical in terms of dimensions and size, the two cars are differentiated by different body styling packages and wheels. The video here clearly demonstrates all the exterior differences between the cars.. from the front grilles to the rear tailpipes (or lack thereof on the Luxury model).

You can see by the photos of the original window stickers (below) of the cars featured in the video that there is no price difference between Sport and Luxury models. They cost the same, you simply decide whether you want a Sport model or a Luxury model.

2014-mercedes-E350-Luxury-Price

Window sticker of the white car in the video, a 2014 Mercedes E350 Luxury model.

2014-Mercedes-E350-Sport

Window sticker of the Palladium Silver car in the video, a 2014 Mercedes E350 Sport model.

Dave Tobin No Longer Show Floor Sales Person at Feldmann Imports Mercedes-Benz

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: BLOOMINGTON, MN – As of February 8, 2010 Dave Tobin no longer works as a Mercedes-Benz sales person on the show floor of Feldmann Imports Mercedes-Benz in Bloomington, MN.

Don’t be too alarmed however, Dave still works at Feldmann Imports, he’s just taken on a new position. At the end of January 2010 Dave was offered, and accepted, the position of Mercedes-Benz Internet Sales Manager at Feldmann Imports Mercedes-Benz.

Dave’s new post is within Feldmann Imports’ well established and robust “Business Development Center” will consist of fielding phone, email, and web based enquiries regarding new and pre owned Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Dave will be responsible for laying the groundwork for specific customer to salesperson interaction, and scheduling sales appointments for Feldmann Imports Mercedes-Benz customers with individual show floor based sales people.

If you’re one of Dave Tobin’s previous customers please know that he is still at Feldmann Imports and looks forward to maintaining a working relationship with you. Feel free to give Dave a call with any of your new or pre owned vehicle needs, and of course, the new and pre owned vehicle needs of your family, friends and acquaintances! Or give Dave a call just to shoot the breeze about cars or anything else you might want to discuss.

So how does Dave feel about his new position?

“I’m really excited! I’m glad to have been offered such a great opportunity. The web is the first place most people go when it’s time to find a new vehicle, and it’s quite a responsibility to be the first voice or written word, in the case of email, of the dealership a customer will come into contact with. One of the things that hasn’t changed at all from the show floor to my new position is that I’ve still only got one chance to make a good impression on a customer.”

Dave will continue to blog daily through DaveKnowsCars.com and as he settles into his new position and gets comfortable in his new surroundings he hopes to bring some creative new ideas to the Mercedes-Benz Internet department. Always feel free to contact Dave at Feldmann Imports, his direct phone number is (952) 837-6327, other contact information is available on the Contact Dave page of this blog.

New C Class Customer Experience: “the best we have ever had”


Late last month a couple came into the dealership on Tuesday evening interested in a new C300 4matic sedan. The woman had just been in an accident in her mini van and decided she wanted a safe sedan as a replacement.

She came to the right place. She was also considering the Audi A4 and Lexus ES350. The value, safety, and quality of the driving experience in the C300 won out in the end. Here are some of the answers and comments she sent to our sales manager today with her completed customer satisfaction survey.

Dear Mr. Anderson,

I am responding to the survey I received after visiting your dealership last week.

Were you satisfied with your salesperson?
Yes, Dave Tobin was very explicit in answering all my questions and concerns.  He was very knowledgeable and had a sincere interest and passion for the Mercedes Benz cars.  When we were test driving the car, he was helpful in explaining unique aspects and features of the C300.  We thought the dealership closed at 9pm. and didn’t realize until after we returned from the test drive at 8pm, that you closed at 7:30pm.  Dave did not make us feel rushed or like we had imposed on his time.  He was very gracious. Nor did he try to force a decision on us but did ask what our for next step would be and how he could help.

How was your overall experience with the dealership?
We felt comfortable and at ease.  

Is there one thing that would keep you from doing business with us?
No, our decision was being weighted against other makes of cars not the experience at the dealership.  However, our positive experience at your dealership help sway the decision. We felt our experience at your dealership (because of our positive impression of Dave) was the best we have ever had while researching cars.

Enjoy your day,

K. B.
Chanhassen, MN