The one that got away

When I got married in early 1978, I was the deeply embarrassed owner of a 12-year-old Chevrolet that my bride decided she could no longer tolerate. I can’t really blame her, I suppose. Wanting to get this over with, we presented ourselves one Saturday to a Chrysler-Plymouth dealer, where we test-drove two cars, neither of which was a Chrysler or a Plymouth. One of them, in fact, was a Mercedes-Benz:

A lovely 240D exactly that color, though two years older. The ’76 Benz on offer had been traded in by a physician from somewhere out near Enid; he had retrofitted it with a larger fuel tank, bringing its capacity up to around 35 gallons, which, said the chap wishing to make the sale, gave the car a range of somewhere around 1,400 miles. In the end, we turned it down, not so much because it was slower than fourth-class mail, but because that extra tank space had to come out of somewhere, and that somewhere was the trunk.

And so we drove off in a ’76 Chevrolet with a proper Detroit V-8 — well, it was a 305, which did have eight cylinders arranged in a vee, though other similarities were marginal at best.

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