Calum is sent packing back to his homeland, with the instruction to acquire a Scottish delicacy for CCW editor Keith Adams. And not to break CCW's big Merc barge while getting there.
Words: Calum Brown
Pictures: Colin Brown
I was originally apprehensive about taking the S280 to Scotland, due to its temperamental behaviour with Murray Scullion and David Simister on the continent, but this was an exceptional assignment.
Editor Keith Adams required the very finest shortbread, for reasons never quite explained, which can be found on Tennant Street in Edinburgh. Being from that neck of the woods, I couldn’t let him settle for anything less. And, as usual, all my cars were broken.
So, with all the Mercedes’ maladies listed to me – the lack of kickdown, the intoxicating stench of petrol, the Skynet-style immobiliser that seemed to be self-aware – I set off for the motherland with a sixth of a tank of Peterborough’s finest petrol.
Naturally, this didn’t get me very far, about 30 miles to be exact. So with the threat of an immobiliser likely to leave me blocking off a petrol station while awaiting the AA, I gingerly pulled in to brim the mammoth tank and ensure my arrival in Lothian.
I would be lying if I said, after £80 came and went, I didn’t check underneath to see if petrol was pouring out the bottom. As it turned out, the tank was ridiculously huge.
Then I cried a little while coughing up 90 quid to the wide-eyed cashier. Despite the Merc’s already daunting reputation, the distance north was lapped up in serene comfort. The cruise control worked, the CD player operated without issue and turning on the air conditioning and sliding the double glazed windows into place easily masked the weird grinding noises from the rear axle. I was expecting a monumental breakdown of epic proportions, but instead the journey up to Edinburgh was uneventful.
The only issue was Murray’s choice in music. I’m not sure exactly who The Schytts are, but I never want to listen to them again. The real fun began arriving at my parents for the night, as the Range Rover-bashing farm track loomed. Yet, with impressive ground clearance higher than Keith Richards in his heyday and a ride more comfortable than Fred Goodwin’s retirement fund, it dispatched the rutted track with considerable ease.
Parking up alongside the family Land Rovers in an S-class led to confused looks from my parents. They probably wondered why a lowlevel Swiss banker or a dishevelled drug dealer had arrived - or worse still, an automotive journalist from Modern Classics. And, in a completely new experience, I had turned up without a trail of oil and fire in my wake too.
I set off early the next day to track down the perfect shortbread, venturing deep into Edinburgh with the fuel-guzzling, 17ft long colossus enjoying every minute. The engine seemed to relish every blip of the slab-sized throttle and, after finding the best culinary treats Scotland had to offer and placing them in a boot larger than my first flat, I deliberately got lost just to flounce around in the German first-class lounge on wheels.
I spent so much time slicing through Lothian’s back roads, that I received a phone call around 11pm asking me to pick my mother and her friend up from a night out. What better car to do that with than an S-class? I arrived to a scene straight out of Absolutely Fabulous. My mother was half cut, while her friend, Debbie McLarty, had somehow managed to bring her very large dog along. Country life, and all that.
After dropping Debbie off, myself and the Patsy Stone Tribute Act set off for home with murmurs of ‘Why are there so many corners? I feel sick.’ Needless to say, the comfort prevented any vomiting action.
Departing home for Peterborough on Sunday morning, the voyage down south was effortless. I arrived seven hours later without so much as a backache or technical problem. Proof then that, if you treat the Panzer limousine with respect, it’ll see you through.
I can see why the allure of a £500 S280 was too much for Murray to ignore. With no issues to report, the Mercedes did a stirling job and the shortbread handover went without a hitch. However, I did live in constant fear of the immobiliser. And hearing Murray’s CD again.
People at the very top, leaders of international conglomerates and the world’s richest countries, have travelled by S-class. And now, I can say that I have too. Albeit it, at the cost of three tanks of fuel over 800 miles - well over £200. You’ll now find me selling my internal organs on the black market in order to gain some money back.
On another note, Keith, you still owe me for your shortbread...