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Projekt: Merkelpanzer

12 August 2013

Last week, my wife bought a 1991 Mercedes 420SEL. It’s in great shape for its age, but there’s a bit of work that needs to be done before it’s in fantastic shape.


It moonlights on the weekends as a tank.

My wife has wanted an old German luxury car since she was a child, and I’ve wanted to work on cars since I’ve been driving. So the new vehicle does pretty damn well for both of us.

Thing is, it’s a project car, but it’s a low-stress project car. The thing runs about as well as our 2008 Chevy. When I inspected the engine before we bought the thing, the worst I could find was a worn belt — and not even a critical belt, it’s the one that runs the air conditioner. Total price to repair: $9.

There are plenty of little things I can fix up along the way, though — replacing some interior trim, or unfreezing a stuck odometer. And these are the kind of projects that I like. They’re not necessarily easy (as anyone who has tried to track down parts for a 23-year-old car will tell you), but they’re not critical to the main function of the car (driving from point A to B, which it already does in a stellar fashion). They’re small projects I can usually knock out in a couple of hours once I’ve got the parts.

And that’s a great thing for me to have — something where I can step away from writing for a short amount of time, do something mechanical, and then go back to work after having let my brain run in the background for a while. It’s the perfect distraction, and it’s something I’ve enjoyed doing for most of my adult life.

What about you, folks? What are your perfect non-art projects?

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