A bond between a man and a machine - A Benz with 4.6 million km
One special diesel Benz
I'm a sort of a car lover that doesn't get impressed by performance numbers or blingy tech stuff. Actually, new cars, especially hyper production of performance sports and hyper cars, alongside mainstream plague of bland crossovers and SUVs, don't interest me much, except some rare occasions as is the new Yaris GR. I like cars that overfill your senses with details, noises, design... that make every meter enjoyable, that don't bother with records, accelerations, top speeds.
We all bond with cars. But I find the strongest bond to be that one when you live, work and enjoy a car for a very long time. When your everyday life embraces that one special car in 24-7 routine. You get to know its every squeak, its every rumble, what it can and what it can't do. Those cars aren't supercars. Those can be you average measly powered Corolla or a Golf.
Recently, I've commented on DT a post, regarding Mercedes from the 70's and 80's as the most over engineered cars ever. When you want an ultra reliable car, you get a Toyota in Asia, or a big V8 pick-up truck in USA. Where I come from, if you want a reliable car, you get a diesel Benz. Even James May used an old W123 twice in Africa - petrol ones, though, but still bulletproof cars.
This is a story of a such a bond. Mr Gregorios Sachinidis, a Greek taxi driver, who saw his chance to work in a post WW2 Germany back in 1963 had one with a blue diesel Benz. A lot of people from all over Eastern Europe took that chance, especially as the powerful German Unions forced employers to treat these 'Gastarbeiters' as equally as the domestic workforce. In practice, a minor differences did exist, but nevertheless, these people managed to build careers and finance proper lives for families back in Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, etc. A lot of my older family members were part of this migration, too (that's why I hold one red W123 300D in very special memory of my childhood).
Mr Sachidinis, after working for 15 years in Germany, went back to Greece in 1978 and, after a few years, when Greece allowed diesel taxis to operate, he saw his business chance. With the assistance of his brother in Germany, who at the time worked at Mercedes-Benz, in 1981 Mr. Sachidinis located and bought his dream taxi - a 1976 W115 200D, with some 220,000 km done. For a Benz of that time, it was just a break in.
For the next 23 years, this blue 200D will become his second home. It was used on 24-7 basis, all year round, doing taxiing in Thessaloniki. Aside from regular fairs, Mr Sachinidis had the opportunity to chauffeur some dignitaries, such as German football legend, Gerd Mueller. But the true hero fairs were done during the Yugoslav wars in the 90's when this blue Benz did some 2,000 rides from Thessaloniki to Belgrade and back, carrying medical stuff and humanitarian aid. At that time, the car covered much of its 4.6 million kilometers, before retiring in 2003.
200D. Slow but it'll get you there. Eventually.
And what a retirement it was. Mr Sachinidis got in touch with the Mercedes-Benz and the parties arranged a blue W115 to be exposed at the Stuttgart Mercedes museum, as part of a collection. In 2003, he took the blue Benz to Stuttgart where it was bought back by Mercedes-Benz, rewarding Mr Sachinidis with the keys of a brand new C200 CDI, as a credit for such level of customer loyalty.
According to Mercedes, this W115 did a total of 4.6 million kilometers from 1976 to 2003. That puts it in 2nd place of cars with the highest mileage, only behing the famous US Volvo P1800 we all heard about.
During that time, this 200D had 11 engine swaps, but rotating only three engines - one kept running, while other two were being serviced and overhauled. A 1.5 million km per engine, I'd call that reliable.
Back in the days, a 200D would get you to a 100 km/h in 31 seconds, up to a maximum of 130 km/h. I can only imagine how the Thessaloniki - Belgrade routes were exhausting, but that is actually the point I wanted to make - true car-man bonds are made with different kind of numbers.
Thanks for readind!