I normally use public transport (overland train and Docklands Light Railway) to get to work, but today, I had to wait for a parcel to come (it needed signing for) and didn't set off to work until nearly Midday. As it was well past the rush hour, I decided to take the car, just for a change. If I'd known what I was letting myself in for...... At work, my guv'nor is a Merc man, and has a K-reg 190 2.6 that he bought new in 1993. When he decided he needed something a bit newer, he bought a 51-reg C240, but couldn't bear to part with the 190, so for the past five years, he and his wife have run the two Mercs side by side. The 190 has now covered 170,000 miles, and is still virtually bullet-proof. Everything on it works like it was new. Last month, the C240 was stolen. The insurance paid out but as we are all under threat of redundancy at the moment, he didn't want to shell out a big sum of money on a replacement. But he did need to get something,as the 190 lacks the safety kit for the kids. Anyway, when I got into work this lunchtime, he told me he'd managed to find an S-reg C240 estate, fully loaded, for £2,500. It's done over 100,000 miles, but has a full MB history from start to finish. He'd paid for it, and was planning to collect it after work today. It turned out the seller lives about 2 miles from me, so as I had the car with me, I said I'd give him a lift there to pick it up. We got there just on 5pm. He picked the car up, and then followed me back to our place for a cup of coffee before going home. I drove onto the driveway, and although there's room for two cars side by side, he parked on the road, across the front of mine. Half an hour later, after a coffee, he's ready to head home and show the car off to the kids, but it doesn't start. The battery sounds like it's dead. I offered to jump it off mine, but the Merc's battery is in the boot, and although I could just about turn mine round in the width of the driveway to point the bonnet outwards, there's no way I can angle it near enough to the back of the Merc. He phones the AA, while we go back in and ask my wife if she can turn the meal into dinner for three instead of two. AA man arrives just as we're finishing the soup and serving the main course (sounds dead posh that, doesn't it?) so we freeze our nuts off while he checks everything. The battery's basically OK, but my mate had left the lights on while it was parked, plus two of the doors were only half-latched, so the courtesy lights had stayed on. The batt. was pulling 11.5volts, & the guy said it needed 12.2 to start the engine. He got it running off his remote booster, and suggested we park it on the driveway, leave the engine running for an hour to charge up, and park mine across the front, to stop anyone trying to nick it. As my drive is at an awkward angle, I offered to reverse it in, which my guv'nor agreed to. I reversed it it in, put the handbrake on, put it into Park...........and without thinking, promptly switched the engine off! The AA van is half a mile up the road, and we have our heads in our hands. He tried to start it, and it won't start. He switches off the lights, the heater, the radio, tries it again, and it just coughs into life. We leave it running (pumping exhaust gases straight through the airbrick at the front of my house), I park mine out front to block it in, and we go in to finish dinner. He's remembered to leave all the electrics switched off this time, and the only light now showing anywhere on the Merc........is the low fuel warning light. So long as it doesn't run out, we'll be fine. After dinner, the engine's still running. I offer to follow him home, make sure he gets there. He says no need, but can I follow him as far as the petrol station, where he needs to fill up, and will have to switch off. So I follow him to the local Shell station, he queues up, and when he gets to the pump, switches off and fills up. But as he walks off to pay for it, I suddenly realise he's left the bl00dy lights on again! I yell over to him & he yells back that it's unlocked, so I am able to turn them off. When he gets back from paying for his petrol, thankfully it starts, and off he went home. I have to say that apart from the total farce that we managed to make of collecting it, this C240 estate is an excellent piece of kit for £2,500. He plans to run it for two or three years, at the end of which he can probably sell it for nearly as much as he paid for it, and then buy a newish E-Class estate for megabucks. Or he thinks he might even hang onto it, like he has done the 190. By then, his eldest will be almost old enough to learn, and they can have all three Mercs side-by-side. These older-generation Mercedes just weren't made the same way other cars are made. They really are engineered to go forever. Just so long as the battery is charged up fully.