Steve’s story is a surprise ending to George Coan’s “Diary of a Carpool” story – even George doesn’t know the twist in the story! Please read George’s story first and then come back here for the rest of the story: Diary of a Carpool
I usually can’t remember what I had for breakfast but I do believe that the
car we drove at Ft. Sill during the Field Artillery Officers Advanced Course was a white Mercedes Benz sedan that was shipped back to the states from Germany. Before you ask how we could afford a MB on a Captain’s pay, let me explain.
After serving a year in Vietnam we arrived in Wiesbaden Germany in 1971 where we joined the 5/81st Field Artillery (Abn). Initially we bought a small blue 1971 Fiat Sports Coupe that lasted a couple of years before we had to replace it with a “motor pool special” Volkswagon station wagon that had to have had at least 10 previous owners and 3 different motors.
At the time it wasn’t unusual for these used cars to be sold multiple times as each owner rotated to his new duty assignment. Realizing that we would have to have an actual car when we returned to the states in 1974, we weren’t sure whether to buy one in Germany or wait until we returned to the USA.
A close friend and fellow Battery Commander in our unit had been driving a Mercedes Benz purchased from a German automobile broker in the Baumholder area. He told us that the guy would search throughout Germany and locate a used Mercedes Benz in good condition that would fit into our budget. Needless to say, his search was successful and he presented a Mercedes Benz to us that had just under 100,000 miles on the speedometer. It put our Volkswagon station wagon to shame and we were hooked.
That would have been the car we piled into on the days I had carpool duty. I left the Army in February of 1975 and moved from Fort Sill to Dallas, Texas. The car lasted just over a year until it broke down on my way to the office one day. It was hauled into the local Mercedes Benz dealer for repair. I remember telling the experienced Mercedes Benz mechanic that it only had a little over 100,000 miles at the time. He just laughed and said he had worked on these cars for many years and he was sure that this car had at least 300,000 miles on it!
Someone had rolled back the mileage gauge. He said that it probably was used as a taxi cab! The other Captains who carpooled with me thought we were traveling in luxury. Instead, no one including me realized that we had been traveling in a used taxi cab that whole year!
Ray Dupere says
I love all the old stories, thanks for sharing, Steve.
Roger Hoopengardner says
Steve, this brings back a lot of great memories. Would love to hear from you.
Hi Hoop and Bonnie!
We have missed seeing you for so long. Hope all is well. Where are you now?
Denis Gulakowski says
That’s the very reason they invented Carfax….
My folks had put away money for me for college over the years, and when I got the scholarship, they use some of it to buy my graduation present: a 69 Burgundy Corvette Coupe. I still have it-rebuilt it at 70,000 miles & now has 125,000
Bob Behncke says
After years of driving American cars, my German immigrant parents decided to send me money to buy them a white brand new 1980 Mercedes from the factory and ship it over to the United States. We did; drove it for 6 months and then to Bremerhaven and put it on the boat. After getting my parents car on the boat to the USA, we went off to Sweden. Becky and I and our three children had quite an adventure taking three separate train rides and an overnight ship to Gotteborg to pick up OUR new Volvo station wagon. I took back the Mercedes when my parents passed in 1992, and have it to this day. The least expensive car I have ever driven. Bob Behncke
Another great story!
I wish Carfax had been available. Then again, I would have lost a great story!
By the way, Denis, my parents did the same thing for me.
Eric Robyn says
Great story, Steve! Good to hear from you after all these years. Keep your stories coming, Gaspadin Chorney!
Thanks, Eric. It has been too long.