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Thursday, November 17, 2011

MotoArigato Project Car Part 2: MBI Motors for the Win

In the interest of journalistic integrity, I would like to disclose that I have no material connection with MBI other than the fact that I give them money to make me and my car happy, not the other way around. They have no affiliation with this blog or influence upon it, and the views presented here are my own opinions.

As I drive the MotoArigato Project Car around town, fault finding, I continue to fall deeper in love with the "Ivory Zeppelin" as she has tentatively become known. The good folks at MBI Motors really worked some miracles on this baby with the addition of a re-cored radiator and addressing lots of minor, but necessary issues, but most importantly, making adjustments to the tempermental mechanical fuel injection system. Mind you, this Bosch system evolved from one originally designed for the Daimler V12 aircraft engines that were beating the hell out of Allied forces in WWII by allowing Luftwaffe planes to climb and maneuver without stalling, so they are literally a "battle proven" system. This was such a revolutionary design at the time, that had it occurred earlier in the war, we would all be reading Mein Kampf in grade school. The downside is that unless you have a brain like a computer and the requisite experience to handle one of these systems, you may find yourself falling victim to computer-desk mechanics who will advise you to swap it out for traditional carbs. This is a mistake you will regret every cold morning you actually want to go somewhere in your vintage Benz.

So what's the solution? Bring your car to MBI. Those of you in the Pacific Northwest are already well-familiar with Corbin, Sig and the rest of the crew, but you don't have to live in Oregon to take advantage of their expertise. On my most recent visit, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the visage that is a perfectly restored W113 280SL roadster in a deep chocolate brown (I used to have a Jaguar this color, so I am a bit biased). The owner had shipped the vehicle from Texas specifically so that MBI's Master Technician, Rich, could adjust it's fuel injection system. If that's not a Texas-sized testimonial, then I don't know what is. The employees at MBI speak of Rich in revered tones, clearly appreciating the magic he brings to the vehicles he presides over.

Last night, while tooling around town in the 220SE Project Car, the shift linkage came off at the transmission. It was just out of reach unless I was on my back and maybe 4-inches thinner, but being located on the traffic side of the car, and me having a silly fondness for keeping all of my body parts, my only option was to flat-bed it to MBI. The car showed up at 4:30 pm, yet within minutes it was up on a rack and was returned to me by closing time at a total cost of... $13. This isn't a typical scenario of course, but just an example of their willingness to do what's necessary to get a customer back on the road.

The true reason for my cult-like devotion to MBI is that they have become the default Mercedes-Benz dealer for Portland in terms of parts, repair and maintenance work. Each time I go in, from my very first visit until today, I have been treated exactly the way I always expected to be treated by MB dealerships but seldom were. I would gladly trade those puffy chairs and free cappucino's at Beverly Hills for a service adviser who would actually listen to my full explanation of the problem before driving my car away, or the local dealer who cost me several hundreds of dollars to have their "repairs" fixed right at MBI, all on my dime of course. Try getting a return phone call from a dealer, even to let you know your car is ready. We have all been there, the corporate systems focus the dealer teams on up-sells and quick, but less than stellar, work. MBI has been in business since 1969 and you don't turn your customers into friends by dicking them around or talking down to them. Ever been given the opportunity to see your car while it's on the lift? Ever been greeted by name by three different people when you walk in? Ever been handed an invoice that is less than the original quote? Spoil yourself, try MBI Motors in Portland, Oregon.

The MotoArigato Project Car: 1962 220SE W111 Coupe

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