RUNNING THE MEX1 IN MY 68 FINBACK!!
okay, well that is why im here..
im looking for somebody to say,"hey, of course you can start a car thats been sitting under a pine tree for six years and take it 1500 miles over the most punishing road on the planet, and tell your story to us".. who would better understand that than other benzophiles..
for those of you that are not aware of the "MEX1", the main "highway"(and the ONLY road) between tijuana and "los cabos", running the length of baja california.. i drove the MEX1 a couple of years ago in my dodge truck with a cummins turbo diesel pulling a small fifth wheel.. to this day, it is the most dangerous thing i have ever attempted or accomplished..
the MEX1 was constructed in the mid seventies to accomodate two passing semi's with eighteen inches between mirrors.. there is no shoulder!! a front blowout is almost certain oblivion.. there are no on ramps, off ramps, over passes, or underpasses once you leave ensenada.. a map is quite unnecessary, as you only need to stay on the pavement.. if you leave the pavement, than you are someplace other than the MEX1.. pretty much nothing else is paved other than the highway, so if youre off paved road surface, you went wrong somewhere or youre in one of the four or five "ciudads" between here and thar.. the road is hundreds and hundreds of miles of desolation.. there might be a dozen "pemex" stations between ensenada and la paz.. rule number 2 in baja is if youre below half a tank and see a "pemex" sign, then filler up..
rule number 1 is NEVER EVER DRIVE AFTER DARK on the baja.. the mythical and oft deadly "black cow that stands in the road luring unsuspecting drivers to their death is real, ladies and gentlemen, is for real.. not only have i seen it with my own eyes, i have swerved to avoid her, trying to make it to cabo san lucas to meet friends for new years eve..
then there are military roadblocks where pimply faced teens carry machine guns that scare the bejesus outa me.. no sudden moves, thank you very much.. they are always suspicious of someone traveling "solomente" and start looking a little more closely, opening the cigarette packs and looking in.. smelling the grease on my tools, stuff like that.. each roadblock as you come north gets a bit more....um....intense, and the kids with machine guns get younger and more pimply..
the road itself is more than a thousand miles of curva pellagrossa.. there are untold hundreds on roadside shrines to those who have failed to make the journey before me.. if something happens to you out there and it is too far to a hospital, or morgue, then they bury you right where they find you, if youre lucky..
it is not unusual to come around a corner and see a couple dozen shrines(not graves) to those who didnt make it.. usually, the rotting carcuss of the bus or whatever, stripped of any accessible metallic siding that is reusable for any other reason, leaves the hulk looking like an upturned mastadon skeleton, over the edge of the less than knee high guard rail..
the car, is a 1968 200D, sort of.. the body is that of a 200D(110), but the guy that i got her from(thanks, arby) found her in a farmer's field in marin county, and as a fellow benzophile, replaced the diesel with a 200(or 220) gas motor.. i got it from him for my oldest's high school graduation present.. she drove it for a while and then saw a camry she wanted.. i drove it for a while, but a cervical injury made most all mercedes seats out of the question for some years for me, so i parked her for six years.. the car has less than 250 miles on her in the last six or so years, all of that in the last month..
she started right up, with a little priming, old gas and all.. i parked her with reasonably new tires, but we all know about rubber and the sun.. (i did keep one of the old new tires for a spare.. ill be carrying two of them) i put a crane cams electronic ignition in when i got her from my kid, so that wasnt an issue when i "unpickled" her.. new battery, plugs, and fuel filters got me to a tire store to replace the old thirteen inch 80s with 70s.. by that time, with her running right, the pressure plate started to slip a bit..
and that brings us to today.. she is up on stands in my mothers back yard, as i returned to where i have mercedes mechanic that i know and trust.. for the record, i have absolutely no beef with GUIDOS in chico (thanks for all your help, daniel, but that shop was just too clean, scary clean), but at "home" i have friends.. anyway, she wouldnt have pulled the grapevine with that pressure plate.. its drizzling here today, so im sorting through my tools and cleaning the car out.. i have added a couple of "power ports" on my home made "console", and an 800 watt inverter under the hood.. dont really have any tools to run off the inverter yet, but got power..
on the antiques roadshow, they tell you not to remove the patina, but im pretty sure that came off with the moss, lichens and racoon poop..
i am considering yarding out the rear seat and building a "deck" to sleep on.. this would eliminate the need for a tent, and the time involved with erecting and breaking it down every morning.. tossing my sleeping bag out on the bare ground with all the scorpions and whatnot is completely out of the question..
WHY?? well, i prefer adventures over vacations.. this is a test of man and machine.. a forty fiveish year old car and a fifty year old man going it alone on the MEX1..
im thinking the car will be fine.. the man is beginning to sputter and blow a little oil..
and for my next trick!! as a rock hound, im guessing that the car will be asked to make the trip back up the baja loaded with nice agate and stuff from the sea of cortez.. the truck brought back about a half a ton of rocks back.. im thinking the car will do about half that much, properly distributed..
so, any comment, questions, constructive criticisms, atta boys, and monetary donations are accepted, appreciatively.. ill be posting as i go, when i can as there is no "wifi" in most third world countries.. im on no particular schedule to be there or back.. ive got family between here and the border that i need to see so it may be a couple of weeks before i get things in order to cross the border and make my run.. but will be posting when i can..
the projected "turn around" is a beach south of mulege where there are hot springs on the beach, back in the reeds a bit, but on the beach, no less.. for the record, i do hold a gold medal in hot spring sitting.. the venders will bring fresh fruit and soda can sized scallops that are twelve bucks a kilo, right to your camp on the beach..
you are all invited to "ride along" on my travels on this trip, so grab your flip flops..
hope you enjoy my exploits with me..
Last edited by j.barber; 02-21-2011 at 10:53 AM.
Reason: caught a mistake