Those of us who choose to work exclusively on older cars are not your average mechanic. I’m not saying we’re more skilled or harder workers, just that we have to have a different range of skills. Owners of classic Mercedes Benzes need all sorts of repairs and restoration that fall outside of the type of work 95% of mechanics regularly do.
This means that often times, there is an apples-to-oranges type comparison between the work we do and the work a regular shop does. Car owners come to expect the typical clear, concise estimate of how long a job will take. And indeed, on many types of jobs, that kind of estimate can also be given on a classic car—at least with a caveat: “If things go normally.” I find myself saying this to customers all the time because of how common it is to go to perform a simple job like brakes or transmission service only to find that something complicates it. Not surprisingly, 30-60 year old cars tend to have more seized/corroded bolts, weakened plastic and rubber components, etc, not to mentioned errors made by previous technicians including cross-threaded nuts, bolts, and fittings. Thanks to these little gems, things like an extremely simple filter change turn into a whole job in and of themselves.
The desire to own a classic Benz is one that I definitely understand: I have 2 of my own. But they come with their own challenges that require time, patience, and yes, money. But it helps a lot to have a mechanic that knows which problems to anticipate and therefore mitigate. Believe me, we don’t look at a broken bolt and get dollar signs in our eyes. It’s something to be avoided if at all possible. But we are prepared for it!
So let the 95% of techs have at the newer cars and leave the classics to us.