2400 mile road trip in an eBay 560SEC – Part 1

I lived in Michigan between 2007-2011.   When I first moved there, I bought a cheap but somewhat rusty 1989 560SEC to be my daily driver.   It was already rusty so I was not worried about driving it in the notorious Michigan snow and salt.   After about 18 months the original 560SEC had been hit a few times in the snow.   It also had a very minor head gasket problem where it would burn coolant only if idling for more than about 10 minutes.     I figured the car was on its last legs.

My plan was to buy a nicer car to drive in the summer and then use the crashed, rusty 560SEC as a winter car until it died.   Little did I know that it would still be soldiering on 2.5 years later when I eventually left Michigan and returned to Australia.   The advantage of another 560SEC was that the original car could also serve as a rolling parts car.

I used to travel a lot back in those days.  About a week before a week long trip to Southern California, I noticed a nice eBay 560SEC.   The car was a 1988 model in 040 Black and a Tan interior.   It was high mileage (182,000 miles / 293,000 km) but looked in excellent condition.   I can’t remember if I spoke to the seller before bidding, but I ended up owning the car for $3,750.  I got the car that cheap because of the high miles but also because it had gaudy drug dealer wheels and gold badges.    These are both easy things to fix.   The car was originally from Palm Desert so most of those miles were highway.

The seller was a dealer out of Orange County who agreed to pick me up from the airport Sunday night.     I had pre-ordered a GPS and a radar detector to be sent to my hotel.    Instead of the company paid for rental car, my plan was to use the eBay 560SEC to get around to all my meetings which would give me a feel of the cars ability to tackle a 2400 mile road trip.    Part of my agenda that week was a drive down to San Diego.  The mix of city and highway driving would be a proper test run.    Even better the car had 3-4 weeks of registration left.    Easily enough to get back to Michigan.


The car performed really well during the week in Southern California.   The A/C compressor was a bit noisy but otherwise OK.    One of the wheels was slightly out of balance and the car tramlined with the horrible aftermarket wheels.   The rear Cigarette lighter also melted my phone charger.  A quick stop at Walmart for a double adaptor for the front and a new one sorted that out.  While I was there I picked up a cassette deck adaptor for the Alpine cassette player!

The car was fitted with the original US headlights which are so dim to be almost unsafe.  Luckily the 1989 car had a set of European units – one of the first swaps I did when I got back.

ebay 560SEC

As I won the car in March of 2009, there was still snow and ice on the northern routes back to Michigan.   The fastest way would have been to go up to through Utah and Colorado on I80.   I didn’t want to risk that route with these wheels and tyres, so I went for the slightly longer southern route.

This route required 35 hours of driving over the weekend.  It was going to take my eBay 560SEC through Northern Arizona, New Mexico, the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and finally Michigan.     It would have been much better to take 3-4 days to do this trip.   Unfortunately I had work commitments on the Monday back in Michigan.  I left Friday afternoon about 3pm for my mad dash across the country.

The story continues in part 2.

ebay 560SEC

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