C hrista Margarete Hedwig Romeike from Solingen is 49 Years old when she bought a new Nissan Laurel 2.8 D SGL in April 1988. She chooses a warm velvet green metallic, plus the three-speed fully automatic with overdrive, that makes a total of 30,745 marks.
The Nissan Laurel is a loyal companion
Four electric windows, tinted glass and an electric sunroof are already standard. Years later she had a car radio installed. She will not part with her Laurel until she is just under 70. There are marriages that don't last that long. She didn't want anything everyday, just a car with character. One that swims against the mainstream with rough edges. Later she will write to me in a long letter full of emotion: 'Yes, I was really proud of this shape, this chic, which nowadays has become something special between all the eggs on four wheels that can be seen everywhere . '
She wanted an economical full-size car for frequent drivers, a large touring limousine that would give her a sense of security on the numerous trips to her hometown Berlin. It is 550 kilometers from Solingen to Berlin. Ms. Romeike stayed loyal to her diesel for almost 20 years, at 247,369 kilometers she exchanged 'her dear old Laurel, loyal companion for so many years', as the letter says, for a deal of 300 euros at a VW dealer in Erlangen VW Golf Variant a. He remains the second choice, the long-awaited Subaru Outback is not available as a diesel with automatic. Fifth generation Golf, a petrol engine on top of that. She surrenders to 'the penalty tax of 827 euros and the prohibitions on driving into the city centers'. The spare parts situation also developed dramatically. 'Exhaust system, battery and windshield water tank were no longer original and had to be adapted', writes Ms. Romeike in her four-page letter to me, the new owner of the Laurel.
The change cost 600 euros the Nissan Laurel the owner
I paid six hundred, MOT and AU just expired. At a street vendor in Fürth, he was friendly, spoke with a Russian accent. Only on the second attempt did I take the Laurel. The first time it was honestly too bad for me - too many dents and sloppily retouched paintwork damage, yellowed stickers, dissolving window seals,Mud flaps, old brown seat covers, hardware store hubcaps. My proper 400 Euro Mercedes 190 E 2.6 has pushed the value-for-money benchmark far into the red area of the impossible.
Even the yellow environmental badge of the Laurel couldn't persuade me, rather the wonderful one Sound of his six-cylinder diesel, which sang the song of the ancient archaic mechanical engineering. At the time, Nissan was a large truck manufacturer, and you could literally hear and see on the proud engine block the diesel expertise milled from full cast. I even forgave him the timing belt, he doesn't belong in there. Like turbochargers and intercoolers, it is modern devil's stuff. If you want to drive overland from Solingen to Saigon, you don't need something like that. I would trust the Nissan to make this trip. Immediately.
The Nissan Laurel is economical to use
For a week I talked to the green Laurel from afar, the original brochure Bought together with the price list on eBay, then there was no stopping them. The drive from Nuremberg went smoothly - 120 km /h are just 2,500 tours in overdrive, the throaty diesel sound then turns into a pleasant roar, we know the sound from earlier, from the VW LT. Even a diesel Volvo sounds like this, the turbos are a bit sharper, it's the same engine after all. Laurel and me, we make friends quickly. A consumption of 7.5 liters is a delight for the heart and wallet, it is my autobahn taxi between Stuttgart and Munich, driving slowly becomes a ritual with it.
But unlike the Mercedes 200 D automatic two years ago, it sounds much nicer , one feels lavishly motorized, knows about the massive block in front under the angular hood, which can be seen from the driver's seat. It is not the minibus feeling of today's bio-design automobiles, where you think there is nothing in front. With on-board resources, I am slowly getting the scratched look out. The processing means a lot of awl work, the old animal welfare and Berlin stickers hardly go down. The customer service booklet is stamped through - Nissan partners in Berlin, Middle Franconia and in the Bavarian Forest, countless independent workshops, even a VW dealer has serviced the strange exotic. I felt that the car was telling a story, that the checkbook reflected a mobility profile. I just had to listen carefully. Twenty years with a car, that's the stuff, the soot-blackened ink from the diesel oil pan, with which life writes.
Letter to the previous owner of the Nissan Laurel
I wrote Mrs. Romeike what I think was a very nice, sensitive letter. She took a long time to answer, but it exceeded all expectations in terms of auto-understanding, fluency and pun. Flawlessly typed on the PC, a picture of the Nissan scanned: Spring idyll with the Laurel, south of Bremen, Ms. Romeike is on the road a lot. 'Most of timeI slid along with 140 km /h, then he was in his best form, 'she writes and later adds, moved:' To my regret, he was not as strong as I had hoped. How should he with his meager 90 hp? To achieve this, he always used incredibly little diesel. When I was 90, I made it to five liters per 100 kilometers in the summer. Today's car should imitate that first.
The Nissan Laurel did not go down very well
I like the Laurel. But my social fabric is reserved, even negative. Some of them don't even want to get on board and now think I'm completely crazy when I praise the Japanese that is visually counted. The fine, cultivated engine, the great seating position, the refreshingly large sunroof, the still almost jerk-free automatic and the American shape with a dash of Cadillac in line. All of which makes him as adorable as a big shaggy dog from the shelter. Okay, you have to do something. Inside it is great, thanks to the protective covers, but outside it has the marks of two decades of battle. The broken wiper arms of the headlight shower are no longer there, the original hubcaps are long out of print. EBay fails too.
At some point I don't want to explain anymore why I think the car is good, it's too tiresome for me. I take a day off, determined to trade in the Laurel for something better. The shock absorbers feel even more worn out than usual, the white cloud of smoke in the inside mirror lasts longer than usual after a cold start, and a strange creak comes from the direction of the front axle. The thermometer shows something hotter than normal, and it chuckles strange under the hood when cornering. Is a cooling water hose bursting right now, does the Laurel want to punish me for my intention to break up? Cars also have a soul, especially if they have been in the first hand for 20 years.
Does the Nissan Laurel have to go to Africa?
My disorientation leaves me stranded on the B27 not far behind Tübingen. There is a silver BMW 525 tds, E 34 series, 218,000 km, checkbook, fine equipment, 2nd hand, for 1,800 euros on the gravel space baptized by Cosimo Bramato. Undoubtedly a presentable large diesel. Cosimo, the friendly Italian, has no fear of contact with the Laurel. He knows the car from before and praises the robust engine. 'Doesn't break, it's the same as in the Patrol. The car is ideal for Africa - I'll give you 600 if you take the BMW.'
I pace up and down nervously. I think of Ms. Romeike and her letter: 'The fact that the paint was no longer noticeable worried me, but the overhaul would only have been worthwhile if an H license plate was in sight.' knew that we were going to split up: 'When I looked around at the Erlangen Nissan dealer in Primera times, I spokeI was approached by a very dark-skinned man who wanted the car for Nigeria for taxi rides from the airport to the hotel. But at that time he didn't want to give more than a hundred euros. I drove off with a smile ... '
I can't make up my mind, can't give the Laurel away. Under no circumstances. Under no circumstances for export to Africa. I've been spared twice. A German enthusiast, on the other hand, a car mechanic, painter or bodybuilder who can help himself at any time, I wouldn't have any qualms about that. I let the heavy bonnet fall into the lock and, with a shrug of shoulders, drive with a resolute decision from Cosimo's yard. The engine is still warm. When accelerating, it rustles contentedly and lulling like running bath water. Pebbles splatter from the tire tread. It doesn't work. His entire biography is in a folder on the back seat. Ms. Romeike sent me all the invoices, the TÜV reports and two spare keys. That is an obligation.