Dear Car Talk:
I own a beautiful 1985 Mercedes 280SL. At my last hose changeover, I was informed that there were only 43 of the "molded" radiator hoses available, nationwide. The other hoses could be replaced off the shelf. My question is: Does it make sense to buy several of these hoses now, place them in zip bags and put them inside some sort of airtight plastic containers to prevent deterioration? Will they be useful in eight years, at the next changeover? If not, do you have any suggestions as to how to deal with this problem? I don't want to have to sell my beloved Benz to a collector. -- Steven
I think you should corner the market, Steven. Buy all 43 of them and go into business. You'll be like the Hunt Brothers with silver in the 1970s.
I don't see any real downside in buying a couple of the hard-to-find hoses for future use -- especially if this is a vehicle you plan to keep forever.
If I were you, I'd put some Armor All on them to help keep them from drying out. Then I'd put them in Ziploc bags and put them in a box in the back of a closet somewhere.
By the way, I'll be expecting my monthly checks from Armor All and Ziploc for those mentions, fellas.
Honestly, I think the rubber will be good forever. What degrades rubber is oxygen and heat. And in Ziploc bags in a closet, they won't be exposed to much of either one. The bigger danger is that you'll forget where you put them, and create a real head-scratcher for your heirs when they sort through your prized possessions.
And keep in mind, too, that there are plenty of other parts on this car that are going to become obsolete and hard to find. It'll be a small miracle if the next hard-to-find part you need is that radiator hose in eight years.
So maybe you should pick up one of everything now. Instead of storing the parts in your closet, use them to build a second 1985 280SL in your garage. And then pluck it for parts. Good luck, Steven.