Project Fintail (Part 2): Faulty keys

What to do when the car keys no longer work
by Paulo Rafael Subido | Jan 16, 2014

After I decide to finally revive the Fintail, I am shocked to discover that the keys I have no longer work. Are they the wrong keys? Have they worn out? Whatever the case may be, this is a huge problem as I can't work on the car without having access to the tools that are locked in the trunk. I desperately need the lug wrenches that are hopefully still in there, because as it turns out, Benz lug nuts are a strange size--at least compared to the ones used on Japanese economy-boxes.

I head to Magsaysay Road in Baguio to find a locksmith who is willing to take on the job. Everyone I ask refuses after being told that the car is a Mercedes. It takes a while, but I finally convince an elderly locksmith to go to my house with me. I tell him it's a Benz from the 1960s, so it uses a key with external grooves. Newer keys have grooves embedded into them, a security feature that is nearly impossible to crack. Good luck breaking into a newer Mercedes!

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We agree on a price (if he is successful with opening the trunk) beforehand and head on over to my house. After jimmying the release mechanism for a few minutes, the trunk pops open. I am ecstatic. Not only are the tools still in there, but a number of missing interior and exterior trim pieces are stored there as well. Unfortunately, there is also a rat's nest. It is a hideous sight.

If a car has been sitting for a very long time, expect rodents and other pests to have made it a home. So, safety first: If you aren't up to the task, hire a professional to clean up the mess. And if you must handle any of the components nearby, sanitize them first. It also goes without saying that you should wash your hands immediately after messing around with a car that has been infested by dirty rats.

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Here's a shot of the inside of the trunk after being cleaned. Now that I have access to the tools, it's time to get the Fintail back on its feet.


Car restoration project: faulty keys

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