Like many German makers these days, Mercedes has aimed downmarket. You can get an entry-level Benz for nearly $30,000, much less if you don't mind a low-mile lease turn-in with a couple years under its belt. That's Toyota Camry cash. But here's the thing: Keeping your Teutonic ride on the road still takes Mercedes money, because oil changes can run eight times the normal rate, not to mention regular service sessions (ahem, $400 at the dealer). Enter Larry, owner of Westwood Mercedes, which is not actually in Westwood. (He moved from West L.A. to a Shell gas station on Cloverfield in Santa Monica a couple years ago.) He's an honest-to-goodness German mechanic who knows your wheels backward and forward, and he won't always charge the price of airfare to Stuttgart. If you want half off what dealerships and other indie Merc shops often charge, Larry's your guy. Just don't complain if he disses your newer ride as being inferior to the '70s- and '80s-era German steel he has parked around the garage. 1802 Cloverfield Blvd., Santa Monica, 90404. (310) 477-6405, —Dennis Romero

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