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bystander reactions to Mercedes cars

Started by davestlouis, 20 May 2006, 08:19 PM


I have driven several brands of luxury cars over the years, but I never cease to be amazed by the way bystanders react to MB cars...My W126 420SEL is sick again, so I drove my rusty nasty R107 560SL this weekend.  Keep in mind the car has 214XXX miles, rust all over it, seats look like a dog chewed on them.  I paid $1000 for this car recently.  I overheard the checkout clerks at a gas station discussing how much the car was worth today, speaking in hushed tones like it was something special.  I used to drive a late-model Cadillac and none of my teenaged kids' friends ever commented on that one way or the other.  I bought several 20+ year old MB cars and you would have thought I was a celebrity.  I dropped the kids off at school in a 1993 300E and within an hour one of my kids called, from school, and said people were asking if we were "rich"?  These are kids my kids have gone to school with for several years...why did an old W124 impress them so much?  It troubles me, because I don't want to set myself up as a target for a home invasion or carjacking, just because I bought several tired old luxury cars. 


Drive a diesel benz and then no one will think you are a rich man



If I were a little richer, I'd be driving one right now!  They are the most valuable of the old Benzes today by and large.  Even the 126s are significantly more valuable if they are diesel.  People (at least here in the US) are always shocked when the price of gas goes up (even though it's more $ in most of the rest of the world); and diesels are beginning to look more and more attractive (noise and smell aside) here.

I know what you mean, Dave.  Let me give you an analogy.  When I was younger, I was into weightlifting.  I was 245lbs with a 34" waist, and when I walked into a room, people noticed me.  It wasn't until I injured a knee, and basically quit working out, that I noticed the difference (i.e., I didn't notice I was getting a lot of attention until I stopped getting it).  I've driven a nice looking 90 Cadillac Fleetwood, and an even nicer looking  92 Lincoln Town Car - and neither got nearly as many glances as my 77 450SEL.  On the downside,  I've noticed a lot more street people hitting me up for $ as I get out of my car!


Quote from: michaeld on 20 May 2006, 11:30 PM... On the downside,  I've noticed a lot more street people hitting me up for $ as I get out of my car!

On the rare occasion that happens to me, I ask them what makes them think I'm 'rich' enough to give handouts; when they point at my car, I tell them (true or not) that it's the very reason I'm poor!

It works.
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Hi davestlouis and all

Since you started this thread, I will try to use the same cars that you have and tell you how they are seen here :

W126 420SEL - nobody notices you but thinks that you ought to buy a more practical car.

R107 560SL (rusty like yours) - Some people walk up to you and say they have a mint one or one that they are restoring and make you an offer on your rusty car as they want a parts car. A typical offer would be around 2000USD

1993 300E - no comment, these cars are a dime a dozen here. I would say like a big Buick in America

Late model Cadillac - you get a few stares. If it were a seventies convertible, you would gather a small crowd around it  ;D

Different places, different people, different views. I think that people usually like what is "exotic" ! Take the vertical headlamps of the W108/109 cars. Only the 6.3 had the "American" headlamps originally. Well people here will pay a premium for this while Americans pay a premium for the big glass units. You could almost have a US-Europe swap site and it would work.

W116/W126 cars are also gypsy cars in some parts of Europe (dubious status hey) while in eastern Europe near Russia, a black one is a mafia car - little mafia mind you...

Years ago I was a student in Holland and walking on a street in Utrecht. I suddenly saw a sign "Prestige motorcars" with several nice shiny cars for sale, let's see, there was a Daimler double-six, a jaguar 420, a Plymouth Bareiros...a what ? a Plymouth Bareiros - a Spanish assembled car with nice interior and finish, all built on the basis of an early 70s Dodge Dart with the 6 cylinder slanted engine  :o

"Prestige" motorcar hey  ::)

Go figure...


Paris, France


I agree,
People are strange!!!

Back in the '80's I drove a 1964 Chev Convertible and they all thought I was rich.
Except all I owned was the car, (my only transport at the time) my record collection and my clothes. I even lived in a rented, shared house.
These people would say to me that I'm rich and yet the car they were driving was worth twice as much as mine.

Nowadays I drive my '79 280SE as everyday transport that I only paid AU$2,300 for and again they think I'm rich!!!
I had a local neighbour see me in this car and said to me; "someones doing allright!".
The joke was, he was driving a Mitsubishi Pajero 4WD that was worth about $10,000+.
Oh, well. If they think I have money, so be it. ;D

Russell Bond - (Adelaide, South Australia)
1978 450SEL 6.9 .... #5166 .... 12/78 (Sold.) [url="//"][/url]


The Barreiros cars were based on the Dodge Dart chassis, but built by a different maker. I do not remember them to be called Plymouth Barreiros. I recommend you to investigate on "Eduardo Barreiros" cars.

They were cars for prime ministers and for some people with a lot of money. Today, here at Spain, they cost more money than you can suppose, and they are considered real old-timers.



Ah, regarding MB cars.. yes, some people said me.. "Wow, you have bought a "Merchi". You must be getting money.. eh ??? ".. they do not really know that i got this car very, very, very cheap ( less than 2000 Euro ).


PS: Merchi is the alias for the Mercedes cars.. something like Ed. for Edward... ;)


I had a 1966 Chrysler Valiant - black with red interior - that, apart from the tail-end trim and tail lamps, looked exactly like that Barreiros. 225 ci slant-six engine; great goer in a straight line, but forget cornering or anything adventurous - it handled like a rudderless bathtub on a stormy sea.
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My two cents worth,

Its interesting to see how people react to the MB. Especially the 1970's-2000 people think they are expensive but they are not many other cars on the road are worth much more. My everday Nissan is worth considerrably more than my 450sel and no one accuses me of being rich. I have a w116 as does my very good friend. He was in a Op shop buying some cheap things when the shop keeper saw what car he had he was most upset and wished that he had charged him more for what he bought...(rich bastard.... were the words he used).

Well the car cost him $400 and it still looks ok. It is ironic it costs him $550 a year to register the car. Thats more than what it cost him too buy.

You have to give it to MB there cars age well. When you see an 80'or 90's Commodaore or Falcoln you know it is an old car even if it is maintained well. On the other hand, unless you are interested in MB it can be harder to place the age of the vehicle, and I guess thats why people think you are rich if you drive an old one.


78 450 SEL Parting out
78 450 SEL Saving for parts
79 450 SEL 6.9  #5332
77 450 SEL 6.9 Euro # 1696
77 450 SEL 6.9 Euro #1577
78 450 SEL 6.9  # 4172
76 280 S     Manual Parting
80 280 SE  Possible Parts Car
74 350 SLC  Thinking converting to race


Quite right OBH, when I saw dudu's pics my thoughts turned immediately to its likeness to a Val.
BTW was this yours?  ;D

Quote from: Andreas on 21 May 2006, 10:47 PM
You have to give it to MB there cars age well. When you see an 80'or 90's Commodaore or Falcoln you know it is an old car even if it is maintained well. On the other hand, unless you are interested in MB it can be harder to place the age of the vehicle, and I guess thats why people think you are rich if you drive an old one.
Well said Andreas, however......
I think my car got more looks during the late 80's early 90's when, despite it's age, it looked very modern.  Couple that with the badge and brand anyone could be deceived regarding a 116 owners finances.  Since the bubble shapes took over the square edges and now the aerodynamic look and moulded bumpers have dominated for years, the car looks older but retains its classy look which it never lost but the grill and bonnet star still helps.  I don't think many would see past the grill.  Removal of mud guards, installing chrome arches and repainting the wheel wells and rocker panels black has made the car more noticeable.  But the days of assuming the car is owned by a richie is far gone in my town at least.  Remember, in this town of 26,000 there's around 7 116's, a bunch of 123's (which my friends mistake for 116's) plus a stack of 126's and E classes that have 17-18 year olds driving them.  The illusion has long gone.

Anything old that looks new and shiny and big will always draw attention.  Locally, the big 50's and 60's "yank tanks" draw the most attention. When the club gets out on a weekend, a 57 chev, Caddie Deville and Chev Impala get more looks than the equally rare but more expensive sole red Ferrari that can be seen occasionally in town.

As for the op-shop owner, I would've turned around on my way out, pretended I could speak French by saying "merci beacop monsieur", with a big grin to show off my gold teeth.  Ok, THEEEEEEN I'd move my merc round to the back of the store, take my cricket bat out of the boot and bash the bejesus out of his multicoloured panelled 84 corolla.

Allright I jest, but re homeless people, we don't have any.  The local council shoots them.  ;D

1973 350SE, my first & fave


Quote from: oscar on 21 May 2006, 11:30 PM
Quite right OBH, when I saw dudu's pics my thoughts turned immediately to its likeness to a Val.
BTW was this yours?  ;D

Could be, although the one pictured has Queensland plates; mine went to a new home on the south coast of NSW (many years ago).

Here is mine after a Diahatsu demolished itself against the Vallo:

I wrenched the bent mudguard off the front wheel and drive home (and continued driving it like that for a year). The Diahatsu was an unrecognisable write-off (and its driver wasn't far behind in meeting that condition!).
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Good discussion.

I agree with Oscar's post.  Our cars look modern enough; the problem is that new cars are postmodern.  The thing I like about w116s is that they still manage to look "classic" without looking "old."  A lot of older cars - with their extremely angular, box-like lines - look almost comical in today's everything-designed-like-it-came-out-of-a-windtunnel look.  Our w116s have a beautiful, graceful slope to all the various body contours.  You can tell they're not brand new, to be sure, but they still look like they fit in.

Let me let you in on a little secret.  The day I bought my 450SEL on ebay, I was torn between it and a clean, low-mileage 87 Mercury Lynx 2 door hatchback.  I was planning to drive either car for a while, and then turn around and sell it for a profit.  The Lynx made a lot more sense in a lot of ways: it was newer, had fewer miles, and was more economical.  But I pictured myself in the thing - you know, hunched over the wheel driving it - and I just couldn't bring myself to buy it.  Winner: 450SEL.  I don't know how "rich" I look driving my 450, but I KNOW I look MILLIONS "richer" than I would have in that Lynx!!!