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Could our W116s become (omigosh) retro cool?

Started by michaeld, 18 May 2006, 11:17 PM

michaeld

Here's the link - http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06129/688701-185.stm - I'll paste the text of the article below.

The Seventh Sign of the Apocalypse is upon us: 70's cars may be cool again!  This article doesn't mention Mercedes-Benz, but it seems impossible for me to understand how our cars wouldn't enjoy the same status as those described in the article.

Young car buyers covet 'Grandpa' cars

Tuesday, May 09, 2006
By Jennifer Saranow, The Wall Street Journal

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Jabari Bryant didn't go to a car dealership to buy his new car last fall. The 28-year-old went to a retirement community in Tybee Island, Ga., where for $2,000 he bought a navy blue 1988 Chevrolet Caprice Classic Brougham from a man who was "at least 83."

The seller said "his eyesight was going and he had no use for the car," recalls Mr. Bryant, an automobile glass installer from Savannah.

Young people today don't want their father's Oldsmobile -- they want their grandfather's. Some of the hippest wheels for under-30 drivers today are models commonly identified with seniors: Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Chevrolets and Cadillacs from the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s.

From Collins Ave. in Miami Beach's South Beach neighborhood to International Blvd. in Oakland, Calif., teens and young adults are cruising in "grandpa" and "grandma" cars that they have painted bright colors like lime green, outfitted with fancy sound systems and propped up on monster-truck-style wheels. They're sweet-talking their grandparents into giving up old cars and offering to buy them on the spot from strangers.

Television shows, such as MTV's "Pimp My Ride," and rappers, including Snoop Dogg, are helping to drive the craze. There's even a new magazine, Donk, Box & Bubble, dedicated to the tricked-out-oldie-car culture.

For U.S. car makers, struggling to lift sales, it's a painful irony that the models striking a chord with young buyers aren't those rolling off the assembly lines today but rather ones made decades ago. Detroit's marketers are trying to figure out how to ride the trend without ruining it.

"The worst thing you can do is start to promote this," says Steve Shannon, Buick general manager.

Besides the older models' low price tags, young people say they like the challenge of adding features like big wheels to vehicles that weren't designed for them. The cars are easier to work on than newer, more-computerized versions and are sure to stand out. There's also the cool factor of being so "out" you are "in."

Mr. Bryant was showing off his car in Augusta on a recent Saturday at the "Big Car Showoff," organized by MIA Entertainment Inc.'s East Coast Ryders, which sells DVDs mostly depicting revamped older cars. He has spent about $11,000 customizing his Caprice, now painted "tangerine orange" and lifted onto 24-inch wheels, instead of the 15-inch wheels they came with. Arrayed nearby were about 300 similar vehicles, from a 1972 Chevrolet Impala with an ostrich-skin interior to a 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme lifted four feet off the ground.

If you have one of the grandpa cars and you fix it up, "everyone just thinks ... you got the tightest car," says Tilton Jackson, a 20-year-old stereo installer who likes to show off his 1995 Buick LeSabre on Oakland's International Blvd. Mr. Jackson bought it for $5,000 from an elderly couple who had used the car just to get between home, the store and the hospital. "We're not mocking old people or trying to make fun of them. They are just driving cool cars," says Mr. Jackson, who plans to airbrush Smurfs onto his blue LeSabre.

The shift is starting to show up in market research. Brands like Buick still have an average buyer around age 60. But the percentage of used-car shoppers between 18 and 24 who said they would consider a Buick LeSabre jumped 168 percent in the first quarter of this year from a year earlier, the biggest increase of any model, according to market research firm CNW Marketing Research Inc., Bandon, Ore. And fewer 16-to-24-year-olds think such models are "for an older person" than did in the past, according to a CNW study tracking cars' so-called "stodgy index."

J.D. Power & Associates' Power Information Network reports that buyers 16 to 35 years old accounted for 35 percent of sales of 1989 Buicks last year, up from 29 percent in 2003. Similarly, the age group represented 34 percent of 1989 Cadillac sales last year, up from 20 percent in 2003.

East Coast Ryders, the DVD company and publication that put together the old-car show in Augusta, this month is releasing a toy model line of tricked-out older cars. Donk, Box & Bubble magazine, an offshoot of Harris Publications Inc.'s Rides Magazine, started at the end of February.

"Donks" derived their name, according to one customizer, from the "big old donkey tires" that people put on those vehicles in the Southern U.S. Originally used for Chevrolet Caprices or Impalas from 1971 to 1976 decked out with fancy features and big rims, the term now often refers to all dressed-up older vehicles. Hip-hop car magazine Dub Magazine is working on building a 1996 Chevrolet Impala in the "donk style" with 30-inch wheels. And MTV's "Pimp My Ride" television show, which provides outlandish makeovers to jalopies, is creating its first "donk."

Rapper Snoop Dogg arrived at the MTV Video Music Awards last summer in a "donk" 1967 Pontiac Parisienne, painted in Los Angeles Lakers gold, with purple trim. In California, where "scraypers" or "scrapers," late 1980s and 1990s Buick models, are popular, a Scrayper magazine is in the works -- the term's origin is unclear, though some believe it refers to the way the huge rims make the tires scrape the inside of the car's fender. And a new rap group recently made its debut with the name "ScrayperBoyz." A Web site dedicated to the so-called Scrayper movement describes the newfound street credibility of the old cars: "We take what was intended to be a car for old retired people, a car whose national sponsor is Tiger Woods ... and we make it hood famous."

Car makers say they just became aware of the latest iteration of the mania for older cars in recent months after being contacted by customization magazines and now are trying to figure out how to make some of the hipster allure rub off on their newer vehicles and accessories.

General Motors Corp.'s Buick brand is providing new Lucerne models to Dub Magazine and to customizers to display at an upcoming car accessory show. And Chevrolet is considering dressing the current Impala in "a donk style" for display at car shows and in magazines.

One potential obstacle: many newer models are front-wheel drive, more difficult to lift up "donk style" than old rear-wheel drive ones. "Donk" designs are lifted to accommodate wheels bigger than 22 inches.

"I would rather have an older car than a new car any day," says Cedric Pollard, a 26-year-old from Greenville, S.C., who bought a 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme for $2,000 last year. "It rides better and I can work on it myself." Mr. Pollard's Cutlass now features a picture of comic-book superhero Punisher holding Osama bin Laden's head.

An element of nostalgia also drives some purchasers. "I kind of share a taste in cars with my dad, who liked the big, comfortable stereotypical grandpa cars," says Klayton Kelly, a 27 year old in Bothell, Wash., who just replaced his Honda Civic with a 1993 Chrysler LeBaron. Plus, he says, "everyone has got a Honda," and when you go over a bump in the LeBaron, "it feels like you are floating over it."

Many of the older models have bucket seats, making them perfect for cruising with friends. The girls "yell and scream when you drive by," says Tim Robinson, a 22-year-old from Auburn, Ala. Mr. Robinson's 1994 Ford Crown Victoria, blue with orange flames, has an "orange swirl" crushed velvet interior and 23-inch wheels.

Chris Kilian first saw his 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme eight months ago in someone's yard. He knocked on the door and asked the "older man probably 65 or 70," who opened the door if he wanted to sell the car for $1,500. Mr. Kilian a 25-year-old self-employed car salesman, tools around South Beach in his Oldsmobile, which is now lifted 56 inches off the ground on 26-inch wheels, and painted four different shades of pink.

oscar

Could our W116s become (omigosh) retro cool?

Well we already know the answer, but to those chasing the old domestics in Oz and the US, they've no idea what they're missing.  Whether it be 116's, 108's, jag's or beamers, the inherent quality and style provides a great platform for the extras people may want add.  The common attraction, besides low prices, between the older pre '80 luxury imports and the local rides, is the ability to undo nuts and bolts yourself and gereally tinker without the aid of a service computer.

A few years ago a VW van for work refused to go over 60km/h due to a faulty accelerator sensor.  A job too sophisticated for our own workshop to handle, only VW themselves had the tools.  This veedub had no fly-by-wire accelerator, no physical connection between pedal and throttle.  Bugger that!  It's going too far. 

I hate the computers that take control of the vehicle from you.  ABS and traction control aside, you know those 6speed autos with sports/tip shift that refuse to change down on command until revs match predetermined speeds.  I drive with two feet in autos especially when in a hurry.  Touch the brake on the aforementioned VW's and no matter where the accelerator is or how many revs, the motor instantly slows down to idle revs.

Anyway, I hope others remain ignorant.  If the car's clean and sparkling my merc gets looks.  But that doesn't concern me.  I'm out to impress myself.
1973 350SE, my first & fave

davestlouis

Those kids with the huge wheels and whatnot on crappy old ghetto cruisers irritate me to no end.  I really like stone-stock cars, or customs that are done to a high standard, but there's nothing worse than poorly-executed custom work.  I think young men don't necessarily have the budget necessary to do high quality custom work on their cars, so the cars wind up rigged-up, with lumpy bodywork, sloppy Maaco paint, huge wheels that make the car sit funny and the cars just aren't nicely done.  If they want to trash old Cutlasses and Caprices, so be it, but I hope they stay away from MB cars. 

michaeld

From my understanding of the article (and there are a hosts of other articles dealing with this trend as well), these are young people who COULD buy a new car, but are choosing instead to buy old cruisers and fix them up.  These "kids" are putting $5000 in wheels and tires, and state of the art custom sound systems in these cars (not to mention the paint jobs, and the cost of adapting the chassis for wheels/tires much larger than OEM).

I have to say I agree with Davestlouis' overall opinion though: the first time I saw 22" wheels, I thought, "The only thing dumber than this was those godawful "spinner" wheels."

Here's my two cents on the trend:

Postmodernism is taking over the minds and cultures of the Western world.  Ultimately, according to postmodern thought, there is no ultimate, fundamental reality; rather, there is only surface appearance, which is shaped entirely by one's culture.  To put it another way, I think the way I do (bearing in mind that individual identity is itself merely a cultural creation) because my culture molded and conditioned me to think that way.

If there is no deeper reality, than surface appearance is all that matters.  I once saw a T-shirt that expressed it in a nutshell: "It's not who you are, it's how you look; I mean, who really cares who you are, anyway?"

Now how does this relate to young people buying old cars, you ask?  This new trend is all about a look, a style, a fad.  These kids dumping all their money (to the tune of $7500-10000) into the surface aspects of the cars: tires, wheels, paint, stereo: it's all about the obvious.  THAT is the heart and soul of postmodernism.  There's no "there" there.

You know why I love my Benz so much?  Because my 450SEL resonated SUBSTANCE to me; there really IS a "there" there in this old car.  To the extent that a car can have a soul, this car has one.  These cars transcend the surface veneer of appearance and reach into something deeper and even more real than the materials from which they are built.  The metal, chrome, wood, and leather communicate the deeper realities of quality, pride, elegance, power, and beauty.

I ultimately agree with Davestlouis: I actually hope that these vain, shallow, soulless postmods don't suck the souls out of our cars.









oscar

Point taken.  I suppose I was thinking more of the subtle upgrades and restoration rather than all out pimpin' of old mercs.

When I left Sydney 7 years ago the "Doof, Doof" craze in small s***boxes was taking hold which I never understood until I saw a special features section on the "The Fast and Furious" DVD where a Mitsubishi Evo is given the treatment.  A no expense spared revamp to an already well equipped vehicle, the result was impressive.  I've wondered ever since how my merc would look in candy apple with bamboo interior.

If these people in the article could afford a new car but opt for a fixer upper classic, it makes me wonder about the accuracy in the phrase that I and others have used (even you too I think michaeld), "nothing's as expensive as a cheap mercedes".
If you spent the 15k or 20k to bring it back to showroom condition, that's still a cheap mercedes don't you think?  Forget about monetary returns in the short term.  If you kept your new 116 for another 10-15yrs or longer and give it the attention it gets now I think we'd be in front in more ways than one, compared to a $40k domestic car traded in after 5-10yrs for another.
1973 350SE, my first & fave

davestlouis

I would actively encourage my kids to buy an older, well kept, low mileage car and treat it well.  The cost-per-mile must be nearly zilch, since it is not depreciating and insurance would be cheap.  In Missouri, personal property tax on older cars is cheap too, while it is big money on newer high dollar cars.  The annual tax on a $25000 car is roughly $500, while it's something like $25 on older cars.  So, there are all sorts of monetary reasons to operate an older car.  If it's "COOL" too, great, unless that coolness factor drives up the cost of these cars.  That's where it could get sticky for us, at least short-term...what if W126 gassers that I can buy now for $1500 locally suddenly cost $5000?  Worse yet, what if 5 years from now, the market cools and values drop, but the W126's you will be buying in 2011 have all been repainted in weird colors and it takes thousands of dollars worth of remedial work to un-do the cheesy customizing? 

hokman

W116 has always been cool.  So does all S-class cars.  I sat in the new S500 today, it feels perfectly comfortable and spacious and high quality, but it doesn't feel a bit more special than any other S-classes before.  But when I step inside a E320 cdi, I thought I was in a Ford.

Mforcer

Quote from: michaeld on 19 May 2006, 11:51 PM
From my understanding of the article (and there are a hosts of other articles dealing with this trend as well), these are young people who COULD buy a new car, but are choosing instead to buy old cruisers and fix them up.  These "kids" are putting $5000 in wheels and tires, and state of the art custom sound systems in these cars (not to mention the paint jobs, and the cost of adapting the chassis for wheels/tires much larger than OEM).

I see these people buying the older cars for two reasons. The first is that they could buy a new car but doing so would greatly limit the funds available for modifications such as rims, paint jobs and stereos. The second reason why they are buying older cars is that doing so makes the modifications stand out more than if they made the same mods on newer cars. Both these show that the performance, handling and safety of a car are given second consideration after how the car will look and how much attention it will attract.

Television shows like Pimp My Ride show how people are willing to spend many, many thousands of dollars on a bad car that results in a bad car that looks different. I personally admire the work that many of these cars have done to them but would be concerned by the other aspects of the cars that are not addressed such as mechanical and rust issues.

I still shake my head with wonder why people buy a cheap new car and spend a high portion of their car on it appearance rather than buying a more expensive car without the appearance add-ons but with better overall performance etc. There is one thing to safely say about using an older car to 'pimp' which is they were built to last unlike many of the newer cheaper cars available today.
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

michaeld

Quote from: Mforcer on 30 May 2006, 11:54 PM
I still shake my head with wonder why people buy a cheap new car and spend a high portion of their car on it appearance rather than buying a more expensive car without the appearance add-ons but with better overall performance etc. There is one thing to safely say about using an older car to 'pimp' which is they were built to last unlike many of the newer cheaper cars available today.

THIS is exactly what I was trying to get at in this thread.  Thank you for getting it, Mforcer!

This look is ALL about style over substance.  All that matters is the look; everything else is inconsequential.  Welcome to postmodernism!  Keep in mind, according to postmodernism, there IS no deeper reality; appearance is everything!  All that matters is the surface details.

Having commented on this fad's forsaking of fundamentally important used car details, Mforcer then moves on to new cars, saying that older cars "were built to last unlike many of the newer cheaper cars available today."  Again, I think he is right on; and again, welcome to postmodernism.  We have degenerated to a point where we (as consumers) are more fixated by the "style" of a product than by its "substance."  That's why carmakers are spending a larger and larger percentage of their budgets "packaging" and "marketing" cars and less and less on the cars themeselves.

Denis

QuoteWe have degenerated to a point where we (as consumers) are more fixated by the "style" of a product than by its "substance."  That's why carmakers are spending a larger and larger percentage of their budgets "packaging" and "marketing" cars and less and less on the cars themeselves.

This also applies to politics...

Denis

Paris, France

michaeld

Denis,

Right you are, my Parisian friend.  We ultimately either get the government we deserve (socialism, democracy), or we degenerate to the level of our government (dicatorship, fascism, communism).  In the Western world, as we become more and more postmodern, we will inevitably end up with a government that is based upon postmodern principles.  Tragically, the ultimate end to postmodernism applied to government is pure fascism.  May we all learn our lessons and repudiate this nonesense before we repeat that disasterous mess again!!!