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What kind of person buys/drives a w116?

Author Topic: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?  (Read 8678 times)

Bandolero

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #15 on: 26 April 2007, 08:38 PM »
I bought one for a slightly different reason...kinda..
In the 70's I was in my 20's and noticed the 116's when they were new.
I knew that the number was the size of the engine and L meant long wheelbase.
So, of course I liked the 450SEL. I loved the style and how "posh" they looked in their day. Also, I vaguely knew there was a "fancy" suspension option but didn't know much more than that. (About the 6.9s.)
I couldn't afford a Merc back then so I drove old Holdens etc. In 1977 I bought my first classic car, it was a 1958 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door hardtop. Loved it.
3 years later I bought a 1964 Chevrolet Impala Convertible. I had that for 7 years. Loved that too!!!
Then I got married the first time and the Chev had to go. (No money.)
Meanwhile I would still see the 450SELs on the road which I STILL couldn't afford.
Then I remarried in 2000 and ended up with 5 cars all registered!!!!
Talk about expense!!!
Then I got a "bee in my bonnet" and wanted a Merc.

I think I wanted to make out I was rich!! (Not a good reason to buy a car!)
This is what I mean by I bought one for a slightly different reason.

I sold all the "common" cars and I bought a 280SE that was in excellent condition and then I was HOOKED!!!
That's when I found out all about the 6.9s.
EXCEPT the part about the cost of parts!!!
Meanwhile, I realised just how well these cars are made compared to our US derived Australian cars of the 70s and 80s.
You can even pull apart the electrical connections to repair them, not like a cheaper car that has moulded plugs etc.
Anyway, I just HAD to have a 6.9. So I bought one....yay!!!!! ;D
Now I have turned into a "motoring snob". It has to be a Merc!!
After saying that, I still own a 1978 HZ Holden Wagon for doing grotty jobs, like going to the wreckers, etc.

It's funny you know, back in the 80's & 90's, for some reason I thought that the 116 Mercs where not liked very much, I don't know why I thought it, maybe someone told me that years ago and I believed them.
Probably happened just after the fuel embargo of the mid 70's.
Russell Bond - (Adelaide, South Australia)
1978 450SEL 6.9 .... #5166 .... 12/78 (Sold.) www.ezycoat.com.au

michaeld

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #16 on: 26 April 2007, 08:55 PM »
Well, I said I'd respond with my own take on the question.  Here I go.

On the Pontiac forum I belong to, I've noticed a few people who clearly are not particularly literate (misspellings, pathetic grammar and word choice, etc).  I don't ever remember seeing that here.  But for the most part, the overwhelming majority of the Pontiac folk are quite well-spoken.  So I don't think it's education.

If it's income or even socio-economic status, maybe I don't belong.  I aint no rich boy, that's for sure.  To be honest with you, I've never set out to be one.  I COULD earn more by teaching more courses, but I desire "quality of life" more than $$$.  What can I say?  I'd rather have more time than more dollars.  And let me assure you, of all the people who were ever born on God's green earth, I am NOT one to go seeking after "status."  I don't even WANT anybody thinking I'm better than they are.

Well, is it "class"?  Dude, if you accuse me of having class I will BELCH in your face, and I will proceed to fart at you as well if I must to prove my point, I swear I will!  I'm a teacher: that's the only time I have class!  If you've got to have "class" to own a Mercedes, then I snuck in the back door.

Well, that leaves either "taste" or "something else."  I vote for "taste," depending on how you define "taste."  And "something else" sounds good, also, so I'll vote for that too.

Here's a question: is a guy who wants a musclecar capable of sub-10 second quarters less "tasteful" than a guy who wants a luxury car?  I don't thinks so.  But luxury and muscle people clearly have very different tastes, don't they?

It really isn't about money either: you price a classic GTO, Firebird, or Trans-Am lately?  These cars are going for $60k plus in many cases.  Some of them go for hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Having a horsepower beast don't come cheap - particularly when you build an engine up to get a whole other level of performance.

Quite a few Pontiac guys love their Pontiacs because they want performance, defined as horsepower and torque that translate into 1/4 mile times 0-60 mph times.  Now, I know some of you 6.9 guys might argue with this, but these big Pontiac engines are so easy to build up - and many of them had SO much power to begin with (e.g. the '67 428HO is 390 horses bone stock!) that even the 6.9s just can't begin to compete in terms of raw power.  But is raw power the end all?  Is that what Mercedes set out to build?  Cars for the drag strip?




On the subject of "power," here's a thread started by one of the fellows on my Pontiac forum:

The latest dyno results of my 469 cid engine are in. We were able to make a little over 800 naturally aspirated HP with my self imposed limits of OEM block, OEM crank and OEM D port head. It made 806 HP at 6700 and 695 lbs ft Torque at 5100. Volumetric efficiency peaked at a very nice 127.1%.

1969 428 Block; 4.190” bore; Filled to bottom of freeze plugs; 3 center billet caps
9799103 “N” 455 crank stroked to 4.250”; Radiused counterweights to reduce windage
6.782” connecting rod
JE flat top pistons
Child and Albert gapless rings
#48 heads; substantial port work; flowed over 315 cfm with intake and carb; much epoxy
2.110”/1.770” REV custom valves
13:1 compression
Isky Solid roller cam; approx 270/280 at .050”; installed at 105 IC
1.65 Crane gold roller rockers
Manton 9.400” pushrods
Victor intake welded and heavily ported; polished exterior; 1” spacer
1050 Dominator; tweaked
MSD billet distributor; crank trigger
2” Hedman Hustler headers; 30” collector extension
Star Vacuum pump
Custom built oil pan


Can you even begin to imagine 806 horsepower and 695 ft/lbs?  That is insane craziness.
Note the fact that this guy is running a stock block, crank, and head.  He's not running nitrous, he's not running a blower.  This is just a ported, badass Pontiac engine.  It wouldn obviously eat our 6.9s alive!  And other guys go even more nuts with mods and end up with street engines that have well over 1000 horsepower!  Could you even DO that on one of our engines?  Is there a significant performance market for w116s where one could buy ported heads, bigger camshafts, and whatnot?  The performance market is HUGE in American cars, and always has been.  How many 6.9s on this forum are "bigger" than 417 cubic inches due to performance mods?  You go to a musclecar forum, and EVERYBODY'S running big bore performance.

BTW, 806 horses is by no means the most on the Pontiac forum.  One guy's got 1,961 horses and 1,700 ft/lbs.  Crazy.

But does that mean that American engines "outperform" (or can be built to outperform) Mercedes engines?  Well, it kind of depends on what you mean when you say, "perform," doesn't it?  One analogy would be dogs: I say I like German Shepherds, I think they're magnificent dogs (which I do).  And you say, "Why would you want one of those?  My pit bull can kick a Shepherd's ass!"  Well, let's agree that's true: So what?  Maybe I don't want a dog that can kick other dog's asses.  Maybe I want a dog that won't bite my 3 year old daughter.  Maybe that pit bull would be a terrible dog for me.  And I wouldn't tend to even think of viciousness as a good measure of a dog's "performance."  If someone else does, that's their problem (and mind you, such people DO have a problem!).

How about another analogy: I'm a 100 meter sprinter, and you're a 1500 meter runner.  I watch you run and say, "Dang, you're slow."  You respond by saying, "Go 8 laps around the track with me and tell me if you still feel that way after your heart explodes trying to keep up with me."  Who's fastest?  Depends on what kind of race you're running, doesn't it?

Another example: When I drive, I generally try to accelerate gradually and smoothly.  I only "punch it" when I really want to get in another lane at a traffic light in order to make an unexpected turn.  Why?  Because hard acceleration creates the most stress (and stretch) on a timing chain.  Am I sacrificing "performance?"  Yes, if you mean 0-60 speed; but NO, if you mean timing chain longeivity.  For me, "performance" means more durability and reliability, not necessarily speed.  I'm willing to sacrifice some of the latter in order to obtain more of the former.  So, regarding that 806 hp 428, is that going to be a low maintenance, high durability engine?  Probably not on either count.  It wasn't built to go 200,000 miles; it was built to haul ass.  You might need to reset the timing on that thing darn near every time you drive it in order to keep it running smooth.  Do I want it?  No, thanks.  Give me that 6.9, which was built by the factory to do it's thing hassle-free over the long haul.

WWJD (What Would Jesus Drive?).

If the 6.9 had been intended to reign supreme in automotive acceleration from a dead stop, it would NOT have been fitted w/ a 3 speed automatic; it would have been given a 4 speed manual.  Why wasn't it?  Because that wasn't the type of driving the car was intended to do. Do you see the original wealthy professionals who bought these cars powershifting the gears in the red lines between stoplights?  I don't.

Then there's "handling."  Is the 6.9 the best handling car on the planet?  No.  You've got your track racers like the Corvette and Firebird (not to mention Ferraris, Lamborginis, Maseratis) that have fantastic speed and cornerning capabilities.  the 6.9 couldn't begin to pull Gs with these; but they could with ANYTHING else.  And there wasn't a 4-door sedan on the planet that could pull Gs like a 6.9.

The 6.9 is a saloon car, which means it's a performance luxury sedan.  That was what Mercedes-Benz set out to build, and that is what they built.  Germans were making great saloon cars before Americans realized they weren't talking about cars you drove to taverns.  It took Cadillac what - nearly 15 plus more years? - before they started building Northstar-engined saloons.  Americans built GTOs, Firebirds, Corvettes, etc.  And then they built giant luxury boats like my Pontiac Grand ville.  No saloons.  It's a different concept, and measuring engines simply in terms of "drag strip performance" is asanine.  In philosophy it's called a "category fallacy."  If I'm going to take my four socially prominent friends for a long Sunday drive, what will I choose?  Will I pack them like sardines and then bounce them around in my Firebird, or will I take them for a smooth luxurious cruise in my 6.9?  If we're driving high speed on windy roads, will I take them in my massive Grand ville and make them sea sick with the swaying, or will I nail those turns in my 6.9?  The 6.9 was created to be the best handling, most powerful saloon in the world, and it succeeded beautifully.  It did not set out to be the fastest hot rod at the track.

Our w116s were made for a particular purpose, and they fulfilled that purpose magnificently.  I didn't get my 116 because I have "style," but because I admired the style of THE CAR.  Just because I'm a geek don't mean I can't have a cool car, right?  I like the luxury.  I like the styling.  I like what I call the "spartan lavishness" of the Mercedes (It's got a lot of what you need to enjoy driving; not a lot of what you don't).  I like taking my friends on a "saloon tour."

When I look at cars now, I see it as part art, part engineering, part pragmatic transportation.  And my w116 informed that perspective.  I also want to be unique and different in terms of standing out in the crowd.  ( DON'T want to be like everybody else - which has the added advantage of making it easy to spot my car in a crowded parking lot!).  I also want some power, speed, and handling - maybe not the absolute MOST power, or the FASTEST car, or the BEST HANDLING car, but good enough to beat everyone who doesn't HAVE one that is.  I want the whole automotive package, in other words: I also want something that is durable, reliable, and smooth.  Does it sound to you like I might be a w116 driver? 

Andrew280SEL

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #17 on: 27 April 2007, 02:46 AM »
Micheald, take a bow!  ;)

That was excellent, and I couldnt agree more! The german shepherd/pitball analogy in particular sank right in, and I instantly understood.
It makes perfect sense, and anyone who has any doubt about any model w116, in terms of performance or otherwise, should read your post.

Well done!   8)
'79 280SEL- 560,000 Kms
'73 350SE- getting an AMG facelift
'79 450SEL 6.9

OzBenzHead

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #18 on: 27 April 2007, 03:01 AM »
michaeld:

You've waxed eloquent before, and I saved your words for posterity then; looks as though I have to do it again!

Well writ!

Shall discuss with you further developments in your possible contribution/s to my book (remember that project?). A testimonial such as in your post is just what I need.

Other posters beware:

If you've arrived on the W116.org board in recent times, you might have missed my planned / in-slow-progress / sometime book project on the W116 series.  Beware - I just might take a liking to your post/s and ask permission to use them.   ;D  (Note: I would use material only with express permission - on principle.)

michaeld

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #19 on: 27 April 2007, 06:29 PM »
Andrew and Ozbenz,

Thanks for the kind words.  And Gordon, as I've told you before, nothing would make me happier than to go down to the store and buy your book and say, "I said that!" as I leaf through the pages.

It's funny; I've had several late 60s and early 70s American cars.  But I haven't had any for something like 15 years, and you forget quite a few things about the experience.  Getting this old Pontiac brings quite a few memories back - and mostly GOOD memories from my teens and early 20s.

As I've driven my Grand ville around, I've truly appreciated it.  It's a fine car: comfortable, plenty of power, sensibly roomy, unique and attractive, and REAL METAL.  Americans built some great cars back in the day.  I really appreciated the positive response I got (well, that my Pontiac got, actually) when I introduced the 73 Grand ville to the forum.

But I've also noticed that it's a very different car from my 116.  And I wouldn't have understood what my Grand ville - and by extension American autos in general - LACKED until I'd owned a w116 Mercedes.

At the same time, I didn't truly appreciate my 116 until I bought the Pontiac.  Having the two (cars from a similar era) at the same time gave me the ability to compare and contrast which I otherwise would not have had.

I don't buy new cars.  Someday, when I get old enough to truly worry about breaking down, I'm sure I will.  I'd rather put my scarce resources somewhere else (i.e. a house, my 10-40 plan, the stock market).
My last three cars were all 90s cars (a 90 Cadillac Brougham, a 92 Lincoln Town Car, a 94 Buick Skylark).  I bought the Skylark hurridly when my Lincoln was stolen.  And bought my 450SEL while I still had the Skylark.

You know, the Mercedes compared so favorably to the mid-90s V-6 Buick I really didn't think about it.  But if you stop and think about it for a moment, that's quite remarkable: that a 70s car would accelerate and handle so well that its AT LEAST on the level with a mid-90s car (it actually OUT-accelerated/handed the Buick).

And, of course, when you compare build quality, quality of materials, and that sort of thing, I personally believe that GM was doing a far better job in the 70s than they were in the 90s (and today).  It will be VERY intersting to see how many 90s/2000s cars will still be on the road 30+ years from now.  I believe very few will.

I hope the 6.9 guys will appreciate what I was saying in that last post.  I'm trying to realistically assess WHY its a fantastic car.  It's not a muscle car, and it wasn't built to out-accelerate or out-handle cars that were essentially built to emulate stock racers.  It is a saloon car, and it was the best handling, most powerful saloon built up to that time (and beyond!).  When you talk about luxury, power, and handling performance, the 6.9 stands alone.  There had simply never been anything like it.  And when you take a moment to think about it, I think you might agree that it introduced the concept of "performance luxury cars" to the world.  The car was twenty years ahead of its time.

I will also be interested to hear what the 6.9 guys say about my remarks concerning 6.9 engine build-ups.  IS there a (after)market for major performance increases for the 6.9, or for any of the w116s?  I've never heard boo about one.

So I'm hoping to get more feedback and generate more discussion on this thread.
Mike





 

 

oscar

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #20 on: 29 April 2007, 06:57 PM »
Michaeld,  Re the post on the last page - very well said.  I'd love to add but I honestly can't think of what to contribute.  You said it all and perhaps pointed out a few qualities of the w116 I've neglected to notice for some time.  Thanks very much. :)
1973 350SE, my first & fave

gregdeklerk

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #21 on: 01 May 2007, 02:51 AM »
I think it is the best kept Mercedes Benz secret. I drove a 380SL for about 100km over the weekend to our gathering. The 107 was all over the road, while the 116 just sat there and did what it was told!

500eguy

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #22 on: 03 May 2007, 01:20 PM »
I agree.... well the reason why i love mercedes is the quality of engineering on the cars. It just appeals to me in all aspects. I love they way mercedes cars, esp the older ones make you feel when you drive it, clean it, work on it, Etc... it makes you feel like your preserving history in a sense. Mercedes is one of the very few companies that keep their heritage around till this day, with the Mercedes benz classic centers, their ads show that. I love the sense of style a old Benz has.... esp. a nice one. I didn't buy a benz as a status symbol, if i did i would have bought a new C-class.
Johnny B

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gregdeklerk

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #23 on: 03 May 2007, 10:39 PM »
500eguy, you put that very well!!

Martin 280s

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #24 on: 04 May 2007, 03:41 AM »
I think it is the best kept Mercedes Benz secret. I drove a 380SL for about 100km over the weekend to our gathering. The 107 was all over the road, while the 116 just sat there and did what it was told!

Greg, I've not driven a W107 but the W108 is not as stable as the W116. 'it is the best kept Mercedes Benz secret' sums the car up for me. Recently, I went to a MB stealership in São Paulo to see how a friend's resto job is coming on and one of the sales rep told Marcello (my friend) how much he was impressed by the W116 especially mine. He had remembered it from a preivous occasion, about 18 months prior! It just made me think how many newer models would be so memorable.
« Last Edit: 04 May 2007, 09:05 AM by Martin 280s »
Well loved and cherished...
Lady Geneviève - 1976 - W116 280S
Lady Audrey - 1994 - W140
Lady Galatea - 1999 - BMW K1200 LT

500eguy

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #25 on: 04 May 2007, 11:15 AM »
I agree, the 116 is a best kept secret! they are wonderful cars.
Johnny B

Old German Metal

frikkie

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #26 on: 07 May 2007, 04:01 AM »
This is a very interesting topic.

As some of you may have figured, I'm a very "new" convert to the charms of the W116.

Let me give you some insight/history: My dad has been driving Merc's for many, many years, and although I grew up very much a petrolhead as a boy, into the adult petrolhead I am today, I never really had much time for my dad's Merc's. Yes, they've always been supremely reliable, well put together, and made great family and tow cars. They just never appealed to the petrolhead in me...

His first Merc was a '61 220S fintail, which was followed up by a '68 W108 280S. That got replaced by 2 W114 230.6's in succession, which got replaced in turn by a W116 280S. I was about 19 by that time, so already a licenced driver, and even though I did drive that W116 a few times, it just never appealed to me - too young I suppose, and as my own daily driver was a modded Mini 1100, that went and handled very well, I reckon that could be expected... :D

Anyway, moving on to my own car ownership experiences - after the Mini, I bought a VW Golf 1100 (Rabbit for the US'ers), and stayed with VW pretty much ever since. Several GTi's, GTi 16V's etc followed. I am an avid VW supporter, and always will be.

Then, I bought my first "saloon", a VW Jetta CLi 16v - basically a GTi 16v in Jetta guise. That started my love towards saloon cars - I have not owned a hatchback since. Quite a few more Jetta's followed, and at some point I also owned a Nissan Maxima 300E (highly under-rated car), as well as a Volvo 850GLE (fantastic motor car, with a great engine). All mid-to-big, performance oriented family cars, for the most part then.

My latest venture prior to the W116, was a return to my "performance car" roots - the petrolhead in me wanted some more excitement!:D I bought an unfinished project Mark 3 Jetta, fitted with a 2l 16v motor, with aftermarket EFI and a huge turbo. Built this up during the course of last year, and it went like the clappers - BMW M3 rivalling performance in a Jetta shell! 8)

I broke it several times though - the bain of modded motor-cars... Got tired of it when I blew the motor up again at the end of last year, and started hunting for something different - leaning back to the large, powerful family saloon.

I test drove lots and lots of things, including most recently another Maxima, as well as a mid-90's BMW 530i - both of which I came very close to buying. Nice cars both of them, the BMW's attraction being the wonderfully smooth and torquey 3 litre V8, and more intelligence than I ever though possible in a car. Drove it, and really liked it...

Then. Then I happened upon this W116. Did not even give it the time of day, but a friend of mine kept on nagging me to go look at it. Eventually I caved in (more to get him off my back!), phoned the owner and went to have a look.

Long story short: I saw it, and liked it. I drove it, and LOVED it. The next morning, she was mine.... The rest, as they say, is history - I am completely hooked on this car.

What made me buy this, above the '94 BM, I hear you ask. Simple. Bear in mind that I drove the '94 530i, and the '79 280SE on the same day. Both selling for similar money (that should already say something...) The BM - yeah, nice motor, great performance, and I've always had a liking to the e34 body shape. Well...

The W116. It is just so much better than that BM. In all respects... It performs well. It is supremely quiet. It is exceptionally comfortable (the BM had multi-way electrically adjustable seats - it took me around 30 minutes to set everything up for me to be comfortable. I got in the W116, moved the lounge chair forward - I'm quite short - and I was immediately even more comfortable than in the BM). It has a limo-like ride.

It handles and grips well (I threw her around Bain's Kloof the 2nd weekend I had her - Cape Townians will know that pass - very challenging, very twisty and very narrow. I know it like the back of my hand...). Anybody who says that old Mercs can't grip or handle - I challenge you to bring anything with similar power and try and stay with me through Bain's Kloof in my W116... And I mean - anything... :o

So, yes. It is a fantastic, great, excellent motor car. Light years ahead of it's time. Light years ahead of most things today... It has masses of body roll, yes, and it drinks quite a bit of fuel, but that really is the only critisism I can level at her.

I am very, very proud to be a W116 owner! 8)
 
1979 Mercedes-Benz 280SE *sold* :-(
Currently Merc-less, but working on it... ;-)

oscar

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #27 on: 07 May 2007, 08:13 AM »
What a great story frikkie!! 

I kind of fell into ownership of my 350 but have been completely hooked too.  Had my father not bought this car in 1989, I would not be here and god knows what I'd be driving.  You really had a big choice of cars to choose from and I think it's great you settled on  the 280se as if there was no real competition.  Such a good car in so many ways.
1973 350SE, my first & fave

michaeld

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #28 on: 08 May 2007, 01:48 AM »
Thanks for the contribution, frikkie, and - given that I hadn't come across one of your 18 posts before - welcome to the forum!

It seems like some of us stumbled upon w116s (like myself), while others had w116s thrust upon them!  (You can always divide people into two groups (then sub-divide them into 2 more, ad infinitum), can't you)?

I had another thought today.  Bear with me.

I enjoy heavy metal, hard rock, and that sort of thing.  I have since I was a young teen.  But I don't really want to anymore; nowadays I would LIKE to like music with "taste" and "substance."  I'd like to be one of those types that listen to Classical music, Jazz, that sort of thing.  You know, "smart-person" music!  But when I listen to it, I'm just not that "into" it (I DO enjoy classical music performed live, w/ all the bows moving in synchronus harmony, but I just don't "dig it" when I hear it on the stereo.

I don't listen to much music anymore out of frustration: the music I like, I don't really WANT to like, and the music I WANT to like, I don't really like!

Well, I wondered today if one's taste in music has anything to do with one's taste in autos...

Today Rap music and the hip-hop culture is HUGE.  Me, I see it as part of the vicious spiral driving our culture down the drain (I see it like a reciprocating engine moving in an ever downward direction, w/ artists putting out profane, demeaning, violent crap, which the big money produces, which the media culture devours, which results in more artists putting out more vile crap, again ad infinitum).

Now, I may have just bad-mouthed someone's favorite music, and I'm sorry if I did.

But I'm wondering, do w116 owners LIKE rap music, Paris Hilton, and that sort of cultural fodder?  Or are w116 folk more "erudite" in their cultural tastes? 

Andrew280SEL

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Re: What kind of person buys/drives a w116?
« Reply #29 on: 08 May 2007, 02:46 AM »


Today Rap music and the hip-hop culture is HUGE.  Me, I see it as part of the vicious spiral driving our culture down the drain (I see it like a reciprocating engine moving in an ever downward direction, w/ artists putting out profane, demeaning, violent crap, which the big money produces, which the media culture devours, which results in more artists putting out more vile crap, again ad infinitum).



I could not agree more, Micheald!  ;)

I'm only 17, but I just DON'T like that rap hip hop stuff. I'm not sure if it has anything to do with me being a youth who owns a w116 or not... probably, but then again there is probably quite a few here that might actually like it.

But personally, that stuff just doesn't appeal to me.
 :)
« Last Edit: 08 May 2007, 02:51 AM by Andrew280SEL »
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