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What's your 116's attitude?

Started by michaeld, 03 May 2006, 10:49 PM

michaeld

Before responding to this post, you might want to read this article: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06069/668415.stm

I still haven't seen that Disney movie "Cars" (although I'm looking forward to it; I love kid's movies!).  But the idea of cars having faces, personalities, and attitudes is an old one.

Today's carmakers are finding that "mean" and "angry" looking cars are selling well.  But apparently there' still a market for the "happy" and "friendly" look.

Some of you stodgy "Just the specs, ma'am" types might find this a silly question, but what do you think is the w116's attitude?  Has anyone ever come across an article describing what "look" the Mercedes-Benz designers were going for?  Do the U.S. bumpers affect the "expression" that the German engineers intended?  Am I a knucklehead for asking such silly questions?  What do you think?
Mike

Mforcer

Reserved and dignified. It looks like it has what it takes to own the road but never needs to proove anything.

Some of the articles in the library (http://www.w116.org/library.php) suggest that the W116 had a menacing or intimidating appearance with its relatively wide and large front, especially compared to most of the smaller cars of the time.
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200

OzBenzHead

QuoteCar makers used to strive for an inviting face, but lately they're pushing an edgier look: Car faces that look meaner, angrier and, at times, even downright evil.
Quote"A mean face is what we're going for."
QuoteWhy all the anger? Menacing front ends may appeal to drivers threatened by oversized SUVs and intimidated by the dangers of the highway, some designers say. ... he adds that a mean-looking car may make drivers feel they can keep others at bay. "It projects a message that a driver may be too shy or afraid to express," he says. "An aggressively styled car says, 'Get out of my way.'"

Well, if that's not the greatest load of balderdash and piffle I've read in a long time, then it's a sad judgment on the state of humanity.

Unfortunately there are folk out there who feel so inadequate that they need ugly, 'snarly' looking cars to compensate; I just hope they don't all feel the need to drive their 'aggro'-visaged vehicles in an aggro manner.

The motor car really can bring out the worst in some people.

I suppose one of the most obvious 'compensatory' car designs ever was the E-Type Jaguar - especially when painted red. How many of those, I wonder, were purchased by men who felt genitally challenged?

Does my 116 have 'attitude'? Nothing more, I hope, than that which says 'safe', 'courteous', and 'sensible'.

QuoteAm I a knucklehead for asking such silly questions?

Not at all, but I really do think the psychology behind such designs is a sick perversion of science.  In the land of supreme capitalism and consumerism that might not be seen as a bad thing but, to this old pinko, it's rather sad.
[img width=340 height=138]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/OzBenzHead/10%20M-B%20Miscellany/OBH_LOGO-2a-1.png[/img]

s class

I think the W116 is sombre and business like.  It doen't have to say "I own the road" because it does and it doesn't need to apologise for that. 

A W116 driven hard on the highway with head lights on makes lesser vehicles scatter in terror.  I love it.  My R107 can't do that, but the W140 can almost as well as the W116.

Ryan


[color=blue]'76 6.9 Euro[/color], [color=red]'78 6.9 AMG[/color], '80 280SE, [color=brown]'74 350SE[/color], [color=black]'82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro [/color], '81 500SL

michaeld

#4
Ozbenzhead hit the mark on the major ideas from the article that I linked.

I erred in conflating the jobs of "engineer" and "designer"; both are involved in the final styling of a car, as I understand it, in a give-and-take exchange.  They are distinct departments, with one dealing with cars as "science," and the other dealing with cars as "art."  It's not just specifications people look for in a car; it's a look, a feel, an attitude.

I agree with Ozbenzhead's assessment of the article: a lot of people are looking for "mean" and "angry" automotive styling today.  It says something of the times we live in.

A big question is, Was the w116 ahead of its time in being a "mean-looking" car?  Big Richard seems to hint that he thinks it is; and Mforcer points out that some of the literature hints at a "menacing" or "intimidating" appearance.  It's not for nothing that 116s always seemed to end up as "bad guy's" cars in the movies.  Ryan's right: having one of these front end profiles accelerating hard behind you on a dark, lonely stretch of roadway would be pretty intimidating!!!

Many of us (all of us?) anthropomorphise our cars (i.e. give them human characteristics).  So the question is, if our 116s were human, what kind(s) of humans would they be?  What image comes to your mind?  One 116 may not quite be identical to another in this regard; would a 116 diesel be the same type of "guy" as a 6.9?  I doubt it!  I have a feeling they would have different personalities entirely.

I see w116s as big cars with broad, prominent, distinctive features.  That grill can't help but just jump out at people who see the car.  I think that the car has an intelligent look to it - it definitely doesn't come across as some slack-jawed, inbred hillbilly's car!  And I think the car has a very businesslike persona to it; it may take pleasure in its business, but it never wanders far from "business."  [Do any of you see the w116 as a libertine's car?  I don't: I would say the Italians and the English cornered THAT market - but I'd love to hear your opinions on that subject].

If my 450SEL were to "transmogrify" into a human, in my mind's eye it would be male; big; strong; smart; matter-of-fact; well-mannered; and bold.  I think it would be polite, but not necessarily friendly - at least not until it got to know you.  And it would be businesslike, always in control of itself; you would never see it drunkenly stumbling along or appearing silly.  My 450SEL would be the kind of guy you address as "sir," NEVER "dude" or "buddy."  And it would be as dependable and predictable as a Swiss banker; you wouldn't be wondering how it would act or react in a given situation, because it would do precisely as it's supposed to do!  Would my 450SEL be "mean," "angry," or "evil"?  Not at all; but you wouldn't want to piss him off, either!  My 450SEL (that's MISTER 450SEL to you!) commands respect.

And on that last note of respect, I think w116s command respect by virtue of their nature - like a lion - as opposed to some wannabe, poser, or self-aggrandizing braggert.  I dare say a lot of late model cars today fall into this latter category; too much about marketing hype and image-conscious posing and not enough about genuine substance and character.

Of course, that's my view of my car; what's your view of yours?

davestlouis

I have an observation on michael's post...I like your characterization of your car, and agree with your assessment.  It is unfortunately part of the German car mystique, and especially big, staid and stolid MB cars, that fun and funloving never comes into the equation. 

I also think that a car's paint color says a lot about its attitude...a black or navy blue W116 looks much more menacing than a beige or ice blue car. 

I have had several road rage episodes since I have been driving these cars...some people assume that I'm a rich f### because my car has a tri-star on the hood, and several have become belligerent in traffic.  I didn't have the heart to tell the guy in the late-model Camry who screamed at me that he had 10X as much money tied up in his car as I had in my 420SEL (W126)...so who's the rich guy? 

OzBenzHead

Quote from: davestlouis on 20 May 2006, 08:12 PM... people assume that I'm a rich f### because my car has a tri-star on the hood ...

I suspect that some folk have assumed that of me, too, when they see me driving a Benz. However, rather than bringing on derision and road rage, I find the general effect is one of "deodorising one's faeces" (feces to our US friends), and people (at least pretend to) show respect (remember, I'm talking old Benzes here - W116 being the most 'modern' in my fleet).

Also, I've noticed that other motorists simply get out of the way, despite my non-aggressive driving style - and often give way unnecessarily (i.e. when the right of way is theirs to take); perhaps they see a two-ton tank made of real steel and become afraid (a) for their own - and their car's - welfare, and (b) of a large repair bill from the Benz driver should they collide.

A further interesting aspect of driving a Benz is hitchhikers: they see my M-B approaching and the thumb retires to the pocket - they just don't expect to be picked up by one (okay, so there is a general belief in Oz that Benz drivers are arrogant ****s who don't give rides to hikers). When I pull over for them, they often just stare in disbelief, imagining that I've stopped for some other reason. When they climb on board, they always show great respect and admiration for the samaritan chariot.
[img width=340 height=138]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/OzBenzHead/10%20M-B%20Miscellany/OBH_LOGO-2a-1.png[/img]

Bandolero

"When I pull over for them, they often just stare in disbelief, imagining that I've stopped for some other reason. When they climb on board"

Are they blonde and beautiful???
Russell Bond - (Adelaide, South Australia)
1978 450SEL 6.9 .... #5166 .... 12/78 (Sold.) www.ezycoat.com.au

OzBenzHead

Quote from: Bandolero on 21 May 2006, 06:51 AM
Are they blonde and beautiful???

More likely blond and handsome. Female hitchhikers are, in my experience, a rare breed -  there have been few amongst what must be thousands of hikers I've picked up over the decades. Interestingly (or not), the only two hikers I've asked to get out of my car have both been female; they were drunk, obnoxious, and demanding. I don't take that sort of behaviour from anyone, and it completely negates any other possible attractiveness. To my mind, an ugly attitude = an ugly person, and life's too short to waste on them.
[img width=340 height=138]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/OzBenzHead/10%20M-B%20Miscellany/OBH_LOGO-2a-1.png[/img]

davestlouis

Good grief, I have never picked up a hitchiker...that's just begging to get carjacked.  I can't imagine inviting a stranger into my cocoon...in American society, everyone has a car, or damn near everyone anyway.  If someone is on foot, something really bad has gone sour in their life, and I don't want to get dragged into it. 

OzBenzHead

Quote from: davestlouis on 21 May 2006, 09:48 AM
Good grief, I have never picked up a hitchiker...that's just begging to get carjacked.  I can't imagine inviting a stranger into my cocoon...in American society, everyone has a car, or damn near everyone anyway.  If someone is on foot, something really bad has gone sour in their life, and I don't want to get dragged into it. 

That's one of the notable differences between US and Oz culture: "everyone for himself and too bad for the rest of you" versus a strong sense of community, sharing, "mateship" - although, very regrettably, in recent times Oz has been moving toward the US model and away from its tradition of laid-back helpfulness and "soft socialism/communalism" (not to be confused with Communism). Except for an occasional very rare such event, carjackings are unheard of in Oz (although car theft is no stranger). If there's any negative aspect to hitchhiking, the hitchhikers themselves are more at risk of possible assault from the driver.

[img width=340 height=138]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/OzBenzHead/10%20M-B%20Miscellany/OBH_LOGO-2a-1.png[/img]

oscar

#11
Firstly, knucklehead (michaeld)  :)

You mention a lion.  I still have trouble personifying my androgenous 116.  However, a while back, around sunset, whilst crouching down about 20ft away from the front of the car, I noticed something awsome I thought.  The headlights have a feline appearance.  Of course, this is Euro lights but have a look for a front on photo and see what you think.  I may post one if you can't find one in the gallery. 

Styrias repaint of the lower grill in astral silver also gave me the impression of a big, happy, smiley car.  Non assuming or menacing, just happy to be.  BTW, the front on shots of Styria's car doesn't show the cateyes I'm referring to.  I'll have to post something.

Now, back off topic.
Quote from: OzBenzHead on 21 May 2006, 06:07 PM
Quote from: davestlouis on 21 May 2006, 09:48 AM
Good grief, I have never picked up a hitchiker...that's just begging to get carjacked.  I can't imagine inviting a stranger into my cocoon...in American society, everyone has a car, or damn near everyone anyway.  If someone is on foot, something really bad has gone sour in their life, and I don't want to get dragged into it. 

That's one of the notable differences between US and Oz culture: "everyone for himself and too bad for the rest of you" versus a strong sense of community, sharing, "mateship" - although, very regrettably, in recent times Oz has been moving toward the US model and away from its tradition of laid-back helpfulness and "soft socialism/communalism" (not to be confused with Communism). Except for an occasional very rare such event, carjackings are unheard of in Oz (although car theft is no stranger). If there's any negative aspect to hitchhiking, the hitchhikers themselves are more at risk of possible assault from the driver.


Hitch-hackers?? No way.  Rarely see any these days but of the less than 5 I've picked up in the past, they've been feral and expected the world.  Never again. Stranded people, different matter, but it also depends where in Oz you are.  A farmer stands out from a distance and I'd happily stop to help.  In Sydney, and especially at night, you could be wearing a tiara and gown and I wouldn't stop.  A young nurse from Perth we know recently spent time in inner Sydney for the first time and couldn't believe the difference in people's attitude toward each other.  But Sydney has its good and bad the same as the US has. 

Never been to the US myself but can't wait to go and if there's one thing that people I know that have gone there say, is how friendly people are.  OBH is right re facets of American society encroaching on Aussie life, but it's been hapening for years the world over partly thanks to TV.  Even I had a Yankees cap during my teens rather than a Newcastle Knights cap. 

I must stress, none of this is the American public's doing.  I'm not US bashing in anyway.  It's more to do with global business, successful marketing and politicians.  I'd argue that New South Wales (NSW my state in Oz) is becoming one of the most letigious spots on the planet and less democratic with rules and regulations forbidding breathing without a permit.  What is that civilisation that destroys the earth in "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy"?  There all from NSW.  A form for everything, stricter laws, permits and registration, compulsory insurance, fees, cover your arse, red tape and no one wants to make a decision.  It's already over the top and gaining momentum.
1973 350SE, my first & fave

michaeld

So far I've learned several things from y'all,

First, if you invite people to call you a knuckehead, someone most certainly will oblige you
Quote from: michaeld on 03 May 2006, 10:49 PMAm I a knucklehead for asking such silly questions?  What do you think?

Second, picking up hitchikers is good; no it's bad; no it's ...

Third, there definitely is an attitude to our cars and we do react to "the vibe" that we get from those who encounter us in our cars.

As to the first, just what can you say to the guy who kicks you when you are wearing a "kick me" sign - and you're the one who hung it around your own neck?

Regarding hitchikers, whether one is driving in a nasty part of downtown area or driving out in the country makes a huge difference as to whether you are being courteous or ... a knucklehead for picking one up.  I also tend to pick and choose based on age, sex, and general disposition.  I always try to pick up elderly people; I usually stop to help women; and I rarely ever would pick up young men. 

Slightly humorous story.  a couple of months ago, while I was entering a grocery store, a woman who was about as homely as a woman could be asked me if I would drive her home with her groceries.  Like a sucker, I told her if no one else helped her by the time I got out of the store, I would take her home.  You can only imagine how excited I was when I got out of the grocery to see her still waiting for me.  I kept my promise, and loaded her groceries into the boot.  Immediately, she began asking me if I was single, interspersed with various anecdotes about just how completely messed up her life was.  When I got to her house, I couldn't get her out of my car.  She wanted my phone number.  (Did I mention how homely this woman was, and how messed up her life was?) I was no more going to give this woman my phone number than I was going to stick my head in the mouth of a lion just captured from the Serengeti.   Finally - with my ice cream melting - I lied and promised to call her.  I drove home like a scared rabbit.

Now about our cars attitude.  quote author=davestlouis link=topic=480.msg3865#msg3865 date=1148173944]I have an observation on michael's post...I like your characterization of your car, and agree with your assessment.  It is unfortunately part of the German car mystique, and especially big, staid and stolid MB cars, that fun and funloving never comes into the equation. [/quote]

Above and beyond the other things I've said about our cars "attitudes," I think our cars ARE funloving ... but they don't go around shouting it to everyone.  I think you have to get to know these cars in order to see any 'fun-loving' side.  The thing that mostly impacts me as I'm driving is just how RESTFUL they are.  Amazingly, I usually feel my blood pressure actually lower when I get in my car (and if you understand the psychedelic funhouse of S. California roadways, you will realize that is quite an amazing feat!).  These cars are the strong, quiet type.  But you know everything is okay when you are in one!  The only thing I can compare this effect with is that of being with a truly good friend looking up at the stars at night.  Conversation is irrelevant, but you enjoy the company immensely.  It's amazing how well (after 28 years) these cars still block out road noise.  It's quiet and peaceful; just me and my car...
Mike

OzBenzHead

Quote from: michaeld on 24 May 2006, 02:10 AM... The thing that mostly impacts me as I'm driving is just how RESTFUL they are.  Amazingly, I usually feel my blood pressure actually lower when I get in my car ...

M-B claims that to be a deliberately designed-in attribute, believe it or not. The entire design of the driver's controls and accessories - the ergonomics if you like - is based on the need to minimise driver stress and fatigue.

It certainly works; I can drive for 8-10 hours (fast highway driving) and, when I get out of the car at journey's end, I don't feel knackered (although I might be somewhat mentally tired, just as I would after 8-10 hours of work). If I were to take a similar drive in a non-M-B, I would be exhausted at the end. I know this because I've driven the same (or similar) journeys many times in many cars. Only the Benzes deliver me unfatigued.

A friend, who always drove his former cars (Peugeots and a Saab) frantically - much to the discomfort of his passengers, including me (and I am not too easily discomfited) - instantly changed his lifelong driving style when he acquired (through me) a W123 Benz. Despite its having similar power/speed to his previous cars, his driving immediately became calmer, more measured, more considerate, more bearable to his passengers. Even he noticed it and commented so - as did many of his formerly reluctant passengers. Same friend gets back into his other car (Saab) and drives like a neurotic dickhead on amphetamines (but rarely arrives any sooner than if he'd been driving the Benz).

It fascinates me how such a quality can be designed into a car.
[img width=340 height=138]http://i12.photobucket.com/albums/a215/OzBenzHead/10%20M-B%20Miscellany/OBH_LOGO-2a-1.png[/img]

oscar

 :D :D :D  Sorry michaeld, couldn't resist.  BTW, re attitudes towards the 116, was it your 450 you were driving that day at the grocery store?  At least give her a call and ask her what she thought of your car.  But then again, if she got a ride in the 450 that day I'm surprised she didn't talk about the car the whole time and nothing else, such is the impression she should've got.

Again, other people's attitudes rather than the car's, I couldn't believe a post I read on another Aussie forum that referred to the 116 as "the ugly duckling of the S class family".  Pfff, each to their own I guess, but that's hogwash.  You would've read this one OBH, I checked across the Ozvets forum for the first time the other day and that's one of the first things I read.

BTW still have to take the cateye photos.  Coupl-a-days.

1973 350SE, my first & fave