Author Topic: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?  (Read 7661 times)

michaeld

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When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« on: 04 March 2006, 09:22 PM »
Here's a question I wondered about earlier today.  How did you first come to form your opinion of Mercedes cars?  Why did you decide to get a Mercedes?  Did your parents own one?  A best friend's parents?  How old were you when you first tasted the fruit of Benz?  Did you get one as a means of showing you had "arrived," or did you get one because of its reputation for quality?  Were you late coming into the game (like me)?
I know that you Eurpean guys got to see a LOT more of them than we Americans.  But the question particularly applies to you as well: what was the impression you first had of MB cars, and why do you think you formed the impression you did?

As for me, neither my parents, nor the parents of any of the friends I ever shared a car with ever had a Mercedes.  Didn't get to ride in one in the Army or in College either (except a taxi cab when I was in Germany during Reforger, but no "sparks" from that experience).  Talk about a classic case of growing up deprived!  My impression was that MBz was a rich-man's car, high-snob appeal, with a well-SELF-advertised reputation for quality and class.  I had absolutely NO personal experience from which to draw any kind of meaningful perspective.  I had a chance to pick up a Benz cheap and took it, figuring I'd at least get my money back if it turned out to be a $ pit.

So far, I've marvelled at the build quality.  The wood, the way the doors shut, ride, the zero offset suspension.    I've found it to be almost magical.  As for the longevity of the chassis and powertrain, I STILL haven't truly decided if Mercedes deserve their reputation.  But I like what I see so far. 

I had the rest (Japanese and American cars) and then finally drove a Benz.  I'm wondering about other people's experiences.
Just curious.
Mike

Denis

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #1 on: 05 March 2006, 12:56 AM »
Ah Michaeld

Chilhood souvenirs. When I was ten years old, a friend of my father drove up with a new shiny black 220 SE. Being somewhat small, I remember staring at the fins and thinking that it was like a ship of some sort and then the interior was parchment with HUGE seats and a very bizarre, unique vertical speedometer. When the owner raised the big radiator shell, I could see an engine that was all silver  ;D nothing to do with the iron painted motors in dad's car  >:(
 ... and the doors sounded so solid (like a W116) ;)
I thought : one day, I will buy one of these.

Today, is it any surprise that I want to paint my 350SE in black to go with the parchment interior ?

Denis

Paris, France

OzBenzHead

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #2 on: 05 March 2006, 01:30 AM »
Michael:

My first Benz experience was, at age 13, a ride in my family doctor's( then new) W111 220SEb Heckflosse in 1962. It was his first Benz, and replaced his 1953 Studebaker Champion. The Doc was something of a surrogate father-figure to me, and many of my childhood lessons - and values - came from him.

When the Doc traded up to a new W108 280SE in 1970, he took me for a ride, then handed me the keys for the return trip. I had just turned 21, had already owned half a dozen or more cars (British, Australian, Japanese, Italian, French), and was impressionable. By the time we got back to the Doc's place, I swore that some day I'd own a Benz. Mind you, I expected to be about 90 before I could afford one!

Eleven years later, the Doc phoned me and offered me his W108 for the "insult" trade-in price offered to him when he went to buy another Benz (a W116 350SE). Not surprisingly, I accepted. I can no longer remember what I paid for it, but it was about one-third of the going price for such a car at that time.

Over the years I've had many other cars: 56 to date - one for every year of my life. Some were business cars, some were hard-yakka utilities ("pick-ups" in NA), some vans (e.g. VW Kombi and similar); European (Peugeot, Renault, Citroen, BMW, VW, Opel, Fiat), American (Studebaker), Japanese (Nissan, Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi), British (including Bentley, Jaguar, Riley, Wolseley, Rover, Morris, Austin, Daimler, Armstrong-Siddley), Australian (i.e. American-owned but pretending to be Australian just because they were built here - Holden, Ford, Chrysler/Dodge), and so on.

About three years ago a friend who was moving overseas on very short notice from his employers offered me his W116 280SE at a ridiculously low price (he was desperate and in a hurry). It did need some work, but nothing that couldn't be done easily and affordably. That car is now my daily driver, as I've retired the 108 (at 516,000 miles!) for a suspension rebuild.

Not long after acquiring the 116, I acquired my W112 300SE coupe (a self-indugent birthday present from myself!). He hasn't had much use from me yet, as I've been slowly fixing things (rear axles bushes and a "singing" diff); when he's repaired, he'll wear Historic Car ("Club") plates - as will the 108).

Last year I acquired my W111 220Sb for next to nothing. After rebuilding the seized front brakes and the leaking carbies, he's now on the road on Historic Car plates (as of last Thursday).

To date none of these cars has been a money pit. Yes, I've done some repairs, but they've been easy on the pocketbook - mainly because I have good contacts, and forums such as this one and Ozvets. I've spent far more on repairs and maintenance on other cars than I have on the Benzes.

Compared with all the other cars I've owned and driven (and that must be hundreds) - and I've driven well over two million miles (those distances are all logged, as many of them were in the course of employment - taxis etc., and I'm a pathological record-keeper) - the Benzes stand head and shoulders above the rest in overall satisfaction, driving pleasure, reliability, and affordability.

In recent years I've talked one brother, one sister, two nephews, and about 20 friends into Benzes (secondhand ones) and they, too, have no regrets. My next project is to recondition a W123 as a wedding present for my elder son. (I'm hoping the younger one is not planning to marry soon after the first!).

When the time comes that we're all required to be tattooed on the forehead with the "mark of the beast", I want mine to be the "marque of the Benz".  ::)

Mforcer

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #3 on: 05 March 2006, 02:22 AM »
My first experience with a MB would be with the one I am still driving today. My grand father bought my W116 when I was only just over 1 year old. This was inherited by my father who drove it for about 15 years before I bought it off him. I have memories of siting on the rear arm rest when I was otherwise too small to see out the windows :)
Michael
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John Hubertz

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #4 on: 05 March 2006, 04:49 AM »
I came late - a local doctor has a very sick passion for "one-winged angels" (expensive, european cars with serious woes or high mileage).

His collection of 30+ cars were just sitting out at a car lot and a variety of other places - I offered to not just supply parts but drive/diagnose/arrange for repairs.....

I remember when it happened - I was looking into an electrical problem on a 300E - and discovered a thermostatically controlled cooling fan on the side of the fuse block.

Meanwhile, I was driving his 126s (420SEL, 500SE, 560SEL) 107 convertibles frequently (his '72 euro 280SL was incredibly fast), and for a brief while drove a later model SL500 (too complicated - gave me my distaste for the electronics-heavy later models). 

Also, a variety of other cars - he had Lexus, BMWs (even V12 850s) etc etc etc.....   

You couldn't keep the d*mn headlights working on the BMWs because of the computers - the Lexus just didn't have the substance....  Jags and Rovers were put together like children's toys....  but OH those big Mercedes!

So I made my mistakes on his cars, with his money.......   

And then decided to buy a "107 Sedan" (our beloved 116s) to get the best mix of low tech, high style and that Mercedes dignity and vault-like construction.

Well, Doc Coats has moved on to make online poker his new fancy, and I'm stuck with the car habit.  (sigh) 

I'll take it....

J
John Hubertz
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(Hunter S. Thompson) 

1977 450SEL (Max Headroom)

michaeld

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #5 on: 05 March 2006, 03:13 PM »
Man these are some interesting stories.  I hope others keep it going.  Some of you folks that don't post very often, perhaps?  You don't have to be a mechanical expert to answer this one!  If you love your Mercedes car, why?  Why did you want one in the first place?  How did your past experiences/perceptions of Mercedes affect the way you think of it today?  And if you got one just because you had a good deal thrown your way, like myself (and Ozbenzhead and John Hubertz, by the sound of it), how has driving the car altered your perception of the three-pointed brand?

And how do those of you who grew up in Mercedes (and perhaps were even conceived in the back seat of one) differ in your attitudes to Mercedes from those of us who stumbled into the cars later in life?

alabbasi

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #6 on: 05 March 2006, 08:19 PM »
Father owned a 75 250 that he bought new when I was about 2 years old. It was the first car that I remember and loved it to death. It was a bright red w114 model with a manual transmission and air conditioning. It had a radio in the usual location and a tape player that sat under the glove box.

Fond memories, It was the motivator for me buying the 250CE when I was 19. Even then, I know that the 450SEL was the hottest car on the market  :)
With best regards

Al
Dallas, TX USA.

s class

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #7 on: 08 March 2006, 03:57 AM »
I think its in my genes.  Apparently my grandfather bought his first car when he was in his 40's.  He had no interest in cars but believed in buying quality so he did his research and bought a black Ponton.  Later when his son (my father) was about 18 or so he traded it in for a new fintail 220S.  My dad's first car was an opel that lasted about 3 months and he realised that only a Merc would stand up to his requirements.  He then bought a new fintail 200, and owned it at the same time as his dad's finnie.  When I arrived about 8 years later dad was still driving the fintail, by then granddad had bought a new 230.6 (he didn't believe in 4 cyl motors).  It was brown.  I must have been about 3 when dad traded the 200 W110 for a second hand W108 280S.  It was cream over tan leather.  I remember that car vividly - it was the family car for the next 5 years or so.  I used to draw sketches of this car I loved it so much.  Well I guess I was brainwashed - I grew up in my early years getting bedtime stories and posters from Merc brochures and "In aller Welt"

I still remember a bright red W123 sedan poster about A1 size on my bedroom walls.

In 1986 due to "challenged" finances dad traded the W108 for a Ford (the W108's engine was knackered).  I think that was the day I decided I would drive Benz..........

But the affliction isn't that easliy shed so in about 1988 dad bought a 1978 W116 280SE, Silver over tan leather with A/C, sunroof, P/S, central locking, really nice wood.  I remember the wood - in fact I can picture the wood of that W116 and even the W108 in my mind now.  Later a mechanic totalled the W116 during a "test" drive and after a fwe more indifferent cars dad bought a 450SLC in about 1994 or so, followed in the next 10 years by a R107 500SL, W123 280E and a R129 500SL.  He now owns both the 500SL's - something about wind in the hair motoring - just no hare left...

I started with Ford when I was 18 and bought my first Merc - a 1980 W116 280SE, Silver over black, when I was about 22 I think.  Lets just say I loved this car so much it is still my daily driver - I know it intimately and have personally overhauled every major system in it.  Now nearing 500 000km.  Recently I have bought a 1980 450SL (red over parchment), a 1973 W116 280S, a 1992 W140 500SEL (sliver over black).  They're all great cars but they just end up parked because I always end up driving the W116 280SE - my wife says, "but its so old", I say "but its just better than our other cars"................

Cheers, Benz is great, W116 is the greatest. 

PS here in south Africa W116 SEL's and v8's are very very scarce.  I'm looking for a 350SEL or a 6.9.  NO seriously.  if you have a 6.9 here in south Africa with all paperwork in order, I will make you an offer.

'76 6.9 Euro, '78 6.9 AMG, '80 280SE, '74 350SE, '82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro , '81 500SL

alabbasi

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #8 on: 08 March 2006, 09:24 AM »
Get a 6.9 from England and drive it back, they are cheap as dirt over there right now.
With best regards

Al
Dallas, TX USA.

OzBenzHead

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #9 on: 08 March 2006, 02:35 PM »
...  and we also drive on the WRONG side of the road.

No, no, no, good friend Styria: Oz, the UK, and all African nations except Egypt - along with Japan, Honk Honk, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Anguilla, Antigua, the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bhutan, Brunei, Cayman Islands, the Channel Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dominica, Timor, Falkland Islands, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Isle of Man, Isle of Man, Jamaica, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Pitcairn Islands, Saint Helena, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Singapore, Singapore, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Tuvalu, Tuvalu -  drive on the CORRECT - i.e. LEFT! - side of the road.   ;D ;D

Here is a web page giving some history of "side of the road": http://www.i18nguy.com/driver-side.html.

There was a study conducted back in the '70s, and published in some car mag I read then; it concluded that for right-handed folk (i.e. the majority - of Westerners, at least) having the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the car, and the gearstick to the driver's left, was ergonomically more natural. We can blame Henry Ford for putting the steering wheel on the wrong side.

John Hubertz

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #10 on: 08 March 2006, 03:16 PM »
Regarding our South African friend and his frustrated 6.9 hunger, how difficult would it be to pull a car into SA from the United Arab Emirates or Saudi Arabia?  Shipping should be no prob due to the high seaborne traffic, rust would be a non-issue and they are LOADED with high end cars.  If I'm not mistaken a couple of those countries used to be British Proctectorates and should have RHD models?  (Palestine/Syria is one I'm sure of....not confident of others..... Egypt?  No, that was French I think.....hmmmmm)

If I lived in SA I'd be talking to the local authorities about getting a one-time classics waiver and grabbing a Middle Eastern car.

John

PS:  One HUGE advantage to this W116 site is the multinational/multicultural nature.  Worth the price of admission alone to feel a member of the world community this way.
John Hubertz
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1977 450SEL (Max Headroom)

OzBenzHead

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #11 on: 08 March 2006, 03:21 PM »
... One HUGE advantage to this W116 site is the multinational/multicultural nature.  Worth the price of admission alone to feel a member of the world community this way.

John: I couldn't agree more!   Who needs United Nations?  All we need is a world full of W116s!      ;D

michaeld

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #12 on: 08 March 2006, 08:18 PM »
Ah, yes, but Styria is probably dreaming of a United116 Nation in which the 6.9's have sole "Veto power."

You know what would be entertaining?  If we took the right-hand drive and left-hand drive nations - and then switched one day.  That would be a fine day to stay home and watch the news with the volume turned down so you could enjoy all the accidents happening in your neighborhood and at the same time get the flavor of the nationwide wrecks.

I think that s-class's "it's-in-the-genes" theory has merit.  My family never had Benzes - but when I was a kid all we had big cars made out of real metal, which I think set me up to love these 116s.  I also remember watching movies with my dad - like Sean Connery as "James Bond," - and seeing these fabulous Mercedes in the chase scenes.  Even as a little kid I think there was a little voice that said, "Me want one of those!"  I also vividly remember having a profoundly favorable impression upon seeing those great big grilles and stolid body constructions.  And them hood ornaments?  Can't beat those 3-pointed stars for cool!

None of us beamed to earth from a spaceship (at least, I don't think any of us did).  We all came into our first Benz - our first 116 - with SOME kind of impression.  It's interesting to hear from the rest of you what influenced you in your journey toward w116 heaven.


OzBenzHead

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #13 on: 08 March 2006, 08:50 PM »
... You know what would be entertaining?  If we took the right-hand drive and left-hand drive nations - and then switched one day.  That would be a fine day to stay home and watch the news with the volume turned down so you could enjoy all the accidents happening in your neighborhood and at the same time get the flavor of the nationwide wrecks. ...

When Sweden switched from RHD/left-of-road to the opposite, the number of cyclists killed or maimed went through the roof in the first year, as did the number of car wrecks. No doubt it was good news for Volvo (more new car sales), bad news for insurers. Definitely no fun for cyclists; if only they would stick to the white lines ... (isn't that what they're for?).   ;D

Mforcer

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Re: When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?
« Reply #14 on: 08 March 2006, 09:14 PM »
I remember a comedian once recommending a similar change to driving on the other side of the road. He suggested that the change should be gradual, starting with large trucks before introducing it for cars....  :P ;D
Michael
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200