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When did you get your first taste of Mercedes?

Started by michaeld, 05 March 2006, 12:22 AM

Peter Anderson

I came late to the Mercedes party, there were no childhood influences in that direction (my parents always drove the cheapest cars available - which lead to lots of embarrassment when discussing cars with school friends!), and certainly when I was able to own a car I never even thought of going near a Mercedes. I have had more cars than years I have been driving, from the very sensible, like a rock solid Audi 80 tdi, to the ridiculous, like a 80's Lotus Elan SE.

I was just coming to the end of a lease period on a Ford Puma (a small coupe) which was a brilliantly fun car, when I went through one of my 'I'm spending too much money on cars' periods and so I started to look around for something I could own, that was a bit different, but didn't have a monthly payment involved. A friend of mine was driving a '73 280SE (a very early W116 model) that he'd inherited from an aunt that had died, and was looking to shift it on.

So 500 pounds (GBP) later I was the proud owner of a very tatty thistle green metallic Benz. It had an 'orange' tex interior (of a much more simple design than later models), a vinyl roof with big manual webasto sunroof fitted, wind-up windows, and central locking that worked on 3 of the 4 doors. When I first drove it home, it was my first experience of an automatic so I kept braking with my left foot - ouch, and every time I accelerated the power would die!

I took the car to a great local garage, and asked if it was worth doing anything with, and they said it was basically sound, but needed bits and bobs of work to make it useable. I took the plunge, invested a bit and was delighted that I had done, because  the car was amazing once fettled. It steered, stopped, and rode as well if not better than any 'luxury' car I'd driven before. It was lovely to cruise round in, the seats were comfy, the sunroof was great in the summer and with a stereo fitted it did everything I needed it to do. And all my friends started calling me 'The Ambassador' because of it!

I was sold, not really on Mercedes as a brand, but with my W116. At the time I didn't know anything about them and wish I found a resource like this forum at the time. Unfortunately rust caught up with the car and I'm ashamed to admit I junked it, and bought something dull and modern again. But I always hankered for the style that car had and how it made me feel. No other car ever effected me that way, so eventually I came back from the cold and bought another one, this time in a nicer colour (in my eyes anyway!), with a better spec, full history and after spending way way too much restoring it I've found 'Zen' motoring again.

This one's a keeper...

John Hubertz


What car do you now have?  Any chance of pictures?

John Hubertz
"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."
(Hunter S. Thompson) 

1977 450SEL (Max Headroom)
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Thanks for sharing your story.  It's not too much different from mine.  My family couldn't afford Mercedes cars either.  The first time I ever even went for a ride in one was as a nineteen year old when I briefly dated a girl who had a 450sl.  I guess I wasn't terribly impressed with the car at the time - I was more interested in the girl driving it.  My impression of the car might even be negative - a car that mainly existed for 'snob appeal.' 
Like you, I just kind of walked into a 116.  I knew nothing about chassis numbering systems or anything about Mercedes.  And like you, I just kind of fell in love with my car.  There's just something magnificent about these machines, and that magnificence being made all the more better by being understated.  It's like a secret that only we 116 owners know about.
This forum is not about being rich or ostentatious - if it were I would never be allowed to join.  Rather it's about having a relationship with incredible cars and with people who share a common passion for them.  It's our pleasure to drive cars that less than thirty years ago were among the finest and most expensive on earth.  Thank God they're still the former, but no longer the latter.

Peter Anderson

John, in the gallery section there are some photos of the resto, folders repairs1, 2 and 3 in the garage section, and a folder called finished in the showroom section of how it looks now!

Good to here there's someone with a story similar to mine, Michaeld. And amen to your last thought!


Quote from: michaeld on 16 March 2006, 12:04 AM
This forum is not about being rich or ostentatious - if it were I would never be allowed to join.  Rather it's about having a relationship with incredible cars and with people who share a common passion for them.  It's our pleasure to drive cars that less than thirty years ago were among the finest and most expensive on earth.  Thank God they're still the former, but no longer the latter.

I just wanted to quote this so everyone can read it again :) I am so happy to have met so many wonderful people I can now regard as my friends, even if we are on opposite sides of the world. Thank you all!
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


Quote from: michaeld on 16 March 2006, 12:04 AM
This forum is not about being rich or ostentatious ...

Hear! Hear!

One of my favourite social occupations is reminding people who are under the illusion otherwise that, in fact, their faeces do stink - no matter what kind of car they drive, house they live in, level of income or worldly wealth ... !    :o
[img width=340 height=138][url=""][/url][/img]

The Warden

I guess I'm jumping into this a bit late, but here story may not be as colorful as that of some others here, but it is certainly unique. ;)

My first exposure to Mercedes was in 1987 or 1988 or so. I was 6 or 7 years old, and saw a then-new W124 driving around on the road. I noticed the wipers/washers on the headlights, and having never seen anything like that before, I thought it was the coolest thing! I told my mom that she should get rid of her Hyundai Excel and buy "the car with the headlight wipers". She laughed at me, told me that Mercedes cars are too expensive to own, and that was that. My family was (and still is) almost too practical; most cars in my family even today are cheap-o econo-boxes.

Fast forward to 1999. I was 18, had my license for about a year by this point, and had blown the engine up on my first car (a 1974 VW Bug) trying to get over Pacheco Pass on a warm day, and my second car (a 1965 Chevy Chevelle; before you jump to conclusions and think it was a muscle car, it was a 4-door granny car with a 230ci inline-6 and a 2(!) speed automatic, given to me by my great-great aunt who had turned 96 and couldn't drive anymore) was nickel-and-diming me to death. Between these two cars, I had come to the conclusion that any gasoline engine that I could afford would be an unreliable pile of junk. Since I had been working as an engineer on my Sea Scout boat for a number of years and felt more confident with diesel engines anyways, I decided to replace the Chevy with something diesel-powered. Thinking at the time that only options in my price range were pickup trucks and similar vehicles, I purchased an International Scout.

The Scout eventually rusted apart (the truck had spent most of its life in Michigan), and I bought a diesel-powered Ford full-sized van. Then, on April 30th, 2001, the unthinkable happened. My uncle, who I had been very close to, suffered a sudden and fatal heart attack at age 50. To say that I was devastated would be a gross understatement; truthfully, I still haven't really recovered. My aunt decided to give me my uncle's truck, knowing that I really liked it and that I had many good memories associated with him and with the truck (he had taught me how to drive a clutch in this truck when I was 15).

So, for about a year, I owned a Ford truck and a Ford van with the same engine (the 6.9l IDI International-Harvester diesel). I finally determined that I couldn't afford to continue this, with both vehicles getting between 13 and 15 mpg and me starving on a college student's budget. Of course, getting rid of the truck was (and is still) unthinkable. I did a cost-benefit analysis, and determined that, if I could find a diesel car that got between 25 and 30 mpg, it would actually be cheaper to own that car and my truck than it would be to own the truck alone. The fuel savings was enough to offset the extra registration, insurance, and maintenance costs (not to mention the convenience of having a second vehicle in case the first one breaks down). I started out looking primarily at Volkswagen, but wasn't too keen on the aluminum cylinder heads or the timing belts, and the Rabbit/Golf and the Jetta were really too small. So, I decided to take a brief look at Mercedes. I was simply amazed to find out how economical it could be to own one if you knew where to get parts, and in spite of the lower fuel economy, I was really happy with the larger interior and the added safety.

So, my mind made up, I started hunting for a Mercedes. Due to traffic concerns, as much as I wanted a manual tranny, I decided that I really needed to stay with the OM617 turbo (a 616 is slow enough to be dangerous around here), and eventually came across a 1985 300D in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I at first thought the car was too far away, but then the owner offered to deduct the cost to fly out there from CA and drive the car back from the purchase price (I think he wanted to see the car go to an enthusiast) of $2500. So, in July 2002, I flew out there and drove the car home. It was only after I got the car home that I discovered how much of a joy it is to own a Mercedes...the car is built like a tank, and was very clearly designed with maintenance and repairs in mind (a big plus for me, since I do all of my own maintenance work). 60,000 miles later (I bought the car ar 223K miles; it's at 282K now), I haven't needed to do any engine work other than routine maintenance and two alternator voltage regulator/contact brush assemblies, and the only major work that's been needed was a wheel bearing replacement and new axleshafts. While I've never dealt with a Mercedes gas engine (for better or worse), this 300D has firmly sold me on Mercedes the point where I've successfully talked three of my friends into purchasing one (and, as a direct result, one of these friends is now an apprentice tech at a Mercedes dealership, and has also purchased an additional diesel M-B for his, with the 116 added, there are now a total of 5 M-B's among us {the 116, my 123, a 126, another 123 300D turbo, and a Euro 300D 4 speed}).

Unfortunately, with my 300D, the years of Texas sun took its toil on the leather seats, to the point where the interior is in very poor shape (and, actually, was in bad shape before I bought the car). Furthermore, there is a fair amount of body damage (some from the previous owner and some from my girlfriend)...and, upon finding out that the front suspension needs to be almost completely rebuilt, I came to the realization that this car would need so much work to be brought back into "acceptable" condition that I cannot financially justify it. So, when I came across this W116 300SD (long story behind that, described in better detail here), I figured that it would make a good replacement daily driver, and might be a better vehicle to fix up and make nice (although I'm still not certain about this, since I don't know what all it needs yet). I haven't been able to drive the 116 much yet, but other than a front-end shake (that may have just been figured out), she drives so much better as to make the 123 seem flimsy (and I always thought the 123 felt like a bank vault, particularly compared to my mom's Honda Civic).

Calling the 116 a tank would be an understatement...I hope I can financially justify keeping this car long-term; she's very nice :)

Okay, sorry if I bored you all to tears...but there's my story in a nutshell ::)

BTW, the comment about this not being a "rich" thing is dead-on!! It is very ironic that I currently own two Mercedes vehicles, since I am still in college (and still therefore on a VERY tight budget)..."rich" doesn't describe me or my family at all!


Quote from: The Warden on 24 March 2006, 05:09 PM... "rich" doesn't describe me or my family at all!

Perhaps not financially, but in commonsense I suspect you're a millionaire!

Welcome to the joys ...   ;D
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s class


Thanks for all your comments about importing 6.9's.  I had concluded that I really only have two options in life :

a) import a 6.9
b) emmigrate to a country that has 6.9's.

My wife veto-ed b), so that leaves me with a).

It is possible, but I don't know as much about the process as I need to.  Costs are high but I am prepared to pay.  As an indication, here i S.A. a tatty 280SE can be bought for about ZAR10,000 approx USD1500.

Shipping costs to bring a car in will be in the region of ZAR40,000 to ZAR50,000, or USD6000 to USD7500.
Taxes, duties and clearance fees could add another ZAR10,000 to ZAR20,000.

So I am looking at up to ZAR70,000 or USD10,000 in costs. 

The other problem is I can't buy a "project".  When the car arrives in South Africa it will be subjected immediately to full roadworthy inspections, so I need to find a car that is basically well sorted. 

What sort of prices would I be facing for this?  I really fancy the rust-free options.

There are freight handling agents in South Africa with experience to help me with this.  Perhaps in April when my work life is a bit less hectic I can look into it. 

Cheers, 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


Well, if the Warden came in late, I'm coming in even later ::)  Though this seemed like a good thread on which to introduce myself.  As an avid 116 fan, I've been reading the forum off and on for several months.  It did my heart good to hear someone verbalize that it's not about being rich or ostentatious.  But, back to how the love affair started.  To start at the VERY beginning, I have to go back two generations.  My grandfather was in the US Army, and stationed over in Germany back in the early 60's, when he bought a '62 220Sb (111.012) brand new.  This car, which was totalled following a blow-out, was what started the "Mercedes Fever" (as mom calls it) in my dad.  He talked Mom into us buying Mercedes by convincing her they were the safest cars on the road a few years after I was born in '83.  Skip ahead to 1989, when we bought our 1978 Euro 450SEL.  This was the car I learned to drive on.  I grew to love the 116 about the time I started driving, since I didn't know how to drive stick yet and wasn't driving our 115.  The flush Euro headlights and slim bumpers just set off the car, and it drove like a dream.  Granted, not as fast as the 6.9 we had, but it was disabled before I got my learner's permit, so I never got to taste its power. :'(

So, like some others here, I basically grew up around them, though I do remember the late '70s Chevrolet Malibu my parents had with disdain, since I would knock my noggin on the chrome-wannabe square in the middle of the seat.

I acquired my first 116 in the fall of 2003, a Euro (of course) 280SEL (thus my user name) with a 4-speed manual transmission.

I look forward to both contributing to others journeys with their 116s and getting advice on my own journey!


Hey that's a clever handle ("Give us your name, personal identification number, and your MBz chassis number - Oh, never mind the meaningless stuff - just give us your MBz chassis number!").  Should I introduce myself from now on as 116.033?

BTW, that .033 part means I'm stuck in the drudgery of a U.S. Market 450SEL.  You know, with the smog junk and the "clown shoes" style 5mph bumpers.  But don't worry about me - I'm not saying, "Don't look at me, I'm hideous!" when I drive.  While I agree that the Euro bumpers ARE better looking, I genuinely think that the people who've poured good money changing US cars into Euro-look cars are crazy (Now, for those of you who have done this, I'm not questioning your intelligence, merely your sanity :-*).  And, while I envy the simplicity and horsepower of Euro engines, good luck getting a Euro car legal in the People's Republic of California! :'(  Since I live in said People's Republic, and have to pass muster with the Smog Commissar, Im actually happy that my car was built for the California market.

It takes all kinds to make up a good forum, and this forum has "all kinds!"  Welcome to the forum, 116.025.  Thanks for sharing your "Benz-lust" story.  You're right; this thread really is a good way to introduce yourself!

BTW(2), I hope you keep on a'postin.  If you need a role model, just take a look at me; I just went over a hundred posts, and they honored me with a second star!  Two stars!  Just imagine; this could be you someday!

Seriously, welcome to the forum.


Thanks for the warm welcome, Micheald.  I'll probably get that second star before I know it!

I believe you are correct, styria, since the family '78 Euro 450SEL was 116.033.


Styria and 116.025,
Well, THAT'S hardly a fun "W116 personal identification number."  Do I need to keep memorizing a lot more digits to become an individual again?

You are most welcome for the welcome!

And hey, all you boys and girls out there in cyberspace land - keep those posts telling us how you go your first real taste of Mercedes-Benz coming!  Like fingerprints, no two Mbz "first love" stories are the same!