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Garage => Test Drive => Topic started by: michaeld on 01 March 2006, 06:59 PM

Title: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 01 March 2006, 06:59 PM
Hi all,
After my last long-winded post I thought I'd be brief: In what era/decade did MBz make its greatest cars?
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 02 March 2006, 12:39 AM
If we are talking about "normal" passenger cars, the short answer is the years when Fritz Nallinger and Rudoplh Uhlenhaut were of some importance (194?-1972) ! the answer lies in an historic recorded statement by Rudoplh explaining the "ideas" of Daimler-Benz that came from the late 30s racing requirements. The fuehrer had a strict budget and wanted results - the young engineers did not dare deceive him  :o they had to come up with a plan to succeed !

 I only wished I could find the source of said recording : it explains how they had to test individual components for the Grand Prix cars and then made a sum of all these tested components : it breeds a culture of refining everything. In the postwar years, this mentality was carried on by the two figures named in this post with spectacular results starting with the ponton.

By the early 80s, when that generation had retired or died, the accountants took over. The results could be seen by the late 80s.

Denis

Paris, France

Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: John Hubertz on 02 March 2006, 04:28 AM
I'd say an argument can be made for the era our cars were produced in....another reason I dearly love them.

If "excellence" is relative, then look at the relatives!!

1977 Ford (Lincoln):
(http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/fullhappyfish/1977-79lincolnrough327.jpg)

1977 MB:
(http://i48.photobucket.com/albums/f248/fullhappyfish/OriginalPicture.jpg)
During a period when planned obsolescence was all the rage in design/build circles of the industry, Mercedes emphasized durability, reliability and timeless design elements.

I'm not so sure current-era Mercedes have gotten worse - but I'm DAMN sure that everything else has risen to the challenge posed by Mercedes and Porsche during the 70's and 80's.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Tomi on 02 March 2006, 10:56 AM
The best era for mercedes, well to answer this you have to compare it to the other cars of the same era. And when doing that, I would think that all the years before about -95 were supreme for mercedes. After that came the problems, rust problems (for new cars I mean), electric problems and the paints became water soluble for environmental reasons and they dont last as before.

Nowadays a toyota is more reliable then a new mercedes and that was certainly not the case before. The best era could be the W115, W116, W123, W124 chassis era of mercedes. Well maybe aso W126 and W107
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 02 March 2006, 07:11 PM
It's funny that John should show the old Lincoln pic.  When I was a fairly young (but old enough to remember) kid, my parents bought a '76 Mercury Montego station wagon.  They hauled my brother and I to lot after lot looking at cars.  It was a big decision as to which car to buy.  So mid 70's cars were "planted" in my soul.
70's cars get no respect by a lot of motor heads.  The smog and govm't bumper regs are the usual culprits cited.  Technology has overcome a lot of the problems that made high horsepower and low emissions mutually incompatible missions.  70's engineers had to overcome a lot of technological obstacles.
I like old cars because I like to be surrounded by a lot of metal, and I like to have a lot of cargo room in a four door.
The 50s-70s cars have these things.  The 50s and early 60's cars were usually underpowered by today's standards, though stylistically beautiful.  And, as time goes on, rust and corrosion has become more and more of a problem.  It's getting harder and harder to go out and find a clean older car these days, without having to put a lot of money into expensive restoration.
I know that this is slightly altering the post topic, of just looking at the best cars era by era, and thinking in terms of 'the best cars of which one can purchase a clean specimen without taking out a 2nd mortgage,' but I wonder - in terms of buying classic cars today - if the 70's might be the best bets after all?  There are still a lot of clean cars from the 70's available at pretty good prices. 
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 03 March 2006, 01:10 AM
Quote
The best era could be the W115, W116, W123, W124 chassis era of mercedes. Well maybe aso W126 and W107

Look at the chief and the body designers :
W115 : Uhlenhaut/Bracq, W116:Uhlenhaut/Sacco,W123:Uhlenhaut/Sacco,W124/ No Uhlenhaut...and most people now say that the W123 was a better (read traditional Mercedes reliabilitydurability) car than the W124. W126: the last good big one, W107:Uhlenhaut/Sacco

Also, while they are harder to find, look at the build quality of the W108/W109 : the W116 is actually a notch down.

Mercedes-Benz had apparently fired ALL their accountants back then  ;)

A final joke by Paul Bracq : "instead of selling the Maybach, they could build an updated 600 and make more money is money is the only point today". As many of you know, Paul Bracq designed the bodywork of the 600 and several other classics.

Denis

Paris, France
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: John Hubertz on 03 March 2006, 05:48 AM
I agree - the Maybach would be a wonderful modern 6.9/600 variant....I'm not OK with AMG this and that....  to me the performance Mercedes I enjoy the most are the "stealth" models.....

(off topic musings)
(sigh)  I suppose I'll sell the 450 soon enough and get a low-mileage 6.9 just on general principles and underlying Freudian issues.....(MY 116 is BIGGER then YOUR 116)

One thing I find interesting is the objections of so many Euro and Aussie owners to the 300SD variant that was North America-Only....   Those cars are cherished here and TONS of them are well beyond 300,000 miles.
(Ahemm - back to topic):

Besides - until they get a revised set of body dimensions the Maybach looks like a "blinged-out" SEL anyway - see this month's road and track for a styling analysis.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 03 March 2006, 12:22 PM
John Cleese was once asked by an interviewer, "So, is there one thing you'd like to be remembered by?"  He said, "Yes there is one.  When I'm gone, I'd like my friends to say, 'You know, old Cleesy had his faults, but he did have the most enormous d**k.'"  The interviewer (a woman) exclaimed, "I mean the sketch."
I suppose to some extent all of us 450 SEL 4.5 owners suffer from motor envy.  I must confess, one day when I was looking for parts on ebay I came across a 6.9 trunk emblem and thought, "No one would ever know..."

The reality for me is that I drive like a little old lady.  I don't scream out of red lights, and I don't blur past other cars on the freeway.  Putting me behind the wheel of a 6.9 would be like putting a eunuch in the bed of a beautiful nymphomaniac.  It would just be wrong somehow.  That said, even a eunuch has his fantasies, I suppose.

While I still adhere to my belief voice on another post that the 6.9's M100 is a fundamentally less durable engine than the M117 (Of course, you could keep a 74 AMC Pacer on the road if you keep replacing parts forever), I also unequivocally state that the 6.9 is the epitome of the 450 SEL.  Our 4.5 cars are fundamentally less fast, less valuable, less sexy, and less cool than 6.9s.

Denis' post had me genuflecting in the direction of Paris.  Denis makes me want to look into the 108/109 cars.  Motor envy aside, maybe I want me one of those old but gold beauties?

Denis points out that the designer of the cars ultimately results in their quality (or lack thereof).  He also mentions the accountants - who safeguard profitability.  He is clearly right.  But I also wonder this: in addition to the vision of the leadership of a car maker, how important is the satisfaction of the line workers?  It seems like every unionized assembly plant worker in the world is just angry and bitter about everything these days.  Did Mercedes build quality rise and fall with the happiness levels of its employees?
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: OzBenzHead on 03 March 2006, 03:18 PM
... One thing I find interesting is the objections of so many Euro and Aussie owners to the 300SD variant that was North America-Only ...

I'm not aware of any Aussie objections to the 300SD - it's just that we've never had them here.

Quote
... until they get a revised set of body dimensions the Maybach looks like a "blinged-out" SEL anyway - see this month's road and track for a styling analysis.

I'll seek out a Road and Track. Meanwhile, IMO, the Maybach is externally uninspired at best; internally it is the ultimate in crass! Only the nouveau riche (renowned for lack of taste) would like such gross flashiness, surely. Sure, the W100 was trimmed out to the (then) max of luxury, but it was reserved rather than tasteless.

By introducing the Maybach, DC has further devalued the M-B name by pushing it down the ladder to "second-best". I wonder if the Maybach will demonstrate the same disease (less unburstable reliability) as the '95-'05 Benz range.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Tomi on 04 March 2006, 02:26 AM
Quote
The best era could be the W115, W116, W123, W124 chassis era of mercedes. Well maybe aso W126 and W107
Look at the chief and the body designers :
W115 : Uhlenhaut/Bracq, W116:Uhlenhaut/Sacco,W123:Uhlenhaut/Sacco,W124/ No Uhlenhaut...and most people now say that the W123 was a better (read traditional Mercedes reliabilitydurability) car than the W124. W126: the last good big one, W107:Uhlenhaut/Sacco

I think the 124 is as good as the 123, The 124 has a better feel (if the axle rubbers are intact) and is a more modern version of a 123.  Durability, I dont know, but the 123 is also prone to rust problems. I have no experience with the 108, it is so rare nowadays.

My first experience with mercedes was when I was a kid of 5 and my father had just bought a new W115 (250 gasoline). It was a fantastic white car. We were living in Bagdad at that time (then it was very peaceful and a beautiful place, much before Saddam, -66 I think) and when leaving the place, we drove all the way from Irak to Finland, thru Libanon-Turkey-Greece-Jugoslavia- and so on, with the mercedes of course. Must be about 5000 km. I still have memories of that, but I have to admit I have never been in a W115 since, although we have them here quite a few. The W115 is a great car.


Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 04 March 2006, 10:18 AM
Hello gentlemen

Oh la-la so many ideas in these posts that I MUST reply to.


First ,the M100 versus M116/117 engines : the M100 was the first OHC V-8 Mercedes ever designed - I know this engine from the days when I had a 6.3 : it is incredible in weight balance and quality. The bottom end is so massive and well balanced that I once got mine to idle at 525 rpm !!! if anything, it was overkill...and too heavy. The second V-8 from Mercedes was the M116 and they did take the quality from supreme to very high  >:( ;) and improved the engine in terms of weight.

I once showed a cross-section of an M100 to an experienced engine designer at Renault and he had one comment : the extreme curvature of the exhaust ports (angle of valve heads to exhaust manifold plane was over 90 degrees and would naturally lead to very hot exhaust runners right under the valve gear. This could be a thermal weakness and lead to problems... depending on the quality of the engine  ;)

The only real problem with the M100 is high price of parts. That second V-8 is finally a better solution and perhaps the best ever built at Mercedes : the port profiles are more conventional while the engine oil supply is still huge : a 3.5 has almost as much oil reserve as a 6.3. As for the 6.9, it has a huge advantage : still the same "hotspot" exhaust ports but the most glorious of oil systems.

Now Tomi, I think that the W124 is a much better car than the W123, it has better suspension but durability-wise - they are not as good as their predecessor.

In conclusion, the Maybach versus 600 comparison.

The Maybach is a worldcom "go-like-hell" car : it is "vulgar" as Ozbenzhead says because it is a bloody mobile office ! when you get tired, you just throw the seat back and take a nap. You are important but must get hopping before some other company launches a buy-out on another that you are trying to acquire. You just have to be there on time to do business ! You can email a fine hotel down the road and settle in comfortable accomodations with a swimming pool. You might even bite into a hamburger because you are so hungry.

The 600 was an aristocrat's (people respect me, I as go as I choose) car : it was actually a small personal office where you could take a friend to sample some fine 20 year old scotch after a long walk in a park to discuss international politics. You could talk there, even smoke a fine cigar but did not sleep there - taht is NOT proper. You were not interested in quick communications as people actually WAITED for your appointments at the office, later, next week ! You could also ask teh chauffeur to use the telephone to contact a good friend. And you just drove up to his castle and dined in a large dining hall with some well dressed guests. You might even enjoy some "truffe au chocolat" before the meal.

This says it all to me.

Now the 108 : beware, these cars are also complicated beats, many parts, bizarre rear suspensions and ont even think of a W109 or an M189 engine unless your bank account is ready !

Still, they are wonderful sedate saloons.

Denis

Paris, France


Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: John Hubertz on 04 March 2006, 12:10 PM
That Maybach article was in Motor Trend - one of the last two months - nuevo Camaro on the cover.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 05 March 2006, 01:26 AM
Quote
But I also wonder this: in addition to the vision of the leadership of a car maker, how important is the satisfaction of the line workers?  It seems like every unionized assembly plant worker in the world is just angry and bitter about everything these days.  Did Mercedes build quality rise and fall with the happiness levels of its employees?

Well michaeld, are you teasing here ? OK, you ask the question and here is the short answer :

In Germany, the Adenauer years (fifties) brought prosperity to an auto worker but social practices that were seen as unfair by unions (like no pay on sick days). By the sixties, unions threatened to support the socialists (SPD) or even teh communists if changes were not quickly made. They got to sit on company review boards and see financial statements. They "shared" information and could explain to workers just WHY a raise was not possible at this time. They got into a "social partnership" with factory owners and productivity soared, the workplace climate being strike-free.

The German auto worker of the sixties had the best social benefits (state), respectability and standard of living of any worker in Europe. In the days of the W116, the social-democrat Willy Brandt (SPD), was chancellor.

Today, this is all being dismantled into the neo-liberal age vision (whose goals do not appear very clear to me) : Germany is now fiercely political and unstable. Hoping for the best for my German friends.

I am a strong supporter of the Franco-German friendship.

Denis

Paris, France
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 05 March 2006, 02:50 PM
No, Denis, I am not teasing here (though I certainly love a good teasing!),

You mentioned some of the key components involved with the making of a good car.  But I believe that the guys who put the darned things together have to be part of the equation.
I really enjoyed reading your take on German automaking in the 50s and 60s.  My understanding is that Benz very nearly went under in the early years after WW2, and was building off of designs intended before the war with a destroyed infrastructure.  But the German worker was working to build, and not to fight a self-destructive war.  I imagine they were quite content to build Germany by building Benzes.

But let me give you a hint about what I'm talking about by focusing on the USA.  Let me begin w/ a persoanl example when I worked for the US Postal Service.  Despite good pay and benefits, workers were sliggish and hostile.  I watched employees literally try to walk as slowl as possible rather than work productively.  During the war, the USA had were wage controls, and automakers gave increased benefits packages (medical + retirement) to attract workers.  This certainly created a Paradise for American autoworkers, but to coin Milton... Paradise (can be) Lost.

The American autoworker came to expect unreasonably high compensation packages to be the status quo.  And as the compensation slowed down, so did their work.  Even though they were the highest paid laborers in the world, they became bitter and dissatisfied.  And since they were devoted to the unions that brought them all their previous successes, they fought hard for everything that gave advantage to the union.  One result was that they fought any "labor saving" devices that reduced their rolls.  Robotics were resisted to the last.  The union workers wanted the same old inefficiencies because they wanted more union members.

Basically the unions began to hurt the big US automakers coming and going: coming by demanding a contuation in wage packages that was no longer sustainable; going because they insisted on preventing better and cheaper building methods so as to keep all the union jobs.  There are a LOT of reasons for the demise of the US car makers, but it would be a mistake to omit the workers' role.  At times they were smug and complacent - and their productivity and quality suffered because they had guaranteed jobs.  At times they were bitter and hostile - and their productivity suffered because they thought they were getting the shaft. 

Japanese quality improved dramatically because the workers and management were on the same page.  They were a team dedicated to the same goals.  During WW2 the USA committed itself wholeheartedly to victory... and became the greatest power in world history as a result.

If workers are content, if they are committed to their company's strength and prosperity, if they take pride in what they are building, I believe good cars will result even if other things aren't perfect.  But if workers are complacent or bitter, I don't think good cars will result even if management plans the perfect car.

It would be interesting to read surveys of the labor forces of the world's car companies to see if worker pride and satisfaction and car quality are inextricably connected.  What do you think? 
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: alabbasi on 05 March 2006, 08:31 PM
I would have to say (while ducking for cover) that it has to be the 80's. I think that that 70's r107, w116 and w114 cars are excellent and laid a great foundation for what was to come. But I think my hat has to come off to the W126 cars. They look modern to this day and had the longest production run of any of the S-Class cars (1980-1991). Most of the Mercedes Benz mechanics that I have talked to say that they are the best Mercedes ever built.

A Euro spec 560SEL or SEC is still an excellent performer and quite beautiful.

(http://i12.ebayimg.com/02/i/06/39/9e/a5_1_b.JPG)

The w123 and R107 just got better during the 80's and the w124 was a marvel in itself. Even the 190E was an excellent car, I don't think they could go wrong during that time. The 70's cars rusted like you wouldn't believe and the 90's cars had electrical problems that they are still suffering.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Mforcer on 05 March 2006, 10:58 PM
I would have to say (while ducking for cover) that it has to be the 80's. I think that that 70's r107, w116 and w114 cars are excellent and laid a great foundation for what was to come. But I think my hat has to come off to the W126 cars. They look modern to this day...

The fact that the W116 looks slightly different from modern cars is one of the things that I find so appealing about them. They were the transition between the old and new style of cars and have the best of both worlds. Biased? Nah :P
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 06 March 2006, 03:17 AM
Well alabassi, no need to duck  ;D

The W126 is an "improved" W116 built much in the same spirit except that by lightening the car, some brackets became flimsy, and the plastic cladding is not very beautiful...by making the W116/117 engines all alloy, they lost weight...and engine durability (many mechanics really dislike the 4.2 liter for that) and that single chain W116 3.8 is a hint of an accountant being hired the day it was designed  ::)

While the W124 resists rust better than its ancestor it also inaugurated "new" technical problems that the W123 didn't have.

As for US auto workers, what can I say ...

In Germany, there was (still is) a tradition for the "master technician", and that value could be a family one (a family of machinists). In the fifties, it seems that it was a matter of converting the skills that brought us to war to the skills that makes us rich...with German excellence. Paul Bracq once told me that back in 1958, the Mercedes people really felt that they were "rebuilding" Germany, and so were VW people. It was a purpose, a will to excel with traditional values.

It went far beyond cars, look at a fifties Telefunken radio or a german-built Revox tape recorder : same idealism at work.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 06 March 2006, 02:52 PM
I agree with Denis and 450SE,
There's certainly no need to duck, Alabassi, as this is a pretty subjective issue.  Your take on the modern appearance of the 126 cars is a good point.

Now, one of the reasons that the 126 cars fare better regarding rust is that they offer a LOT more aluminum than the 116.  Alumimum is lighter and more rust-resistant, but can it do this? http://www.mbspares.com.au/default.asp?d=18019&p=18013 (from MB350's offering in another post).  This is an amazing testiment to the profoundly well-built MBz cars the 70's offered.  A line from the book, "Mercedes-Benz: The First 100 Years," says, "I consider the w116 the best combination of active (accident avoiding) and passive (protection in a crash) safety yet designed for a production car" (pg 224).  The author (Richard Langworth) further quotes Graham Robson as saying, "Everything known about safety engineering, and the 70 accumulated years of passenger car experience by Daimler and Benz, went into the S-class sedans.  They were so quiet and refined, so roadworthy, so fast and - as experience proved - so very reliable that it was going to be difficult to make dramatic improvements when the time came to replace them" (pg 224).  Rust aside, the bodies of these 116 cars are absolutely awesome.  And no automotive engineer that I've read has said the M117 improved during the 80's...  Cast iron = durable, baby!!!  And then you find out that the zero offset suspension on the 450 SE/SEL is still with us today.  That's really something.

Now, as to what 450SE said, yeah, our 116 cars are such marvelous bridges between the past and the present.  I also agree with Alabassi, the 126s are beautiful cars.  This difference reveals that there is a subjectivity here.  But I see a profound continuity between the 126 and the 116.  Don't you?  That's why I can agree with both 450SE and Alabassi here.

As to what Denis said about German workers (in response to my earlier post above), I agree.  WW2 was terrible, and what the Nazis did was downright evil.  But one thing that war proved was that Germans knew how to build magnificent machines!!!  It is amazing that a country smaller than several US states almost defeated the combined power arrayed against it.  Boy could those Germans engineer and build good stuff!  I think that pride continued for decades.  But I wonder if it is continuing today, given what I am frequently hearing from owners of new Benzes??? 

In any event, I believe there's a good case to be made, in terms of appearance, safety, performance, and durability, that the w116 really may be the epitome of the 3-pointed star. 
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Mforcer on 06 March 2006, 07:34 PM
Now, as to what 450SE said, yeah, our 116 cars are such marvelous bridges between the past and the present.  I also agree with Alabassi, the 126s are beautiful cars.  This difference reveals that there is a subjectivity here.  But I see a profound continuity between the 126 and the 116.  Don't you?  That's why I can agree with both 450SE and Alabassi here.

I love the continuity between all MB models over the years. Evolution works perfectly in nature and a revolution would only be needed if evolution took a wrong path. I would regard the W116 the first of the 'modern' MB with style taken from the past.

Quote
In any event, I believe there's a good case to be made, in terms of appearance, safety, performance, and durability, that the w116 really may be the epitome of the 3-pointed star.

I don't think anyone could deny that newer models are better in some way. Even MB surely must not consider the W116 being perfect as if they did they would still be selling them new. A lot has changed in the 30+ years since our cars were originally designed. There are priorities today which car makers never had to consider back then. There are also new materials and techniques that allow for things unimaginable even 20 years ago. However, I do agree that when people think of a MB then surely they would rank highly the exact qualites of our W116 that we love so much, being the timeless style, safety, performance and durability.

Who am I kidding? We all know the truth; our W116 are the best MB ever made!  ;D :P ;D
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 06 March 2006, 11:01 PM
450SE is completely correct, of course.  Only someone so rich as to be able to put aside all practicality and common sense would trade a 2006 model for a w116 - or even a late 80's model.  Performance has improved dramatically, and you'd get a newer car to boot.

BUT...  one question to ask in this subjective discussion would be to put it thusly: how's that hot new car going to fare as the 2036 models start coming out?  What shape will it be in?  How will it compare with those 2036 models?

I have a feeling that the electronics-laden newer vehicles that Mercedes and other manufacturers have been coming out with the past 10 years just won't cut it.  They won't make it to "classic" status because too many things will have failed to make the cars pleasures to drive or even roadworthy.  One reason I am thinking that the w116s may possibly be the epitome of MBz is because there are enough out there that HAVE lasted, and yet they still (amazingly) qualify as modern cars.  My non-6.9 450 SEL gets crappy gas mileage, true, but it more than keeps up with MOST cars on the road today.  The zero-offset suspension is STILL up to modern standards, and the cars were quite possibly made to higher standards of quality than ANYTHING on the road today.

I'm taking a peculiar position, I know.  Imagine saying a smog-gadget-laden 70's car might be the epitome of a brand!!!  Some might claim that the pre-73 cars fit that bill better.  In terms of performance, they'd be right.  But you lose that continuity with modernity that the later 70's cars emerged with.  You lose the suspension, maybe you lose a few other things as well.  What do you think?
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: s class on 08 March 2006, 06:24 AM
To use a Jeremy Clarkson quote, I measure the greatness of a car by how it makes me feel, rather than what it can do. 

By that criteria, my W116 280SE makes me feel like a king. 

When my colleagues talk about the next car they want to buy, or whether a Civic is better than a Corolla or what they are dreaming of driving next, I sit quietly and smile.  When they ask why I'm quiet, I point to my W116 in the parking lot and say that I already drive my dream car.  And I mean it.  And I still feel that way about it after driving it daily for 10 years.

Yes for me the 60's and 70's mercs have the timeless styling and the brick outhouse solidity.  Now how many W116 can I fit in my garages?

Cheers, Ryan in South Africa.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: OzBenzHead on 08 March 2006, 01:42 PM
... I measure the greatness of a car by how it makes me feel, rather than what it can do. 

By that criteria, my W116 280SE makes me feel like a king.  ... I already drive my dream car.  And I mean it.  And I still feel that way about it after driving it daily for 10 years.

Yes for me the 60's and 70's mercs have the timeless styling and the brick outhouse solidity.  Now how many W116 can I fit in my garages?

Ryan: I couldn't have put it any better! My earlier Benzes give me a similar feeling, but the 116 caps it.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 08 March 2006, 07:51 PM
Now, this Ryan fellow has it quite right, I believe.  A newbie with 4 post and all his experiences w/ 116s?  I think we should keep him!

Yes!  I wrote an earlier post asking for a definition of quality.  That's what I was trying to get at: how a car makes you FEEL.  You might be in a 75 Datsun B210 that goes and goes, but you just want to slump down at every light and hide (shudder!).  Or maybe you could care less about appearances - but there is still no "there" there when you drive.  They are transportation and nothing more.  Then there are also a lot of "image" cars on the road that are ALL image and no substance at all.  In ten years a lot of these cars will be crap.

And then there are the 116s.  It's kind of like being Goldilocks and finally finding the one that's "just right."  I have never driven a "Yes-but-mine's-paid-for" car that has given me more satisfaction than this 450 SEL.  I see these people driving by in their nice new expensive cars, and I just kind of laugh at them.  They're spending $400-800 a month for their leases - and at the end of three years will walk away with nothing.  This baby's MINE, and I love her, enjoy her, and drive her with pride - all for pennies on the dollar!!!

These 116s offer just about everything you want: if well maintained, they offer durability up the whazoo (Yes Styria and Ozbenzhead - even your 6.9s!).  They offer a stately elegance that is second to nothing short of Rolls Royce.  They offer a ride quality that is second to nothing any other car of its vintage has to offer.  And it turns out that they offer one heck of a nice little international community of enthusiasts, to boot!!!
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 10 March 2006, 12:56 AM
Michaeld, I beg to differ : the W116 looks better than a Rolls of the same vintage, although one must concede a Rolls win on the interior appointments  ;)

It's strange that people like us are seen as "old car nuts" when we should be considered "logical consumers of quality products" - as you hinted, it is CHEAPER to drive our W116 than similar or lesser modern cars.

So the best years of Mercedes ? again, 60s and 70s....the Rudolph Uhlenhaut years. It is only a pity that that great man could not convince the board of directors to make sportier cars ( like a 3.5 liter V-8 Pagoda). Apparently the board was very conservative in those years. Mercedes spent a lot of money on QA, in fact, the cars became too expensive to build, margins suffered. So when Rudolph left...the obsession with Q became less of a factor.

The important thing is that the W116s are actually affordable, even in mint condition, and THAT makes then unique. If you want "more" car of this vintage, you have to turn to Italian limited production cars say, a Maserati Quatroporte but you might as well get a loan to keep it on the road  >:(

Denis

Paris, France

Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 10 March 2006, 11:40 AM
Monsieur Denis,

I've always liked the looks of Rolls Royce.  But on the downside, they are ridiculously expensive to maintain (you think parts for our Benzes are $$$?).  Another problem is that of the appearance of class snobbery: in my neighborhood, I would look like a pompous fool if I were to drive one of those cars.  Someone would key it  just to show me what my REAL place was.  RR is not the car for me because I'm a fairly frugal fellow (Oh, I love alliteration!) who appreciates the UNDERSTATED elegance of MBz.

Mercedes cars are more expensive to buy parts for than any American car (at least in the US).  And that's a downside.  But if you put in your due diligence in maintenance, I think there's a high likelihood that you will get your value returned (That could be a new post topic all by itself, couldn't it?).  As it is, I purchased my car for a trifle, I love it more than any car I've ever owned, and did I mention I aint making any payments on it?  I agree with Ryan: I feel like a king when I drive.  I also have a delicious sense of safety and security.

As Denis said, our 116s were built in an era (perhaps the last era???) of legendary attention to quality and detail.  At the same time, since they are the newest of the Rudolph Uhlenhaut cars, they are likely to be in the best condition today.  They also offer the most modern features (such as zero-offset).  At the same time, my 450 SEL offers every modern amentity I personally want in a car (w/ the possible exception of a cup holder ;)).  One of the real downsides to more modern Benz cars is their extravagant overabundance of high maintenance and ridiculously expensive electronics.  I don't think many 90's and 00 Benzes will be around in thirty years because of the mostly unnecessary gimmickry.  I also believe that - with today's lease-dependent market - cars are built with the mindset of quick turnaround rather than long-term ownership (And that could be a post topic on other Benz forums: have lease agreements created a quick-turnaround mentaility that is destroying a commitment to long-term ownership?).

I have had old 60's and 70's American cars and felt no pride or passion.  I have had new cars and had that sense of pride and passion fade all too quickly away as I saw people newer or more expensive cars.  Other than my motorcycles, my Benz inspires more pride and passion than anything I've ever had.  Like John Hubertz and Ozbenzhead and 450SE, I want to learn more about these cars.  We really just may be sitting in the historic pinnacle of automotive excellence.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: John Hubertz on 10 March 2006, 03:56 PM
I was musing on the whole reliability/place in the market issue we've discussed so many times as I worked my way through morning traffic today....

I was behind a "new" w116.

The badge said "Toyota", the model was "Avalon".

Sadly, I think the Mr. Toyoda and his emphasis on long-term value has allowed them to assume Mercedes once-vaunted position as a high-value ratio premium manufacturer.

Whether you look at technology (Prius hybrid), economy (the new smidge car that replaces the echo, forgot the name) or rational and comfortable luxury with bulletproof reliability and a lack of gadgets that eventually spoil long-term utility (the avalon), Toyota is doing a MARVELOUS job of imitating the Mercedes 1973 - 1980 market strategy.

Think about it....  240D, 300D, 300TD, 300SD  (diesels - the pre-hybrid)

280 coupes and sedans, (Camry's?)

and of course the vaunted Solara coupe and convertible - a modern 107 if I ever saw one, pricey but a truly reliable sporty car with practical overtones.

And the Avalon:

(http://photos.ebizautos.com/4848/919529_1.jpg)

This car is unexceptional except the fact it is 7 years old and already has 150,000 miles - and is one of many listed as "perfect condition, no problems" on ebay with higher miles.

Gentlemen....  I shudder to think of the "International Avalon Owner's Group" occupying this site in 30 years, but there you go.  Loyal cars create loyal owners.  Glad I was born in 1959.

John
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: alabbasi on 10 March 2006, 09:02 PM
Funny you say that, my father's other car when he bought the Mercedes 250 new was a Toyota Cresseda, he liked it a lot because it had a fridge built in (this is in the early 70's). But not enough to stop him from replacing it with the Mercedes.

I don't think the Avalon or any Toyota can be compared to a Mercedes. Shut the door on a modern Camry and then shut the door on a Mercedes W123 and you will know what I'm talking about. Although the Japanese make excellent cars in terms of reliability, the fit and finish (now I'm not saying the build quality) is not in the same league.  You will also find that in the US, cars are tested and rated in terms of statistics and not in terms of driving pleasure. When I read about a car in a Mag like Car & Driver, I read about MPH, 0-60, How many air bags, how many G's etc etc etc. In a Magazine like BBC top gear, there is a little box in the corner with that information , the rest of the article tell you how Jeremy Clarkson either wants to sell his home and move into the car, or rip his arms off if he spends another moment in it. This is why the Ford Focus is the most popular car in Britain and the VW Golf is the most popular car in Europe, we know that both are not as reliable as Civic, but they are fun to drive and thats really important to Euro drivers.

Mercedes Benz cars are built to please the driver. Japanese cars are built to re-assure the driver that nothing will go wrong with the car for a very very long time. This is why Honda's and Toyota's sell so well here, and not in Europe.

Also, I don't know what the deal is with Hybrid, but we have been getting 60mpg from Diesels for the last 10 years and the technology is bullet proof with no chance of an electric engine failing down the line.

Look at the specs on this Mercedes Benz E220 CDI (turbo Diesel).
147hp
251 ft/lb torque
0-60 in 9.8s
134 MPG top end
44 MPG
(http://parkers.co.uk/imagecache/file/300/archive/Mercedes-Benz/E-Class%20Saloon%20(02-)/MB_787-.jpg)
Not bad for a Full Sized Sedan.
http://parkers.co.uk/choosing/specs/data.aspx?model_id=503&id=23492

The Mercedes Benz A160 CDI will get you 57MPG
http://parkers.co.uk/choosing/specs/data.aspx?model_id=1346&id=29875
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: hokman on 12 March 2006, 12:31 AM
Funny you say that, my father's other car when he bought the Mercedes 250 new was a Toyota Cresseda, he liked it a lot because it had a fridge built in (this is in the early 70's). But not enough to stop him from replacing it with the Mercedes.

I don't think the Avalon or any Toyota can be compared to a Mercedes. Shut the door on a modern Camry and then shut the door on a Mercedes W123 and you will know what I'm talking about. Although the Japanese make excellent cars in terms of reliability, the fit and finish (now I'm not saying the build quality) is not in the same league.  You will also find that in the US, cars are tested and rated in terms of statistics and not in terms of driving pleasure. When I read about a car in a Mag like Car & Driver, I read about MPH, 0-60, How many air bags, how many G's etc etc etc. In a Magazine like BBC top gear, there is a little box in the corner with that information , the rest of the article tell you how Jeremy Clarkson either wants to sell his home and move into the car, or rip his arms off if he spends another moment in it. This is why the Ford Focus is the most popular car in Britain and the VW Golf is the most popular car in Europe, we know that both are not as reliable as Civic, but they are fun to drive and thats really important to Euro drivers.

Mercedes Benz cars are built to please the driver. Japanese cars are built to re-assure the driver that nothing will go wrong with the car for a very very long time. This is why Honda's and Toyota's sell so well here, and not in Europe.

Also, I don't know what the deal is with Hybrid, but we have been getting 60mpg from Diesels for the last 10 years and the technology is bullet proof with no chance of an electric engine failing down the line.

Look at the specs on this Mercedes Benz E220 CDI (turbo Diesel).
147hp
251 ft/lb torque
0-60 in 9.8s
134 MPG top end
44 MPG
(http://parkers.co.uk/imagecache/file/300/archive/Mercedes-Benz/E-Class%20Saloon%20(02-)/MB_787-.jpg)
Not bad for a Full Sized Sedan.
http://parkers.co.uk/choosing/specs/data.aspx?model_id=503&id=23492

The Mercedes Benz A160 CDI will get you 57MPG
http://parkers.co.uk/choosing/specs/data.aspx?model_id=1346&id=29875


Top gear does provides me lots of entertainment and laughs but the presenters seriously lacks driving skills.  I mean Jeremy took days to crack 10mins on nurburgring?  oh, come on!
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: alabbasi on 12 March 2006, 12:26 PM
They had a race car driver called Tiff Nidel (i think) on back in the late 90's. He could drive. I am not a big fan of Clarkson, but enjoyed Tiff's commentry and Quinton Wilson's editorials on up and coming classics and used car buys.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: hokman on 23 March 2006, 07:42 PM
Although I like W116 more than W126.  I think the 80's era is something I can't live without.  I was born in 1986.  80's represent a time of growth in gangsters, and computer technology/gadgetry implemented to everything.  W126 somehow links with the underground world because those plastics bumpers allow easy modification and many are lowered and added with those body kits and spoilers.  Most people who do this are gangsters who hold a huge brick mobile phone and enter the back seat.  This also explains why so many are converted to long limousines.  I was born in Hong Kong, and this kind of society environment is most evident there.  Being in the 80's, w126 also has the usual telephone, electric seats, digital radio, and other fancy gadgets.

W116 represent a time where the world is still simple and friendly in the 70's.  W116 has traditional values of solidity and honesty w126 lacks.  I agree with 450se, who said that w116 is at the transition point between old and new.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: hokman on 23 March 2006, 08:00 PM
Despite Mercedes's drop in quality in the 90's, I think it's still hanging on well nowadays with new models with new ideas added timel the time.  Since the economic depression in mid 90's, every car maker is doing worst.  Just take a look at the Japanese like Toyota or Nissan.  Toyota now has lost every single one of their sports cars (corolla levin coupe, celica, MR-2, supra), and Nissan has lost 60% of their lineup compared to 1998.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 24 March 2006, 12:27 PM
I have seen some very beautiful examples of new Mercedes offerings.  There is virtually nothing that ties these new cars together with our w116s desing-wise, but they are very beautiful - and somehow even very Mercedes - nevertheless.

I have been wondering lately what impact "leasing" has had on automotive quality.  This is a trend that has taken the whole auto industry by storm; we don't own our cars anymore, we lease them for 3-4 years instead.  Personally, I find the idea of paying for half of a car's total value and then walking away with nothing after three years utterly stupid - but that's not the point.  The question is, has leasing positively or negatively affected automotive quality.

One the one hand, vehicle leasing results in the automakers planning to sell to at least two people (those who initially lease the car, and later those who buy the used vehicle).  Since most leases last three years, you figure the car has to maintain a high level of quality for at least that period in order to attract a buyer; hence leasing increases quality by forcing the manufacturer to build cars for two parties over three years apart.

Now, that's the argument (at least, the best one I can think of) for claiming that leasing has increased the quality of cars.  I personally don't think it holds water.  I believe that leasing has been detrimental to quality because automakers are no longer building cars for the purpose of long-term ownership.  Rather, they are building cars for the short-term convenience of the leasor in mind, and then selling off the residual value to the next fellow.

I am just old enough to expect cars to last for years and years with proper maintenance.  I wonder if those days are gone, and 'years and years' has shrunk down to about 10-12 years before the electronic features - that are more expensive to repair than the car is worth - start going south.

Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: John Hubertz on 24 March 2006, 01:31 PM
I get to use my new word!!

The answer is.... "Alvins" will save the day.

Alvins = "chip monks" , those pasty-faced young men and women who can noodle out the codes and servo commands that are run by all these electronic components.

I have a friend here who last month, pulled the DASH from a new Lexus 430 convertible (with electric wood panels that dramatically fade away as various electronic screens for the radio and GPS and climate control rise majestically from their secret in-dash locations)...  UPGRADED the audio/video system to include a built in satellite uplink for an infrared laptop communicator, a BUILT-IN custom Ipod, and THREE gigantic television screens, including one that is now visible on a custom windscreen that projects from inside the dash.

He integrated all this new stuff, including touch-screen controls for the electronics and existing car systems, into the existing dash control systems.

Unrepairable?  Not hardly.  Just unrepairable if you haven't studied the black arts of digital electronics. 

These ARE the good old days!

*(hmmmm....now if I can just fit this Toyota Lambo door kit onto my Mark VIII...)

(http://www.body-kitz.com/contents/media/toyota_2000_2004_celica_promo.jpg)
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: The Warden on 24 March 2006, 07:22 PM
Also, I don't know what the deal is with Hybrid, but we have been getting 60mpg from Diesels for the last 10 years and the technology is bullet proof with no chance of an electric engine failing down the line.

Okay, I have to chime in here...and, yes, I'll admit that I have an axe to grind regarding hybrids.

First, alabbasi's 100% on the money. There are conventional diesels that are putting out fuel economy numbers equivelant to (and in some cases better than) the EPA rated fuel economy numbers for hybrids such as the Prius and the Civic. The '99-'03 VW Jetta TDI can break 50mpg without a sweat, and I think some people have even claimed 55mpg on an extended freeway run. Then there's the Volkswagen Lupo (http://www.philpatton.com/lupo.htm), a diesel car that sounds like it's on par with a Geo Metro otherwise but can get 99 mpg (as compared to the 50 or so that could be gotten out of the Metro).

Furthermore, evidence is starting to come in that hybrids aren't all they're cracked up to be. First, according to this article (http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2004-06-10-diesel-vs-hybrid_x.htm) (coupled with this (http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2004-06-11-diesel-hybrid-diary_x.htm)), hybrids aren't doing quite as well on fuel as the EPA ratings say they are. This is the most readily accessible article, but there are others out there saying essentially the same thing. From what I gather, the hybrid does well in stop-and-go traffic (making good use of the regenerative braking capability), but if you drive primarily on the highway (and therefore with an engine that's running constantly), I don't think 50mpg is doable. Second, there's the issue of  battery replacement (http://carpoint.ninemsn.com.au/car-news/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabID=500648&ArticleID=5487&R=ce5487)...in addition to the price, what sort of environmental impact is there with disposing the battery packs?

With how clean you can get a diesel to run (looking to Eurpoe), coupled with the ability to make biodiesel and lower petroleum consumption far more, IMHO it's the better way to go.

I could rant on this far more, but no sense preaching ;) I think Europe is on the right track with using clean diesels to lower emissions and fuel usage; I just wish America would follow suit...this has been very frustrating for me...

BTW, back to the original topic, I don't have enough experience to speak with any authority, but I've heard people say that the 123 and the 126 were the last of the "great" M-B's...with the 124 being the very beginning of the downhill slide (and things worsening increasingly since then).
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Denis on 26 March 2006, 12:58 AM
Hybrids do not interest people in France.

Why pay for a complicated car that uses petrol when you can buy a turbo-diesel four seater with computerised common rail fuel injection that uses 3.5-4 liters per 100 km and can cruise at 130 kph (speed limit on autoroute) ? The turbo diesels are so refined that they produce power comparable to petrol powered cars and usually, more torque  :o

With particles filters on the recent models, these cars are clean, quiet and economical.
The only real problem is real power over 100 kph but with radars everywhere that is no longer much of an issue; Being stuck in traffic (the infamous Paris plague) is a much bigger issue and in that case, being a learn burn engine, the diesel wins over petrol.

And then there is the real issue of those batteries to replace  >:(

Denis

Paris, France
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Nutz on 26 March 2006, 07:11 PM

I've thought about this for a while and really can't come to a conclusion of which was the best era!
I will say though that quality took a dive when the W201 was introduced without a doubt :-\ My 190E is a piece of s*** and wish I never bought it. >:(
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 26 March 2006, 08:53 PM
I agree with what seems to be the majority view that diesels OUGHT to be in and hybrids out.  One does not even have to have a diesel to outperform a hybrid fuel-wise; there are some 4 cylinder manuals out there getting pretty good mileage.  Battery disposal will be a serious issue, and the high cost of the vehicles does not make sense if you are thinking about recouping your investment in fuel savings.

In many ways, diesels rule: fuel efficiency, longevity and reliability.  In most cases, your suspension will peter out long before your motor will.  The down sides of diesels: cold start problems, low performance, odor, and high emissions have largely been dealt with by tech advances.  One of the big reasons diesels have not done well in the USA - according to polls - shows just how fickle we Americans are: we don't like the smell!

I'm not so sure about the engine code pullers (alvins?) being the answer to long term reliability in new cars.  The codes do a pretty fair job of telling one what is wrong with a car, but do NOTHING to help fix the issue.    Tearing apart the dashboard (or the engine or transmission) to replace a cheap electronic part is simply not an option for most owners who don't know how to do the work themselves and can't afford the cost to have it done.  Diagnosis has become much easier; repair has become much harder.  I gave up on my Skylark because a bad solenoid required dropping the transmission for replacement.  The part was cheap, but required 8 hrs of labor.  No thanks; the car wasn't worth it!  I really think that's what's going to happen to a lot of new cars as nestled (deep in engines, transmissions, consoles) electronics begin to fail. 

I was watching a documentary on the Phoenicians a few nights ago.  Their legendary ships sailed the open oceans a thousand years before Christ.  Imagine how carefully those things must have been built!  Nowadays, of course, it's a routine matter.  And of course, we live in a throwaway society with MTBF (mean time between failure) the engineering standard.  The line, "failure is not an option" just doesn't apply anymore.   

It will be very interesting to see how many 1995-2006 cars become "classics" thirty years from now.  And how many will even be roadworthy.  We don't know, of course; only time will tell.  But I think that - in 2036 - a lot fewer thirty year old cars will be around than ever before. 
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: hokman on 27 March 2006, 03:57 AM
Hybrids will mostly interest people whose attracted by its lb battery/dollar ratio, but no sane man will care about hybrids.  To most people the weight in batteries compensate for any gain in mpg you gain by using the electric motor, and the weight burdens the speed handling and braking.  But the only time you use the electic motor will be limited to bogging in traffic jam.  It will be completely useless when you aren't stuck in traffic jam.

Mercedes has invested money to develop 2 kinds of hybrid concept cars.  I hope they will only concentrate on the diesel hybrid, because I think diesel hybrid will be something else.  Especially when it will eliminate diesel idle clattering nose, and diesel engines have enough torque to pull those extra weight in batteries.  And unlike toyota's cheap FWD chassis which understeers at every opportunity, Benz has a history of making good handling heavyweight cars like the 6.9.  If Mercedes is the first to put one in production, they will rewrite hybrid history.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: John Hubertz on 27 March 2006, 09:18 AM
As far as the future, in my opinion only the Hydrogen Fuel Cell is viable.

Only a certain amount of prehistoric bio products (diesel/gas/lpg etc) exists...  and only hydrogen is a truly renewable resource that does not drain the scarce calorie resources that could feed people.  Water is plentiful, and hydrogen is the building block of all matter and literally, "universally" available.

I'll vote biodiesel the day no one is starving...
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: Mforcer on 27 March 2006, 10:19 AM
What I don't understand with all the people thinking that an electric motor hybrid is a good idea is that much of the electricity is sourced from a power station and unless that power station is nuclear, hydro-, solar or some other renewable resource then there is another polluting power source not being counted in the MPG of these cars. The game has changed but the scoring hasn't ::)

I agree with John that Hydrogen Fuel Cells are the answer but the bigger issue is how is the hydrogen (or electricity for current electric hybrids) produced. A non-polluting and renewable source of electricity must be available then it wouldn't matter if a car had to plug in once a day to recharge.
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: oscar on 28 March 2006, 07:47 AM
Oil and coal are renewable! Why does everybody get so uptight about a so called energy crisis which is actually a politico-economic manufactured crisis.  And as for global warming, each year we're getting closer to the sun! ;D ;D ;D 
Actually, I checked my facts. The first two statements are absolutely spot on, but the earth is moving away from the sun.  So now I got no idea what causes global warming.  Maybe because the ice caps are melting, they're not keeping the earth cooler.

Surely the answer for renewable fuels for combustion engines are; SVO (straight vegetable oil) for oel motor's, ethanol for petrol engines and methane for compressed gas conversions.  Too simple.

As for the MB's best era, I really got no idea but learning a lot from previous posts.  As for the current lineup, they're improving on the '90's offerings and I'm glad they've given the ML a deserved makeover.  My fave is the new SLK as a cheaper sexy fun merc to cruise in by oneself or with mistress.

The gadgets and tech wizardry across the board are amazing compared to what was available 10 yrs ago.  The Ipod integration option is well worth bragging about and to the more extreme, the advances in traction control/crash avoidance/braking assistance etc blah, it gives the impression that there'd be no accidents ever again if everybody drove mercs and roads were marked with compatible roadside sensors.

As for styling, especially exteriors, everybody's going fastback these days.  The new S class is one more incarnation from becoming a 4 door hatchback.   >:(
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 29 March 2006, 12:08 AM
Here's a good place for me to throw in my two pennies.

Global warming is real, in the sense that the 10 hottest years ever recorded have all occurred in the last 10 years.  BUT it is completely false in the sense that those pushing for dramatic steps are economic redistributionists more than anything else.  The reality is that global warming is primarily caused by the fact that the sun itself is growing hotter.  The phenomena of global warming is largely out of man's control.  For many people - scientists included - the notion that something is out of human ability to change or control is too terrifying to accept.  It means we're in the power of something or someone beyond ourselves.

Let me begin with the "well, duh!" argument: we're being told that temperatures and water levels are at their highest level in 130,000 years.  Well, if we are to accept that the present levels are being caused by fossil fuels and aerosol cans and what not, then it stands to reason that human beings were making some pretty gnarly cars 130,000 years ago (and I thought my '77 was old!).  Global warming is a cyclical phenomena: it was out of man's control before, and it is out of our control now.  If we were a little smarter, maybe we'd think about where we lived a little more carefully.

Now for the more scientific argument.  First of all, scientists have an awful track record regarding global warming: thirty years ago, the broad scientific community was claiming that we were headed for a disasterous period of global COOLING with all the same vigor that they are now claiming that we are experiencing disasterous global warming.  The one degree "spike" that has been recognized to have occurred globally is within the margin of error of our ability to measure the overall global temperature.  The fact is that this is not about science at all, but an economic and ideological agenda that trumps science.  Secondly, there is a better scientific explanation for any warming trend that we have been observing than automotive and industrial environmental pollution.  It turns out that there have been measurable changes in the sun and the earth's magnetic field - which are clearly NOT caused by environmental contamination - that better explain the phenomena of global warming. 

Scientists have been monitoring solar cycles since 1775, and noting a regular repeating phenomena of 11-year cycles of sunspots, followed by 11-year cycles of minimal solar activity.  This 22-year cycle has occurred regular as rain... until recently.  In 2003, in the midst of a minimum cycle of reduced solar activity, an unusually powerful series of solar storms took scientists completely by surprise.  A 2003 study by NASA determined that the sun was getting both hotter and brighter.  Dr. Richard C. Wilson of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies wrote, "Historical records of solar activity indicate that solar radiation has been increasing since the late 19th century.  If a trend, comparable to the one found in this study, persisted throughout the 20th century, it would have provided a significant component of the global warming the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports to have occurred over the past 100 years."  It is the SUN that is changing, people.  Driving around in your silly little hybrid car will have a virtually meaingless impact on the phenomena of global warming. 

The phenomena that IS occuring in the earth is likewise out of human control.  A New York Times article reported that the earth is perhaps 150 years into the collapse of the magnetic field.  It said, "The field's strength has waned 10-15%, and the deterioration has accelerated of late, increasing debate over whether it portends a reversal of the lines of magnetic force that normally envelope the earth."  Among other things, the field shields earth from solar radiation which destroys the ozone layer that protects the earth from harmful UV radiation.

Frankly, the trend and what could happen in the future reminds me of the words of Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24).  But it DOESN'T have a whole lot to do with automobiles and industry.  So you can tell them where to go stick their hybrid cars and their whole redistributionist policies that force developed economies to dumb themselves down while at the same time giving their wealth to developing nations.  The dumbest thing of all is that the Kyoto Accords that the USA was so villified for not ratifying gave the biggest pollutors - such as China, India, and Russia - free rides while it held the US and Europe to stifling emissions levels.  China and India are set to produce more polluting emissions than the world collectively produced in the last 150 years.  Kyoto was all about redistribution of the global economy and nothing about "fixing" global warming.  The US Senate was right in shooting down Kyoto 95-0 in a rare show of unanimous bipartisan agreement.

For the most part, thinking people want more fuel-efficient cars simply because oil and gas prices are so volatile and it doesn't appear that they will be trending downward.  We won't be running out of oil anytime soon, but supplies are greatly affected by a huge host of complicating factors which are largely out of all our hands.  I hate putting 25 gallons of gas into my 450SEL because I know I'll be doing it again all too soon; but I comfort myself with the realization that 1) I'm driving a beautiful, elegant, classic machine  and 2) the money I saved buying this car instead of a hybrid will buy an awful lot of gas.

I'm all for sound environmental policy; the problem is that that both the science surrounding "global warming" and the ideological and environmental agendas it is being used to legitimize are completely unsound. 

This diatribe was penned by
Mike
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: The Warden on 29 March 2006, 01:44 AM
Go Mike!! 8)
Title: Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
Post by: michaeld on 30 March 2006, 12:13 AM
Thank you for the encouragement, Warden!
But you know what happens when you encourage someone in the midst of a diatribe - MORE diatribe!

I actually DID want to add this new diatribe to my previous diatribe...
I actually support the effort to build more fuel efficient cars - and ultimately develop a fusion-powered car.  This effort will require a genuine commitment by corporations and taxpayers, but it is fundamentally necessary research - not because of the myth of global warming - but rather because too much of the known oil reserves are located in nations that are fundamentally opposed to everything Western culture stands for.  As long as Islamic-fascist regimes have us "over a barrel," our economies are vulnerable to embargo and pure petty vindictive market manipulation.  Discovering a new energy source would be the best thing that could happen for the entire Western world (whether constituent Western governments pursue policies of confrontation of terrorism (such as the United States) or policies of appeasement and/or negotiation (European Union, U.N.)).  We will not be able to adequatly confront the growing crisis of global Islamic terrorism as long as we are fearful of a retaliatory embargo.  Europe is FAR more dependent of Arab oil than the United States; hence their timidity.  The West must stand as one, or it cannot ultimately stand against Islamic-facsism.

Unfortunately, American Big Oil has no wish to make itself extinct as long as there is one more drop of oil to sell, and American politicians are short-sighted, myopic sycophants.  Furthermore - at least in the USA - there is no genuine desire to reduce oil consumption on the part of the population.  I not only see hordes of giant SUVs and pickups on the freeways, but I constantly see them driving at gas-gobbling speeds.  I myself drive 70 mph; one day, I did an experiment on a 100 mile freeway drive: I set my cruise at 70, and counted how many vehicles drove by me vs. how many I passed.  The number (excluding semi-trucks) was over 600 to 3!  Gas is money in the USA; and it is simply not expensive enough for us to substantially change our driving habits OR the cars we drive. 

Hybrids are like the MTBE that was forced on California gasoline by state agencies; it solves one problem by creating another one.  MTBE is an additive that cleans the air, but contaminates the water.  Hybrids save gas (to a fair but unimpressive degree) but will result in huge stockpiles of hazardous batteries.  Two things seem to characterize the USA: the desire to have our noses rubbed in our own fecal matter (by which I mean our perverted media), and a compulsive reliance on short-term "quick-fixes" at the expense of long-term solutions.  Hybrid vehicles are NOT the long-term answer to our energy problems, and do not even really constitute the best "bridge" solution in the meantime.  Furthermore, hybrid cars exist primarily because state and federal agencies autonomously and imperiously forced them on automakers and on the American public. 

There is simply no sense of urgency in the US to divorce ourseves from oil.  When the price goes up beyond a certain amount, a small but significant chunk of people rush off to buy hybrids.  And then the prices drop and we lull off to sleep again... and again.  I personally have no intention of over-reacting in a panic at the next spike in gas prices.

One day - assuming we don't blow ourselves to kingdom-come - there will be an alternative energy source for automobiles.  Until then, you will find me driving my w116 with a  ;D on my face.
Mike