Author Topic: Which was Mercedes' best era?  (Read 13885 times)

Mforcer

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #15 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
Michael
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Denis

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #16 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.

michaeld

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #17 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. 

Mforcer

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #18 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
Michael
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michaeld

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #19 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?

s class

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #20 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.

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

OzBenzHead

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #21 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.

michaeld

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #22 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!!!

Denis

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #23 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


michaeld

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #24 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.

John Hubertz

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #25 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:



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
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alabbasi

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #26 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

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
« Last Edit: 10 March 2006, 09:05 PM by alabbasi »
With best regards

Al
Dallas, TX USA.

hokman

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #27 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

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!

alabbasi

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #28 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.
With best regards

Al
Dallas, TX USA.

hokman

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Re: Which was Mercedes' best era?
« Reply #29 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.
« Last Edit: 23 March 2006, 07:51 PM by hokman »