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Which was Mercedes' best era?

Started by michaeld, 01 March 2006, 09:59 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.


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.

John Hubertz

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!

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

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

1977 450SEL (Max Headroom)
[img width=68 height=73][/img]

The Warden

Quote from: alabbasi on 11 March 2006, 12:02 AM
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 (, 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 ( (coupled with this (, 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 ( 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).


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  >:(


Paris, France


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. >:(


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. 


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.

John Hubertz

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

1977 450SEL (Max Headroom)
[img width=68 height=73][/img]


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.
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


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.   >:(
1973 350SE, my first & fave


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

The Warden


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.