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Will the REAL "Most Durable Car" please honk?

Started by michaeld, 27 May 2006, 10:57 PM


Quote from: Denis on 13 June 2006, 09:21 AM
If your car loves you, you love your car and it will be durable.

hah hah , this get quite intimate, but this should be partly true as 116 lovers like us usually tend to keep good care of the car. The other part, which is still there, comes from the natural durability or is it robustness of old MB's in general.
Another point is fixability for a DIY-man, this is at a high level in old MB's as well and very low in modern cars (including MB's) where special equipment is needed and large parts need to be changed to correct something minor involving big $$$.

BTW quite a nice victory of the aussies in the soccer world cup over the japs.

regards from spain,Tomi   


Quote from: Tomi on 13 June 2006, 10:38 AMBTW quite a nice victory of the aussies in the soccer world cup over the japs.

Thanks, Tomi! You go to Spain for the Cup? (BTW: What is this soccer world cup? And, no, I don't follow any other leagues or variations of ball games, either. It's all bollocks to me.)   ;) ;D
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Quote from: OzBenzHead on 13 June 2006, 10:48 AM
Quote from: Tomi on 13 June 2006, 10:38 AMBTW quite a nice victory of the aussies in the soccer world cup over the japs.

Thanks, Tomi! You go to Spain for the Cup? (BTW: What is this soccer world cup? And, no, I don't follow any other leagues or variations of ball games, either. It's all bollocks to me.)   ;) ;D

yes, you have to celebrate down there now, and my next beer is on you 8). No i'm in spain for business, the games are in Germany. We call it actually football, but it gets mixed with the US and other variations of the game.


Hello gentlemen

The most durable car in the world is FRENCH  ;D

Look here :

And some time in July, our friend Brian Crumb and I will try to start it up in the museum just to prove that it is DURABLE - we need a lot of wood to run 25 minutes but this is going to be fun  ::) and some kangaroo hair in the boiler might help with a bit of napoleon VSOP cognac and a few Fosters :D


Paris, france


I dare say Big Richard is right; Americans don't seem to go for base models.  The high falutin' luxury crap industry (which I consider a bad thing) has primarly been driven by America, I fear.  Personally, I love simplicity.  I would gladly even (horrors) roll up my own windows rather than have to replace window motors; and (gasp) lock my own doors rather than mess w/ vacuum systems.

I'd really like to respond to Denis.  I completely agree that a car that develops a following will get the higher level maintenance.  Cool cars are better loved - and therefore better cared for - than disposable cars.  And, Denis seems to be saying that cars that get such a following develop it because they "love" their owners (in the sense that they reliably do what their owners want them to do).

The second point, I'd qualify.  I think there are cars out there - without naming any - that develop a following simply because of the way they look.  I also think there are cars that perform extremely well when they are just right - but are unreliable maintenance pigs - that also receive a loyal following. 

I would like to think that I have not fallen prey to either of the above two categories in my w116.  Rather, I want to believe that I have fallen in love with a worthy car that - in Denis' words - loves me.

To continue using Denis' language, what I want to know is, which automakers' cars have best "loved" their owners?


Hi michaeld and all

Taking a risk at simplifying things, the main point of a car "loving" its owner is that the bloody machine appears to be made for human use :
- the door locks are properly placed and work easily
- the door opens and allows the human to get in/out easily
- the seat and seatback fits the human body and adjusts
- the human is not annoyed by some quirk
- the instrument cluster makes sense and is usable
- storage spaces exist and can be used without looking or using a flashlight
- the car starts reliably
- the engine does what it is expected to do
- the car is easy to drive/see out off
- things dont fall off unexpectedly
- the car obeys its owners (accelerates well, brakes well)
- the car goes straight unless you turn the tiller
- the car does all of the above for a long time.

Such cars make the humans that own them NOT want to sell them. Miss out on too many of these points and as soon as this car has problems :

"kick in the car's arse" - it appears in the want adds or the car graveyard. Fini, no more, das Scheiße-Auto ist tot !

The early Citroen CX achieved many of the goals but did very poorly on one : - the human is not annoyed by some quirk because its roof was too low for anyone over 1m80  >:(
A more common example taht most might know : the VW Scirocco of fame - it did NOT achieve several of the above "LOVE" requirements and many were prematurely scrapped.

Why people buy silly cars is beyond me but they do.

Th W116 rates very highly on the list.


Paris, France

Bright day, cloudy, pollution alert asking people to not drive to work


QuoteWhy people buy silly cars is beyond me but they do.

The W116 rates very highly on the list.

Oups... :-[...OK, that is not the right way to say this  :P

What I meant is that with respect to my love list, the W116 is a winner.

I did not say that the W116 is a very silly car that only fools like us will buy  ;D


Paris, France


Quote from: michaeld on 15 June 2006, 09:16 PM
I dare say Big Richard is right; Americans don't seem to go for base models.  The high falutin' luxury crap industry (which I consider a bad thing) has primarly been driven by America, I fear.  Personally, I love simplicity.  I would gladly even (horrors) roll up my own windows rather than have to replace window motors; and (gasp) lock my own doors rather than mess w/ vacuum systems.

I would have to say that, as a whole, I totally agree, which is one of the reasons I love my '77 280SE.  The only option I can find on it is the armrest between the seats.  I love manual windows, I've replaced too many 116 power window regulators not to.  Though I do occasionally get comments from passengers like, "I for one PREFER power windows"...though this might be partially because the passenger window could use a lube... ::)  I do have to confess that I miss central locking and would like a sunroof, I haven't quite broken my attachment to those, but everything else (except those rare ABS systems and maybe seat heaters) as far as options go is probably more trouble than it's worth, IMO.


Hi fellows

You know what 116.025 ? You just convinced me NOT to add the power windows to my 350SE. I have all the parts from a parted 280SE for months and use fellows just need to go adjust our window regulators.

My car is also aircon-less what a joy ! Honestly we can live without it in northern France but I do have, and love my sunroof. Unfortunately it IS a rust area. at this point, it is the only rust area on my car  >:(


Paris, France


People who love older cars for their simplicity are different than most; which is a polite way of saying "weird." 

The luxury add-ons are the primary thing that will eventually killing the classic car industry.  Cars that have been built since the early-mid 90's often has too much stuff that will fail, and will be too expensive to repair.

I think Denis' post detailing what is meant by a car "loving" its owner is quite right; and I've had a few 30 year old cars that did all of those things!  I think that the problem w/ modern cars is that they try to provide the illusion of comfort - and all too temporary comfort at that - at the expense of real comfort.  I don't need GPS and a wheelbarrow full of whiz-bang gadgetry; just give me a comfortable seat that is built to last, good ventilation, and generally commonsense ergonomics; I'll be like a clam in its comfy shell.  And again, I won't feel comfortable in my car if I have to constantly worry about something going wrong w/ it.

I've got one window that doesn't work, and one power door lock that works only if I drive over 15 min (same door, btw: right rear).  It's not a big deal, and it certainly isn't a critical component; but it is always annoying when things don't work.  I think of cars today (and I'm not even talking about luxury cars, but just plain old everyday cars) that have dozens and dozens of such systems.  Who's going to want them in 15 years?

I've thought about buying a new car several times; but the biggest reason I keep going back to older cars is that I just don't feel that anybody is building a car that is right for me in the new car market.  I found my w116 and something inside said, "Yes!"  Mind you, if my w116 was built for me, it would get much better gas mileage - but beggars can't be choosers!

Who is making such cars today?


Denis, Speaking of French cars and Citroens,
last weekend we went to Melbourne and found ourselves behind at least 6 classics on their way to who knows where.  Just enjoying the Victorian countryside.  Got no idea what the models were and I wont try and expalin what each looked like although there was that "beetle" type up front.  Here's the best pic I got of the last car in the convoy, didn't dare overtake each one in case I threw up stones.  Aren't I thoughtful!! They all looked so shiny.

As far as human comfort etc, my newer car (2005 Ford Territory (SUV)) is comfy but it's a ford with ford quality and has already been in twice with warranty issues.  The car  is great to drive but you know what annoys me?  Its multifunction buttons for gadgets. 

True I like my 350 mostly because it's a joy to drive but each button or switch or knob does one thing.  I don't have to access a menu button then work my way thru to set something.  It really takes your concentration off the road.  I don't have to cycle thru a menu to reset the tripmeter.  Even the greater spec'd sel's with all that was available at the time adds more switches etc rather than assign more functions to one switch.  I suppose we can blame the electronic age, but despite it being relatively maintenance free, it's certainly not faultless. Give me mechanical control of my A/C, seats, stereo etc any day.
1973 350SE, my first & fave


Hi oscar and friends

An interesting point can be made here. Some people would say that "our "idea of the W116 simplicity is just old-fashioned and we dislike "progress".

Well, the picture of that blue car in your post shows how true progress USED TO exist and that  what is called PROGRESS today is mostly obtuse gadgetry.

The "beetle-like" is the Citroen DS. The original that came out in 1955 was an example of TRUE PROGRESS - it had the best Cx factor of any 1955 saloon (the streamlined body accounted for 10 kph in top speed), it introduced great ride (through hydropneumatic suspension, great brakes with DISKS in front and even better road grip than the earlier "traction" (the prewar looking car ahead of the DS on your picture).The DS hydropneumatic suspension of 1955 was eventually matched by steel -sprung car suspensions of the late seventies - being 20 years ahead of its time is what I call real "progress".

When the owner of the 1955 Citroen took delivery of it - it was arguably the most advanced saloon in the world but did the owner have to read a 400 pages owner guide ? learn to press buttons in a secret code with silly iconic displays that only an alien can understand or put up with the infamous "check engine" idiot light ?

Nahhh !! he just got MORE car. The technical progress was real. To me, the last technical progress was ABS - a W116 feature  8)

I think that modern cars are bent on including aerospace technology with washing machine technology budgets. If car manufacturers of today made flying cars, I would stay on the ground...



Paris, France


Densis (and of course my other friends!),

"Progress" has trade offs; and sometimes one has to question whether the "progress" of a gadget justifies its MTBF (mean time between failures) that accompany it.

Here is one example: brakes.  Most everyone acknoweldges that ABS was a major technological advance.  It also makes DIY brake work far more difficult.  Do you want it, or not?  My car missed having it by one year (MBz introduced it in the 450 line in '78).  Since I prefer to do my own work - and since I believe my 4-wheel disc brakes are more than adequate - I am glad I don't have the added technology and the headaches that come w/ it.

Today, brake systems are being introduced that make ABS look quaint.  I don't know what the system is called, but it is a highly computerized anti-roll system that will initiate a "take over" of the brake system; computers will take over if the brakes are applied hard, enabling just one wheel to brake - then another - to avoid a rollover situation.

I am imangining that this will probably take any hope of DIY from much of the braking system.  And I ask, would I want that?  The answer for me is, not really.  Do I think that such a system is pointless?  No way; it is a magnificent technological accomplishment!  But I feel more than safe enough in my car - provided it is functioning as it was designed.  If I WERE to roll over, my solid body would protect me.  I think that cars are built in a flimsy manner to save weight (to reduce cost of materials and improve fuel efficiency); w/ today's bodies, you NEED gadgets to protect the passengers.

Additionally, I want to bring the thread back to its purpose: which cars are the most durable (AND the most dependable).  We can look at the automotive world as it was during the days of the w116 and ask this question; or we can look at cars through the latest models.  We've mainly been discussing the latter in our posts.

This is the mentality I bring to cars: I want an automobile that will run well - and for a long time - on good solid basic maintenance.  I want a car that I can work on myself for most issues (I believe that simplicity is an expression of great engineering; the engineering equivalent of Occam's Razor.  If I pay more for parts (and MBz parts ARE more expensive than US car parts, for e.g.), I want those parts to be of higher quality and therefore last longer.

Now, we have talked about the "ride" experience of our cars; and it is - IMHO - amazing.  But is there a trade off?  Are Japanese cars - let's say 80's cars - more durable or more dependable than our w116s?  Of course they don't have the same ride quality; let's not even bother to discuss that!  But is there any reason to believe they are more dependable?


Michaeld and all

Is the W116 more dependable than a Nippon X of 1989 ?

Look at the library on this site - check the owner survery on the W116 ; When new, the W116 was not a reliability wonder, it was good but not great. The japanese approach was to provide perceived dependability on relatively new cars with very few "trouble" areas.

Once a new model is sorted out, it CAN become a repected dependable car. Durable ? hehehe, not proven yet.

As for the perfect car, I will borrow a snippet from another post and arrange it to reflect my opinion :

In a heavenly car,
The body is Italian
The engine is German
The seats are French
The sound system is English
and everything is organized by Swiss



Paris, France

paris : hot day, bring out some cool sangria with ice cubes !

s class

Agreed, extra gadgets cause worse MTBF performance.

My 280SE is 26 years old this year.  It has 423 000km indicated.  It has the following creature comfort options : vacuum central locking, electric windows, rear seat belts, A/C, rear window demister, rev counter

In all these years and km, the following is a list of the problems I have had with "gadgets"

a) A/C compressor bearings gave in - replaced with new compressor at an admittedly high cost of nearly US$1000
b) the drivers door electric window lift broke by way of the alloy plate that forms the backboone of the thing cracked.  I disassembled the unit and had a specialist metal welder "stitch" it back together - cost about US$ 30, and has been in service for about 200 000km since.
c) passenger front door electric window lift suffered the same problem about a year later - same fix, same success.
d) one of the rear doors had a vacuum unit failure on the central locking, but that was because I accidentally pierced the bellows while working in there - solution - second hand vacuum unit

Other comments : all interior controls for heating, cooling, electric windows, seat adjustment etc etc still work flawlessly and have naver given any problems.  I have never had any heater issues of any kind.  My central locking is so good that after the car has stood for 2 weeks I can still lock and unlock all dodrs a few times before I have to start the engine to recharge the system. 

That is what I call dependability. 

My W140 has half the mileage, half the age, and probably 10 times the complexity.  In the six months I have been driving it I have had the entire A/C system replaced/overhauled, I have electric window lift problems, door lock vacuum problems, closing assist vacuum problems (the doors "suck" themselves closed on high specced W140's), the heater doesnt work, there are a myriad of switches that often need to be "jiggled" before they work.  Is this progress??you answer that.  Do I want it - well I now use my W140 for the highway business trips I make of a few hundred km each every week.  The ergonomics, human comfort and freedom from driver fatigue are a quantum leap better than the W116.  believe it or not.  BUT - there are all those niggles, and from what I read on the internet, with the W140 its not just an issue of fixing the niggles - there will always be new niggles.  And they are EXPENSIVE. 

So is the W140 better than the W116?  Depends on your needs. 


[color=blue]'76 6.9 Euro[/color], [color=red]'78 6.9 AMG[/color], '80 280SE, [color=brown]'74 350SE[/color], [color=black]'82 500SEL euro full hydro, '83 500SEL euro full hydro [/color], '81 500SL