All posts tagged Mercedes Benz

Feature Listing: 2001 Mercedes-Benz S430

Right now, the least expensive car you can buy in the United States brand new is the Nissan Versa Sedan, which rings in at a very budget friendly $11,900. For that you get such amenities as wheels, seats, mostly translucent glass and an engine. Sounding a bit like a sewing machine with a hangover, the Versa’s 1.6 liter inline-4 struggles to produce 109 horsepower. Inside are cheap plastics, cheaper fabrics, and plenty of toxic new car smell. Okay, I’ll admit it does come with a warranty which, judging by the used Nissan products I see covered in soot and broken down around me, you’ll probably need at some point. You know those commercials for the toy (Flashing Lights! Realistic Siren Sounds!) you always wanted when you were a kid that they made seem so cool, but if you were lucky enough to get one you found out it was pretty much complete crap and broken immediately? Claiming that you’ve achieved something in buying the Versa as a new car is pretty much the same thing. I’d say it was a toaster on wheels, but I wouldn’t want to insult toast.

On the other end of the spectrum is the luxury executive market. Cars in this realm are crafted to be silent but perform like Swiss watches; powerful, smooth and seamless. They are expected to bathe you in luxuries; supple leather, the tactile feel of real wood – an airy feel of a ski chalet in Saint Moritz, but with the computing power of NASA and the convenience features of a Brookstone catalogue. They are made to have presence but not in a showy, pay attention to me way; more often, a regal, stately suit to brush the pedestrian cares of life away as you isolate yourself from traffic. They’re transportation cocoons spun by silk worms, and as such if you’re budget says “Versa”, they’re thoroughly out of your price range. Or, are they?

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Feature Listing: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL

Hard to believe though it may seem with today’s plethora of topless options, back in the early 1980s your selections were quite limited. Bucking the belief that the convertible would be killed off, Volkswagen emerged with a Rabbit Cabriolet that featured a massive rollover hoop for protection. Porsche entered the fray in 1982 as well, bringing back the cabriolet model that had been missing since the 356. But the only choice if you wanted a luxury convertible was the Mercedes-Benz SL. From 1971 to 1989, this car was the undisputed king of open-air motoring, and for good reason. This weekend, I walked by a Buick Cascada and thought “Wow, that looks cheap”. Though the 1980s were accused of being the era of rampant consumerism, the reality is that it was a very narrow window of incredible products. In the 1970s, for a new car to last a few years and maybe up to 100,000 miles was semi-miraculous. Yet suddenly in the 1980s we as consumers were presented with a number of cars that would run for three times that amount with little difficulty. They started every time, were mechanically well engineered and even got reasonably good fuel economy. It was the brief period where the engineering overtook the penny pinching accountants, when cars were made well and to a standard that would last. By the 1990s, cars had become much more disposable again – the reality of keeping a car company afloat, unfortunately. But looking through the photos of this 1985 380SL, I happened across the sticker bearing the signature of Gottlieb Daimler. The sticker is a bit worn and peeled around the edges with a slight discoloration, but on that sticker are the words “a DAIMLER-BENZ product”. That meant something in the 1980s, because these were simply the best engineered and constructed cars in the world. You were buying one for a lifetime of service, not two years of commuting. They were expensive, but they were the benchmark by which all others were measured. I still remember when the Cadillac Allante debuted in 1986, aimed to compete against this very car. Now, by that time the R107 was 15 years into production and probably 20 years from original sketch, so it was pretty tired as designs go. But Car and Driver compared the two and walked away saying that the Mercedes-Benz was still the car to get. You know what? They were right, because here we are 31 years later and this 1985 380SL still looks lovely, fresh and ready for top-down action:

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1985 Mercedes-Benz 230CE

There are few cars, in my opinion, more stoic the Mercedes-Benz W123. This wasn’t a particularly flashy Mercedes, nor was it overtly luxurious. It was designed to take over a large segment of the Mercedes-Benz portfolio while providing transportation that would last a lifetime, as we see with the examples still pressed into service on a regularly basis. So popular were these cars that even shortly after their introduction, people were paying premiums for new examples immediately available, averting the wait list in Mercedes-Benz showrooms. The US market did not receive many non-diesel W123 variants over the course of the production cycle, and none were in coupe form. That makes this final year 1985 230CE for sale in California is a bit of a rarity on these shores.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 230CE on eBay

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1982 Mercedes-Benz 280SE – REVISIT

At the risk of appearing like we’re recycling a bit too much material lately, I’d really like to take a look at this superb and interestingly equipped W126 from last fall again. A relatively low spec European model never offered here, this 280SE features the M110 inline-6 instead of the normal V8s the American market experienced, but the smart Euro look, low miles and great color combination really caught my eye. It’s not the fastest S-Class you can buy, but it’ll still leave you feeling pretty rich. Last time around this car hammered at a seemingly unfathomably cheap $2,950, but for whatever reason it’s back up for sale from the same owner having covered only a few more miles since the fall. The reserve is still on the auction, but this should still remain a very affordable bit of classy classic Mercedes to pick up!

The below post originally appeared on our site September 7, 2015:

As with the W140 model I covered the other day, the W126 eagerly accepted by the automotive world as the new benchmark in design in the late 1970s. Mercedes-Benz pioneered new safety, aerodynamics and luxury through typical Mercedes-Benz over engineering. Replacing the outgoing W116, the W126 was thoroughly modern inside and out but at least initially carried the same motivation. Under the hood of the short wheel base 280SE was the inline-6 M110 motor, but there were small and large displacement V8 models too. Paul looked at a excellent condition W116 280SE recently, but a high asking price called into question the value of that particular example. Will this grey market import 280SE sing the same song?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1982 Mercedes-Benz 280SE on eBay

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U.S. v. Euro Double Take: 1977 and 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9s

Tuner Tuesday posts usually focus on cars that have been turned up a few notches by aftermarket companies, but for some time Mercedes-Benz did all the magic internally. Indeed, if you go back to the 1920s and 1930s, Mercedes-Benz had a habit of taking the largest motor they could reliably produce and sticking it in their luxury cars. Such was where the legend of the 500 and 540K specials came from, but while the War postponed many further developments Mercedes-Benz were back at it in the W109 300SEL 6.3. Apparently not satisfied by that factory hot rod, engineers conceived its replacement with an even larger 6.9 liter V8 – mind you, in the midst of an international fuel crisis. Churning out 286 horsepower from the now legendary M100 V8, the 450SEL 6.9 was effectively a land-bound aircraft carrier and about as powerful. Long ignored by the market, the 6.9s have heated up over the past few years as large classic Mercedes-Benz models have become increasingly sought after and the rare 450SEL with the big motor is a solid draw. Today I have two examples to consider – a desirable European version and a less powerful and not quite as attractive American-spec car. Which is the one to choose?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 on eBay

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