All of my friends know that I have a unhealthy, archaic obsession with Mercedes-Benz models from the 1980s and 1990s era…pre-merge with Chrysler. The vehicles produced during that timeframe were unapologetically austere, built to a standard, and equipped with safety, performance, and logic in mind, rather than style or fashion. Incidentally, their ‘style’ was that of utter German seriousness, which appeals to those of us who value efficiency and quality over pure aesthetics.
Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz no longer produces vehicles to this standard. Through its collaboration with Detroit, its massive expansion in model offerings, and its need to compete with an ever-crowded luxury market (and extreme demand for luxury), the vehicles produced today are less unique, less likely to last, and based in fleeting trends than long-term relevance. If I had to spend money on a new car today, it would probably be something that, if not built to a standard, at least has customization options and a significant cool factor. In other words, a Mini.
From time to time I check eBay Motors for used Mercedes listings…and here are my picks for today.
1994 E320 Coupe, black over gray, 82,000 miles. This is a beautiful example of German austerity and a bit of American cool. I’m not sure how many of these were sold in Europe, but I believe they were fairly popular in North America, despite their hefty original pricetag.
1987 300SDL, gray over gray, 152,000 miles. This thing is probably slow as a 18-wheeler, but it has tons of style. Dirty, yes, smelly, most likely. But fun…I’d certainly enjoy it. 152,000 miles is nothing to worry about with these cars. They run forever, quite honestly.
1989 300E, gray over gray, 114,000 miles. For $5000, I would think this would be a worthy investment for someone not looking to be stranded frequently. Just be willing to manage upkeep, as needed. No excuses!
1987 300D, green over beige, 53,000 miles. This is the model that will truly run forever. Properly sized, attractive, aerodynamic. And the engine…bulletproof. And with 53,000 miles?! A STEAL.
Just for fun…there are some great people on Flickr who photograph old Benzes. Check them out: mercedesmotoring and Rafael O (his picture used above), and I’m sure there are others as well.