Andy Reid
Andy Reid HalfDork
5/28/08 10:31 a.m.

Janis Joplin wanted a Benz, and now might be the time for you to think about one, too. Everyone seems to know that the company has made some wonderful classic sports and grand touring cars for more than a century. While many of these machines commanded a premium price when new, some of them now represent terrific values in today's market.

Often overlooked when compared to contemporary Healeys, Triumphs or even Porsches, the cars from Mercedes-Benz represent a rare thing in today's classic sports and grand touring ranks: a classic car that you can actually use as a daily driver with little or no sacrifice in comfort, safety or reliability.

For example, the 230 SL from the '60s is every bit as fun as a TR6 or an Austin-Healey 3000. However, instead of a car whose headlights might only work some of the time plus a top that tries its best to keep the rain out, you get a car where everything works: a convertible that acts like a hardtop when it is erected, plus the choice of a manual or automatic gearbox, which is something to think about if you will be driving your classic in heavy traffic.

With the more modern examples, you get a car that was--and in some cases still is--a leader in its class. The Mercedes-Benz was not built down to cost, but built up to a higher standard.

As an added bonus, the cars we'll be talking about are quite affordable--most of them cost less than a brand-new Toyota Camry. Never has so little bought so much.

Part of the beauty of Mercedes-Benz as a company is that their cars have always seemed to offer something for just about everyone, from convertibles and sports sedans to coupes and wagons. Drivetrains also run the gamut, ranging from inline fours to V12s; those engines have been powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, giving shoppers even more flexibility.

The reliability of these models is often the result of their use of many heavy-duty components lifted from the company's sedans. Even pure sporting cars such as the 300 SL Gullwings use a lot of sedan-sourced suspension pieces.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz seems to build every car to last. This means that many hundreds of thousands of miles are the norm, not the exception. And the cars don't merely endure for that extended time; they successfully maintain the quality and workmanship that they exhibited when they were new. Plus, practically all of the parts for every model built since the 1950s can still be bought new at the local dealer's parts counter--and the same dealer's crew knows how to install those parts, too.

As a result, there are a lot of very old Mercedes-Benz cars on the road in great condition. Now might be the right time to shop for one.

If it sounds to you as if we are hooked on these cars, then you are right. In today's times of gridlock, slow-moving interstates and an ever-growing concentration of bad drivers, a Mercedes-Benz roadster with a/c, cruise control and a terrific stereo might be just the car you need. Best of all, there are several models that won't break the bank.

We think Janis Joplin was right. We also hope that her prayers were answered and that she ended up getting hers.

Read the rest of the story

BillBall
BillBall New Reader
3/3/15 5:55 a.m.

Her friends made a good choice also :)

84FSP
84FSP Reader
3/3/15 6:42 a.m.

In reply to BillBall: "Her friends made a good choice also :)" LOL

Leo  Basile
Leo Basile Reader
3/4/15 7:12 a.m.

Hey Andy,

Don't forget the 190E 2.3 16V What a fun car to drive plus room for the kid, dog, wife, AND room to carry spare parts for the Morgan and the Cooper!

Leo

Adrian_Thompson
Adrian_Thompson UltimaDork
3/4/15 7:31 a.m.

Am I assuming a deep cover personal water craft attack here. One post on an article that can't be linked to from 08 then several non sequitur responses from now?

tuna55
tuna55 UltimaDork
3/4/15 7:35 a.m.

Don't think so, Adrian, they are putting the articles in a new format such that they appear like forum posts. It was part of the last update I think. Now we can comment on them like they were OPs instead of like articles.

And I'd love a 190 Cosworth, thanks.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
3/4/15 8:22 a.m.

I don't think that 230 SLs are really all that affordable anymore either.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UberDork
3/4/15 9:26 a.m.

The link's not working.

TR8owner
TR8owner HalfDork
3/4/15 12:51 p.m.

I'll wager that a cheap Benz could get pretty expensive very quickly.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard Associate Editor
3/4/15 1:36 p.m.

Been there done that. It's impossible.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/4/15 1:52 p.m.

Not true---- you just have to buy the right one. (and unload it before it eats your wallet)

Seriously though...... you can still buy 107 chassis cars ( SL 1971- 1988) cheaply. Drive them, enjoy them, and sell for more $$ in a few years. Just don't buy a $500 POS that needs a ton of work.

A 450sl fell into my lap a few years ago for $2,500. It ran well, but the A/C didn't work, and it needed about $500 worth of deferred maintenance. I spent the $$, drove the car for 9 months or so, and then sold it for $3,300. (still without working a/c)

You can find a VERY nice 560sl for under $20K. This is a car that will increase in value, and you can enjoy it while you wait for the "bubble". Early small bumper cars are already jumping in price. If you like these---- get one now!

TR8owner
TR8owner HalfDork
3/4/15 8:39 p.m.

In reply to Andy Reid:

Andy, you wouldn't happen to have a Benz up for sale now would you?

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UberDork
3/5/15 8:19 a.m.

Is the article posted? I tried searching the Classic Motorsports site and couldn't find it.

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Editorial Assistant
3/5/15 8:59 a.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt:

It sure is. It turns out that items automatically posted in the Classic Motorsports forum on grm.com have broken links. Same story with the ones automatically posted to the Grassroots Motorsports forum on cms.com

We're looking into it.

In the meantime, here's the article.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UberDork
3/5/15 10:30 a.m.

Thanks! I've been thinking I needed something that's better at carrying around Mrs. Mad Scientist and our two kids than my current E36 BMW convertible for occasions when we don't want to take her Camry. That article might give me a lot of bad ideas.

850Combat
850Combat Reader
3/5/15 2:23 p.m.

Early ones had British made cylinder heads. I guess that they took them in house after a couple years.

I've always liked those. The wing and body kit are so dated looking now. Pretty tacky today, but in a fun way.

That was around the time Penske got a couple guys to quit Cosworth and leave with a sack of GM money to compete with Cosworth, but before Mercedes Benz replaced the sack of money and got their name in place of Chevrolet on the Indy Car valve covers. Most MBs are too much like grown ups cars to me. Nice, but with very few exceptions, like the 190E Cosworth, they do not even tick my car-lust meter.

Ha ha

Leo Basile wrote: Hey Andy, Don't forget the 190E 2.3 16V What a fun car to drive plus room for the kid, dog, wife, AND room to carry spare parts for the Morgan and the Cooper! Leo
84FSP
84FSP Reader
3/5/15 5:30 p.m.

I've always heard the earlier Benzes pre-Chrysler inquisition were all very well built beasts. All pre-1990 sport lights make my want list for cars I can afford to both buy and drive without losing money. Love me a pagoda roof but note sure I need to go that early.

OFracing
OFracing Reader
3/6/15 11:30 a.m.

I've had a grey market, 77 450SLC for over 10 years now. Bought for $1500, put another $5k into paint and body work. 245 HP, aluminum block, Bosch fuel injected, DOHC, no smog parts, autobahn gearing. It's no sports car at 4300 Lbs but it is a great GT machine. Although I love my Triumphs, the Merc is my go to car for trips with friends. Routine maintenance parts, like brakes and filters are easy to find and no more expensive that "regular" car parts. One of my boys used it for the Prom, made quite an impression on his date's parents (worried about the size of the back seat). I'll be keeping this for a few more years I'm sure.

mike h

markwemple
markwemple HalfDork
3/9/15 11:02 p.m.

Never understood the love of the SL. First, they aren't SL. They mainly came autotrajic. And weren't sporty by any means. Mildly unreliable, love to rust and parts are costly. If you love the looks, great. Just don't buy one looking for a sports car. They just aren't.

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/10/15 10:32 a.m.

markwemple-----

No, they aren't a sports car. I also never understood the SL moniker, as they are pretty darn heavy for such a small car. The love comes from the fact that these may be the best built cars ever made. They are so ridiculously solid, they impart a sense of well-being as you drive them. It's hard to explain, but the quality of construction puts you at ease. They are a very, very comfortable place to spend time in. The 450 and 560 cars also have an abundance of torque--- these are not slow cars.

Unreliable isn't a word I'd associate with them either. If they are well-looked after, they can run for hundreds of thousands of miles without much trouble.

No--- not a sports car. But as a relaxed, classic cruiser that is easy to drive, own, and enjoy. They are hard to beat.....especially for the price. I've always been a sportscar guy, and I never had any love for these either. Then I had one fall into my lap at a ridiculously low price--- $2,500. After 6 months or so of ownership I really developed an appreciation for the "Panzer Wagen".

I still like a hard-edged sports car, but for a classy cruiser that is bound to appreciate. These are a good choice.

vwfreek
vwfreek New Reader
3/10/15 7:08 p.m.

This one only cost me $450 about 5 years ago. Ran when parked...sort of...

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