Originally Posted by 124via126
unfortunately, MB's decline has nothing to do with Chrysler. MB quality went downhill in the early to mid 1990's when they starting having bean counters at the helm of the company who were more worried about being price competitive against the less expensive, high quality Japanese luxury cars (i.e. Lexus, Infinity, and Acura)
Well, this may be true, but you DO have to pay the bills and be responsible to the shareholders. MB cars were very laborious to build, and also had (and have) one of the most expensive workforces, if not the most expensive, workforce in Europe. Look at how expensive the 107SL became between the years 1986-1989. This was a car designed for the production and labor costs of the early 70's, and built with the production and labor costs of the late 1980's. Had MB not done something, no one could afford their cars and they would probably have bought by GM (horrors!!!). The synergy between Chrysler and MB was supposed to be Chrysler's production know-how and MB's engineering. There were, and are, a lot of barriers to this but maybe it will work eventually.
An interesting comparison might be a 1986 SEL vs a 2006 S500 - take a look at the cost of living differential between 1986 and 2006. I found a figure of x 1.89 from a chart on the Internet for CPI, and I think this figure is low). In those terms, An S500 is actually less expensive in constant dollars than a 560SEL was in 1986, and the cars aren't really even vaguely comparable in efficiency, power, handling, safety, comfort, or sophistication (but I'm not going to get into a discussion as to which is "better"...).
I do wonder, why there is no apparent market for a car that doesn't change radically from year to year, but is subtly refined and improved - sort of a quality, upscale Checker Marathon. Perhaps the closest common cars I can think of would be the Caddy's and Lincolns from the 60's to the 80's.