Benz Then v. Benz Now - Honest question - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-23-2009, 08:37 PM Thread Starter
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Benz Then v. Benz Now - Honest question

Again, this is a question.

I was thinking earlier its really unfortunate that Mercedes Benz was renown for building great cars that were meant to last and are now very obviously in the business of making cars that are not meant to last...or is that so?

I have had two Benz's as you can see which are many years apart and its very obvious, even with a novice understanding of mechanics and part design, that there is a huge difference of the quality and life of parts and the frequency and type of issues. Although I am only assessing this based on my personal experience with newer Benz's, and looking at those of friends and seeing bad signs years from what I would have expected.

Then I thought - maybe its because the demand is so high for the newest Benz to show up who ever has one thats 1 year older or what not there is zero incentive for them to make them with long multi hundred thousand mile lives.

Opinions?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 12:09 AM
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Sure MB had few years with bad rubber and plastic parts suppliers, so we had harmonic ballancers recalls, troubles with window regulators and washer system grommets.
But show me a car that is not capable of making 300,000 miles mark?
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 08:45 AM
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Mercedes intentionally lowered quality in the early 90's in order to lower cost. This in an effort to compete with the likes of Lexus.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 09:45 AM
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I would wonder how much lowering the quality was intentional. As I experienced some designs like window regulators, harmonic ballancers and grommets are the same for 30 years.
Those 30 years old still work, while those 7 years old fail.
I had few items that failed on newer models, while the 20-30 years old replacement parts from junk yard still work.
Sure water based paints (from what I heard) were the failure, but not too many prototypes succeed on the first try.
Than I will keep on insisting that the bad wrap made on computerized models 10 years ago was triggered mostly by unqualified US mechanics.
Our 11 years old ML320 generated around $150 in those years in new parts. Not counting filters and tires
And again, besides some minor warranty issues, no mechanic lay his finger on the truck.

Last edited by Kajtek1; 06-24-2009 at 09:49 AM.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 09:59 AM
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I can tell some differences between my '86 560SL and my '01 E320. The 560 just seems tighter, materials seem better, car seems to have more integrity (if intangibles count). I know the 560 was top of the line and the E320 is middle of the pack but. On the other hand the 15 year age difference should give the 320 some advantages.

That said, I can't imagine a better family hauler for the money than a well-maintained used E-class and can't imagine a more self-indulgent pleasure than motoring down to the pub for a Guinness on a beautiful day with the top down on the 560.

So, for less than the price of a new entry level luxury car I get two vehicles, each special in their own way. Sorry, got off topic a bit, didn't I?
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 10:05 AM
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It's one thing to drive around in an overweight car and it's another alltogether to have one with much improved dynamic capabilities, improved safety features, improved incar entertainment/navigation, fantastically improved diesel engiens, and on and on.

Yes, Mercedes found a way to spend less on the basics so the price of the new ones didn't go up so much to cover all the new technology, but it doesn't mean the compromises are in direct proportaion to the cost, as new technology in "basics" is possible, too.

Having owned W123, W124, W210, and now W211 I'm pretty certain in thinking the W123s ridiculous boats and that there's absolutely nothing about a W124 that's better than a W211.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kajtek1 View Post
I would wonder how much lowering the quality was intentional. As I experienced some designs like window regulators, harmonic ballancers and grommets are the same for 30 years.
Those 30 years old still work, while those 7 years old fail.
I had few items that failed on newer models, while the 20-30 years old replacement parts from junk yard still work.
Sure water based paints (from what I heard) were the failure, but not too many prototypes succeed on the first try.
Than I will keep on insisting that the bad wrap made on computerized models 10 years ago was triggered mostly by unqualified US mechanics.
Our 11 years old ML320 generated around $150 in those years in new parts. Not counting filters and tires
And again, besides some minor warranty issues, no mechanic lay his finger on the truck.
No nearly so much as was realized. The intent was to lower material quality, the result was an unintended and dramatic reduction in build quality. In regard to your ML, sounds like you were one of the lucky ones. I've heard a lot of happy tales like yours - along with all the horror stories of others.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-24-2009, 12:30 PM
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Post T'Is The Best Of Times, T'Is The Worst Of Times

The eighties were for the automotive industry the entry into the Middle Ages. T'was not till near the end of the first decade of this century that a shakedown of the status quo started. MB, as Rolls, Bentley, BMW, GM, Nissan, Fiat, Honda, Volvo, Jaguar, Saab, Ford, Toyota... one way or another, all felt the influence of Harvard training of adminitrative shortsight and shennanigans in counterpoint to the pressures of milking each year more from every dollar of revenue without placing prices beyond the reach of the demand. And though the balloon has yet to burst for Mercedes (a big thanks to the Truck Division), there were years when temptation took the best of Directors and suppliers and quality suffered the flu of all flus. The first big reaction is the new C-class, promptly followed with the E-class. But the epidemic had mixed proportions and some customers suffered more than others (e.g. E-class customers vs S-class). Nevertheless, there are plenty of users posting on these threads, here and abroad, singing to the glory of Mercedes, because not only were they untouched but they swear to own the very best vehicles on the streets.
A fact to notice is that many people complaining promptly criticize preventive maintenance as a maneuver to generate profit for dealers;and, reaching a point where damage occurred to their vehicles, they put down the manufacturer's quality as the scape goat to compensate for their anger at the cost of repairs incurred for lack of following maintenance instructions. In relation to this, there is also the poor training exhibited (de facto or simulated) by many MB dealership service personnel and some indi shops which do not help at all the manufacturer's image. In counterpoint, people happy with their MB wheels follow religiously the maintenance and care cannons.
In the middle of all this mixture of glee and misery came the electronic revolution that permitted doing tremendous power packages in impressive security blankets... at the expense of a network of sensors and cables galore which made profanes of professional mechanics, now trying to "fish chips", and artists of geeks, who understand the logic of computers and are handy under the hood... and inside an instrument panel.
So, you decide. Is the question of MB quality a real problem by design, a problem created by the user, a problem of price vs quality, or a mixture of many factors which can be rationally eliminated?
I don't know about you but I love my cars. They have always led me to be very, very fond of, and look forward to their TLC.
Cheers and keep on driving with a happy face, JV



Like Rebeca... Mercedes Benz, who can forget her.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2009, 08:52 AM
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I have 4 Benzes.
My first was/is a W123 1983 300 Turbo Diesel with just over 300,000 miles. It is my favourite and is currently in storage. This car is so smooth, strong, sturdy, capable and gorgeous on the road that I am a Mercedes fan for life. Real chrome bumpers and comfort that not even my CL500 can equal. It is like a fine Oswald Boateng silk suit in a world of polyester.
I survived a roll-over in a freak snow storm with my 300Turbo and after I was helped from the vehicle by some heaven-sent samaritans and the car was flipped over, I topped up the tranny fluid as that was the only leak and carefully drove home, 250kms away! I drove it to the best auto-body man in Ontario a few days later and had it fixed. It came back looking like new and I didn't have to do a single thing but change the oil and drive it. No alignment or anything and the car still drove and handled excellently!
The guage of steel in the post war era Benzes is exceedingly strong and I have yet to see anything comparable. ALL parts are durable and can take man-handling like a truck. The plastic clip on the vanity mirror is the only 'weak' part in the W123.

Let me relate a story to make the point clear. In the Toronto Star Wheels section a number of years ago, an article was written about the premier high-end detailing shop in the GTA. The owner/operator was of eastern european descent and painstakingly detailed Rolls Royce's, Ferrari's and the like. When asked what were the 'best quality' cars in his opinion, he stated ANY Mercedes-Benz before the mid 80s, but specifically the S-Class era before and up to W126. His reason was that there was NO plastic anywhere in the bodies of those Benzes and the high quality steel thru-out the car and the durable nature of every component in their construction was un-matched by any other marque.

I LOVE THAT CAR!!!

The second is a '99 CLK320, it was a treat for my wife after breaking her wrist and I liked the look and notion of having a 'contemporary' Benz to compliment the '83. It is an excellent car, that has great handling, fuel economy and is inexpensive and reliable. So much so, that I decided to sell my '85 308GTB and pick up a '00 CL500. Why? The CLK was more refined and roomier inside, (the 308 hadn't gotten any larger over 15 yrs and I wasn't getting any smaller) it also had more convenience features and was essentially the equal of the 308. Trust me, it was hard to acknowledge at first, but the realisation crept up on me slowly and I had to admit it to myself. Besides, the CLK was more practical, yet just as exotic looking.

I got a '95 E300 Diesel after the CLK to run veg-oil and it is a fantastic diesel. 40 mpg and fast. A very reliable and durable car in some respect, but it loses points for the plastic front clip and smaller interior compared to the W123 300 TurboDiesel. It will be on sale soon.

The CL500 is the most technological car I have ever owned. Fast, spacious, smooth, stunning and cutting edge. For me the complete package. It is the best of Mercedes' modern cars, both in looks and innovations, but it has some delicate plastic pieces that could break if not handled with care. What I can derive from my ownership experiences with Benzes over the years is that with each 'newer' generation it reminds me of the saying, "they don't make 'em like they used to".

That is why one should NEVER throw away 'old' wine for new wine and that is why I will not part with the W123, because it came from an era of double digit interest rates and a time when companies seriously had to compete to get a consumer's dollars.

Which is 'the best'? You tell me, because they are ALL great cars from a great marque.

"One Good Thing About Music, When It Hits - You Feel No Pain"
Bob Marley
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2009, 09:36 AM
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When asked what were the 'best quality' cars in his opinion, he stated ANY Mercedes-Benz before the mid 80s, but specifically the S-Class era before and up to W126. His reason was that there was NO plastic anywhere in the bodies of those Benzes and the high quality steel thru-out the car and the durable nature of every component in their construction was un-matched by any other marque.
That is mostly true, although there is lot of plastic in W123 and W126. Than check how many of those cars didn't have problems with cruise control, power locks, tachometer, automatic transmission or AC?
I hold as a relict a gear shifter from MB of 1960's. The cast aluminum cover with triple chrome would cost several hundreds dollars on today's market.
But compare the cost.
My broker bought his first MB in 1970's. His monthly car payments were in the same amount what his mortgage payments. He bought lately new house still in the same area. The price of the house $800,000
Quality of construction lumber dropped drastically in those years

Last edited by Kajtek1; 06-26-2009 at 09:40 AM.
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