Numbered for ease of response:
1. Try to run as many electronics as a modern MB has with standard wiring and let me know how it goes. Yes having everything run through a few SAMs can be hard to diagnose and a pain to repair. Having 50 miles of wiring running throughout the car would be no picnic either. Some interesting points here and thank you for your expertise on the cars wiring. I would like to counter a few points. Also, why would I go to my corner garage? If my vehicle has a malfunction that I am not able to diagnose myself, I'll simply call MB roadside assistance, have the vehicle taken to a dealer, they will repair it while I drive a loaner for a few days, and I'll get it back ready to go. I have really no qualms about paying $115 an hour to have a sophisticated vehicle's electronics repaired. I haven't found this to be a major issue yet in the 220s, and some of them are touching 10 years old.
Multiplexing only reduces the lengths of wires, in a modern car, you're still controlling many more devices. It's a shorter run from a module to a device than from a switch to a device in most cases. The only long wires will be between the modules themselves. The AMOUNT of wiring and circuits has increased, overall. More electronics= more circuits= more wires.
I think the original intent of this thread was the old vs. the new. Once cars change hands a few times, the corner garage is where the end up for diagnostics, right or wrong. I happen to disagree with this, but that's the way it is.
2. Odd. Aren't potholes and years going to have the same ravaging effects on the 126? Aren't people talking about timing chain replacements, wheel bearings, and suspension bushings in here? All cars age, and all cars deteriorate. Important to note, the average price of a clean 126 is maybe $5k. Apparently owners spend upwards of $11k per year fixing these things. Doesn't that sort of indicate that once cars are this old, its simply a matter of your attachment to a vehicle, and not the cost benefit of repairing it (because it hardly ever makes sense)? More on that later.
Of course potholes and years will deteriorate any vehicle. I suspect that the mechanical cars are going to hold up better than the electronic ones. This is purely speculation on my part.
A W126 is a car that can be rebuilt indefinitely if it is a relatively rust free and good condition car. $11,000 spent in repairs on any car is certainly out of love.. I can't phathom that. I might spend that on ALL my cars in 2 years...
I'd rather pay a few grand for the car, keep it maintained, and drive it into the ground, then buy another and do it again.
3. For a man who works in electronics, Im very disappointed and shocked by this generalized and frankly ridiculous statement. A check engine light and subsequent code can be retrieved by a $30 code scanner, which will in most cases take you right to the problem. Then some old fashion diagnosis will direct you to replace whatever parts are necessary (most often the 02 sensors and MAF, especially on the 210). In no way shape or form will this run $1500. Check engine lights are usually some of the cheapest and easiest things to repair and I'd much rather plug in my scanner than try to mess around with a CIS or whatever its called on this vintage MB.
Certainly CIS can be very difficult to diagnose and repair. I will not dispute that. I find it fun
$30 code scanners are good at one thing. Pulling a code. Beyond that they're useless. OK, maybe you can pull a code for the O2 sensor. Chances are that the O2 sensor is defective and needs to be replaced, especially if the vehicle has some miles on it. Beyond that, it's useless. In automotive diagnostics you NEVER EVER use such a device. A DTC (Diagnostic trouble code) is a tool for diagnosis. From this point you should be following a troubleshooting tree and ensuring that the wiring and associated sensors are intact and functioning as designed. You need the correct scan tool to view things like fuel trim, sensor activity, ignition curves, etc, to correctly diagnose problems. I'm not going to tell a customer they need a $20 sensor, let alone an expensive one based on an error code.
Here in NY state a car can sit all winter long when a snowbird flies to Florida to drive their other car. In the spring time when they come home and start their car, chances are some mice have gotten in. The car will almost definitely start and run fine. It will however not pass inspection because one wire in a harness has been chewed through. Or better yet, they chewed the looms off the wiring so that the harness starts to melt or get screwed up somehow. Next thing you know, the check engine light is on, and $1500 would be a good deal to replace a harness on an otherwise seemingly healthy car that runs well.
4. I haven't really heard what exactly makes the older model better, aside from having less electronics and more wires...
Less electronics IS BETTER in terms of long term reliability, in general. The older vehicles get, the more electrical problems they have. Of course before you go there, the older they get the more mechanical problems they have. Electrical diagnostics is generally more time consuming and expensive. I'd rather change a head gasket in a 126 than pull apart an interior looking for a wire. Of course If I did have to do that in the 126 I could screw it back together. In something newer, I'd damage the one time use plastic clips.
The more you add, the more there is to break. Simple.
5. I have no interest in owning any car for more than say 8 years. I'll get bored of my 220 (or any car) far before it becomes to unreliable for me...and Im not worried.
What about the next owner? Somewhere out there is a guy drooling over a car just like yours, and he can't afford to buy it new. By the time it has depreciated so he can afford it, he's buying himself a huge headache. Somewhere this thread turned into a quality discussion. An 8 or 10 year old Mercedes is not a nice reliable vehicle to buy used.
6 and 7. Now you are getting into my career, which is finance.
I'd have thought lawyer, lol
Doing $2k worth of repairs on a car valued at $5k NEVER makes sense from a cost basis standpoint. Whether it be replacing airmatic components or doing a headgasket on a 126, people do it because they love the car not because it makes financial sense. And I can guarantee you there will always be people who love the 220/221, just as there are people who love the 126.
That said, there will always be people who stretch to own a car, and will not have the desire or funds to properly repair something. Spending $20k to fully restore a 1985 300sel would seem absolutely asinine to the average person, and you and I both know it is not a wise financial decision. But you pays your money and you takes your chances, and we all know that not all decisions are made with the brain (as opposed to the heart).
NO car is a good investment. And Nobody needs
to drive a Mercedes, and certainly I can't imagine spending $70,000 or more on a car. That to me is insane. That's too much money for a few years use of a disposable vehicle.
Personally, my cars cost me almost nothing to own, because I repair and maintain them completely myself, excluding tire mounting and alignments. That's a better deal, to me.
I just think the era of the 'Indestructible Mercedes' is long gone. I don't see people wrenching on ANY late 90s or newer Mercedes 20 or 30 years from now.
I think that when I find a mint condition 300CD to baby in the summertime, that as long as I can find an engine for it every 300,000 miles, it really will last forever.
Once you have the car, you can put engines in it for $1000 and transmissions for $600. At 200K, I see the later models headed to the junkyard.
There will be some exceptions, I'm sure, but I have a feeling my forecast is going to be basically true.