I also collect guitars and have a nice collection of premium new and older axes. Without fail the one that stirs the most emotion amongst players is the '68 blonde Telecaster. It looks like it's been through the war but there's some kind of intrinsic feel, a singleness of purpose, a simple integrity that is hard to define.
That 68 Tele would sound mighty fine through my black-faced 68 twin... eh?
I work in automotive electronics for 40 hours a week. I love and understand electronics. All of the multiplexing in newer vehicles does not bother me, I know how to deal with it, get around it, work on it, etc. Ever had to convert a newer MB for a handicapped customer? I have. That's what a division of my company does. Even sprinters have multiplexed climate controls these days!
Everything is multiplexed and there are multiple modules that communicate together on a common, little intranet in the car called a CAN bus. CAN= Controller Area Network. Many of the multiplexed electronics are not just digital on/off signals either- they use a lot of resistors. 8, 10, or more switches linked together with 2 wires out... with each switch introducing a different resistance value. It communicates that value to a module which communicates a command to another module, and then something happens.
One pinched wire and a module goes off line. Now you've suddenly lost something major. None of the windows will open. The instrument panel is dead. The radio won't work. It wont start. Nothing works. Because of one failed wire. Take that to your corner garage for diagnostics...
Is it simple to work on? Yes, with the correct tools. Are these vehicles going to last 20-30 years? Nope. I don't care if Hyundai built it or MB. They are going to depreciate faster and every repair is going to cost more than it's worth in 20 years. They are going to deteriorate with time, and every year and pothole that goes by is going to cause further deterioration, even if you can keep it clean and new looking.
It's already happening.
Buy a 1996 MB with 100,000 miles. Say an E-320. It's a fine car. Until the check engine light comes on. Then go trade it in fast. Here in NY State- It might cost you $1500 to get it through inspection. That's pretty much a worst case scenario, but it's the reality. But it's the reality for any 1996 Buick, also.
My mother has a 2001 Pontiac Bonneville. That was the first year they fully multiplexed the H chassis at GM. The car has been extremely reliable. It has around 150K miles, and it's 8 years old. All of the electrical gremlins are starting now. Multiple idiot lights, all kinds of things related just to failing electrical connections. This problem is really aggravated by north-east salt.
Sorry Oliver, but you're dead wrong. That's not an opinion of mine, it's just a fact. I'm telling you this as a paid technician who works in the field and can easily afford to buy your car. (Not that it's anyone's business).
You own a good car. And it should remain faithful to you for a few more years. If you buy cars for safety, styling, or whatever, and you have the money to spend on it, go for it. Nobody is telling you not to. Continue to buy them every few years if you like them, and you'll always think you have a reliable car. What you cannot do is speak for it's long term reliability, which will be directly proportionate to it's quality. Your 2005 model is not old enough yet.
It used to be when you went to the junkyard, you would come across many damaged, smashed, wrecked, or rotted out old cars that were 15-20 years old. Now when you go you are seeing more and more 8-10 year old cars that look like very serviceable. They just aren't worth it to people.
So Oliver will respond to this with 'give me proof about MB.' There's no need. Multiplexed electronics and OBD-II are becoming industry standard. The body electronics will probably always be different (read: more complicated) among various marques, but overall, this is the direction the industry is headed in, which is unfortunate.
I'm not saying that technology has not done some amazing things for cars. Some of the electronic handling and stability systems blow my mind. They are amazing machines. But personally, I'd rather drive a car than let it drive itself. Even though I've never personally seen a failure, drive by wire is just seems like a bad idea. Period. When the wire breaks, you're pretty much screwed. Electronic throttle motors can fail.. etc.
The old MB's will prove their worth in another 10 years when many of them are STILL going. I'll drive them as long as I can find them and pile miles on them every day. Perhaps 10 years from now I'll be able to figure out how to get the seats from a 2000+ model year S-class into my beat up, old, run down (but still running) welfare 1980's model Mercedes.