Economy of scale plays into it. Cars are crashed into all the time, so bumper skins can be had for cheap.
Radio knob that wears out after 20 years? Probably not a huge demand.
Also applies to glass. The bigger the glass, the cheaper it is. Windshield is like $480 for a W210, which is surprisingly reasonable. Aftermarket is even cheaper, can be had as low as $100 installed. The rear small glass on the rear door (the little triangle glass)? That's $1200. No aftermarket.
But sometimes it just doesn't make financial sense to order OE. Front spindle/knuckle on a W212 is $2100. Order a used complete shock assembly (shock, spindle, all upper and lower control arms), $250. New replacement bearing to go on the used knuckle, $45.
Nowadays I have to get prices from literally everyone before making a decision, too many factors going on, and COVID isn't helping. I feel like this is the new normal now, we're not going to go back to the "old days"....that's gone now.
You are right on when you mention economy of scale. I got a chuckle the last time I encountered this. The plastic facia under the windshield wiper on my SL is in so-so condition. I put a big glob of epoxy on an area where there is a crack. I looked into replacing it and it was over $400. I replaced the similar facia on the E430 and it was $18 believe it or not. Although it certainly wasn't as intricate as the SL so you can't really make a direct comparison but still…
i've learned these days you really have to question the quality of a lot of replacement parts and even Bosch
people on the R129 forum are complaining about the quality of Bosch distributor caps.
The consensus seems to be that Beru are better
all of this outsourcing and shifting production to other countries has its pluses and minuses
it's interesting about the windshields and the small glass and that goes right to economy of scale and the cost of inventory. Figure that little triangle will sit in a warehouse probably for years if not a decade or longer. And that would be some thing I would view as a wrecking yard source
still I would think even though daimler isn't supplying parts the way they used to I guess for a variety of reasons it's amazing what you can still get for our old cars.
on windshield glass my personal preference is to buy through the dealership even though it's two times as expensive or more.
I had the original glass in my SL that I bought in 2013. A year or two later a good rock hits it and I go to a windshield shop and it's replaced with a Chinese windshield. That lasts a year or two and they put another Chinese windshield in.
and that lasts for a year or so when I finally decide to get one from the dealer and it's been in there I guess for 5-6 years?
certainly I can't prove the glass is better but I have the experience
i'm seriously thinking of just putting that new Bumper skin on because I don't think I can fix with glue that part where that center "pillar" got torn off
when it comes to parts replacement I guess it's a lot nicer to have a W210 than an R129 but I am thankful for daimler to even be able to get parts for the R129.
In the 12 years of production they made about 200,000 of these SL versus millions of these W210s.
Although for the SL there are a lot of interior parts that have become a unobtanium