I look around these days at the incredible value many older Mercedes-Benz vehicles represent. Specifically, cars from the 1980s and 90s. Sure, some of them are 20+ years old, but when well maintained many can continue to soldier on for many more years. I think about some of the old Mercedes-Benz vehicles I’ve seen while travelling. In South America they keep them running forever, and I’m sure the Chilean mechanics are coming up with their own creative ways to keep them on the road and not always ordering OEM parts to be air freighted in from Germany.
Could you drive a 15 or 20 year old Mercedes-Benz as a daily driver? Absolutely, I know a lot of people who do, but it’s more comon to have such a car as a fun seasonal car, something for the weekends or the Summer. The price of admission can be minimal, but there are some key things to look for when considering a vehicle of this age for regular daily use. Past maintenance is key. It’s very important that the car has been maintained regularly. In fact, I would argue that a regulalry maintained, driven and used car with 100,000 miles on it is a better car to buy than an example of the same model that “has super low miles, in dry storage for the past 7 years”.
My mind wanders to the R107 model Mercedes-Benz SL roadsters built between 1972 and 1989. These are great roadsters that have acheived iconic status in the modern car culture. Hundreds of thousands of these SLs were built, they had an incredibly long production run, there are good example available for under $10,000. Of course you can find them advertised for two or three times that price, but I’ve found that most of these cars, in today’s market, are gorssly overpriced. I see the same classifieds languishing for weeks and months until a disgruntled seller slowly begins to lower the price of their car until someone buys it. A lot of them are simply taken off the market without selling because many owners of these cars who bought them originally and go to sell them don’t really need the money, if they can’t get what they think they should fo the car they’ll just keep it in the garage at their vacation home. They were expensive cars when new, generally reserved with those of significant means.
Mercedes-Benz, as a company, is trying to bridge the gap between their new car sales and the work of their classics centers in Germany and in the U.S., in Irvine, California by introducing the “Mercedes-Benz Young Classics”. They’ve actually put together a pilot project at the Classic Center in Germany that restores and sells cars built from the 1970s through the early 1990s.
According to Mercedes-Benz “there is a growing number of these Mercedes-Benz model that have gained cult standing, especially in the US and Europe. Due to the limited supply of well maintained cars and the demand for originality, prices of these classics have soared skyward, including the young classics. Daimler is bridging the gap between newer vehicle sales and the highly specialized vintage car business of the Mercedes-Benz Center in both the US and Germany through the ‘Mercedes Benz Young Classics’. As its lead project in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Daimler has started its first ‘Mercedes-Benz Young Classics Store.’ In this store, where models from 1970 and onward are offered in a first-class condition, buyers can purchase, lease, insure and also finance available young classics.”
So, while the prices of many of these cars are currently very low, and many people see them as ‘just used cars’, with the establishment of the “Mercedes-Benz Young Classics” will demand for these cars be reignighted? Will values slowly creep up as people become more aware of the value they represent and decide to put one in thier garage? It’s tough to say, but if you look back to the past as the best indicator of the future you’d think the best examples of many modern Mercedes-Benz vehicles that survive will always be sought after, cheap or expensive.