I appreciate the discussion here, both the users and the voices of experience.
There are definitely false economies to be had; not sure I think the Bridgestones fall in that category, but I just spent a wad on them, so I may be a hostile witness. For the record, the Tirerack folks didn't try to steer me one way or another. The sales rep gave me 3-4 choices that would fit (including Michelins), I said I'd call him back, I checked their site for reviews, I checked this site (which I trust more) for reviews, called my tech, and settled on the 950's. Price was a factor, but I mostly wanted quiet and rain traction.
Funny thing, all of my cars have been bought on the used market, and I have only ever sprung for new tires for the benzes. Even my first one out of college, a 64 190. New tires and shocks, and that car road like a...well...like an MB, of course!
I'll be happy to report back in a few years (it'll take my wife exactly 2.3 years to hit 40K) and let the forum know how they last. Any problems, Steve, and I'll put michelins on!
1985 300TD 4-speed 212K
1992 400E 343K
2001 E320 72K