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  #1  
Old 08-27-2003, 08:42 AM
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Rich fat cats, or just regular guys?

Hi all,

I know a lot of posts on this forum are tech in nature, but since I don't like getting my hands oil-dirty or talk about tappets and such, it's up to me to write on more esoteric matters

Here we go...

One thing I've noticed since upgrading my SL from a classic 350SL to my new 1993 SL500 is the attitude of other drivers. I'd often get smiles and pointings with the old SL... drivers young and old and passers-by would behave nice and politely, and this was all very pleasant at the time.

With the new car, I don't get near the same amount of respect. It's still there, but seems to be more a grudging admiration.

I judge this attitude on my own reaction when I followed a couple of nice newish R129s a couple years back, long before I thought I could afford my own SL500.

All the time I was thinking: "These rich guys - what do they really know about Mercedes... they're using them as status symbols, they can't be *real* people underneath."

As it happened, one of them turned out to own a chain of repair garages, and one store was next to my tire shop. I saw his SL parked outside, so I went inside and had a chat to find out more about his experience with it.

Well, Brendon was the most pleasant guy you could ever meet. He talked nonstop for an hour about SL's, and at the end invited me to drive it round the block.

We ended up going for a half-hour drive, with him in the passenger seat yapping on about his love for the SL - couched in suitable man-grunts of course... we guys don't want to readily admit that these are very sexy and desirable automobiles that take up most of our waking thoughts.

But it changed my ideas about who the owners of these high-end and expensive cars really are. And they're just like you and me.

Then a month ago, after I bought mine, I took it round to Brendon, and he talked and admired it for another half hour. We swapped tales and it was a good time.

A couple of weeks after that, having painted the bottom half to match the top in a very nice blue-black, I took it to a friend of mine. He was the father of the guy I bought it from - a seasoned MB dealer and SL owner of 40 years, still an enthusiast, but well, you know - he's seen it all.

To my surprise, he was positively beaming about the new paint job. Rang his son straight away and told him he'd seen a miracle, that my car was as pretty as a picture and the son shouldn't have ever sold it. He spent quite a few minutes just admiring it, throwing open the double doors of his industrial unit to better see it parked across the driveway.

This, from a hardened dealer.

Now, all this tells me that owning an SL is like belonging to an exclusive club, but different in the sense that many are downright enthusiasts of the brand and model.

Just like us here.

That's why I enjoy my SL so much and the people here on this forum. Not only is it a rare car, but I'm learning it has that even rarer distinction - they're owned by people who are dyed-in-the-wool fanatics and who are great to deal with.

This makes it such a pleasure to own one.

Now, if I can only get the general population to stop looking at us like we were spoilt fat cats or rich kids awash in money, and realise who we actually are underneath, the world would be a perfect place!

(With no apologies to those who are really rich and don't feel the same as us about their SL's or my comments )

Ken Silver
--------------
~1993 SL500, glistening blue-black on black leather, xenons.
~1991 Daimler, shiny grey on grey leather, best in country!
~1991 Miata MX5, sparkling BRG on tan leather, wife's (but my polishing)
~1992 Honda US s/wagon, black/grey
ex 350SL, 230E, 280E (and a lot of other makes not nearly as nice)

Last edited by KenSilver; 08-27-2003 at 05:33 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2003, 09:05 AM
Pete Geither's Avatar
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I like to think of myself as being in that same "regular guy" crowd. We own a body shop and I only buy pristine unwrecked examples from our local dealer. I too get a lot of looks and you can't help but wonder what they are thinking, but the end result is that I don't care. Love my SL and have also painted the bottom to match the top. With the wheels and tires I put on I know the previous owner would never recognize it.
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  #3  
Old 08-27-2003, 06:08 PM
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Newbie or non-MB owners are still awash in the aura of "exclusivity", so these are the folks that unfairly place MB owners in the "snobby, aristocratic" category...no matter what model.

My Dad has always owned an MB...from a 190 bought in 1959, to a 71 280SE which he still owns...and we were middle-class folks in a rural subdivision...

I too find the die-hard MB fans to be pretty down-to-earth. I believe it's for the love of the cars, not the love of the status...

And despite my fleet, I am most certainly not rich...nor fat!
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Old 08-28-2003, 01:51 PM
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If you think it's bad with a Mercedes, try a BMW...everyone thinks you're an a##&^@%, AND they try to beat you to the next light...

The 740 will usually take them, tho...

best,

Dave
87 560sl
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  #5  
Old 09-01-2003, 09:09 AM
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I like to think I'm a regular guy (although I'm not exactly skint and drive a desk most days). I drink beer and talk about birds.

I have not encountered any hostility in my SL. A lot of people wave or compliment me on the vehicle, even in what you might think were hostile places. I went to a spit and sawdust pub the other evening (one of my favourites, has a great jukebox, the best views of the Tyne, and is a Free House) and I was very self-conscious about the car, but the barman was enthused about it.

Not at all like driving my old C-Class, or BMW 7-series (try joining a busy road in that) or Porsche 996 (those last two belonged to my father).

And I think that rich people who own fancy cars do so because they are car enthusiasts. Otherwise they buy ordinary cars. Cars, especially expensive ones, are too big a waste of money for the rich, unless they are interested. My father is car-mad, as are his co-directors and a great many of his richer friends. They can talk about cars all day long, and do so.

And yes, I think about my SL a lot, but don't tell anyone.
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  #6  
Old 09-04-2003, 02:50 PM
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Sometimes I just go to the garage and look at mine. My wife is jealous, calls it my "mistress". I think that only a non SL owner would say it occupies an inordinate amount of thought on my part.
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  #7  
Old 09-04-2003, 05:44 PM
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Ken,

If you think people think you are 'exclusive' in your sl you should try owning an slc. The slc is much less common on the road and considerably more 'exotic' looking.
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  #8  
Old 09-09-2003, 07:04 PM
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Here's the real reason we buy these cars

I've just read an article in the Sept 1st issue of Fortune magazine where a Mercedes SLR was among pictures of cars shown to subjects as part of a study by DaimlerChrylser.

The dozen test subjects, all men with an average age of 31, reacted best to three sports cars - a Ferrari 360 Modena, BMW Z8 and the Merc - from 66 photos of various cars shown to them.

But it wasn't just that the cars chosen had a pleasing shape, said the psychologist running the test, but sports cars "excited areas of the brain associated with reward" and "trumpet the driver's wealth and social dominance."

He went on to say "A sports car is like a peacock's tail. Why should a female peacock choose a mate with a very huge tail? Because if you are strong and successful as an animal, you can afford to invest energy in such a useless thing."

My wife just laughed when I read it to her. When we married 31 years ago, I had a Vauxhall Velox at the time. Now I'm hitting retiring age with an SL500. She said my tail's gotten bigger precisely at the time I don't need it

Ken Silver
--------------
~1993 SL500, glistening blue-black on black leather, xenons.
~1991 Daimler, shiny grey on grey leather, best in country!
~1991 Miata MX5, sparkling BRG on tan leather, wife's (but my polishing)
~1992 Honda US s/wagon, black/grey
ex 350SL, 230E, 280E (and a lot of other makes not nearly as nice)
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  #9  
Old 09-10-2003, 08:59 AM
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Great Stuff guys. I agree with what has been said. Ken, I like your wife's sence of humor.
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