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Old 03-19-2001, 02:21 PM
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In my opinion, Mercedes quality has declined dramatically since the mid-'80s. The reason is competition from Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura, and the emergence of BMW as a desirable car. In the '70s, BMWs were owned by a few oddball people who understood how ahead of its time the 2002 was. By the mid-'80s, every yuppie wanted a 3 or 5 series Bimmer, because they were the thing to have, much like huge luxobarge SUVs are today. BMWs sold for a lot less than comparable Mercedes models then, and had a much more "hip" and youthful image. The first Benz to try to grab a share of that market was the '86 300E, a milestone car, but still more expensive than the BMW 535i with a bigger engine. Benz had to continue to cut costs on each new model in order to compete with BMW and other "in" brands like Audi, etc. Then the biggest blow was delivered in 1990 when the Lexus LS 400 came out. Here was a car that cost $35,000 (about half of what a full-boat S class cost), was quieter and smoother than anything MB ever made up to that time, and had quality that was hard to fault. Again, MB learned that they were either going to have to compete on cost, or settle for a very small market share made up of older rich people. The above factors resulted in the Benzs we have today, with wrinkly leather on the seats, plastic door handles, plastic chrome trim, and big plastic shrouds over the engines. They ARE cost competitive with similar Bimmers, Volvos, Audis, and other comparable cars, but they are no longer a substantial cut above those cars in the quality area. Whether you consider this tradeoff to be a good or bad thing depends on your perspective, I guess.
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Old 03-19-2001, 08:06 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Vernon, CT
Posts: 1,845
I think ever since Mercedes reached the "magic" 100,000 cars sold in the US, mark, they have been trying to sell even more. It is sort of like rock groups. They start out hard edged, but as they gain popularity, money and all the trappings, they want more. It becomes addictive. Before they know it, they've become a just another "sugar coated pop" band and lost their identity. Someone here onced mentioned that Mercedes marketing is itching to have a Mercedes in every driveway. I agree that ever since Lexus and the alike came out, Mercedes had to play catch up. Mercedes even admitted that in hindsight, that in the mid to late 80's they nearly priced themselves out of the market. So now they have to make their cars more modular to keep the cost down. I look at the interior of my car and just think of how labor intensive, therefore expensive, it was to put together. Just about everything is screwed together, not clipped in. I know everyone says "they don't build them like they used to..." I think, as most of us here do, this time it's true. Cars today are all about gadgets, black box engineering as I call it. ESP, ABS, EDL, etc. Any and I mean any of these things can be installed in any car. Today society is too easily impressed with bells and whistles. A "luxury" car today is defined by how many "black boxes" it has. So people focus in on these things and the manufactures know it.

[Edited by rickjordan on 03-19-2001 at 08:14 PM]
1994 MB E320 Coupe (199,500 mi)
1992 MB 190E 2.6 (173,000 mi)
1983 Porsche 911SC (148,000 mi)
2004 Volvo V70 2.5T (198,000 mi)
PCA member
MBCA member
President of CT/Westchester Section
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Old 03-20-2001, 12:56 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: oregon
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dose this mean that our wonderfull pre 85 M B 's are going to gain in value like a pre 64 model 70 Winchester ?
William Rogers.....
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Old 03-20-2001, 07:24 AM
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I hope so, but I'm not planning on it.

I think that the entire car market has changed and MB has changed with it. I'm disappointed with the sound of my '01 when I close the door, but in most categories, I believe it is a much better car than those that came before it.

Have a great day,
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Old 03-20-2001, 09:42 AM
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Driver, Mercedes-Benz
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 1,645
Sound of Door-Shutting

BMW did a study on the shutting of doors, and the sound they produce.

They found out that a potential sale was ringing if the buyer felt safe when shutting the door [solid feel and less vibration], plus reassured by the "thudd" sound and not "dooshd" or "thhhuud" sound (trying to get that right).

I love the shutting of the W126 door. Very precise "thudd" and once inside, the safeness can be felt all round. Much better than the W124 and W210.

I doubt if this is quality, but the current technology of closing doors?

... Kerry

126 tailed by a 203, 129 leading the pack.
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Old 03-20-2001, 09:54 AM
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Door closing

My friend has an '85 280SL, and the doors close with a vault-like "thud"; no vibration or rattling, just "thud". It sounds like the doors weigh 500lbs each (hmmm, actually they just might), and this is a convertible. It definitely gives you a feeling of security and safety. The doors on my '71 Triumph TR-6, by contrast, close with a "slap k-k-k-k-dang-g-g-g-g", which inspires a feeling that the car is made of balsa wood and bird saliva, which it probably is not. As much as I love the TR (a car most Benz owners just would not understand), the sound of those Benz doors closing just screams "quality" to all who are in earshot.
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Old 03-20-2001, 10:12 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Holland, MI
Posts: 1,316
Other "quality" has slipped too...

If you think the "quality" (any way you define it) of MBs has slipped since 1975, take a look around a our society in general. What sort of "quality" (behaviors) do you see today that would not have been imagined, much less tolerated back then?

Since I'm not adept at time travel I have no choice but to live in the present. I CAN choose my clothes, cars, music, toys etc. and I sometimes choose "oldies but goodies."

My gross pay is now about 6 times what it was in 1975, but then so is the cost of gasoline, automobiles and other toys. If I haven't made much real progress then I can at least be content that I haven't lost any ground, and I spend each day on the right side of the grass!

BCingU, Jim
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Old 03-20-2001, 06:37 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: the Netherlands
Posts: 1,417
current MB Quality IS going down...

The current models of mercedes are not half as good as they used to be in the past. The materials mercedes uses are cheap, LOTS OF PLASTIC, everything is getting electrical controlled (complete motor management) and the cars don't last as long anymore (unless one is willing to pay some major repairs in time).

The first C class models (1993-1996) came with squeaking
1) front seats (the US have power seats and those seats do not squeak),
2) heater fans (the fans over scream any audio system),
3) clutch pedals (the US have auto transmissions only, so do not suffer that problem),
4) accelerator pedals,
5) steering columns and
6) SRS steering wheel rings.

Furthermore the diesel-injection-pumps of the C220D break down every 100-200.000km...
Electric controls take over manual functions (we have all read the numerous posts about the power windows...).

However, I still want to drive a Benz and nothing else (or maybe a BMW 330D executive, but I doubt whether they will be any better).

1990 300SL-24
1993 C250D
with a minor 600+k kilometer
(the Netherlands)
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Old 03-20-2001, 11:18 PM
ymsin's Avatar
Driver, Mercedes-Benz
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Malaysia
Posts: 1,645
When it comes to cars, it is my considered view that the MBZ stands a class on its own. I have many auto-critics who stand by their opinion that notwithstanding the fact that the interior quality used today may not be as good as that of yesteryears, but as a comparison, stands above the other classes of competition.

The standard comparison drawn in the latest auto survey was as follows:

top of the list:

runner up


4th Volvo

This was, of course, excluding the Rolls, Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus and Bentley.

Lexus tops the list of undesired.

The Alfa wasn't too far behind.

Just a view.
... Kerry

126 tailed by a 203, 129 leading the pack.
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Old 03-21-2001, 09:06 AM
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Location: Columbus Ohio
Posts: 709
I have to chime in here.....I also belive that quality has suffered in the latest models.
But I think you have to remember MB is trying to remain competitive. I have a 1992 S class that has a 72K window sticker.You can buy a brand new S for that today. Sure the new S doesn't have the handwork in it like mine...but I am unsure in todays market if people would be willing to pay $20-25 more for handwork. The cars would be priced out of the market.In todays world most people think the LS 430 exudes quality.Its price is 7-8 cheaper than the S430 with the same features...and what if the S430 was 30K more many would they sell?...get the point?
Its all about making money and shareholder equity...todays market is very bottom line can't build products and wait for the market to have to build products that fit the market.If MB decides that the market will pay 150K for a car ..then I think it will be built...maybe it already is...I think they are going to call it the Maybach? maybe some of you guys that are quality fiends need to step up to the plate and put your deposits down on one of those
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Old 03-21-2001, 10:54 PM
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Quality in this, the 21st century...a mixed bag.

Quality is clearly a tough issue now-a-days. We are just finishing a nice, lovely new home in Nebraska with my wife and I being, for most purposes, the general contractor.

Clearly, for some things, quality is a problem. E.g. dimension lumber. We bought the best and are satisfied, for the most part. However, we will NEVER again say the old homes are better. Ours is far better than anything could be 20 or 30 years ago. Better glue, better windows, better insulation, better furnace and a/c, better....just about everything.

Now, on my cars...I love the MBenz. It does cost me a little bit in maintenance fees but my '86 has nearly 300k miles. Kathy's rice rocket (aka '91 Toyota Previa minivan) has 225k nearly maintenance free miles. But, nobody in their right mind would try to tell us we could drive the rice rocket to 500k miles. The big question with the Benzs we have is whether they will last 500k or 1M miles.

I have a good friend who has a Chrysler minivan with 400k miles on it and he and the van were recently admitted to the Chrysler Motors Hall of Fame for having so many miles. How big would the list be if every Benz with 400k+ miles was in the Benz Hall of Fame? Don't answer, kindly.

I close with three of my favorite quotes:

Buy the best and only cry once!

The bitterness of poor quality lingers long after the cheap price is forgotten.

Buy the best, pay cash and take delivery! (from Gary North)

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Old 03-22-2001, 12:09 AM
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Good point - wish we had mature trees...hope to buy some ten foot trees this spring and pay to have them moved. And, there are lots of updates that can be done, as you mentioned.

98%+ of the problems on this house of ours is with the shoddy quality of the labor. I am not anything close to a carpenter, but am detail oriented enough to drive a lot of people crazy. I notice everything and I mean everything. Some of the workers simply don't care or don't notice anything!

But, this is the way of the world now-a-days. My brother and I own a carpet cleaning company in Kansas City...finding good help is incredibly difficult.

As always...keep thinking.
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