Before Lexus began it’s pursuit for perfection. Before Acura had built the Legend and seared the J.D. Power surveys. Even before there was such a thing as an ‘affordable sports sedan’. There was this car.
The Baby Benz was on the periphery of what was class-leading in the early-80’s, and what was clearly class-lagging by the early 90’s. It had great handling but… not a lot of power. Great pedigree but… not cheap at all for an entry level luxury car. Lots of features… but boy did it break your bank account when they broke. And break they did.
Rent: This car must have broke at least eight or nine people before I got it. The prior owners were my once and future customers. They had paid off about two-thirds of a Taurus when one of their jobs disappeared. I gave them weeks. Then a couple months. Then I just had to get the vehicle back. It was depressing. They were nice folks who had simply ran out of money.
I gave them a well-deserved credit boost and they returned the Taurus to the lot, which I then wholesaled for the remainder balance due. Two months later they came to my lot with this car. Let’s just say that renting a 26 year old vehicle with no air would not be the smartest thing to do these days. But financing a 21 year old car? As I always tell folks whenever they go car shopping… it’s not the car that’s important… it’s the owner. That is unless we’re talking about a Benz. They’re different. Very different.
Lease: Who in their right mind would finance a higher end vehicle that is this old? Well, my mentor did all the time. He used to take these old mini-Benzes along with W124’s, and finance them out the door for $600 down and $60 to $70 a week. He did this up to a couple of years ago when he decided to sell his garage and focus on the retail side. It was for healthy and sanity reasons (his employees were mostly nuts). Plus the A/C systems in these Benzes can’t survive a Georgia summer to save their asses from first base.
And God help you if you ever try to dismantle the factory alarm system. His shop had one that stayed benched in front of their repair business for 3 full months. Eventually he had a Benz dealer handle it… for more than it cost to buy the thing. Whether they are young or old. A true Benz is never cheap to own. Never.
Sell: Since it fails the low cost of ownership test that all finance vehicles must pass, I put it on the retail block. Aftermarket chrome wheels were already on it. The sun shined at just the right angle for picture taking. Sunny with a cloud. Plus it was gold in a way only a $300 paint job can offer. Did I mention how people always buy with their eyes? This one was city bound.
Four pictures on Craigslist and $1300 later, it was sold to a fellow whose return on his mouth had apparently doubled in the last year alone. The only with thing more gold than this guy’s mouth was Mr. T’s neck.
Keep?: Like a rolling virus. It sucks gas. Can barely haul it’s own…. but I will say it’s authentic The steering is still genuine old school Benz which is precise, involved and almost missile like on the road. It’s also cheap to keep here legally so long as you do-it-yourself and buy your junkyard parts by the pound. By the way. Us wacky Georgians have some very weird rules when it comes to cars.
A 1985 vehicle in the progressive state that is Georgia is exempt from emissions and title processing. You only need a bill of sale for anything older than a 1987 model. No inspections. Not even a cursory glance.
A signed contract and the ad valorem / tag fee is all you need. The ad valorem on this Benz will cost about the same as a case of Bud Light if you’re in the country… or three Frappucinos if you’re in Atlanta. It’s not bad at all to own an old car out here. But I can’t afford an old Benz. Once you put a pre-Euro version on the road it spends money like…well… a pre-recession American.