While it has often been contested, Karl Benz is said to have created the first automobile in January 1886. Gottlieb Daimler and engineer Wilhelm Maybach's original Mercedes automobile in 1901 while the first Mercedes-Benz vehicles were produced in 1926, following the merger of Karl Benz's and Gottlieb Daimler's companies into the Daimler-Benz company. The creation of AMG, their in-house tuning facility and the revival of the Maybach brand as well as a partnership with McLaren has allowed Mercedes-Benz to become much more than simply a luxury car maker.
The year was 1997. As a bright eyed, recently minted med school graduate, I had two glorious weeks in Europe before the torture of internship began. One very memorable moment was in the parking lot of the MB museum in Stuttgart, where I spotted a prototype 1998 E50 AMG sulking behind a security gate. That thing looked evil, hunkered down on its 17″ alloys. It was so far removed from my Opel Astra rental car reality that I could scarcely imagine unleashing the 350 HP AMG-fettled V8 on the ‘Bahn at 170 mph in the latest heir to the Hammer.
They don’t build them like they used to. Really. I have yet to come across an car as solid as an old Mercedes, say pre-1998, before the Chrysler – DaimlerBenz AG “merger of equals.” If I had to choose one car to represent the pinnacle of—and benchmark for—Mercedes’ build quality, it would be the W116 S-Class. Hence my decision to restore a barn-found 1975 280S.
Summer 2005. My plans for a Vintage Car Rally Vacation evaporate. Rebuilding a very poorly rebuilt engine vacuums funds allocated for the purpose out of my wallet. What started as an odd knock became a horror show. My fussy ex-pat Yorkshireman mechanic in Chilliwack, B.C. removed the head and found the forensic remains of a car-related massacre not seen since Pol Pot rode around in his ’73 Mercedes. Just when I had given up on my dreams of a vintage vacation, the phone rang with an offer to co-drive an event in what many have called the world’s first supercar: the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. I accepted the offer faster than Mr. Fangio could frustrate Mr. Ferrari.
Review: 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster Car Review Rating
I was expecting to dislike the new E-Class Coupe from Mercedes. AMG versions aside, the outgoing CLK was about as interesting to drive as a Toyota Solara, and Mercedes has already announced that there would be no AMG versions of the new car. From the early photos of E-Class Coupe, I had already determined that the large glass sunroof with its meager mesh sun protection would curry little favor with me, and the little rear quarter window spoiled the look of this frameless coupe. To make matters worse, the 2010 E-Class Coupe’s engines are carryovers from the CLK. Mercedes claims our fuel quality isn’t suitable for the new direct injected engines offered in Europe. (Translation: the US is a dumping ground for some old engine inventory.) The E-Class nomenclature is another sleight of hand, as the chassis is still derived from the C-Class. Harrumph.
Review: 2010 Mercedes E-Class Coupe Car Review Rating
My experience running the 2005 One Lap of America in a Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.3-16/ had left me more than a little cynical about the event. The fantasy of running the “modern-day Cannonball” had been eclipsed by frustration with the quasi-time-trial, horsepower-obsessed reality that is OLOA in the modern era. Still, the competitive disease from which both I and my co-driver Brian suffered meant that we wanted to “win” the thing before we left Brock’s Big Parade for the greener pastures of real wheel-to-wheel racing. Enter former radiologist and current Mercedes-Benz tuner Satish Tummala, owner of Motorwerks in Detroit.
M, RS, V, F, AMG. The alpha alphabet represents five manufacturers’ best efforts to create something unique, exciting and memorable from their more prosaic mainstream motors. The resulting “performance tuned” sports sedans are so powerful, so capable, so versatile, that they’re the ground based equivalent of the all-weather fighter jets that battle for control of the skies. While the shibboleth “there’s no such thing as a bad car” applies here, there are always going to be winners and losers. And it’s our job to sort the wheat from the chaff.
The ad for the new Mercedes GLK is targeted straight at owners of MB’s ML and GL SUVs. After all, the new GLK gives you the “same innovation in a smaller design.” Same agility. Same suspension. Same luxury. Same depreciation (my add). So, why bother paying more for one of Mercedes’ more much macho trucks? Sure, this baby brother routine hurts the automaker. The Nissan’s Rogue’s Murano-i-cide is but one example where a new, smaller vehicle robbed Peter to pay Paul less. But that’s the way it is. In Bailout Nation’s new era of hunker down austerity, downsizing is almost as fashionable as having a job. Big ticket buyer meets smaller ticket price on the dark side of town. The carmakers must figure that what they lose in profit they’ll recover in volume. Ask GM how well that works. In that sense the Mercedes GLK is a born win – loser. Or is it?
Review: 2010 Mercedes GLK 350 4Matic Car Review Rating
Station wagons, or “estates” as they are known across the pond, occupy that strange place in the auto market between SUVs, minivans and sedans. On the surface, wagons promise the holy grail of cargo schlepping and fuel sipping. But they’re not as sexy as a sedan, not as practical as a modern crossover and they can’t haul as much crap as a minivan. In the new world “station wagon” brings up PTSD style flashbacks of 1970s Country Squire wagons with a roof-rack and eight kids in the back on the way to summer camp, 8-track blazing, and your dad at the helm wishing he had a terrier and a 240Z instead. Thankfully, this is not your dad’s Oldsmobile Customer Cruiser. For this comparo we’ve selected the BMW 535xi Wagon, Mercedes E350 Wagon, Volvo XC70 T6 and the Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Wagon.
Engineered like no other car in the world. At some point in the 90's, Mercedes dropped their longstanding ad campaign. And no wonder. The promise had become a snigger-worthy ironic joke. That said, it stopped being funny when it started being you making regular pilgrimages to your local dealership. Mercedes trumpets its new C-Class as a return to the legendary, over-engineered cars of Mercedes-Benz's past. Heading straight to the very bottom of the range, will the cheapest and most basic of all "true" Benzes right 15 years of wrong?
America has the hots for hybrids. On the flip side of high gas prices, the value of any vehicle with fuel economy below 20 mpg has collapsed. Brand new "gas guzzlers" sit on dealer lots collecting incentives, rebates, finance deals and dust. The price of used fuel-suckers has dropped by 25 percent in the last four months, and THEN the rest. This is the perfect time to shop for a twin-turbo twelve-cylinder behemoth.
Feels as classy as it looks
One man’s loss is another man’s gain
Two turbos, no waiting
The next time you see it, it’ll be a gray blur in your peripheral vision
With all this media talk of a gas electric plug-in hybrid clean diesel hydrogen fuel cell future, someone forgot to tell Mercedes that the horsepower war is over. Sure, the new BMW M3 has a 414hp V8, trumped by the Audi RS4’s 420hp eight pot. But who gives a shit? The new automotive arms race: building and selling enough small, high-mileage, low-profit vehicles that various government agencies will let you sell large, low-mileage, high-profit vehicles. Meanwhile, the Mercedes C63 AMG.
2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Review Car Review Rating
I flew into Los Angeles with aspirations of driving something powerful; I had visions of some mighty motor displacing six liters or more. Anything with the letters AMG on the back would have suited me just fine. Instead I was staring at a gigantic Mercedes GL 320 CDI. That's CDI as in "diesel." I reckoned it was going to be a long drive to San Diego. I reckoned wrong.
2008 Mercedes-Benz GL 320 CDI Review Car Review Rating
I made my first pilgrimage to AMG in 2001. Arriving unannounced, I was relegated to longing stares through a chain link fence at rows of serious looking automobiles. I eventually bought an SL55 AMG. I loved its ability to terrify unsuspecting passengers. But it always struck me as an engine in search of a chassis. And better steering. And brakes. In fact, it was a steroid injected boulevardier. And now, the SL63 AMG.
2009 Mercedes-Benz AMG SL63 Review Car Review Rating
The previous gen C-Class was not Mercedes’ finest hour. Chief amongst its non-virtues: base engines that offered little in the way of functional power, refinement, fuel efficiency or brand faithful character (e.g. the 1.8-liter blown four). The fourth gen C300 (W204) put paid to that– and how. In fact, the new C may have finally have broken the bigger-is-always-better mold that the German carmaker has deployed to lure Benz buyers up the ownership ladder. Ah, but does that mean that the new, more highly-horsed C350 is so superior to the C300 as to steal stars– and sales– from its cheaper stablemate?
My co-pilot sat motionless, stupefied from the previous night's revelry. Strangely, this poor fellow thought I could be trusted not to challenge Alka-Seltzer's restorative powers. I allowed him the luxury of this delusion all the way from the hotel to the highway. And then I floored it. The CLK Black Series' engine bellowed WAKE UP FOOL! The uber-bad Benz' back end quivered from side to side. The traction control light sent a steady stream of Morse code through first, second and third gear. The ten second wake-up call placed us well north of 100 mph. The jobbing journo groaned his disapproval. God I love this work!