QOTD: Something About My Benzo?

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
qotd something about my benzo

Up on Housing Project Hill

It’s either fortune or fame

You must pick up one or the other

Though neither of them are to be what they claim

Hey! Remember when Mercedes-Benzes didn’t depreciate? That’s a trick question: what actually happened in the Eighties to make them, along with Porsche 911s, such bulletproof “investments” was that they couldn’t fall in value any faster than the Carter-to-early-Reagan-era dollar. (According to this chart and my childhood memories, the worst of it came during the Carter Administration and the beginning of “Morning In America”.)

So let’s say you’re idly thumbing through the CarMax listings looking for CLS63 AMGs in a copper color. (Guilty as charged: they have one, and it’s more than I should spend, so I’m not going to add a garagemate for the 911 and Boxster any time soon.) Well, the CLS63 in the current body style is still expensive. Let’s drop down a bit to $59,998. What can we get for this money? Why, only the very worst and the very best Benzo you can buy in this country most of the time, in AMG trim.

No matter how many journalists return from the south of Spain singing the praises of the CLA45, we here at TTAC will likely remain unconvinced of the virtues of this over-pressurized Volkswagen Jetta-alike. As far as we can tell, the only real difference between this and a Stage ZZXX99-Something Mitsubishi Evo is that you can’t have the CLA with a stick-shift or a full helping of fast-and-furious street cred.

The CL63, on the other hand… well, sir, this is a proper motorcar. Ignore the fact that its predecessor, the strangely graceful and well-assembled C215 CL55, was the vehicle of choice for various disreputable idiots ranging from Cannonball-catheter crackpot Ed Bolian to, um, myself. Since the days of the 380SEC, the S-Class coupe has always struck just the right balance between conspicuous consumption and outrageous ostentation. There’s never been a reason to get one, which is why it’s so wonderful. Buying the coupe instead of the sedan costs you more up front, gets you less at trade-in, and frankly marks you as a bit of an odd bird. It’s a pure style move, and the CL63 makes it perfectly, from the wide, featureless grille up front that only the cognoscenti immediately recognize as the big coupe to the surprisingly subtle dropped tail and bland-but-tasteful lamps. In the middle, of course, you get the real reason any romantic buys the big Benz: it’s a pillarless coupe, known as a “hardtop” to most folks. The preferred coupe configuration in the pre-Colonnade era.

This car could ring the cash register for over $150K just four years ago, but now it’s yours for just over a third of that. Why would you even think of buying the CLA instead? Well, there’s the tiny matter of maintenance and repair. The old 380SEC was famous for durability: this 600,000-mile example isn’t even the most well-traveled 380SEC in the United States. The modern cars don’t have quite the same moxie, or so we’re told.

Which would you pick, dear reader? The car-of-the-moment CLA45, all FWD-based and humpback-whale-shaped? Or the elegant but potentially troublesome CL63? I’d go with the coupe, no questions asked. Except one, maybe: “The extended warranty is as good as they say, right?”

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2 of 92 comments
  • Koshchei Koshchei on Jun 08, 2014

    My answer is neither. If I was in the market for a Benz, I'd get a W111, not a German Camaro.

  • Wheeljack Wheeljack on Jun 09, 2014

    To the point that some people are making about "old vs. new", I'd say sometimes the old product is genuinely superior to the new product, at least in ways that matter to the purchaser. Although I'm not in the market for cars like a Mercedes, the last car they made that impressed me was the W126. While not exciting or cutting edge, it seemed solid as a rock and absolutely unflappable. I have no idea if they are ultimately utter piles of junk or if they are truly amazing cars as they seemed to be when new. To make the "old vs. new" argument more personal, I own a 2006 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Unlimited. To me it is a better vehicle than the current 2007+ Jeeps that replaced it. I prefer the smooth power delivery of the inline-6 and I like the tidier dimensions (especially width) of the older model. Finally, I like the more "classic" styling of the older model - I can see the clear lineage of the old CJ-5 and CJ-7 in my vehicle. The 2007+ vehicles got a more radical body change and that lineage is lost to me - it's just too different. Considering that TJ Wranglers hold their value exceedingly well, other people must feel the same way I do.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂