Entries in Mercedes-Benz (49)
What do we, more specifically The Colonel remember of the 6.3?
Back in the day a 300SEL was the top of the line version of the S Class, while the numerals on the right hand side of the trunk added increased cachet.
The 6.3 was the equivalent of an S65...today. It was a serious hot rod from Stuttgart.
Those were the days when Mercedes-Benz was emerging from the vestiges of WWII, the plant in Sindelfingen was a previous airplane production facility. Especially in North America M-B needed a more forceful identity than simply diesel and 6 cylinder cars.
In typical M-B fashion the car was over engineered, with rudimentary convenience features, stiff Teutonic leather, the 4.5 V8 had morphed into the 6.3 from of the 600. With the 6.3 it was fashionable to remove the 6.3 from the trunk.
To uphold the Teutonic tradition of the day, which implied that if it was an expensive car it should cruise effortlessly at ridiculously high speeds on the autobahn. This was accomplished with a low numerical rear axle ratio, and usually a second gear start from the transmission.
Until you stopped, literally shifted the transmission to 1st gear, and throttle up it was not obvious how fast this car could accelerate. The transmission would bang through the shifts like an old school Hydra Matic in a truck.
Back in the day corrosion protection was rudimentary, and in Canada by the time these cars were 10 years old, there were serious corrosion issues, the air suspension was delicate, and the 6.3 consumed prodigious amounts of gasoline.
It was a landmark, benchmark car with superlative performance, while corroding and requiring expensive maintenance.
Here is Jay Leno driving and sharing his memories of the 6.3...
The other day we were reading an article stipulating that luxury cars are in many cases worse, than mid market cars, especially in reliability.
As you probably know The Colonel has been involved and dricing what is known as luxury cars for a few decades, lets see what he has to say this morning.
Q: Colonel how did luxury cars, especially the German versions evolve through the decades.
A: Guys good morning, you are looking dapper this morning. By the early 70's North American luxury cars were known as land barges, similar to pick ups today. With a ton of conveneince features, and a ton of driving shortcomings.
Q: What got the ball rolling.
A: Car and Driver, David E. Davis, Mercedes-Benz 450SEL (W116) at the time.
Q: What was special about that car.
A: It was the opposite of the land barges, limited conveneince features, at best acceptable air conditioning, no power seats, extremely slow power windows. It had a V8, good power, incredible suspension compared to the land barges, solid body, robust brakes. Extremely poor fuel economy.
Q: You could drive it all day long at elevated speeds.
A: Precisely...they were engineered to perform on the autobahn.
Q: How about maintenance.
A: German car...what do you think...they required ongoing maintenance on a regular basis. Today it would be considered obscene.
Q: The better part was how they drove and performed as a car, and how they held together.
A: Exactly, the convenience features were archaic compared to the land barges, the automatic transmissions were fragile, differential were diminuitive. The radios were archaic, but the clunk of the doors, the interiors were solid, and the way they drove.
Q: We heard that back in the day 6.9 were incredible cars, and nobody wanted them as a used car.
A: Interesting that you mention 6.9, incredible car, and in many ways similar to today's cars that are full of technology. They require attention, when new everyone raves about them, when they are used you need obscenely deep pockets to keep them running. Some things never change.
Q: Today everyone raves about an S65 Coupe, which is similar to a 6.9 from a few decades back.
A: imagine for a moment an individual that pulls into an M-B dealer with an older S65 Coupe out of warranty with a few lights blinking in the dash, and requiring a brake job with worn out ceramic discs. Similar to a 6.9 from back in the day...some things never change.
Q: The repair invoice for the S65 would be obscene.
A: You can buy a new something else with the amount on the repair order. Again its does not change. In 2015 no one is inerested in those experience. The reason for extended warranties, CPO, and so on the provide peace of mind.
Q: A CTS today drives very well.
A: Absolutely, the feel and drive of a CTS is impressive and world class. We were all impressed by the V Sport a few months ago.
Q: That car had a V6 with twin turbos, magnetic ride suspension, Brembo brakes, and so on.
A: There you go...its in the 6.9, S65 territory when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Does it ever drive nice...
Q: Most folks today lease, and pay more attention to the brand, than the reliability, maintenence costs of the cars.