Entries in Mercedes-Benz (51)
What is a "Benniss" its the Mercedes-Benz / Nissan pick up.
When you reflect on the possibility of this pick up being sold in North America it will make a ton of sense.
Think of this M-B is relocating its head office to Atlanta, and Nissan is in Franklin, TN both locations are auspicious to pick ups.
Nissan has the Titan and has been an outlier in the pick up business for some time now.
Now think of the Mercedes-Benz senior executive commuting from Buckhead to head office in the "L350 Benniss" it needs an L as a model designator....L=Lastwagen=truck in German.
For cost saving purposes it will be built on a modified Sprinter platform...not really. Perhaps a modified Nissan Titan platform with distinctive Mercedes styling cues.
To compete with the Ford Ecoboost it will have a twin turbo V6 from AMG specifically engineered for truck duty to generate massive torque from the get go. The transmission will not be double clutch, paddle shift, but a good ole torque converter, and a valve body tuned by AMG for optimum shifts.
The transfer case will be from Unimog with a simple F (forward) and R (reverse) to faciliate snow plowing applications. For the Benniss the transfer case will have an overdrive, direct, and low range an industry first to offer OD gears, as well as accommodating 2 PTO openings.
The brakes are from Brembo with ceramic discs and 2 yellow calipers per wheel on the front, to provide awesome braking power.
The trailer towing version will have a light duty Mercedes diesel engine sourced from Freightliner, coupled to an Allison automatic, a 10,000 lbs rear axle with dual rear wheels (a duelie). Ideal to move the polo ponies in a fifth wheel trailer from one field to another.
Needless to mention...the full AMG version is just around the corner.
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.
In case you forgot: MerBimAu = Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi.
Ever wonder with all the contenders in the luxury segment, many having exceptional products. They remain contenders on the periphery of the segment, while MerBimAu continues to have the largest share.
A quick overview.
Lets get the month going by connecting a few dots.
A few days ago we were reading a perspective from Seth Godin, which immediately started connecting dots for us.
"Hundreds of years ago, Hermes and Louis Vuitton started out as luxury makers of tools. If you needed a saddle or a suitcase, they offered an extraordinary option, both elite and useful.
Over time, they shifted gears, no longer competing on whether or not their luggage was the most useful, or their saddles the most efficient. They competed on luxury, which is a fundamentally different promise than the optimal design of a tool."
A few decades ago a Mercedes-Benz was a luxury tool in North America, a W116 (450SEL) was the supreme luxury tool (sedan) it did everything well, was the ideal compromise, and you could drive it flat out for hours.
It had shortcomings, but the overall package was superlative for its time compared to other offerings. Yes...it was expensive, it was exclusive, and it did its job very well. It was the ideal tool of the time, with compelling street presence. In addition to having a serious f...k you factor.
The W116 morphed into the W126 (560SEL) which was a refined tool compared to the W116, and the rest is history as they say.
The other day coming up to the rear of a novel CUV, yes there are a ton of CUV's on the road. What is this "thing" as the GLA250 appears on the tailgate and the immediate thought of "It looks Japanese or Korean" then from the rear view mirror the grille seemed out of place.
The luxury brand (being optimistic) might be there, but the luxury tool aspect is long gone.
Swiss watches are luxury tools, no one needs an expensive Swiss watch to tell the time, when a smart phone is more accurate. The maintenance on a luxury Swiss watch buys several watches.
Fine writing instruments are luxury tools. This mechanical pencil does a better job than most mechanical pencils, and its reflected in the price.
Its fascinating to watch the automotive migration from luxury tool, to luxury, to premium economy.
Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, the cappuccino and biscotti are served, join the conversation, leave a comment.
Its always been part of the Ferrari history that if they do well on the track, they do not so well in the showroom, and vice versa. Its interesting to see Luca de Montezemolo leave Ferrari after over 2 decades, and replaced by Sergio Marchionne.
From our perspective de Montezemolo was part of the "old guard" under Gianni Agnelli, and Sergio is part of the "new guard" under John Elkann. Obvious the new guard is increasingly exerting its muscles and influence within the FCA empire.
Should we be worried about Luca de Montezemolo losing his job at Ferrari? What do you think?
Within the bowels of Daimler, AMG has become a jumping point for the career vector of individuals. A couple of days ago the AMG GT halo car was presented to the world. The car looks like it was done by someone on a career vector that lacks the passion, understanding, perspective of what they were trying to do. "Lets take the roof line and quarter window of a 300SL coupe, the back end of a 911, and graft it to the front of an SLS"...."As an encore we will come up with a black edition with a carbon fiber spoiler".
Fascinating to see Mercedes win on the track with a superb F1 power unit, while Ferrari philosophically never got their heads around the F1 power unit concept.
If you are of the opinion that a Corvette Z06 is an abosolute steal for the level of performance, we agree with you.
A cool video on the new Jaguar XE...Click.
We call it the Pontiac Saga, the ongoing court case of GM Dealers vs GM that is developing in Toronto. Its always fascinating when folks start washing their laundry in public.
Tomorrow is the start of the Cobble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
Our usual old race cars from the US Vintage Grand Prix at Watkins Glenn.