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Drove A 2000 S500 Benz


johnhoward
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Last month I posted about driving an Audi RS6 (a really cool car!). I had a chance this past weekend to drive a 2000 S500 Benz. I was very impressed... I've driven other more sporty Benz models (500 sl, CLK AMG 55, 300 SEL, 280sl) which I don't really prefer a sporty suspension as much as I do a floating one.. The S500 is my style...

I have to admit the S500 felt so very solid - (more solid than my 99 LS). Also, the interior and dash lighting was very nice while driving at night. The car was very powerful too, moreso than the Lexus.

Not that the differences were that much, but the biggest difference was in the ride - it was blissfully smooth and quiet (no tire noise and little wind noise from anywhere).. The car just kind of drove itself and for a while I thought I was driving a Continental/town car). I hated the non-wood grain steering wheel, and the wierd cupholders throuhout (that are equally as stupid as the undersized LS ones).

I drove my LS directly after driving the Benz to compare. Just an opinion - The Benz is nicer, inside and out, it drives a bit better, and has a bit more appeal - but for much less, I can drive my Lexus LS, and have a much more dependable, and cost effective means of transportation. I noticed the check engine light on in the Benz and a tail lamp bulb that was out. This reminded me of the reliability of the Lexus and that I'll continue to be a happy owner. One day, I will probably own a Benz again (I used to drive a 500sl which I loved).

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I have no doubt that the Benz is nice and feel very solid. I used to own one and they are great cars--when they're running and not in the shop. The 500 is slightly heavier than the LS and has a bit more horsepower and that may account for the more solid and powerful feel. But as you say, the LS is way more dependable and I believe it's a great car in its own right as well.

The Benz I had was a used one that was about 10 years old at the time I got it. During the first year I owned it, I probably spent about $ 2500 in repairs in addition to normal maintenance. The LS I purchased last year was about 10 years old as well. During the first year of ownership, I have spent about $ 1,200 on just normal maintenance (fluid changes, new rotors, new all season tires, winter tires and light bulbs). There have been no major repairs.

The LS is the best car I've ever owned IMO.

Last month I posted about driving an Audi RS6 (a really cool car!). I had a chance this past weekend to drive a 2000 S500 Benz. I was very impressed... I've driven other more sporty Benz models (500 sl, CLK AMG 55, 300 SEL, 280sl) which I don't really prefer a sporty suspension as much as I do a floating one.. The S500 is my style...

I have to admit the S500 felt so very solid - (more solid than my 99 LS). Also, the interior and dash lighting was very nice while driving at night. The car was very powerful too, moreso than the Lexus.

Not that the differences were that much, but the biggest difference was in the ride - it was blissfully smooth and quiet (no tire noise and little wind noise from anywhere).. The car just kind of drove itself and for a while I thought I was driving a Continental/town car). I hated the non-wood grain steering wheel, and the wierd cupholders throuhout (that are equally as stupid as the undersized LS ones).

I drove my LS directly after driving the Benz to compare. Just an opinion - The Benz is nicer, inside and out, it drives a bit better, and has a bit more appeal - but for much less, I can drive my Lexus LS, and have a much more dependable, and cost effective means of transportation. I noticed the check engine light on in the Benz and a tail lamp bulb that was out. This reminded me of the reliability of the Lexus and that I'll continue to be a happy owner. One day, I will probably own a Benz again (I used to drive a 500sl which I loved).

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If I'm not mistaken, the 2000 S Class was a complete redesign from the 99 and prior models, which were more boxy and a heavier looking car. That body style (2000-2006, I think) was widely criticized for the cost cutting measures that were made evident throughout, particularly in the cabin area. I know of several people who had this car who had lots of problems with it, even when new. A friend of mine was considering an S Class a few years ago (he ended up getting a 2001 M5), and looked at the 2000-2002 and the 97-99 models. He is very observant and knowledgeable on cars, and his comments were that the interior of the S Class (2000 and up) was very cheap and chintzy. Some people attributed this to the Daimler-Chrysler merger. The cost cutting measures were spread throughout the model range. It wasn't just the S Class. The ML and CLK models were particularly bad.

Anyway, I think that the LS is FAR superior to the S Class and 7 Series, particularly if you are buying used. I was surprised to see your comment that you preferred the interior of the S Class to your LS. Did you really think the fit and finish was better in the Benz?

I'll take the RS6 any day over the S Class, even an S600!

:D

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After reading the first post here, I decided to visit a Mercedes forum to see what they were saying about the cars. Here's a link that we might find interesting:

http://www.benzworld.org/forums/w220-s-cla...er-oo-s430.html

The first thing I noticed about the forum was a lot of complaining and rancor, something I've never seen on this forum thankfully. I believe that reflects the difference in quality between our cars and the Mercedes vehicles. That's not to suggest that people don't encounter problems with our LS's, it's just that the problems aren't serious flaws in design or workmanship for the most part. Also, people here are much more helpful and there is an absence of rancor among posters.

The S430/500/600 apparently has some serious electrical problems along with a few other issues according to some of the posters. I'm glad to be an LS owner instead.

If I'm not mistaken, the 2000 S Class was a complete redesign from the 99 and prior models, which were more boxy and a heavier looking car. That body style (2000-2006, I think) was widely criticized for the cost cutting measures that were made evident throughout, particularly in the cabin area. I know of several people who had this car who had lots of problems with it, even when new. A friend of mine was considering an S Class a few years ago (he ended up getting a 2001 M5), and looked at the 2000-2002 and the 97-99 models. He is very observant and knowledgeable on cars, and his comments were that the interior of the S Class (2000 and up) was very cheap and chintzy. Some people attributed this to the Daimler-Chrysler merger. The cost cutting measures were spread throughout the model range. It wasn't just the S Class. The ML and CLK models were particularly bad.

Anyway, I think that the LS is FAR superior to the S Class and 7 Series, particularly if you are buying used. I was surprised to see your comment that you preferred the interior of the S Class to your LS. Did you really think the fit and finish was better in the Benz?

I'll take the RS6 any day over the S Class, even an S600!

:D

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The S is a very nice car. I've always liked the interior of the 00-06 car, and it got better after the refresh in 03 (or was it 04). The LS however is a much more affordable and reliable car, my money'd be on the LS (and it will be).

However, I've always liked the S class and I'll probably get one someday.

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The S is a very nice car. I've always liked the interior of the 00-06 car, and it got better after the refresh in 03 (or was it 04). The LS however is a much more affordable and reliable car, my money'd be on the LS (and it will be).

However, I've always liked the S class and I'll probably get one someday.

I agree. They styling on that generation was a major step forward from the bank-vault styling of the previous car; but even at the LA Auto show that year everybody in the MB owners lounge was commenting on how the overall build quality and materials did not seem as nice as the previous car. I heard someone say MB seemed to be spending more money on electronics and less on materials and assembly.

If you want to feel what a MB USED to feel like get inside the cockpit of a G500. That's the way they used to make 'em. The new S550 is a step back towards that direction but it's IMHO still not as nice as a W140 (92-99) or W126 (81-91) S as far as interior fitments and overall quality. The LS of same era was maybe not as feature rich (until '01) but still superior in overall quality and reliability. They are just built better.

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So far, I've enjoyed the comments... I posted this because, Benz is the chief competitor of the Lexus brand. OK, there are a few others, but Benz really has always been the measure. I agree that the LS is a superiorly engineered car and is the best built car I've ever owned. I kinda felt like I was cheating on my car.... :), while driving the Benz. Sometimes, as part of being in a forum, I get biased and need to stretch out a bit and check out other cars. I've loved cars all my life, and have had much fun in junky ones too. However, I'm no dummy... I've sunk lots of jack into MB cars in my past. When I bought the Lexus, my wife actually liked it better than other cars I was considering. So, I did the research and my 99LS was an easy purchase 4 years ago.

03 and GKL, I know where you're coming from... MB's are one of life's joys for me, and to experience driving them is a love affair that's hard to shake (despite cost associated with ownership). So, I thought, why not praise, or desire other cars too? Benzes have been in my family for 40 years. I don't know... somthing about looking over the hood and seeing the star while driving and the vault/tank-like feel... They are truly the most solid/heavy car on the road (opinion). I'd like to drive the newer LS models - 2001 - 2007 to re-compare my thoughts. I'm sure my opinion my would change. In the near future, I'll try out Audi and Benz ownership (again).

I recommend the older 107 model Benz (convertibles) - I had an 85 500sl (European model) - fast without the big American bumpers! It had a curb weight of over 5000#. Someday, I would like to own a 280 sl (ca 1970)- a straight six ragtop that'll hum!!! Great sounding little car! Plus, simple to work on! Keep the LS in the garage, but try out a Benz someday if you haven't! You'll understand why many are crazy about those cars.. Especially, if money is no object...

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John, no question about it, the Mercedes is a prestige vehicle and it's everyone's dream to have one. They have 100+ years of history behind them, so they've got the prestige positioning thing down. It's almost as if they're riding on their past reputation and they're nice cars when they're running and your wallet is not being assaulted. :)

You're right, there's nothing wrong with praising or desiring other cars and if MB had the reliability of the LS, I'd probably buy one. Actually, the older vintage 240D/300D are still very solid cars that last forever. I wouldn't mind one of those. I saw a 1982 300D with about 60K miles on it about a month ago for 6k that I was tempted to get.

So far, I've enjoyed the comments... I posted this because, Benz is the chief competitor of the Lexus brand. OK, there are a few others, but Benz really has always been the measure. I agree that the LS is a superiorly engineered car and is the best built car I've ever owned. I kinda felt like I was cheating on my car.... :), while driving the Benz. Sometimes, as part of being in a forum, I get biased and need to stretch out a bit and check out other cars. I've loved cars all my life, and have had much fun in junky ones too. However, I'm no dummy... I've sunk lots of jack into MB cars in my past. When I bought the Lexus, my wife actually liked it better than other cars I was considering. So, I did the research and my 99LS was an easy purchase 4 years ago.

03 and GKL, I know where you're coming from... MB's are one of life's joys for me, and to experience driving them is a love affair that's hard to shake (despite cost associated with ownership). So, I thought, why not praise, or desire other cars too? Benzes have been in my family for 40 years. I don't know... somthing about looking over the hood and seeing the star while driving and the vault/tank-like feel... They are truly the most solid/heavy car on the road (opinion). I'd like to drive the newer LS models - 2001 - 2007 to re-compare my thoughts. I'm sure my opinion my would change. In the near future, I'll try out Audi and Benz ownership (again).

I recommend the older 107 model Benz (convertibles) - I had an 85 500sl (European model) - fast without the big American bumpers! It had a curb weight of over 5000#. Someday, I would like to own a 280 sl (ca 1970)- a straight six ragtop that'll hum!!! Great sounding little car! Plus, simple to work on! Keep the LS in the garage, but try out a Benz someday if you haven't! You'll understand why many are crazy about those cars.. Especially, if money is no object...

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I would have jumped on that 300D! It would have been a perfect candidate for converting to BioDiesel!

You are correct about the prestige of the brand with Mercedes. I only reached (legal) driving age in the late 80s, so I haven't had an opportunity to drive some of the older Benzes. Actually, I did drive either a 240D or 300D, plus a 190D back in the mid-90s, and was impressed (although they were slugs as far as performance). That would have been the perfect car while in my 20s.

I haven't ever actually driven an S Class, so my opinion isn't as qualified as it would be if I had. Back in the 80s and 90s, I used to dream about owning a W126 or W140. I guess when they brought out the W220 (2000-2006), it just got a lot of bad press for the cheap interior quality and construction, plus the bad reviews of the Command electronics. I've seen the interiors and agree that they left a lot to be desired. But I did have an opportunity to sit in one of the new S550s, and my opinion was that there were big improvements made.

I also didn't like the last C Class sedans (not that there's any comparison to the S Class). They seemed cheap to me. I had one as a rental car a few years ago. But the new 2008 C Class that just came out looks like a big improvement. I think that Mercedes is definitely taking steps in the right direction to getting back on track with their brand prestige and quality.

Good forum topic!

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i actually ran into a guy who had coverted a 300D to bio diesel.

Those Mercedes diesels are damn near bullet proof as far as I can see, the only thing is that you have no power, although the Turbo diesel variety isn't too bad in the regard. I was real tempted to get that 300D as the car was in pretty good shape and would have run forever, but I figured I already had a car like that with my LS. Nothing like the feel of that Mercedes on the road though.

It's good to hear that they're trying to address some of their quality issues. For a brand as venerable as MB, it's a shame to have unreliable cars.

I would have jumped on that 300D! It would have been a perfect candidate for converting to BioDiesel!

You are correct about the prestige of the brand with Mercedes. I only reached (legal) driving age in the late 80s, so I haven't had an opportunity to drive some of the older Benzes. Actually, I did drive either a 240D or 300D, plus a 190D back in the mid-90s, and was impressed (although they were slugs as far as performance). That would have been the perfect car while in my 20s.

I haven't ever actually driven an S Class, so my opinion isn't as qualified as it would be if I had. Back in the 80s and 90s, I used to dream about owning a W126 or W140. I guess when they brought out the W220 (2000-2006), it just got a lot of bad press for the cheap interior quality and construction, plus the bad reviews of the Command electronics. I've seen the interiors and agree that they left a lot to be desired. But I did have an opportunity to sit in one of the new S550s, and my opinion was that there were big improvements made.

I also didn't like the last C Class sedans (not that there's any comparison to the S Class). They seemed cheap to me. I had one as a rental car a few years ago. But the new 2008 C Class that just came out looks like a big improvement. I think that Mercedes is definitely taking steps in the right direction to getting back on track with their brand prestige and quality.

Good forum topic!

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Having owned three Mercedes - only one was purchased new - I have to say I enjoy the well deserved Mercedes bashing.

Mercedes diesels bullet proof? You gotta be kidding. My Mercedes diesel was on its 3rd engine by 150,000 miles. The front seats literally collapsed, the dashboard developed a huge crack, and the transmission was failing too. And the body rusted through before 100,000 miles. It lived in the body shop getting the rust repaired.

All three of my Mercedes were complete crap! It is hard to believe I put up with them while my wife drove a series of completely reliable Hondas.

A Lexus used car salesman bought my Mercedes diesel - I normally don't trade cars in but it was the only way I could get rid of it.

My best friends low mileage E320 is a continual disaster - how many electrical problems can a car have anyway?

It is hard to describe what I feel when I see someone driving a Mercedes. My first impulse is to think "Sucker!" but I usually end up feeling sorry for the person who probably doesn't know any better since I once didn't know any better either.

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You know i had a 190e (1985) bought used. The engineering was fantastic, the handling super... And a very solid car. Unfortunately whom ever had owned it neglected it.... I ended up rebuilding the engine myself. Now I learned some true engineering. The block at 125k miles was vertually brand new when I took it to the machine shop, The machinist said all the block needed was cleaning and honing the cylinders. I ended up putting new rings but same size pistons in and the crank measured new in all deminsions. Every mating surface fit like a glove....The head on the other hand needed new valve guides and a good cleaning....Once I rebuilt the engine the car was a pleasure from that point on....I only wish any car I have ever owned could make turns like that car. Mercedes suspension is the best I have ever experienced (note I use to race sports cars and it made them look sick) Long story short ended up selling it and getting the RX300 for more room... But yes the old mercedes are bulletproof. My friend runs an independent mercedes garage and said after 1992 Mercedes went down hill reliability wise... Probably after the berlin wall fell and the east Germans started getting jobs there...Oh well, Great auto, lots of heritage, incredible engineering and birth of most safety standards in cars today....Maybe someday they will return to their greatness.

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Actually, my Dad owned a 79 240D and an 85 300TD - they both ran to almost 300K miles.

The only significant thing that happened, was that a timing chain broke on the 240D around the

220K mark and it cost him 2K to fix it at the time which was really expensive. Everything else on the cars held up beautifully - paint, interior etc. Dad didn't like plugging them in, in the winter time, but he drove about 120 miles round trip per day - so these cars suited him perfectly. They are the slowest car that I think I've ever driven, but once up to speed, they do fine.

Dad now owns a 91 - 300 SEL, and a 95 LS 400 (he likes to drive both). The 300 SEL has 225K on it and has given him no problems since he bought it in 96.

My sister drives a 1996 - 220. It has suspension problems, but runs good - a slow car.

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I would have grabbed that 300D. Those cars are getting more valuable b/c of the desire to convert them for Bio diesel. A bunch of the diesel Benzes here have been converted; they all have a "This car is a vegetarian" sticker on the back.

All I can say is after 26 years and 195,000 miles my 240D still starts on the first crank, every time. Not even my LS can do that. :whistles:

Back in the day they were impeccably engineered cars but you paid for it. The 240D cost about $22k in the early 80's, which probably translates into at least $50k today. The car has almost no electronics; the engine, fuel injection, and fuel pump are entirely mechanical (I found this out when the alternator died and I drove it to Glendale with no electrical power whatsoever). I did replace the timing chain on my mechanic's recommendation at 185K miles but other than that nothing major has gone wrong with it. I do believe it will run forever.

The 240D is slow. Acceleration is best described as "stately." 27mpg however is a nice consolation prize. After 12 years of driving it I felt like I was driving a loaded gun when I first got the LS. 5x the HP and 3.5x the torque makes for a very interesting driving experience. :pirate:

Part of me really wanted a W140 or a W220 as my next car. Although I have a great deal of nostalgia for the MB brand the high cost of ownership and the fact that I HATE taking my car to the shop unnecessarily led me to the LS. The Lexus is just...friendlier. The car doesn't feel quite as mechanical and overwhelming; even the new S550 still feels to me like an old man's car.

However Mercedes fall from grace and Toyota's recent reliability woes with the Camry and Tundra (see new Consumer Reports) prove that anybody can drop the ball. And there's always someone (Hyundai) nipping at your heels. Being #1 is tough.

Actually, my Dad owned a 79 240D and an 85 300TD - they both ran to almost 300K miles.

The only significant thing that happened, was that a timing chain broke on the 240D around the

220K mark and it cost him 2K to fix it at the time which was really expensive. Everything else on the cars held up beautifully - paint, interior etc. Dad didn't like plugging them in, in the winter time, but he drove about 120 miles round trip per day - so these cars suited him perfectly. They are the slowest car that I think I've ever driven, but once up to speed, they do fine.

Dad now owns a 91 - 300 SEL, and a 95 LS 400 (he likes to drive both). The 300 SEL has 225K on it and has given him no problems since he bought it in 96.

My sister drives a 1996 - 220. It has suspension problems, but runs good - a slow car.

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All I can say is after 26 years and 195,000 miles my 240D still starts on the first crank, every time. Not even my LS can do that.

Back in the day they were impeccably engineered cars but you paid for it. The 240D cost about $22k in the early 80's, which probably translates into at least $50k today.

The 240D is slow.

Although I have a great deal of nostalgia for the MB brand the high cost of ownership and the fact that I HATE taking my car to the shop unnecessarily led me to the LS.

However Mercedes fall from grace and Toyota's recent reliability woes with the Camry and Tundra (see new Consumer Reports) prove that anybody can drop the ball. And there's always someone (Hyundai) nipping at your heels. Being #1 is tough.

Wow! Are you telling me your LS430 doesn't start "on the first crank, every time"? During over 17 years, my LS400's have never failed to start on the very first try - even at -20 F. temperatures. However, over 10 1/2 years with my 79 Mercedes 240D (purchased new), it was a challenge to get it to start at all when the ambient temperature was below about 15 degrees F. Mine wasn't the only Mercedes diesel abandoned in the company parking lot when it got cold. Do you happen to live in southern California where it is usually quite warm?

Your 82 240D that cost $22K when new was only $10,500 when introduced in 1977. The rapid price rises from 1977 to 1982 were largely caused by the drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against the deuchmark during those years. (The U.S. dollar zoomed back after about 1982-3). The base list price of my virtually identical 79 240D was about $15,000. The optional (manual!) A/C alone was over $1,100 - interesting because the A/C couldn't begin to put out enough cold air in the summer even when the car was brand new.

Even with all the pain from driving three Mercedes cars a total of over 400,000 miles, I still do have some nostalgia for the brand. I sure do wish I could have persuaded my father to buy that pristine ultra low mileage white 1963 300SL that was on Aristocrat Mercedes' showroom floor in Kansas City in 1968 -- absolutely perfect and it wasn't selling at the asking price of $7,500.

I suspect that Hyundai and an upcoming Chinese auto company are going to blow Lexus away during the coming years. Hate to say it but I have little or no loyalty when it comes to buying cars or anything else -- I buy what is the best combination of quality and price regardless of who makes it.

jainla, that was one great write up you did on your phone system install a while back!

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I suspect that Hyundai and an upcoming Chinese auto company are going to blow Lexus away during the coming years.

I agree. I've long been blasted on here for my support of Hyundais, they make a very good car and they get better every year.

Hate to say it but I have little or no loyalty when it comes to buying cars or anything else -- I buy what is the best combination of quality and price regardless of who makes it.

Nor should you.

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Wow! Are you telling me your LS430 doesn't start "on the first crank, every time"? During over 17 years, my LS400's have never failed to start on the very first try - even at -20 F. temperatures.
Well it's not like it grinds coffee or anything; it just doesn't spring to life like the diesel does. This is supposedly due to the the VVT-i system not being able to precisely position the camshafts when the hydraulic pressure is low (first thing in the morning). Sometimes it takes 2 cranks. Sometimes it doesn't. This is why the LS460 now has VVT that's run by electric motor instead of hydraulic pressure.
However, over 10 1/2 years with my 79 Mercedes 240D (purchased new), it was a challenge to get it to start at all when the ambient temperature was below about 15 degrees F. Mine wasn't the only Mercedes diesel abandoned in the company parking lot when it got cold. Do you happen to live in southern California where it is usually quite warm?
Yes here in LA it's always happy to start; but sometimes the glowplugs take a while to warm up. I killed the battery a couple times starting it in the cold when I lived in Connecticut and PA, I had to buy a block heater for it. It was the plug-in car before the electrics and hybrids! As compression ratios continue to rise I bet we see the return of the block heater.
Your 82 240D that cost $22K when new was only $10,500 when introduced in 1977. The rapid price rises from 1977 to 1982 were largely caused by the drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against the deuchmark during those years. (The U.S. dollar zoomed back after about 1982-3). The base list price of my virtually identical 79 240D was about $15,000.
I was only guestimating at the price; I seemed to remember reading an old CR review that quoted around $20k. I think as the products got more expensive Mercedes compensated by moving the brand upmarket; emphasising the quality and exclusiveness. In Germany Mercedes was perceived as a more mainstream brand than it was here.

In some ways I think mechanical precision has become less important in certain aspects of car design and manufacture because of all the electronic controls. Now engines and transmissions can self-diagnose and auto-tune getting them to run smoothly in some sense has become easier; it also probably makes them cheaper to manufacture; I bet on a cost-adjusted basis cars of today contain roughly double the technology and content they did 20 years ago; but in real dollars they are probably not that much more expensive.

European carmakers also seem to really have been burned by this move towards electronic controls; historically mechanical perfection seems to have been their first priority. For example VW products for years have had notoriously buggy electrical systems; now that the cars are rolling computers this becomes a much bigger issue; and the reliability reflects that. I still remember how smooth and quiet the engine in my friend's 420SEL ran. In general cars are made much better now than they were 20 years ago; which makes the smoothness of the Mercedes engines and interiors of that era even more impressive. Also there was just less technology in those cars to break down.

I bet the development and manufacturing budget for most cars is about the same in real dollars as it was 20 years ago; while the number of systems and components have multiplied. This means that the company that can develop these systems to work well while controlling costs will win. Toyota's deep relationship with its suppliers enables it to bake quality and efficiency in from the start; something the Germans seem to be just catching onto. Factor in currency fluctuations and it gets even more challenging.

I suspect that Hyundai and an upcoming Chinese auto company are going to blow Lexus away during the coming years. .
I don't know about blowing away; the Chinese labor advantage only goes so far because most car manufacturing these days is highly automated. Chinese products are not world reknowned for their high quality and precision; but Hyundai has proved that rapid improvement is possible. There is also the brand perception problem; but remember people were saying the same thing 20 years ago when the Japanese launched a luxury car.
Hate to say it but I have little or no loyalty when it comes to buying cars or anything else -- I buy what is the best combination of quality and price regardless of who makes it
Yes but brand loyalty is a powerful thing. It's hard to lose but even harder to regain. I hope Toyota doesn't kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
jainla, that was one great write up you did on your phone system install a while back!

Well I learned from the best :cheers: I hope people find it useful..that's what these forums are all about.

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I've had my current and previous LS not start on the first turn of the key. But I don't attribute that to a problem with the car. The LS, in general, has a longer crank time than some other cars (I think I've seen this discussed here before but I could be wrong). So sometimes I turn the key for a time that isn't sufficient to start the car. That's my fault, not the car's fault.

I remember hearing stories about old Mercedes diesels that were cranky about starting in cold weather. My great uncle had an old one from the early 70s that ran forever and ever. I think he finally got rid of it. Now he drives a Prius. :rolleyes:

Speaking of diesels, does Lexus put diesel engines in their cars overseas (in Europe)? I know that diesels are very popular over there and many competing manufacturers (Audi, MB and BMW) all sell A LOT of diesels that we unfortunately aren't even offered here in the US.

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I've always liked the 300D series and I was real tempted to buy that car as it was in pristine condition. But the mpg is really not all that much better than my LS which has more acceleration power (I routinely get about 20 mpg in mixed driving and 25+ on the highway). To be sure, the diesel will have a better fuel mileage, but diesel fuel is more expensive also, so it's a wash

The LS is as durable as the 300D from the standpoint of the total miles you can put on the car. I plan on driving mine to the 250K+ mark.

I would have grabbed that 300D. Those cars are getting more valuable b/c of the desire to convert them for Bio diesel. A bunch of the diesel Benzes here have been converted; they all have a "This car is a vegetarian" sticker on the back.

All I can say is after 26 years and 195,000 miles my 240D still starts on the first crank, every time. Not even my LS can do that. :whistles:

Back in the day they were impeccably engineered cars but you paid for it. The 240D cost about $22k in the early 80's, which probably translates into at least $50k today. The car has almost no electronics; the engine, fuel injection, and fuel pump are entirely mechanical (I found this out when the alternator died and I drove it to Glendale with no electrical power whatsoever). I did replace the timing chain on my mechanic's recommendation at 185K miles but other than that nothing major has gone wrong with it. I do believe it will run forever.

The 240D is slow. Acceleration is best described as "stately." 27mpg however is a nice consolation prize. After 12 years of driving it I felt like I was driving a loaded gun when I first got the LS. 5x the HP and 3.5x the torque makes for a very interesting driving experience. :pirate:

Part of me really wanted a W140 or a W220 as my next car. Although I have a great deal of nostalgia for the MB brand the high cost of ownership and the fact that I HATE taking my car to the shop unnecessarily led me to the LS. The Lexus is just...friendlier. The car doesn't feel quite as mechanical and overwhelming; even the new S550 still feels to me like an old man's car.

However Mercedes fall from grace and Toyota's recent reliability woes with the Camry and Tundra (see new Consumer Reports) prove that anybody can drop the ball. And there's always someone (Hyundai) nipping at your heels. Being #1 is tough.

Actually, my Dad owned a 79 240D and an 85 300TD - they both ran to almost 300K miles.

The only significant thing that happened, was that a timing chain broke on the 240D around the

220K mark and it cost him 2K to fix it at the time which was really expensive. Everything else on the cars held up beautifully - paint, interior etc. Dad didn't like plugging them in, in the winter time, but he drove about 120 miles round trip per day - so these cars suited him perfectly. They are the slowest car that I think I've ever driven, but once up to speed, they do fine.

Dad now owns a 91 - 300 SEL, and a 95 LS 400 (he likes to drive both). The 300 SEL has 225K on it and has given him no problems since he bought it in 96.

My sister drives a 1996 - 220. It has suspension problems, but runs good - a slow car.

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Hyundai is no longer a joke. They may be a knockoff of Honda and Toyota models, but these guys are building seriously reliable vehicles now at good prices.

The main casualty of this will probably continue to be American auto makers. Neither GM or Ford has the financial wherewithal, or the products for that matter, to fight these guys off. The sad thing is that it makes no sense for them to be acquired by anyone or even merge among themselves due to their high legacy costs. They'll continue to die a slow death.

All I can say is after 26 years and 195,000 miles my 240D still starts on the first crank, every time. Not even my LS can do that.

Back in the day they were impeccably engineered cars but you paid for it. The 240D cost about $22k in the early 80's, which probably translates into at least $50k today.

The 240D is slow.

Although I have a great deal of nostalgia for the MB brand the high cost of ownership and the fact that I HATE taking my car to the shop unnecessarily led me to the LS.

However Mercedes fall from grace and Toyota's recent reliability woes with the Camry and Tundra (see new Consumer Reports) prove that anybody can drop the ball. And there's always someone (Hyundai) nipping at your heels. Being #1 is tough.

Wow! Are you telling me your LS430 doesn't start "on the first crank, every time"? During over 17 years, my LS400's have never failed to start on the very first try - even at -20 F. temperatures. However, over 10 1/2 years with my 79 Mercedes 240D (purchased new), it was a challenge to get it to start at all when the ambient temperature was below about 15 degrees F. Mine wasn't the only Mercedes diesel abandoned in the company parking lot when it got cold. Do you happen to live in southern California where it is usually quite warm?

Your 82 240D that cost $22K when new was only $10,500 when introduced in 1977. The rapid price rises from 1977 to 1982 were largely caused by the drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against the deuchmark during those years. (The U.S. dollar zoomed back after about 1982-3). The base list price of my virtually identical 79 240D was about $15,000. The optional (manual!) A/C alone was over $1,100 - interesting because the A/C couldn't begin to put out enough cold air in the summer even when the car was brand new.

Even with all the pain from driving three Mercedes cars a total of over 400,000 miles, I still do have some nostalgia for the brand. I sure do wish I could have persuaded my father to buy that pristine ultra low mileage white 1963 300SL that was on Aristocrat Mercedes' showroom floor in Kansas City in 1968 -- absolutely perfect and it wasn't selling at the asking price of $7,500.

I suspect that Hyundai and an upcoming Chinese auto company are going to blow Lexus away during the coming years. Hate to say it but I have little or no loyalty when it comes to buying cars or anything else -- I buy what is the best combination of quality and price regardless of who makes it.

jainla, that was one great write up you did on your phone system install a while back!

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I like the Hyundai Azero, and would like to test drive one, but all their other cars/trucks are ugly in my view. Unfortunately for Hydudai, I don't think they'll really every get out of the shadows... They are the new Volkswagon of today/tomorrow. The name just doesn't seem good for the snotty folks in our land, and telling folks what you drive is all part of our capitalist, and elitist society. However, I love cars and don't fit into this status. If it runs good and looks good to me, I'll check it out...

As for American autos, their only true savior is to ship their plants overseas and pay much less for all costs (namely labor, R and D, and engineering). Then, they can put more quality components into their cars and build a better car than the !Removed!, Chinese, Germans etc.

When operating costs go up, a compromise must come into play. It's sad to say, but true - Not a good time to be in the American auto industry....

2 cents -

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I like the Hyundai Azero, and would like to test drive one, but all their other cars/trucks are ugly in my view. Unfortunately for Hydudai, I don't think they'll really every get out of the shadows... They are the new Volkswagon of today/tomorrow. The name just doesn't seem good for the snotty folks in our land, and telling folks what you drive is all part of our capitalist, and elitist society.
Agreed; but the new V8 RWD sedan could change that. They will probably have to create a separate luxury brand like Toyota did with Lexus.
However, I love cars and don't fit into this status. If it runs good and looks good to me, I'll check it out...
That's what they are counting on; an objective consumer.
As for American autos, their only true savior is to ship their plants overseas and pay much less for all costs (namely labor, R and D, and engineering). Then, they can put more quality components into their cars and build a better car than the !Removed!, Chinese, Germans etc.

Not sure I buy that. Toyota and Honda manage to make high quality autos here. If you think US labor is expensive, Japanese and German labor is even more so due to higher wages those workers typically command. The reason that Japanese and European automakers have opened so many plants here is because as far as skilled labor goes the US is fairly competitive; and the cost of shipping the cars is less.

I think it has to do with the mindset of each manufacturer vs. current market conditions.

American carmakers see cars as a commodity; and their strategy was to make as many as possible; knowing that any defect cars could be easily exchanged for another car coming off the line. Cars are required in many US communities so the big 3 knew they had a somewhat captive audience. People HAD to have at least one car. As long as the market was growing quickly the big 3 could just churn out more cars.

In Europe cars have traditionally been more of a luxury item; in most cities they aren't required at all. Therefore the products had to justify their necessity; so they were made and marketed like luxury items. European manufacturers traditionally have employed a craftsman-like approach to making cars; with (expensive) highly skilled and trained labor assembling the cars. This made the cars expensive but enabled them to offer added value (high quality finishes, precise components etc) not available in other brands. Also everything was designed and engineered in-house.

Japanese carmakers focused on the technique of efficient car production; because they knew they were facing a labor shortage, they knew that they needed be efficient (because all raw materials must be imported) and because quality was (is) important to the Japanese consumer. Japanese car makers have focused on automation for most tasks and reserved human labor for specialized tasks (quality assessment). They also outsource and with and work closely with their suppliers (more than the Europeans); enabling them to offer high quality items at a lower price.

The current state of each automaker belies the pros and cons of each approach:

In Europe the car makers with the best quality (Porsche) tend to be lower volume, high end automakers that support the craftsman model. Porsche cars are still made with lots of manual labor; and are still high quality; and the cost reflects that. The move towards more mass production seems to have flummoxed many automakers as they are more used to making precise mechanical solutions rather than all electronic ones. Also as Mercedes, VW and BMW have ramped up their production they have also had to cut costs and automate and outsource more of it; this seems to have cause some real quality issues as they are not used to working closely with suppliers the same way Toyota and Honda do.

In the US the car market is no longer experiencing such explosive growth; growth has contracted to the point where it resembles the European and Japanese markets; so quality is more important and the more efficient (higher quality) the manufacturing process the more successful the company will be. However US automakers refuse to acknowledge that, instead chasing the easy buck (SUVs, trucks) instead of investing for the future. Now that quality is more important, high fuel costs have leveled the playing field and their market shares are smaller their products and manufacturing processes are no longer competitive with imports. They have too much capacity that costs too much to maintain.

Japanese carmaker's biggest problem right now is expansion. Because the human link in their chain controls the quality they cannot rapidly expand without stretching that resource thin (fixed number of people, increasing number of cars). All of Toyota's plants worldwide are running at or over peak capacity; so it's natural for quality to suffer slightly as more cars are going through the system than it was designed to handle.

But everything is changing; US automakers are finally taking quality seriously; Japanese automakers are learning there are limits to the rate they can expand; and Europeans are getting better at lean production. BMW can offer Japanese style efficiency with the ability to customize each car; not even Toyota can do that. And the Chinese and Koreans are still something of a wild card.

European and Asian carmakers also historically have exported a much larger percentage of cars then US automakers; so they are more attuned to the changes in the world markets because a big percentage of their production depends on it being successful in other markets.

Like Darwin said; adaptability is the name of the game. I'm not sure I would count anybody out just yet.

(wow that's longwinded :) )

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I have to disagree with you jainla.

The reason that Japanese and European automakers have opened so many plants here is because as far as skilled labor goes the US is fairly competitive;...

Well, or perhaps not? ;) When Toyota built a plant in UK to produce the Carina E for Europe, it was because of labor skill, that is for sure... :whistles:

The main factor is TAX, I'd say! USA - just like other countries - have import tax. It can often be a good deal for car manufacturers to open a plant in big export markets.

In Europe cars have traditionally been more of a luxury item; in most cities they aren't required at all. Therefore the products had to justify their necessity; so they were made and marketed like luxury items. European manufacturers traditionally have employed a craftsman-like approach to making cars; with (expensive) highly skilled and trained labor assembling the cars. This made the cars expensive but enabled them to offer added value (high quality finishes, precise components etc) not available in other brands. Also everything was designed and engineered in-house.

Eh, not so. That is however to some extent true if you look at the European cars sold in the US. But the BIG manufacturers in Europe; FIAT, Renault, VW... Craftsmanship. No way. Mass production at lowest possible cost. Yes.

And most car makers buy ie electronics, driveshafts, shocks, radiators etc from Bosch, Marelli, Sachs, Valeo etc.

A car is a true household product in all western european countries, and has been that for decades. Not that high ratio cars/person as in US, but I guess that is MOSTLY depending on the fact we do have very few trucks here. In US, you have one or two family cars and a truck. One or two normal cars or SUVs is normal here.

If something is significant to the some European carmakers, it would be that they dare introduce new design, safety and technology a bit quicker than the Japanese and American brands. Very good rust protection is also a typical German and Swedish feature.

/Alexander from Sweden

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The inexorable decline of US auto manufacturers is just a reflection of the larger picture of the US moving to a service based economy and away from manufacturing. Moreover, the pressure from Wall Street to “make the numbers” goes against the idea of foregoing short term profits to invest in the future. A case in point is the infatuation US auto makers had with making the gas hogging but profitable SUV’s. Any economist will tell you that the world is closer to a situation where we reach peak oil production than not. Of course, that means scarcity in the long term. If one knew that, why would one choose to make profits from selling SUV’s that would be at best temporary rather than to invest in something that reflects the new reality of scarcity? The problem with US auto makers, and quite frankly our country in general, is short term non strategic thinking.

I'm old enough to remember when we used to laugh at Japanese nick knacks and trinkets. We used to call them cheap imitations of the “good stuff”. The roles are now reversed, especially as applied to US auto makers.

I like the Hyundai Azero, and would like to test drive one, but all their other cars/trucks are ugly in my view. Unfortunately for Hydudai, I don't think they'll really every get out of the shadows... They are the new Volkswagon of today/tomorrow. The name just doesn't seem good for the snotty folks in our land, and telling folks what you drive is all part of our capitalist, and elitist society.
Agreed; but the new V8 RWD sedan could change that. They will probably have to create a separate luxury brand like Toyota did with Lexus.
However, I love cars and don't fit into this status. If it runs good and looks good to me, I'll check it out...
That's what they are counting on; an objective consumer.
As for American autos, their only true savior is to ship their plants overseas and pay much less for all costs (namely labor, R and D, and engineering). Then, they can put more quality components into their cars and build a better car than the !Removed!, Chinese, Germans etc.

Not sure I buy that. Toyota and Honda manage to make high quality autos here. If you think US labor is expensive, Japanese and German labor is even more so due to higher wages those workers typically command. The reason that Japanese and European automakers have opened so many plants here is because as far as skilled labor goes the US is fairly competitive; and the cost of shipping the cars is less.

I think it has to do with the mindset of each manufacturer vs. current market conditions.

American carmakers see cars as a commodity; and their strategy was to make as many as possible; knowing that any defect cars could be easily exchanged for another car coming off the line. Cars are required in many US communities so the big 3 knew they had a somewhat captive audience. People HAD to have at least one car. As long as the market was growing quickly the big 3 could just churn out more cars.

In Europe cars have traditionally been more of a luxury item; in most cities they aren't required at all. Therefore the products had to justify their necessity; so they were made and marketed like luxury items. European manufacturers traditionally have employed a craftsman-like approach to making cars; with (expensive) highly skilled and trained labor assembling the cars. This made the cars expensive but enabled them to offer added value (high quality finishes, precise components etc) not available in other brands. Also everything was designed and engineered in-house.

Japanese carmakers focused on the technique of efficient car production; because they knew they were facing a labor shortage, they knew that they needed be efficient (because all raw materials must be imported) and because quality was (is) important to the Japanese consumer. Japanese car makers have focused on automation for most tasks and reserved human labor for specialized tasks (quality assessment). They also outsource and with and work closely with their suppliers (more than the Europeans); enabling them to offer high quality items at a lower price.

The current state of each automaker belies the pros and cons of each approach:

In Europe the car makers with the best quality (Porsche) tend to be lower volume, high end automakers that support the craftsman model. Porsche cars are still made with lots of manual labor; and are still high quality; and the cost reflects that. The move towards more mass production seems to have flummoxed many automakers as they are more used to making precise mechanical solutions rather than all electronic ones. Also as Mercedes, VW and BMW have ramped up their production they have also had to cut costs and automate and outsource more of it; this seems to have cause some real quality issues as they are not used to working closely with suppliers the same way Toyota and Honda do.

In the US the car market is no longer experiencing such explosive growth; growth has contracted to the point where it resembles the European and Japanese markets; so quality is more important and the more efficient (higher quality) the manufacturing process the more successful the company will be. However US automakers refuse to acknowledge that, instead chasing the easy buck (SUVs, trucks) instead of investing for the future. Now that quality is more important, high fuel costs have leveled the playing field and their market shares are smaller their products and manufacturing processes are no longer competitive with imports. They have too much capacity that costs too much to maintain.

Japanese carmaker's biggest problem right now is expansion. Because the human link in their chain controls the quality they cannot rapidly expand without stretching that resource thin (fixed number of people, increasing number of cars). All of Toyota's plants worldwide are running at or over peak capacity; so it's natural for quality to suffer slightly as more cars are going through the system than it was designed to handle.

But everything is changing; US automakers are finally taking quality seriously; Japanese automakers are learning there are limits to the rate they can expand; and Europeans are getting better at lean production. BMW can offer Japanese style efficiency with the ability to customize each car; not even Toyota can do that. And the Chinese and Koreans are still something of a wild card.

European and Asian carmakers also historically have exported a much larger percentage of cars then US automakers; so they are more attuned to the changes in the world markets because a big percentage of their production depends on it being successful in other markets.

Like Darwin said; adaptability is the name of the game. I'm not sure I would count anybody out just yet.

(wow that's longwinded :) )

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The inexorable decline of US auto manufacturers is just a reflection of the larger picture of the US moving to a service based economy and away from manufacturing. Moreover, the pressure from Wall Street to “make the numbers” goes against the idea of foregoing short term profits to invest in the future. A case in point is the infatuation US auto makers had with making the gas hogging but profitable SUV’s. Any economist will tell you that the world is closer to a situation where we reach peak oil production than not. Of course, that means scarcity in the long term. If one knew that, why would one choose to make profits from selling SUV’s that would be at best temporary rather than to invest in something that reflects the new reality of scarcity? The problem with US auto makers, and quite frankly our country in general, is short term non strategic thinking.

I’m old enough to remember when we used to laugh as Japanese nick knacks and trinkets. We used to call them cheap imitations of the “good stuff”. The roles are now reversed, especially as applied to US auto makers.

Well put! :cheers:

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