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Mercedes-Benz: Classic and performance range review

Mercedes-Benz: Classic and performance range review Classic and Performance Car
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Mercedes-Benz is generally acknowledged as being the world’s first automobile company, the three pointed star has its roots dating way back to 1886 with Karl Benz’s invention of the first petrol powered internal combustion automobile. The Daimler Motor Corporation which built their Mercedes brand of automobiles starting in 1901 collaborated on numerous ventures with Benz and through this the Mercedes-Benz automobile company was formed in 1926. 
Since these early days Mercedes-Benz has always been a company that thrives on innovation and strives for excellence, it has remained steadfastly at the forefront of automotive design and in the process produced some industry leading automobiles. From the early racers that trialled developmental technologies on the track to a range of peerless luxury passenger cars, Mercedes has lead the way. Introducing dozens of game changing technologies along the way the brand remains one of the leading automotive brands to this day.
Buying a classic Mercedes
There have been numerous historically significant Mercedes’ over the years, one of the first, the 1928 SSK sports car was designed by none other than Ferdinand Porsche just before he moved on to start his own company. This two door convertible featured a supercharged 300bhp 7.1L inline 6 cylinder engine and became one of the most successful racers of its era. With fewer than 40 built only 5 are thought to have survived, being so influential to so many subsequent Mercedes designs is reflected in the value of one that sold at auction in 2004 for £4 000 000. 
With road cars like the 500K which debuted in 1934 and the updated 540K, Mercedes firmly established itself as a manufacturer of some of the finest luxury automobiles in the world. Featuring an optional supercharger, advanced suspension design and bespoke coachwork they set the standards in their day and the remaining cars from the combined production run of around 760 are highly valued with a recent example fetching £9m in 2012.
At the other end of the automotive spectrum, 1936 saw the introduction of the world’s first diesel powered passenger car, the 260D. Producing 45bhp from its 2.5L 4-cylinder engine it could manage a heady 59mph, more importantly it consumed far less fuel than its petrol powered stablemates and was the precursor to many more diesel powered passenger vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz W196 Formula One car was another extremely successful race car, winning the 1954-55 world championships and debuting some very advanced technology such as mechanical fuel injection that was to find its way into the 300SL road car a year later. The only W196 in private hands and not owned by the Mercedes-Benz museum was auctioned for the not inconsiderable sum of £ 20M in 2013 indicating how historically significant these models are. 
With Mercedes withdrawing globally from all forms of racing due to a tragic accident at Le Mans in 1955, their full focus turned to the luxury passenger car market. This era saw the introduction of the aforementioned 300SL, a 160mph technological tour-de-force with a stunning body and very distinctive gullwing doors. Convertible versions forego those doors but are the better handlers and values for both versions can reach as high as £ 3 500 000. The lower spec 190SL introduced two years later is somewhat more affordable but there is hope for those on a tighter budget as there are still affordable models to be found in subsequent SL ranges. 
The luxury saloon fan looking for a Mercedes from the 60s and 70s is also well catered for, from the bullet proof W123 E-class variants that still circle the globe as million mile taxis, to the 6.9L 450 SEL which was arguably the world’s first super saloon, featuring ABS braking for the first time in a passenger car. This was probably a good idea seeing as it weighed 4200 pounds and had over 280bhp at its disposal. Its precursor the 300 SEL was another memorable car, capable of 142mph it is the spiritual forefather to today’s fire breathing AMG creations. The S-Class also made its debut in 1965 and for those looking for the last word in opulence the Mercedes-Benz 600 with a 6.3L V8, hydraulically operated everything and a very limited production run of 2677 units was a favourite amongst celebrities and dictators alike.
Buying a modern Mercedes
The modern era of Mercedes began in the mid 1980s, with growing competition from rivals both in Germany and abroad as well as an economy reeling from the 70s oil crisis it was decided that a more youthful image and focus on efficient engines would help grow market share. To this end the W124 E-Class featured a polarising modern new body shell and introduced a range of fuel injected power plants including the world’s fastest turbo diesel estate, the 300TD. The 190E meanwhile took the fight to the compact executive class. The 2.3-16 Cosworth, initially with 185bhp was the first in a long line of powerful compact saloon cars, a segment not visited by Mercedes until this point. Values are on the rise with mint examples worth £ 20 000 and more. 
The period around the turn of the century saw the Mercedes Benz range grow exponentially from the core C,E and S class to SUVs, shooting brakes and compact MPVs and convertibles all vying for attention. The late 90s also saw the burgeoning range of performance Mercedes vehicles being amalgamated under the AMG brand leading to a myriad of AMG variants which are now represented in most segments from the compact A45 to the evergreen G wagon. The extreme Black Series cars push the performance envelope even further.
Customers demand for more power and luxury saw Mercedes introduce the SLR supercar in 2003. Jointly developed with McLaren automotive it reintroduced the iconic gullwing doors and featured a luxurious cockpit from which to appreciate its 626bhp 5.4L supercharged V8. Values today can range up to £ 400 000 for the limited edition 722 Stirling Moss editions.
The SLS which followed was Mercedes’ own design and perhaps a more direct 300SL successor, the 6.2L V8 which has featured in so many AMG cars was at its most powerful in this iteration producing up to 622bhp. The latest in the range, the AMG GT returns to traditionally hinged doors and a smaller more efficient turbocharged engine but its swooping lines and searing performance are still at the cutting edge amongst contemporary sportscars.
In amongst all this horsepower extreme comfort and opulence still remains a core Mercedes value and cars like the new S-Class and SL continue to lead the field.
While the majority of Mercedes-Benz products have a deserved reputation for being over engineered and long lasting there was a marked drop in quality from around 1996 to 2005, cars with air suspensions and complex electronics should also be approached with caution as maintenance costs can be prohibitive. In general however, the build quality and longevity of a Mercedes means that even decades old vehicles can be pressed into daily use as long as they have been regularly maintained. 
Values of older Mercedes models generally tend to rise as demand for clean, well maintained cars is always strong. SLs have always tended to gain in value once they have reached a certain age and some well used Pagoda SLs are now trading for over £50,000. Of course getting into the market at the right time can make all the difference and there are a number great cars out there from comfy old cruisers to flame spitting sports cars to choose from. 
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Last updated: 24th Jul 2016
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  • MERCEDES-BENZ SLK 1.8 SLK200 Kompressor 2dr Auto

    £7,495 £7,495

    Type: Used Year: 2006 Make: MERCEDES-BENZ Model: SLK Trim: 1.8 SLK200 Kompressor 2dr Auto Body: Convertible Trans: Automatic Mileage: 41000 Engine Size: 1796 Ext Color: Silver

    • Mileage: 41000 mi
    • Engine size: 1796
    For sale
    £7,495 £7,495
    Purser & Luxford
    01480802651 View contact number