CC Capsule: Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL W126 – Imagine

I’ve never met the owner of this car, but I might as well be the owner of this car.  You’re about to encounter a fair bit of snark in this post, but believe me, I can relate to this kid.

Can’t you just smell the optimism?

I think he and I probably have much in common, such as a certain taste for the finer things in life, or what used to be finer things, at least.

Like this 420 SEL, for example.

Sure, you can blather on about “German Engineering” and attention to detail and the fact that this car’s American contemporaries where still rather large, broughamly piles of crap, but none of that is why the person who I imagine bought this car bought this car.

No, I’d bet you a lunch at Burger King that the owner of this car bought this puppy for the hood ornament.

THAT hood ornament.  Lord knows we like a good one, and that, my friends, is a good one.

People who drive old, clapped-out beaters and attend community college are of two sorts, mostly: young high school graduates just stepping out into the world, and older jerks like me, who stepped out long ago and want to step back in some other direction.

No, this car isn’t owned by anyone who has ever had their clock cleaned by an aging German luxury car before.  This car, I contend, is owned by a kid who doesn’t (yet) know any better.  A dreamer.  An optimist!  Just like the optimist I was the time I bought my first old Lincoln and before having my soul stomped to a fine talc-like powder to be scattered into the wind by a wheezy, ticking heater blower motor.

Of course, this Benz’s kid is an optimist with pretty good taste in mid-’80s import sedans, if I may add, but also one with a world of potential financial pain lurking just around the corner with every odd mechanical or electrical failure.

As awful as my first Town Car was in so many ways, it always took me wherever I wanted to go.  I’d be afraid to ask the kid if he’s had the same luck with this once-mighty big S.  On the other hand, as a Volkswagen technician I learned that owners of unreliable German automobiles are able to equivocate their cars’ myriad failures at a level that even the most felonious politicians could salute.

Yes, perhaps the owner knows a fellow student across campus in enrolled in the auto body classes.  This car’s body is actually pretty straight, and maybe if you could just cut that top layer of faded paint just right with a buffer…

…and if he could just get the console-mounted cell phone working, it would add a just-right retro touch, and the car is pre-wired for that hot stereo to be installed any day now. Also, being an S-Class, it features a steering wheel fit for a steamship with a high-tech airbag.  (This car did not seem to have a passenger-side airbag, therefore leading me to believe it is a 1985 model.)

Yes, just a bit more buffing is needed back here, better grab that more aggressive compound for the roof.  What size speakers did you say go in the rear shelf?  (On second hand, when did Merc add the 3rd brake light to their cars?)

I almost always like tasteful ducktail spoilers as featured by this body kit.  Was this a factory aero package?  Does it have any special significance?  Surely the readers will know.  As I write this, my mind’s eye briefly attempted to substitute an early, maroon Taurus SHO here.

Yes, I’d say he’s a dreamer

But he’s not the only one

I hope some day you will join us

So you can drive us to AutoZone