Family life, beautiful as it is, takes its toll on my writing time and before my second child arrives I will try to get some of my archive shots from the last two years out in the CC sphere before I won’t have time to do that. Excuse some of the not so great photography as some pics were snapped from behind the wheel and on some shots, time was a limiting factor in choosing an appropriate frame with my two year old always ready to run off…But hey, here they are: Berlin’s CC outtakes 2019 and 2020, part 1!
Ah, the W201, Baby-Benz, as they are called in here in Germany. This example pimped out in 1980s, well, German-Pimp style, think Koenig Specials. Even the a most disastrous face job like this can’t completely ruin the 190’s clean lines. Although I do prefer the below specimen.
This being the fourth of our family’s cars, I – needless to say – have more than a little weak spot for those. 15 years after I have last been behind the wheel of our venerable 190D 2.0, I have yet to be convinced that there ever was a better set-up for any rear-axle in automotive history. CCommentariat, I wait to stand corrected!
Staying with the Germans, I ran into this beautifully kept 944 next to my son’s default playground, on the last day before it was closed due to Covid-19…What I would give to know if the paint is original, it sure can’t be, but then, miracles happen.
And happen they do. When did you last see someone daily drive his FIRST generation Toyota Corolla? Neither did I.
I can never decide on which generation 5-series is my favourite one. Probably the E12, with the E34 coming in second. What do you think? The E28 is right in the middle, and the 524td is one of its more curious versions. The strange amount of displacement of the M21 apparently stems from the fact that diesel engines in the Italian market at that time were taxed very high when having more than 2.4 litres of displacement, therefore the 524td stayed just below the critical mark.
I live less than a mile from what used to be East Berlin and yet it happens once a year that I spot a car from the other side of the Iron Curtain. Even more strange, the license plate of this Wartburg tells me this car is registered some 300 miles to the west of Berlin…
There is not much that makes me happier than seeing an ordinary car from a long time ago in great shape. It’s been more than a decade that I last saw a Mazda 323 wagon, maybe even longer. Someone has kept this gem not just running, but seemingly spotless. What a joy.
One of my neighbors recently acquired a VR6 Passat wagon from the B4 chassis. Apart from failing clearcoat (red colors seem to be overproportionately affected by this) which was “fixed” with a new coat of black paint on the roof and hood and a questionably yet recently fashionable (in Berlin) pink license plate surrounding, this example has held up rather nicely. The VR6 Passat never sold well in Germany, where the car didn’t enjoy an air of German sophistication like I gather it did in the US. The typical engine here was the venerable EA827 in its 1.8 liter iteration and of course the 1.9 TDI, but those were workhorses that have all but disappeared from the road.
And, to stay in the fam, the B4 Passat’s father, or more like older brother. He hasn’t kept in shape quite as well. Maybe his parents secretly always preferred the younger sibling, calling the B3 a bottom-breather behind its back.
This shot was taken at my favourite car spotting space, a half-legal operation that buys used cars in the sub-3k range from Germany and Eastern Europe and exports them to West Africa. The writing on the windshield in these cars usually give information about the buyer and the port of destination, but I can’t make sense of this one.
And while we are climbing up the family tree…! Look closely and you will find this B2 closer to the red B4 than to the B3 because yes, it is the ultra-rare GL5, with a three speed auto at that. In Germany, it must have had an even lower take rate than the B4 VR6. This is my first one.
An old Saab is always a sight to behold to me, particularly in sedan body-style which is seen very rarely around these parts.
It’s not a great angle, but what can you do if your son is tired and hungry and it’s still a two mile walk back home from the park because you thought it was a good idea to walk…The only ZX from the generation that I have seen in Berlin in 15 years.
Old ordinary wagons! Nothing will warm my heart quite like them. Nissan Bluebird Traveller, “three quarter view”.
Who ever said the W210 wasn’t quite as well put together as its predecessor?
And back to old wagons! Unlike the E30 who has been shown some love lately from enthusiasts and easily will break 10k if properly cared for (and sporting an M20 under the hood), the E36 wagon is in a super dead spot of the market right now and with the very few examples still on the street, this examples proves just that. While enthusiasts’ interest is mostly focused on early coupes, M3s and convertibles, the E36 wagon asks more questions than it answers – for most people, that is. I find it so awkward and lovable, I was two feet away from buying one when I got my 94 Toyota Carina wagon in 2016 – if only there were any nice examples left.
And to finish off, two Americans in the mix.
I’m fairly certain the Corolla from above would fit in the trunk of this one. Who will identify the exact year for me?
Can you explain what causes cars to rust sometimes relatively quickly in Germany?
In 1982 I rode in a taxi from the Frankfort Airport. It was a Mercedes which I guessed was about 6 years old. I was shocked to see that it had rather extensive rust and anticipated that it would not be a pleasant ride. However, inside at speeds in excess of 120 k.p.h. it was very impressive. However, I still cannot understand how it would have rusted so soon.
In case of the W210 pictured above, cost cutting measures at Mercedes caused these cars to rust.
In general, rust is no longer a big deal here with progresses in manufacturing. It definitely used to be. Salt on the roads during the winter time played an important role in that.
Also, on the W210 I think the paint was “improved” – water based.
In the US new environmental regulations resulted in lower Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emitting auto paint, maybe water based, around then. Not just the clear coat but all of it down to the primer often eventually peeled.
On my ten year old 1988 Horizon the roof only started to peel. It hadn’t even lived in a sunny location. I poured soapy water on it to encourage the process and using a plastic scraper eventually got the whole roof peeled. At the time Walmart had big cheap cans of metallic spray paint labeled “Truck and RV” and one of the not that many colors was very close to Chrysler light metallic blue. Problem solved.
Obviously DuPont or whoever later figured out the paint peeling problem.
There is something wrong with me because it’s the Plymouth station wagon that excites me the most. They did a very good job styling the rear end. And I love the colour. Alas, don’t know the exact year.
It’s a 1971. The body changed for ’72, but the vent windows were dropped for this year so it’s possible to tell without being able to see the front.
It’s a 1971, as made clear by the deletion of the small vent windows from the front doors. If they’d been present, it would have been a 1970 model.
(The full-size Chrysler products were new for 1969 and had standard crank-operated or powered vent windows, except for two-door coupes with air conditioning. The 1971 models lost them across the board, for cheapness and style reasons, but then manually operated ones became available as optional equipment on four-door cars from 1972 to 1978. I miss them.)
I can’t imagine fueling that barge at EU petrol prices. They were challenging that way in the US.
Great collection here! I like seeing those Mercedes and BMWs in their natural habitat, but of course some cars look vastly out of place in a German city, and for me that 280ZX looks every bit as misplaced in Berlin as the Plymouth wagon. I picture those ZX’s as being a phenomenon of American suburbs. This one looks in great shape, though, quite a find.
The 524td was extremely uncommon here in the US. Oddly, in one of the auto world’s strangest partnerships, there were Lincoln Continentals built in the mid 1980s that used BMW 524td engines. I think about a half-dozen people bought them.
And I really like those 323 wagons — my favorite small wagon from that era.
Here’s a 524td, the only one I’ve ever seen:
It’s been parked at a garage in Seattle for several months. For a while it had expired tabs, and then it got new plates, so presumably the owner has plans for it.
You could use light metallic blue Walmart Truck and RV paint on that one too. Except they don’t have it any more.
I’m liking the B2 Passat, those can’t be getting more plentiful and this one looks remarkably rot-free. And like Eric703, that 323 Wagon is in excellent shape as well and still looks good today.
Behind the B2 (oldest) Passat there is an interesting looking red offroad emergency vehicle. Not a Mercedes/Puch G. But what ís it? Something Italian?
Fiat (Nuova) Campagnola.
Nice! Well worth mentioning in itself, and not exactly a frequent sight on Berlin streets either!
Sometime in the mid-00s I remember reading that 70% of Passats sold in Germany were wagons and the Passat Variant had become the well-optioned F150 of Germany; the go-to car for when you needed to carry a lot of bulky stuff around in your personal vehicle. Is that still the case, and how long before was it?
Your comment made me google around a bit, I found a six year old article. Quote:
Der VW Passat hält Platz eins der Mittelklasse – mit der Besonderheit, dass der Kombi-Anteil extrem hoch ist. „Wer einen Passat als Limousine nimmt, hat ein Wiederverkaufsproblem“, sagt Ferdinand Dudenhöffer. „Das Auto ist ein Nischenprodukt.“
In short: the VW Passat was still Germany’s best selling D-segment car, with an extremely high share for the wagon. So much even, that the Passat sedan has become a niche product with a trade-in problem.
It’s still true to a degree and, as Johannes points out, the Passat Variant on its own is still the best-selling midsize car. However, the market segment as a whole has shrank a lot since the ’00s and even 2014, numerous customers having drifted towards (of course) CUVs. The B3 through B5 Passats were absolutely everywhere, sales started tapering off with the B6, which was A) expensive B) rather large and C) saw competition from MPV and CUV alternatives growing, as well as from Audi from above and Skoda from below.
For perspective, according to the KBA 136.486 new Passats were registered in Germany in 1999, 3 years after the market introduction of the B3. In 2017, when the B8 Passat was 3 years old, only 72.430 were registered there.
The typical customer profile of the Passat is no longer as diverse. In 1994 my parents owned a ’93 Passat Variant, a B3 with the standard 1.8 petrol. When my dad replaced it in 2004, he did have a peek at VW but only drove the Touran (and ended up buying a Toyota Verso). The Passat-sized wagon used to be the typical family car as well as a repmobile, today it’s mostly the latter.
I am surprised that 2-strokes like that Wartburg are still permitted on the road, unless it’s had an engine transplant. Did those get the VW engines like the late-build Trabbis?
As of a few years ago Trabant tours in Berlin were a pretty big tourist deal. I was surprised too. I don’t think they had replacement eco engines, which would kind of ruin the whole thing.
In Germany we have the so called ”H Kennzeichen” which means it is a license plate for cars older than 30 years. They have to meet certain standards like shape and orginality. The annual tax for having a car on the road is so limited to 195 Euro/ year, no matter which engine or how clean it is. For example: My 1975 Oldsmobile 98 with a 455 cui. engine I would have to pay an annual road tax of around 2000 Euos.
The first 190E at the start of this post reminds me of the ads for a place called Stratton that I used to see in “Car” magazine back in the 1980s. Before Mercedes bought AMG, that “SEC front end” was a common upgrade along with the body kit. Now Mercedes puts that big star grille on most of its models, which to my mind makes them look garish.
Particularly when it has the optional back light. Light up Pontiac Indian head hood ornaments and Wolseley grillle badges: cool. Mercedes lit up giant symbol on the grille: super tacky.
I always thought that tacky SEC bonnet “upgrade” obscured the headlamps at least partly. The photo at the top of the post seems to confirms it does. Now, how the heck did the thousands of fifth-owner Benzes that had it pass the TÜV inspection?
It just covers the stock fog light section. Makes the whole mess no less hideous, though.
On a sidenote: Foglights embedded into the headlight cluster aren’t getting much love here. Folks love auxilary light set ups to the point, that higher trim levels and facelifts often recieve the separated fog lights, the base/older models are deprived of.
That gen1 Corolla is an amazing find. I’ve only ever found one in the ten years since I started CC’ing. How it avoided rust is the big question; it must have spent much of its life in a garage.
How fitting that you found a Wartburg, given that its front end inspired the front end of the Nissan Rasheen, in the earlier post today.
I’ll second that on the first gen Corolla. They’ve completely disappeared here in California as well. To me that’s the find of the bunch, though as a car I like the 944 best.
Agreed, Paul, so funny with the Rasheen.
The reason this Corolla is still on the road is probably it’s Serbian license plate. Hearsay has it that Serbian mechanics – for reasons unknown to me – are Europe’s most skilled when it comes to body work.
The last wagon is a 1970 or 1971 Plymouth Fury. ‘69’s had a different bumper, ‘72’s have a different marker light. One can tell the difference between the ‘71 and ‘70 via the branding on the front fender, which appears to be missing. Perhaps someone else knows another way to tell the difference.
I have always loved the Mercedes W201, but regretted there was never a wagon version.
What an assortment. Knowing what I know about the driving dynamics of German cars, someone undoubtedly got some really wide eyes the first time behind the wheel of that 64 Impala.
That ZX is a bit of a rarity in that it is the 2+2 model, which my friends and I used to refer to as “the wagon” because of it’s slightly awkward silhouette. The roof line if this generation of “wagon” is a little better disguised, and can be spotted due to the rear side glass coming to a point instead of (non-Hoffmeister”) kink.
I love (non-Nissan Z) wagons so if no one else wants the the E36 I’ll take it, and I will take the Chrysler wagon to haul it home with.
Had 2 B3 “bottom breather” Passats: ’91 16V 5-speed wagon, and a ’93 1.9 TD sedan. Wagon was super practical, just “right-sized”, huge leg room, back seat folded perfectly flat. Excellent performance and handling. Would love another wagon like that, but they have all but disappeared. There was a bit of a cult for the later B4 TDi wagons.
See Paul’s comprehensive post, Classic Curbside Classic: 1992 VW Passat Wagon (B3) – Practicality Über Alles August 11, 204.