Classic Sticker Shock: My 1986 Mercedes 300E Cost $87,045 in 2019 Dollars!

If the $83,655 sticker price of yesterday’s reviewed 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 shocks you, it comes across like an absolute bargain compared to what my 1986 W124 300E cost: $87,045, adjusted to 2019 dollars ($36,205 in 1985). Yowza! That’s for a 177hp six cylinder taxi cab, not a 468hp twin turbo artisanal V8 with AWD and every doo-dad known to modern man.

I’ve been beating the drum of how cars are cheaper than they used to be repeatedly here, and this is a graphic example. A 2020 350E starts at $54,050, before the Mercedes-typical big incentives. I’m sure one could be gotten for just under $50k.

I’ve got a couple of other Niedermeyer-mobile examples too.

Of course I would never have shelled out that kind of money to buy the Benz; it was a company car, and they paid the 5 year lease at $500/month (that’s $1200 adjusted). I did buy the 16″ BBS wheels from Tire Rack. And I bought the car at the end of the lease for $13,000 ($26k adjusted), which was well below the stated residual, thanks to Mercedes’ price bubble being popped some by the Lexus LS. I low balled the bank, and they took it, not having to deal with it any further. That was more like it, especially since I sold it for $13,900 privately two years later.

Ah, the good old days; a free car, and then it made me some money too. But then cars are cheaper now, so who’s complaining?

W did buy the 1985 Cherokee with our own money a year earlier, and that was zippy too: $16,000 ($40k adjusted) for a low-trim Pioneer but with a fair number of options (V6, auto, Select-Trac, a/c, and some convenience items). And the bank loan interest rate was in the double digits. the  loan payment was a huge hit every month. I refinanced it after a year with a credit union because rates were coming down.

A 2020 Cherokee starts at $25,700. And there’s undoubtedly incentives on them. If you tried hard, you could probably get one for about one half of what we paid for ours. Of course the prestige factor of a Cherokee in 1985 was vastly higher than one today, as they were new and “hot”.  And that applies to the 300E too; who even wants a new E Class?

And in 1992, we paid a painful $22,000 ($41k adjusted) for a new Grand Caravan, a basic LE but also with a boatload of options, as they tended to come back then and you wanted some of the more desirable features that are of course long standard. And what do Grand Caravans go for in 2020? Some $22-24k in actual transaction prices. Or almost one half of what we paid.

And I paid a whopping $500 for my 1966 F100 back there in 1987; that’s an outrageous $1,138 in today’s money. What was I thinking?

You got any classic sticker shock stories?