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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

These two affordable classics reveal '80s America and Germany at their best

Car magazines and car TV shows are filled with the stuff of dreams. In fact, popular media would lead you to believe that our entire hobby is devoted to ultra-expensive rolling sculpture.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/magazine-features/these-two-affordable-classics-reveal-80s-america-and...
74 REPLIES 74
Smilodon
Detailer

No sir, they are not.
Smilodon
Detailer

No, sir. Not all.
JBaguley
Intermediate Driver

The Benz is kind of kitschy cool, particularly the pillarless hardtop in side view, reminiscent of original Camaros, Challengers and the like. The triple-headlamps in the Pontiac are unique certainly, I don't recall seeing them back in the day. But the Pontiac style still reminds me of the cars my grandfather drove. I miss him, but not his cars.
SAG
Instructor

Stuck in the late 60's I guess.
SAG
Instructor

reading the posts _
Too many "Millennial's" out there.
Clue less as they are.
Ha
I favor the Mercedes 300TD as a off-beat collectable.
stage-boss
Pit Crew

I bought a new black with silver lower trim 85 STE. I was delighted with the car and owned it for close to 20 years. I was happy to see American cars being able to compete with the euro sedans of the day. My wife drove it for most of that time. Both daughters came home from the hospital in the car and both learned to drive in the car. Good times.
Ajakeski
Detailer

I pick neither
RW68RSConv
Detailer

I was going to comment but @hyperv6 said everything perfectly.
tigercat
Detailer

Which would I pick? Neither were the sportiest or fastest of their time which was a low point in automobile style, power and manufacturing. so given the choice I choose neither.
964c4
Detailer

The W124 was an awesome vehicle. We will probably not see another vehicle platform that well executed and robust again.
Mauresque
New Driver

My employer stipulated GM company cars with a fairly modest price ceiling. As a rabid car guy the prospect of driving a Chev Citation, or a Buick of any kind, was terrifying. Voila the Pontiac STE - it looked like a sports car, or at least looked different from anything my spinster aunt might drive, and in '87 could be ordered with a 5 speed manual. The reality: it was better than my aunt's Citation, but by no measure a sports car. The styling cues, it's key feature, were added next year to the down-market SE. As for the 5 speed - the box was fine, but the clutch felt like it was sourced from a Renault Dauphine. On the plus side my daughter having learned to drive in the STE was never intimidated by any manual gearbox.
Smilodon
Detailer

And really, you gotta love the fighter plane red lit dash. All my buds, especially those that, ah, smoked, loved my Bonney's red lit dash. Truth? I wish my '04 GTO had this. Sigh.
2013GSVETTE
Intermediate Driver

pontiac was a great brand i had a 1986 grand prix that i bought new with a 3.8 v-6 it lasted 32 years with over 300.000 miles on it until the frame rotted out which i still drove and then finally the fuel pump went. i drove that car until it died i got my moneys worth out of it for sure even though i ended up having a five year loan after trading in used 84 escort gt lemon **bleep** box that i bought because of the gas crisis back then and still had a loan on so they tacked on the difference. i still remember my payment after the purchase of the pontiac 322.78 a month back in 86 i probably could of bought a vette for that much money. it still looked nice with the two tone paint pontiac stock mags even though the door panels rotted out from the bottom and were flapping in the wind and under the chrome trim the body panels were rotted which was hidden even though they coated the car with rusty jones at the dealer. one thing the interior was mint after all those years. a lot of memories in that car with being out of high school for 8 years after i bought my only new car in my life. rest in piece in that junk yard crusher, when cars where cars. it died in 2018 and i now have my 2013 grand sport corvette that i got from the chevy dealer used hopefully it will out live that car.
HuaracheGarage
Pit Crew

I have a couple mercedes, one from 97 and one from 85. The 97 c class is a daily driver, been maintained well since new. Service costs are not excessive, although parts can be expensive, MB parts seem to be very well made. I probably invest less than $500 per year - sometimes 0, sometimes 1500, but on average about that. IT has about 175k miles, still looks new and drives with a very safe and sure feeling. I don’t get the same feeling in new cars. The MB has a perfect balance of power and road holding. Both of them have this quality. The 85 is retired from daily service but could step in at a moments notice and be fine. At 210k it also shows no sign of slowing down and is a joy to drive. These cars earned their reputation for reliability and quality, and while I agree the earlier car was built like a tank compared to the 97, the 97 is still really solid which should tell you something about the 85. So my choice here would be the MB, with a good maintenance history and excellent care. I understand the draw of the Pontiac though. To each his own. Just drive what you like, take care of it and it’ll treat you right.
Eddie1
Intermediate Driver

I have an 87 124 Euro model. Manual windows, manual climate controls and a five speed manual transmission. Very solid car . Also a 1983 123 model. Both diesels . My friend is an auto mechanic specializing in German cars. New MB,s and BMW,s? I can always hear him muttering" Who designed this junk?! The accountants thats who!"
Bill70
New Driver

Have you forgotten the 80’s Mercury cougar xr7. That car had a very unique style that still catches a eye when it is on the road. A true 80’s classic
Luth84
New Driver

I am surprised with the W124, and 215k miles that it does not have the milage badge.
RJ
Detailer

My only MB car was a '62 220S - four on the tree, carbs, points ignition. I bought it very cheap from an AMC dealer's back row. Rusty as the devil, but went down the road perfectly. Sitting on nice leather, watching that star proceed you as you drove, smoothing out the not-so great roads - very nice. The romance ended when the rust kept the rear doors from opening.
Eddie1
Intermediate Driver

Rust is the killer of my 1983 MB w123 . It rides as solid as a tank after all these years but there is rust and it pains me. I never bought into the " lease it and get rid of it" idea. After two marriages I realized I was more attached to the car and the concept of leasing would be better suited for any potential new brides.
coop
Intermediate Driver

Seriously which would I pick? the Benz. This (for the Pontiac), "six headlights, two-tone paint, alloy wheels, and suede interior caused a sensation " says all you need to know...and it's perhaps downhill from there.
Smilodon
Detailer

I always liked the 6000 awd. The Benz goes without saying. I really wish the awd system from the 6000 could have translated into the new for '94 Bonneville. I bought mine used in 1998, with 86xxx miles. It had the most basic mouse fur split bench, shift on the column spec, and was lacking the Pontiac Plastic cladding, but had foglamps and the indestructible 3.8 V6. It was painted in a colour that I can only describe as "cardboard beige metallic"- I could make the Bonny look just washed by cleaning the glass. In Grand Forks, ND, without a block heater and always parked outdoors, the Bonny could sit 3 days in well below zero temps and fire instantly. The colour and brand made me invisible on the highway, ran 90+mph often (old man car), never got tagged, much less ticketed. When I traded Bonny for a 3.8 Monte Carlo Z34, it had 382xxx miles with no issues and only normal wear items replaced. Rust finally ate the floors. I wanted to weep. As a front wheel drive car, it was brilliant. As an awd, I'd have put new floors in and kept the faith.
CTerlizzi
New Driver

I had an '86 300 E and a '91 300 SE. The 300 E had 160k on the clock and had a blown head gasket as well as an evaporator leak in the AC. I spent a fortune to get the AC repaired - had to disassemble the entire dashboard to replace the evaporator. All work was done by MB and the AC never worked properly once the work was done. The exterior paint had oxidized from sitting outside all the time. I sold it to a mechanic for $1,500 in 2002. The '91 had a 180k on the chassis and a factory rebuilt engine and trans. It needed a head gasket and countless other suspension and body related repairs including AC. At one time it was even leaking exhaust into the cabin. I spent a fortune basically rebuilding the car including recovering and repairing the seats only to junk it with 330k on the clock. Concurrently, I had a new 2002 Lincoln LS that now has 170k on the clock, but which looks and drives fine at a fraction of the cost of the 300 SE. I have given up on classic MB cars even though they seem to be ubiquitous,
Ty
Intermediate Driver

I have a W212 E350 4Matic presently. I positively love my body style E versus the latter generations. I am also a huge fan of the 1996-2002 E. Long way around the subject, I did not like the body E in this article. And I loved the 1987-91 and 1992-1999 BONNEVILLE SSE(and -I) but didn't care for any iteration of the 6000. So I suppose I would pick neither and save my funds for something I actually like!
SilentService
Pit Crew

We purchased a 1986 STE used in 1988. Was a family hauler for many years and then passed on to our son while he was in college. Lord only know how many beer kegs were transported in the back.
He also delivered pizza for a year and basically drove the wheels off it. Great car, terrific handling, full gauge set, the whole package. Only problem was the fuel pump which GM located in the gas tank for some reason. Several failures, and expensive to replace. Finally sold it in 2000 with 153K miles on it (a lot back in those days). It's on my list of favorite cars over the years.
LoneWolfnoClub
Pit Crew

No such "thing" as an inexpensive German vehicle....period. As the previous owner of 2 Porsche, 3MBs and 3 BMWs, I have moved on. Also, the driver attitudes reflect less than courtesy on the road and their "pinkie" in the air persona is a constant turn-off. OK, I'm ready for your vitriol, Fritz....