We've Bought A Classic Mercedes, And I'm In Love...

And of course, after taking it for a ride, we have to remove the bugs from the front...
And of course, after taking it for a ride, we have to remove the bugs from the front...

Let’s talk car magazines. I’m only subscribed to one, the auto motor und sport, which is arguably the best one you can get here in Germany - at least when you’re into modern-day cars. My Dad on the other hand is more into classic cars, though, and so he regularly buys the Auto Bild Klassik. And the Oldtimer Praxis. And the Oldtimer Markt. And the Youngtimer magazine. And occasionally the Auto Zeitung Classic Cars. All of which I read as well. So I would say I know quite a bit about old cars - models, brands, specs, restorations, tuning, I’ve read about all of it. But there’s one thing that magazines just can’t transmit: What a classic car actually feels like to drive, and what it’s like to own one.

If there's one thing the W108 isn't, it's "small". It takes up just as much space in our driveway as our 50 years newer BMW 520d...
If there's one thing the W108 isn't, it's "small". It takes up just as much space in our driveway as our 50 years newer BMW 520d...

Both my Dad and my Grand-Dad wanted to own a classic car for quite some time. My Grand-Dad fell in love with them when my father rented a BMW E3 for his birthday, and not long after, they started looking for a classic car whcih they would actually buy. My grand-dad came up with some wild suggestions, including a modified Opel Manta B with golden BBS rims and a sport exhaust which hit all the stereotypes of German automotive culture from the 80s. In the end though, they agreed on a classic Mercedes, and after we came back from our vacation in Croatia, my Dad had a closer look at some potential contenders. A couple of weeks later, he rented a trailer, drove across Germany, and came back at 3 am with our new purchase: This pristine 1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 SE from the W108 generation, which, in case you don’t know, was the predecessor of the first ever S-Class.

A wooden dashboard, an ivory-colored steering wheel with a chrome horn ring, beautiful analog gauges and a classic Becker radio and tape player - it doesn't get any more oldschool than this!
A wooden dashboard, an ivory-colored steering wheel with a chrome horn ring, beautiful analog gauges and a classic Becker radio and tape player - it doesn't get any more oldschool than this!

So, I obviously had to take a ride in it - and the first thing I noticed when getting in the car was the door handle. Unlike on modern cars where you just pull a handle, you have to push surprisingly hard on a chrome button, and then pull the surprisingly thin and light door towards you. Still, despite being a lot thinner than you’d expect, this door has one of the most satisfying closing sounds in car history - very Mercedes-ish, very classic, and very high quality feeling. The next thing I noticed was the seat - it felt like you were sitting on a couple of rather soft springs with a slight cussion above them - super comfortable! I actually prefer these seats over the ones in our two modern cars (Opel Meriva and BMW 520d), believe it or not… They don’t have headrests though, and only the front seats come with seatbelts from factory. The lack of headrests adds a lot to the next impression: It feels like you’re sitting in a fish tank, compared to modern-day cars. The windows are huge and almost vertical, and the pillars are amazingly thin, resulting in a bright and spacious-feeling interior. I really wish new cars would have bigger windows again, it’s a lot better for visibility and makes the interior feel so much nicer. But no, today the windows apparently have to be small slots with black tint and huge pillars surrounding them, so you can look cool in front of your neighbour - whilst almost reversing into his child in the blind spot behind you, without all the fancy camera equipment at least. That’s what I call “progress”…

Get my "fish tank" comparison now? Oh, and yes, that Le Mans sticker is original, and has been on the car for the past 50 years...
Get my "fish tank" comparison now? Oh, and yes, that Le Mans sticker is original, and has been on the car for the past 50 years...

But let’s actually talk about the driving experience now. First of all, I should probably mention that this car has a period-correct sport exhaust, which sounds great in combination with the 150 hp straight-six under the long hood. But even without the sporty exhaust note, the car is obviously a lot louder on the inside than its modern-day equivalents, especially as the engine wants to be revved quite high to deliver all of its power. The noise isn’t too loud though, at least if you stay away from the theoretical top speed of 193 km/h - and, surprisingly, the car doesn’t feel slow at all! When you really go for it, you get pushed into the comfy seat with more force than you’d expect, and on a curvy German country road we managed to shake off an annoying tailgater in a Tiguan with ease.
I made a couple of videos during the ride, this is by far the best recoding of the sound, even though my camera kinda freaked out and forgot how to focus.

My Grand-Dad insisted on paying the car himself, but still, it is a part of our family now. We plan to keep it for a while, drive it whenever we feel like it, maintain it, and fix the couple of minor cosmetic issues it had, like the chipping paint on the front right hubcap. Currently, it is parked in my Grand-Dad’s garage, with his daily, a 2014 Mercedes E-Class Estate, parking in the driveway. This isn’t ideal, as my Grandma’s Opel Corsa is now standing on the street, but as their neighbour just passed away, they might soon be able to rent the garage next doors from his widow.

To finish things off, here’s a gallery with some more shots of our 250 SE:

That’s it for now! What do you think of this car? Comment below!
Tobi aka The Stig’s German Cousin