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Mercedes-Benz is no newcomer to the automotive world. From creating what many consider the first "practical" automobile to its current role as EV innovator and gatekeeper of the luxury experience, there's been more than a few notable stops along the way. Below you'll find a selection of icons from Mercedes-Benz history that left their mark on the brand and the automotive world at large whether through styling, technical innovation, standard of luxury, or all three rolled into one. 

Classic Icons



The W186 was built in three variants, the 300a, 300b, and 300c, between 1951 and 1957. Nicknamed "The Adenauer" after the first Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, The W186 was the highest-end luxury vehicle of its day, preferred by statesmen and business leaders alike. The Adenauer provided the latest in automotive technology and, borrowing heavily from the many innovations of the famed 300SL Gullwing, out-paced its rivals in both performance and quality.  After 1957, the W186 was replaced by the 300d variant, built on the larger W189 Chassis. The W189 was replaced in 1962 by the 600 Pullman "Grand Mercedes", and eventually led to the rebirth of the Maybach brand, which continues to release high-end luxury sedans and limos today. 


W186 300 | The Adenauer | 1951-1957


W120/121 | The Ponton | 1953-1962

The W120 and the other so-called "Ponton" models comprised nearly 80% of Mercedes-Benz sales during the first six years of production from 1953-1959 and introduced a modern look compared to the pre-World War II design of the W136. The vehicles occupied the entry to mid-level side of the market, with the 300 Adenauer series taking the luxury sector, and, featuring smaller engines, a lower price-point, and a number of diesel variants, were used extensively as taxis and daily drivers in Germany throughout the 50s and 60s.  Despite being produced for nearly a decade, the external design of the vehicle changed very little as time went by but finally gave way to newer tastes of the mid-to-late sixties with development of the fintails. The W120 was produced from 1953-1962 when it was succeeded by the revolutionary W110.   



W198 300SL | The Gullwing | 1954-1963

The W198, or 300SL "Gullwing", is one of the most iconic and important vehicles from all of automotive history. Both a luxury tourer and a high-performance marvel, the W198 introduced countless innovations to the automotive industry and is credited with reinventing the Mercedes-Benz image. Inspired by the famed W194 race car, the W198 was the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle largely produced and marketed for the booming post-war American market, and with 80% of the production volume sold to the US, proved to be a successful and influential gamble for the company. Introducing such technological innovations as direct fuel injection, the 300SL became the benchmark for high-performance automobiles, and the timeless styling, along with never-before-seen Gullwing doors, made it a must-have status symbol for the wealthy. The original coupe, The Gullwing, was produced until 1957 when Mercedes-Benz released the 300SL Roadster (with a convertible roof), which was produced until 1963. Following the W198 Roadster, the SL-Class began to focus on luxury and comfort over performance, and was followed up by the still iconic, yet much more subdued W113 230SL Pagoda. Due to its innovations, iconic styling, and importance to automotive history, the W198 is one of the most collectible cars on the market today, with auction prices regularly reaching $1-2 Million.

CURRENT VALUE: $1-2Milllion   HIGH: $6.8M


W111/108/109 | The Fintail | 1959-1971

Mercedes-Benz made its mark on the luxury market in the post-World War II era with the Adenauer's, but it was the Pontons that truly brought Mercedes-Benz to the masses. However, in 1956 a replacement was needed and development began on the W111. Featuring a larger interior and better visibility, as well as the first crumple zones and the introduction of the retractable seatbelt, the W111 series brought safety and comfort to the market, while various engine options brought surprising performance for a vehicle of its size and stature. Released in 1959, the W111 was nicknamed the "Fintail", due to the characteristic American-style fins on the rear, but as the 60s began fintails fell out of fashion and by 1961, with the release of the coupe and cabriolet, the fintails had been reduced and almost entirely removed from the design. A smaller, 4-cylinder version, with the same body, was released as the W110 in 1961, while a luxury edition dubbed the W112 was released in 1962. The W111 was credited for rebuilding the Mercedes-Benz brand, developing greater outreach and sales, achieving economy of scale production, and for bringing the entire Mercedes-Benz family onto one vehicle platform. The W111 Sedan was built from 1959-1968 and the Coupe and Cabriolet from 1961-1971, when it was replaced in the lineup by the W108.



W113 | The Pagoda | 1963-1971

The W113, or Pagoda, was manufactured from 1963-1971 as the 230SL, 250SL, and 280SL and was the follow-up to the famed W198 Gullwing and its little brother, the W121 190SL. Due to the low power output of the W121 and the prohibitive price of the W198, the developement of the W113 focused on increasing performance at a lower price-point while continuing to introduce technological innovations in style, comfort and safety. Initially developed under the 220SL name, the W113 looked for increased power from an inline-six engine and  was the first sports car with a "safety body" based on Bela Barenyi's extensive research into vehicle safety. The 230SL made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963, the 250SL, with a slightly larger engine, started production in 1966, and the 280SL rounded out production of the W113 from 1967-1971. The defining feature of the W113 was the controversial concave or "pagoda" hardtop, which eventually led to its iconic nickname. Both an eye-cathcing design and an innovative solution to safety issues, the "pagoda" top quickly emerged as a distinctive feature of the W113 and is now seen as a masterpiece in automotive design. The W113 was replaced in 1971 by the R107 and C107, which became Mercedes-Benz second longest running series. The W113 is now highly collectible in the classic market and has seen astronomical growth in auction prices over the last decade with the best examples fetching more than $200,000.



W114/115 | The Stroke Eight | 1968-1976

The W114 and W115 were the first truly new models of the so-called "New Generation" of Mercedes-Benz vehicles and were the first post-war models produced by Mercedes-Benz to use a completely new chassis not derived from previous vehicles. Released in 1968, and popularly referred to as the "/8" or "Strich Acht" (stroke eight) due to the production year, the W114/W115 filled the slot just below the flagship S-Class series and quickly became a mainstay throughout the world. Known for being a very durable car, the W114/W115 were used both as private vehicles and for utility, with a wide variety of applications from taxis to ambulances thanks to its many options and variations. The vehicle also broke technological ground by being the first to offer Bosch's "D-Jetronic" electronically controlled fuel injection system and, featuring the now ubiquitous three-box design, made new marks in terms of passenger safety and driving dynamics. With nearly 2 million vehicles produced and used throughout the world, some still on the road today, the Stroke EIght has become an icon of the classic market while also representing the utilitarian qualities that made the Mercedes-Benz brand essential to life in post-war Europe. The W114/W115 was produced from 1968-1976 in many styles and variations and was replaced in 1976 by the W123.



W123 | Pre E-Class | 1968-1976

The W123 replaced the iconic "Stroke Eight" in 1976 and became the most successful Mercedes-Benz model to date throughout its nine year run with over 2.5 million models produced. Within a year of its release, demand for the W123 outstripped availability with some waiting lists extending over a year, and a black market sprung up providing lightly used models for high above the original asking price. The model included safety innovations such as anti-lock brakes, retractable steering column, and airbags as well as technological options such as power windows, central locking, air conditioning, and cruise control. Various engine options and a variety of body styles made the W123 a truly universal vehicle, and the durability, with current examples regularly exceeding 250,000 miles, helped establish an image of quality Mercedes-Benz enjoyed throughout the 70s and 80s . A coupe version was introduced in the Spring of 1976 while the Estate, the first factory-produced Mercedes-Benz estate in company history, was released in 1978 under the "T" or "Touring and Transport" model designation. In 1982 the line received a minor facelift, with rectangular headlights replacing the quad-circle headlights reminiscent of past models. Production of the W123 ended in 1985 when it was replaced by the W124, the first generation to officially be called the "E-Class."



R107 | SL-Class | 1971-1989

The R107 was released in 1971 as a replacement for the iconic W113 Pagodas, and became Mercedes-Benz third longest running series following the G-Class and the Unimog. Accompanied by the nearly identically-styled C107 dubbed the SLC, a 4-seater which replaced the W111 Coupe the same year, the R107 SL and SLC Class took the chassis components from the "New Generation" W114 and mated them with the V8 engines from the W108, W109, and W111 series. The R107 and C107 were one of Mercedes-Benz' biggest successes in the North American market with 2/3 of the production run making their way to the states. Due to regulations, however, The U.S. spec models featured a number of additional safety features, such as extended bumpers, reduced engine power, and a different headlight design, which created a grey market for imported Euro-spec models. The high-production numbers of the R107, the most for any SL-Class to this day, alongside its ubiquity within the U.S., have made the market slow to embrace this emerging classic, however as more and more high-mileage examples are used for parts, prices will only continue to rise. With good examples available for less than $40K, and many others for FAR less, the R107 is an affordable and findable first step into the classic market that doesn't leave too many comforts of the modern world behind.



W116 | The S-Class | 1973-1980

The W116 officially kicked off the flagship S-Class for Mercedes-Benz. Although previous luxury sedans from the company were internally dubbed Sonderklasse or "special class", the W116 was the first vehicle to officially take the now famous designation. Released in 1972, the W116 began development in 1966, just a year after the release of the W108/09, and immediately set out to replace the dated look with new, updated Mercedes-Benz styling. Taking cues from the R107 Roadster, the W116 introduced more masculine and aggressive lines to the sedan market and brought a performance-oriented character to the luxury segment. In 1974 the 450 SE was named the European Car of the Year and in 1975, after originally being offered with 2.8-3.5L I6 or V8 engines, Mercedes-Benz went even further and released the high-performance 450 SEL 6.9 in limited numbers, immediately becoming the definition of high-quality luxury and performance for Mercedes-Benz with prices nearly rivaling Rolls-Royces of the day. Nearly half a million W116s were produced throughout its eight year run and in 1979, the vehicle was replaced by the W126 in the Mercedes-Benz lineup. While the vehicle is highly regarded in both quality and performance, its relative youth (still considered a "youngtimer") as well as production numbers keep most W116s around the $15-20K mark, however the best examples of the much rarer 6.9 can go for over $60K at the right auction.



W124 | The E-Class | 1986-1997

The W124 is the first generation of Mercedes-Benz vehicle to officially be called "The E-Class", taking the mid-level area of the market just below the W126 and above the W201. The W124 is considered one of the best examples of quality German Engineering, with one notable example exceeding two million miles, and awards given to vehicles that reach certain mileage milestones. The W124 also brought many technological and design innovations for the time. It was one of the most aerodynamically advanced production vehicles of the day leading to better fuel efficiency and less in-cabin wind noise, and, with the addition of oxygen sensors paired with a semi-electronic fuel injection system, the W124 was able to adjust its engine efficiency in-drive while also passing stricter emissions regulations. In 1987 Mercedes-Benz introduced their 4matic four-wheel drive system on the W124, now an option available across the Mercedes-Benz lineup. Over 2.5 million W124s were built in various body styles from sedans to estates, coupes, cabriolets and even limos. The W124 was built from 1985-1996 when it was replaced by the W210, although various companies throughout asia and indonesia continued building models based on the W124 until 2000. With its durability, timeless styling, and relatively cheap entry price for the classic market, the W124 is highly sought after by enthusiasts of the era, although its high production numbers suggest only the rarest models will approach the value of other classics from the Mercedes-Benz family.



R129 | SL-Class | 1990-2002

The R129 brought the SL-Class into a new era with updated styling and the introduction of a number technological and engineering upgrades.  Introduced at the Geneva Auto Show in 1989 as a replacement for the now-dated R107, the R129 was based on a shortened version of the W124 chassis and also took design and styling cues, such as headlight and taillight design, from the newly dubbed "E-Class", providing the first major design change for the SL-Class in nearly 20 years. On top of the updated look, the R129 featured a number of technological innovations such as ADS, an extending roll-over bar, modern multi-link suspension, and an aluminum hardtop. Throughout its run many traditional components, such as odometer and thermometer, were changed to digital readouts, while 1995 brought a portable phone with voice-activated dialing as an option. In 1992, Mercedes-Benz released a 600SL with an available V12 while other models were fitted with I6, V6 or V8 engines. The R129 was produced until 2000, when it was replaced by the R230. With relatively high production numbers for the SL-Class, the R129 is a highly affordable option when looking to enter the classic or young-timer market. For the price of a bottom-of-the-barrel W113 you could easily find yourself cruising along in a low-mileage R129 with lesser examples available for under $10K.

CURRENT VALUE: $15-20K   HIGH: $188K


W460/461/463 | G-Wagen | 1980-present

The W460 Gelandewagen, or G-Wagen, was Mercedes-Benz longest running series next to the Unimog, beginning development all the way back in 1972 and releasing the final model in 2018. Its long run saw many mechanical and technological changes to various components, but the looks and style, at least on the outside, have remained virtually unchanged for its entire 50 year history. This icon started life as a utility-focused military vehicle, but as its mystique grew and the SUV market took off, the G-Wagen was quickly redefined as a status symbol of the rich and famous.  Despite being perhaps the most iconic luxury SUV available, the G-Class wasn't legally released in the U.S. until 2002, although many grey market examples were brought over by enthusiasts before then. In 2017 Mercedes-Benz announced that the end of the G-Class was coming and released several special edition models, including the massive and extravagant G63 6x6 AMG SUT, to celebrate the end of the run. The 2019 G-Class was released at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show with its most drastic design facelift to date, at the time writing the final chapter on the historic vehicle. Despite initial inklings of ending the G-series, recent announcements have confirmed that the G-wagen will live on in various forms, including an EV and "Baby-G" EV announced in 2023.

CURRENT VALUE: $20-200K (Prices vary widely) HIGH: $1.2M

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