Theme: Shutlines – The One Good Thing About the 1995 E-class

It’s taken me two decades to find the one worthwhile detail on the W210: the rear wing of the Estate model is assembled properly.

1995 Mercedes E-class rear quarter. Note the way there is no visible line under the rear lamp.
1995 Mercedes E-class rear quarter. Note the way there is no visible line under the rear lamp.

Recently I was regurgitating some of my thoughts on plastic bumpers. I showed some examples of how manufacturers typically had a visible weld on the extra bit of metal under the rear lamp.  

Here’s how Saab did it:

1994 Saab 900. The little extra panel under the lights is the result of the need to have a shallower pressing. Without it the rear wing would need a deep draft pressing which is complex and expensive.
1994 Saab 900. The little extra panel under the lights is the result of the need to have a shallower pressing. The 9-5 also featured this concept but less awkwardly executed.

And here is where the irritating little line would be if Mercedes had designed the car as was standard practice:

This is where the little extra tab of metal would usually be welded on, leaving a visible line.
This is where the little extra tab of metal would usually be welded on, leaving a visible line.

It’s not that simple though. The tailgate aperture is very wide so the depth of the draw is not as great as perhaps it is on a saloon or other estate cars. The depth of the draw is already governed by the sheet metal above the lamp. So Mercedes were committed to a deep stamping anyway but also to a wide lift-gate aperture to maximise the ease of loading. It made no sense to have a welded tab here.

Ford’s 2000 Mondeo avoids the deep draft by dint of those stacked lamps. But the corner has to be turned below the lamp:

2001 Ford Mondeo: Note the gentle taper of the sideglass.
2001 Ford Mondeo:

And here it is in detail:

2001 F ord Mondeo rear corner. Note the little groove.
2001 F ord Mondeo rear corner. Note the little groove.

What we learn from this is that most manufacturers will avoid deep drafts on their body panels; sometimes the designers ask more than the steel press people can or will manage.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

20 thoughts on “Theme: Shutlines – The One Good Thing About the 1995 E-class”

  1. Sterling work Richard. It’s an advance on ‘at least the wheels are round’, which was about as much as I could muster.

    1. It is. Praise heavens for the blessings of waterborne basecoats!

  2. The W126’s solution to this problem wasn’t exactly shabby, either, I’d say. I for one certainly don’t mind the line, as long as it’s properly aligned.

  3. The A6 (are you talking about the C4?) avoided it by dividing the lamp cluster and pulling the bootlid down to the bumper.
    With the fixed metal strip under the lights and the bootlid ending a bit higher up, I don’t see how the Mercedes’s welding could have been avoided. After all, this is still late seventies. Did we already see divided light clusters back then?

    1. OK, I understand your comment now. So, it’s less about avoiding, but rather concealing. You’re right, in that class of cars, this should be afforded.

  4. I’ve never driven a W126, but I do imagine it’s a great pleasure. It’s one of the few Mercedes I could think of owning (if I had the resources), possibly with hydropneumatic suspension. And I’d gladly accept this little groove along with its timeless and sleek shape.

  5. Agreed, it is a special car and I’d love to test it. Despite that I have a warmer feeling towards a top-spec W-123 as it’s more wieldy. I’d want one in Mimosa yellow or dark metallic blue with the velour interior. That said, I could fully understand the appeal of an early W-126 with brown velour and an orange exterior. Or navy or green.

  6. I see, you like the odd colours just as much as I do. For me, this palette is pure childhood memory.

    I agree, the W123 is very nice, too, and still big enough. It’s a bit more on the baroque side, though, which is why I prefer the W126.

    And yes, velour in a nice colour is first choice. Where do we get that today?

  7. Vive la différence!

    Maybe it’s simply due to my own vintage (1983), but to me, the W126 was always that most clinical and sober of executive barges, which is why I always preferred the facelifted S in dark colours. All those images of convoys consisting of black 126s from the late 80s and early 90s have certainly left an impression on my younger self, which is why I’ll always associate this S-class with a pleasing sense of uniformity. Hence I’ll have my W126 in Deutsche Bank specification: 500/560 SEL, black exterior, black or grey interior, Fuchs “Gullydeckel” alloy wheels.

  8. It’s certainly legitimate to see this rather formal spec as the archetype for an S-class, especially for later examples.
    However, I enjoy the fact that up into the ’80s, even a large car could still be had in colours, as it represents a time when human beings bought these cars, not fleet managers.

  9. Isn’t that shift odd? Presumably individuals still buy these cars yet they act like corporations. The typical private buyer is a guy in his late 50s or early 60s. So, born 1950 to 1960 and therefore able to remember seeing these cars new in fun colours when they were young adults or quite alert children. Does this mean they reject the colours as being old fashioned? Or did the 80s set their stamp on these people?

  10. The individuals’ share has certainly decreased, but it’s still there. I think you might not be wrong when you say that they act like corporations. It’s something I often hear: “I bought in^t in silver because of the resale value”. While this might be quite a sensible approach, it has become a bit too prevailing and applied to too many aspects of our life for my taste.

    I often try to refuse to view everything in the light of profitability. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have bought a C6. And even less an olive green one with cognac coloured leather. By the way, I’m convinced that if I ever wanted to sell this car, there will be prospective buyers who are more than happy to see something different than a black car with black leather.

    1. You only have to sell the car to one person. So, yes, choose the colour you like. Olive green and cognac leather sounds excellent. I have never, ever seen that combination. I have only seen black, metallic grey and red.

    2. There was also a metallic beige or sand colour (one of my favourites, might even have been two different shades over the years), or later examples in white which combines very nicely with the cognac. Sadly, these light colours are almost as rare as olive.

  11. I have been into car almost 40 years and yet have never thought about this particular issue 🙂
    It’s actually a good point, I must admit.

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