During a conference on ugliness, the participants wondered if something could be ugly and still worth a further look.
I didn’t mention this car but I could have done. We’ve discussed here the marked difference between this and the predecessor; this example exemplifies Mercedes’ dropped standards of material quality and diligence of assembly. Even when tatty, the W-126 retains dignity, like an old tweed coat with a few patches. The W-210, in contrast, never looked good new and when the polycarbonate lenses become clouded and the MB star has fallen off, it becomes even worse.
Evidently Mercedes had though long and hard about the over-engineering in the W-126 and set out never to do that again. Notice two things: the clumsy panel under the lamps and that the sculpting of the bonnet and wings can’t hide a fundamentally square shape. I think that what is unsettling here is the mismatch between the attempt at curviness and the underlying resistance of the oblong package to this goal.
If MB had designed this with a squarer front end, and with the grille at least as high as the lamps, then it might have been okay (the A-pillars are still ghastly). I can imagine a more oblong grille and lamp arrangement with perhaps larger radii, as with the rest of the car. In essence all the needed to do was to apply softer forms to a theme not unlike the predecessor.
Thankfully, the diminished material quality of this distinctly ugly car mean they are vanishing from our roads at a satisfactory pace.