Bach To Life

It’s ‘bach, and still wrong. 

2021 Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. Image: cars.co.za

In 2002, Mercedes-Benz introduced a new star: Maybach, a hitherto dormant name awoken from deep slumber. Its bones were largely beyond reproach; based upon the decade-old W140 series S-Class, the final saloon programme to be conceived at Sindelfingen to a standard rather than a price, yet with this announcement one could nevertheless discern a strong sense of a carmaker not only stretching itself too thinly, but suffering from a lack of self-awareness.

Maybe they simply started out with bad directions, but when the wheels came off this particular wagen in 2013, few were surprised, given the execution. But other council prevailed at Baden-Wüttermberg; not entirely better, but certainly, one imagines, better remunerated. Far from allowing the small matter of a €1Bn loss to impede them, Daimler management elected to once more reimagine brand-Maybach, no longer as a stand-alone product (that one really couldn’t stand unaided), but as something a good more to the cost-accountant’s taste.

Hands up now – how many new-era Mercedes-Maybachs has anyone spotted locally since its 2016 introduction? Hardly surprising, since Daimler’s most expensive trim-level not only sits well outside our narrow ideas of taste and aesthetics, but also our geographical purview. According to Daimler’s recent press release, key markets are said to include China, Russia, North America, South Korea and Germany. It’s not difficult to envisage the richer Gulf states also being eager recipients. Over 60,000 Maybach-branded Mercs have found buyers since its re-reintroduction in 2015/16, of which, some 19,000 were sold in 2019 alone.

But are Mercedes still metaphorically splashing about in the shallow end, or have they simply discerned a lucrative, hitherto untapped sub-seam of the ultra-luxury market? It does appear that the re-establishment of Maybach as über-Mercedes is proving the success its predecessor wasn’t, not only in sales, but in profitability. After all, bodywork revisions apart, the cost base is broadly the same. Given the expense incurred by BMW and VW to develop and maintain both Bentley and Rolls Royce brands, one has to wonder who of the three carmakers are enjoying the better return on investment – but is ROI enough? Surely at this end of the market at least, there are other, more nebulous factors at play. What price reputation? Image?

Of course, one can argue that Mercedes have successfully burned through both with as much alacrity as Jürgen Schrempp once burned through Deutchmarks. But how much do Daimler’s German rivals gain in reputational and image terms by association with their adopted brands? One answer sits within the cold calculus of the balance sheet, but another lies within how each carmaker is perceived and how desired its brand.

In 1991, when the W140 S-Class was introduced, there was no rationale for anything but Mercedes-Benz branding. That a mere decade later, this would prove no longer the case is an indictment that can only be laid at management’s feet. Because despite its more recent success, there is no running from the fact that Daimler have conceded the broader pitch to the their rival-owned British heritage nameplates. For a carmaker of the size, reach and past reputation of Mercedes-Benz, this is a humiliating capitulation.

The 2002 Maybach illustrated how little contemporary Daimler-Benz management understood its history. Because it wasn’t as if Mercedes was new to the upmarket saloon game – quite the contrary. So much so, one would have imagined by the late 1990s they would have have taken the time to carry out a sufficiently robust assessment of what actually constitutes luxury.

After all, neither the Adenauer 300 nor W100 600 series’ had any such indecision regarding either their appearance or position. Nor indeed did generations of Sonderklasse models prior to the palace revolution which took place in the bitter wake of the W140’s announcement. These cars knew what they were, and what’s more, so did everyone else. They very simply, powerfully and with a seemingly effortless superiority exhibited the ultimate expression of marque values.

Maybach failed because it could not convince as a top-end luxury product. It simply wasn’t special enough. Today’s Mercedes-Maybach on the other hand doesn’t try to deny its background, in fact it makes a point of it. So in that respect at least, it’s a more honest product – if only in that respect. Last week Daimler revealed the Z223, based upon (and the hint is in the product code) the recently announced W223 S-Class saloon. Unsurprisingly, given the 290 mm added aft of the B-pillar over the entry level Sonderklasse, the Mercedes-Maybach is orientated towards owner-passengers who will never trouble the driver’s seat.

Actually little has changed. The wrapping is different but the recipe remains the same. More of everything. Better, more adjustable ‘first class’ rear seats, more padding, more pleating. More Brushed (brashed?) metal finishes, or failing that, rosé gold for that extra level of distinction. More mood lighting. A New Definition of Luxury, is how Daimler announces it, but what’s obvious here is that its creators still don’t get it: True luxury is less. Less noise, less upset, less discomfort, less intrusion. Less disturbance. So desperate is the Mercedes-Maybach to display its wares that it simply wears. This is the inverse of luxury. It’s noise.

Anyone for Rosé? Image: completecar.ie

But how can we define this so-called New Definition of Luxury; these tasteless vehicles created by an equally tasteless creative director, aimed at at the tasteless, indolent wealthy? The luxury espoused here is forced, inauthentic and self-consciously gauche. They are not in any meaningful sense of the term, luxury cars. Daimler, by dint of their position as the World’s oldest and most storied carmaker (if for no other reason) really ought to be making more of an effort than this.

But it’s getting close to the season of goodwill, so one perhaps ought to be charitable. And given that there are more punters capable and willing to spend the requisite premium for the distinction of having an illuminated Maybach brand emblazoned upon their festive S-Class’ C-pillar than heretofore, the new Z223 Mercedes-Maybach looks like the Christmas gift that’s likely to keep on giving.

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

46 thoughts on “Bach To Life”

  1. Good morning Eóin. It is certainly the case that the Maybach definition of ‘luxury’ appears far removed from the centre of gravity of Western European taste in such matters. Many (including me) would, I imagine, dismiss it as vulgar and “nouveau riche”. The choice of an orange coloured car for the official photograph above says a lot about the customer base at which it is aimed. (“Perfectly matches your skin-tone, sir.”) Still, if Daimler-Benz can successfully sell this blinged-up S-Class at a big premium, then good luck to them.

    A couple of details about the design catch my eye. Firstly, was it really worth the cost of tooling up for a new bonnet just to add a central ‘spine’ to it? The W223 S-Class does without this detail. Secondly, what’s the thinking behind the bright finish on the B-pillar when the C-pillar is still blacked out? Is it to draw a sharper visual distinction between those in the front and rear of the car, to stop the chauffeur getting ideas above his station?

    If I recall correctly, you wittily described Maybach as Mercedes-Benz’s ‘Vignale’ in a draft of this piece, although Vignale appears to be rather more tastefully executed. Cruel but true! Shame it didn’t make the cut.

    Finally, before someone accuses me of dreadful snobbery, I’m happy to admit that I am “nouveau riche” in that I earned rather than inherited my modest wealth and couldn’t ever afford a Maybach even if I wanted one!

    1. Hello Daniel, re the pillars, I think that’s a badly-lit picture, with the interior too brightly illuminated.

      From other photos I’ve seen, you’re really not meant to see the black pillar, so all you should notice is the bright outline trims and the B-pillars. The effect should be like two letter Ds, back-to-back, one the right way round, the other reversed.

    2. Hi Charles, yes, I see what you mean, but my point was about the bright metal finish on the B-pillar breaking up the side DLO two separate areas:

      On the W223 S-Class, the B-pillar is blacked-out leaving the side DLO as a single, unified space:

      Maybe I’m reading too much into the Maybach’s DLO treatment, but the previous model had the same detail.

      Incidentally, isn’t the lower front valance treatment on the Maybach just horrible with all that bright metal? Why would you want to draw such attention to it (and have it competing with the grille)? The S-Class’s valance is much more discreet.

    3. My take is they wanted to visually minimize the DLO on the lwb because they wanted to avoid the “pregnant puppy” look of the 62. Also, making a divide between the front and back to signal this is a chaffuer-driven vehicle.

    4. Hello Daniel, I agree re the lower front valance. Oddly, it’s not shown like that in the online brochure I had a look at. There, it’s got a chrome surround with a horizontal fin through the middle. Looks much better.

    5. Daniel, you are right about some of this chrome detailing.

      I’m a sucker for mesh grilles, but these items in the Maybach bumper look like something an enthusiastic amateur has fabricated in his workshop to stick onto his 20 year old MX5.

  2. Not too long ago, Daimler AG bragged about the S-class range’s profit margins, leading competitors to strive for something similar (by adding 2 to some product’s model designation, for example). With the S-class range now cut back to this and the regular car, one has to wonder what all that grandstanding was about – I find it difficult to believe the coupé and convertible versions’ lack of sales success only became apparent over the past two years.

    Having been not terribly charitable towards Rolls-Royce recently, I feel compelled to point out that the new Ghost, despite being rather iterative a product by itself, seems overwhelmingly convincing and appealing next to the Maybached Mercedes. In the right spec, I’d assume it even does a better Brougham impression than the Big Benz.

    1. They ought to have given it a wholly different bumper. The Maybach´s is the same as the S but has the chrome tinsel bunged on. It´s not very convincing.
      Vignale from Ford and Skoda´s L&K trim lines are objectively really nice and also vastly nicer than the Maybach. Has anyone seen a Vignale Fiesta? I have to take my hats off to Ford for doing such a good job on this because the car looks very lush and manages to clearly dodge the “Baccara” effect from Renault´s earlier days. None of these versions suffer from the lack of rare woods and the like.

  3. This discussion of Maybach and Mercedes generally has led me to look at the wider loss of national identity in almost all brands. Much as the German-ness of Audi, BMW and Mercedes has evaporated, so has the Frenchness of PSA/Renault (discuss). Italy is hard case because it has only one big name to its credit. Perhaps of all the European car making nations, Britain has had the best luck with retaining Britishness. Uncharitably it might be because it´s hard to lure a continental professional to the UK? Where are Opel and Ford in this story – they are or were until recently both US-owned brands based in Germany and the UK. In way neither of them ever had to be especially German and so they retain still their more generally European character they have always had. Of the two I think Opel was more definitely German and Ford less so (if at all). Some would consider Ford British (which I can´t go for, not since they stopped designing and making entire cars their a long time ago).

    1. I remember my late father having a conversation with the father of my sister’s German pen-pal when the family visited Ireland in the mid-70’s. My dad caused some bemusement by asking why Herr Greven didn’t drive a German car; they arrived in a Mk1 Ford Granada two-door saloon, which was certainly more ‘German’ than dad’s Irish-assembled VW!

    2. Hard to consider Opel Germanic with Diplomat, Admiral, Commodore and Rekord. Even the Opel Ascona and Opel kadett ( A,B,C and D ) took cues more from British/commonwealth-American style, with a touché of Swedish inside and out.

      The Opel Senator was probably I would say one of the few real “Germanic” Opel’s. Bar quality of material used inside. And electronics and gizmos courtesy of GM.

  4. The comparisons to Ford’s Vignale models and to current-day Rolls Royce made above are both interesting ones. Vignale somehow seems a more honest effort: It’s a (very) posh trim level on a Ford and doesn’t seem to be pretending to be anything else. When I heard of the Mondeo Vignale I was actually interested by it, largely because I remembered how refined and good to drive the previous Mondeo model was. A luxury version of that actually struck me as a good idea.

    As to Rolls Royce, I know there are those here that admire the new models but I must confess bafflement: They strike me as rather similar to the Maybach (LED ‘starlight’ ceiling anyone?): Vulgar, pointlessly large conveyances with poor detailing. I recently saw a video in which the latest BMW Rolls Royce Whatever* was parked opposite a tidy old Silver Shadow. The comparison was shocking; and not flattering to the new car.

    *Lest anyone should suspect prejudice: Readers of my previous articles here will know I have nothing against British cars developed under the auspices of BMW, quite the opposite in fact.

  5. Did they really sell 19,000 of these in 2019? That is a huge figure, and suggests vindication by the market, if not acceptance by all.

    I don’t mind the Maybach being a LWB trim derivative of the S Class. Yes it’s a bit gauche, but perhaps Der Grosse was also considered rather brash in comparison to other contemporary Mercedes, which we would now consider to be almost comically austere. It certainly makes more sense than the 57 and 62 standalone models. And the proportions of the latest model are really quite good.

  6. Historical Maybachs weren’t particularly elegant with a very Teutonic look, but at least they weren’t brash

    1. Teutonic, yes. I wonder what that is? Without ever having looked at the car before, I could say this is a German car. German in the bigger sense, including the German-influenced Middle Europa. It’s like an American car, but “heavier”? What is it that makes it have that “Teutonic” look?

  7. Richard opens a new thought window, allowing the nationalistic breeze to blow through, or maybe out of the window. When growing up in the U.K. 1970’s, you knew a Ford was English, a Renault French, a (rare) Audi German and the cars that started each morning, Japanese.

    Once the car bug had bitten and the yearning for more information gained momentum, I learned of faraway factories building vehicles rather similar to what was swelling my locale. By the 80’s and 90’s, it all changed. Could this be because brands such as MacDonalds, Apple, Tesco, even can be found on any street corner from the Czech Republic to South Africa? The car has lost a lot of its identity. Citroen manages to keep some “French-ness” about them, Renault could be from anywhere, really now. Kia, Nissan or Hyundai could appear from Saturn (as Tesla’s do) for all I know. Mercedes doesn’t really say Germany any more to me. They’re just another everywhere brand.

    AutoCropley were not only highlighting but positively shouting how many British cars there are in a recent episode. And just like any other manufacturer, these cars are made from parts made globally. Yet we still regard Bentley, Rolls-Royce, JLR as British. Yet the press (and sometimes here on DTW) love the lambast them for not following British trends. Rather like football teams; their shirt may say Aston Villa, Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday, even but long gone are the days where the local lad growing up gets to play for them (with occasional exceptions.)

    Globalisation – addressing everything by losing individuality. Splendid.

    As for the latest Meh-bakk, I’ve seen those colour schemes before:

    Yet build them like this or in orange and they will come.

    “Has sir/madam ticked the option for the Sick Bag for Passing Pedestrians? Comes in body coloured cashmere silk outer with a waterproof liner – only €315 – single use only.”

  8. The problem is the the brand Maybach haven’t meant anything to anyone since the nineteen thirties, and the car looked like a Far Eastern ersatz Mercedes with a grille from Hyundai. Mercedes made a huge huge mistake not expanding the brand upwards. Remember the original 300SL? In the fifties it was a supercar, there wasn’t anything like it. The “Grosser” 600 was the non plus ultra of limousines for the better part of three decades afterwards. Mercedes was extending the brand downwards with the A-Class, but they forgot to infuse the premium brand with premium quality. Imagine if the Maybach 57 had been a real Mercedes with a real Mercedes-grille? It would’ve been remembered as the “Grosser” Mercedes for days to come. Where’s the Mercedes SL today? Nobody cares. They would’ve needed something like the Bugatti to infuse some sizzle into the brand. That they’re selling Maybach as a trim line is only pathetic, talk about selling the sizzle and not the steak.

  9. Andrew beat me to it, but the colour scheme in the first photo looks familiar to me also:

    Our local bus company has one of its fleet painted in the historic livery of Lowestoft Corporation Buses, which is far nicer than their hideous standard colour scheme.

  10. An enjoyable article. Opens up new layers of thought on what luxury
    (and particularly automotive luxury) is all about.

    “True luxury is less” – hard to argue with, when values are kept rigorously within their notional scope. The latter is, these days,
    unsustainable. It’s more a case of being able to boast about certain
    content overload. The “hip” verb used by the millennials is ‘flex’.
    Obviously not torsional flex or subframe flex, but being able
    to ‘flex’ about one’s most recent purchase. Calling it primitive
    is not overdone, or at least not wildly so.

    This seems instrumental in trying to decipher what this “hard-to-please” end of the market is really about. They are actually painfully simple to please, it’s just a case of cramming lots of more, but also
    nailing what’s really hip – not easy nowadays, what with it all
    being a case of movable target.

    If we get back to the essential, and try to connect Eóin’s “True luxury is less” with the cliché of “(The only) true luxury is time”- we will see that the notion of effortless speed (or, rather, continent devouring Great-Grand-Touring ability) is a paradox that’s seldom talked about, but significant in terms of competently defining what is a true luxury car
    – less time vs. more time:

    on one hand, such GGT vehicles do indeed let their owner/driver enjoy more time at the end of your destination (as they could, in theory, shrug off 2-3 hours of your travel time with their superior ability to cozily maintain an illegal avg. speed). Yet, if time is that important to you, it means that you ran out of luxury already – living a tightly-scheduled life is the epithome of anti-luxury (and taking the private jet is anyway
    usually a faster way of getting A-to-B).

    That leads us to the luxury car needing to be engineered for an absolutely enjoyable low-speed, relaxed progress, and be completely at ease in such operating conditions, when its occupants are hardly in any hurry (a Bentley Azure comes to mind). Yet, on demand, it has to move
    supercar-quickly, just in case, but the latter does not
    necessarily needs to be its primary function.

    In this context, with a view to the possibilities that current engineering tech offers, this requirement for “less speed” could lead to less mechanical excess (Hybrid?), to less power, to less weight, less brakes, and hence to less wheel diameter – the latter being an essential prerequisite for a cossetting, encapsulation-emulating travel device. With today’s body control & ‘active’-suspension tech, a high-end car
    can be made disturbingly softly sprung and still be able to carve around
    high-speed corners with aplomb.

    Why does, then, every “luxury” car of today (and their sister) offer 21/22 inch + wheel diameters, and a primary ride that’s bordering on choppy? Culprit must be the more-is-more Weltanschauung, prevalent in today’s “luxury” target groups: more torque, more options, more acceleration, more gadgets, more range, more wheel diameter, more seat massage functions, more weight.
    It’s not wildly inaccurate to suppose that all that’s actually needed, is to take Chapman’s engineering philosophy – and fully reverse it.

    Could it be that noone really needs to build competent, good or truly luxurious cars anymore? Is luxury fully exterminated?

    Do we need to embrace Flexury?

    1. Pleasure is part of luxury. One does not work without the other. And enjoyment requires peace and quiet.
      Large sections of society, and the rich are of course no exception, lack the peace and quiet to enjoy luxury.
      The more-is-more Weltanschauung has taken over.
      Driven individuals.
      Robert Smith got to the heart of it years ago in his song “Want”.

    2. The elimination of ride/handling balance as a design objective in posh cars is as sad as it is perplexing. A very short time ago, shoppers for executive saloon cars who preferred some degree of compliance in their suspension could choose products from the likes of Jaguar, Rover, Lancia, Citroën and Peugeot. Now, one of those brands no longer exists, one is defunct and the rest have either abandoned this type of product or switched to providing a me-too hard-riding, enormous-wheeled carriage. Tragic.

  11. I forgot to mention the colour scheme of the railway carriage (and probably Daniels bus) was officially named by British Rail as Crimson Lake and Cream which swiftly got the nickname Blood & Custard. Any ideas as to what luxurious name the headline picture offers?

    1. Hello Andrew – yes, it’s designo ruby black (lower colour)/aragonite silver (upper colour). Not my first choice, but I think the Maybach S-Class is rather nice, in the right spec.

      I found it interesting that when they were engineering the new Ghost, Rolls-Royce made it too quiet, which made occupants travel sick – input to one’s ears didn’t match what other senses were experiencing. Just shows that one can overdo things.

  12. Engineering a car for a good ride/roadholding/handling set-up is very difficult. There is a vanishingly small number of engineers who are any good at developing it. It takes time to achieve and it is expensive to get it right. Ride etc. isn’t a “feature” or “app” complete with a flat screen that marketeers can be arsed to promote. Few people are aware of what decent steering or ride etc. or tactile feedback actually are or should be, let alone care anyway. So…. why bother.

    BTW it is possible to make a car with 21″ wheels ride as well as a DS Citroen or a ’70s US land yacht. It is down to how it is engineered.

  13. Luxury is a deeply subjective matter and the concept is somewhat hard to pin down too. That is, it is hard to say what constitutes luxury and quite what each person perceives.
    The prestige marques have poked around in their user group to find out what they think it is. The result is something that does not appeal very much to the user group at DTW. It´s not unlikely that the teams who have to implement the findings of the focus groups and interviews find some of it distasteful as well. It depends on the type of designer. Some are from the Rams school and some from the West End school (those who have more and less notions of absolute good taste). What we learn from this is that there is no market for austere good taste or if there is it is bespoke. I suppose RR and Benz will do a very modestly trimmed and coloured car for you. These aren´t the ones they are advertising.

    1. Yes – I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – this is mass-market luxury, albeit at the upper end, and they go with what sells, even if it sometimes isn’t the last word in good taste. In fact, by definition, a significant proportion of customers will be corporate, with all that implies in terms of spec choices.

      There are plenty of companies which will build something unique, at a price.

    1. How to spec one’s ‘bach? I’d definitely go with an interior in David Bache myself.

  14. For years I took the bus to and from work at the Maple Drive stop in front of Beverly Hills Mercedes. One day in 2002 a tallish looking thing with a big chrome grille was coming down Beverly towards me and I thought “Hmm, the new Town & Country isn’t bad looking..”

    Then I realized it was the new Maybach. Ooopsie.

    I have seen a few of the Mercedes-Maybach tooling around the westside. Except for more chrome and the name on the back I don’t think I would have known. I think were I in possession of really stupid amounts of money I would pass on the new one that anyone on “Dancing With the Stars” can pony up the lease money for and get a SWB 60’s 600. In Navy blue, please. Not only would it make the modern version of the Norma Desmond “I’m richer than all this new Hollywood trash” statement, but it says not only do I have the money to afford to buy it, I have the money to keep it running.

    1. Couldn’t agree more:

      Isn’t that just just infinitely more classy looking than the Mercedes-Maybach?

  15. I agree the W100 ‘600’ is sublime even today especially the (missing) factory 2-door coupe models. I do wish Mercedes-Benz design team would take a leaf from the 3D renders of David Obendorfer and his re-imagined E-Class. Luxury for me is either a W100 or a fourth-generation Lincoln Continental (JFK) which encapsulates the less is more ethos perfectly.

    1. Hi ckracer76. Here’s an image and a YouTube video of the Obendorfer E-Class proposal. It definitely has potential. The front end is great. I’m not sure about the relationship between the rising lower DLO line and falling bodyside crease, but it’s a far more formal and dignified design than any current Mercedes-Benz saloon (not a high bar, admittedly).

    2. In a similar vein, the Toyota Century might appeal to you:

    3. Really interesting. I think the Obendorfer version is a great improvement, but it’s still a bit heavy looking, due to the window / door relationship. I think that’s one of the reasons the Century looks good.

    4. Charles: do you imagine Oberndorfer borrowed the silhouette from from the Chrysler 300C? I liked that car´s proportions (the detailing, less so). Heavy is what I expect from Mercedes. All their saloons have a solid look to them (until the 90s).

    5. Hello,Richard – yes, it does have similarities, although the 300C is squarer and shorter.

      I’ve had a look at the Obendorfer website and his E-Class has good proportions. Actually, it’s lovely – I see more interesting detailing the more I look at it. A very sober and powerful design.

      http://www.davidobendorfer.com/projectE.html

    6. In some ways it reminds me of the Lancia Thesis: jewel-like lamps at the front and a lot of body-colour metal separating the lamps from the grille. Which grille? The front grille, of course. The design bears close scrutiny. He´s on to something with the chrome strip running around the base of the rear screen. There is some mileage in that.

    7. Eh? I thought that strip (which I removed, below) was the one thing you didn’t like about the design!

      Are you being enigmatic, Richard?

    8. I didn´t like it at first. Your revision works well with it removed (maybe that´s important). I also have warmed up to the idea with one reservation which is I´d like the DLO frame not to be interrupted. It´s very unsettling, just like on the Mercedes C207/A207 the chrome stopped at the mirror sail panel (and also had a break at the tail end). I had to look that one up, by the way. I´ve totally lost track of Mercedes platform codes and which one is which. The use of the C-class platform for an E-class coupe foxed me, as does the S- and CLK names. The coupes and saloons have blurred so I am not that sure of them unless I fact-check myself.

  16. I was sufficiently interested in the Obendorfer E-Class proposal to play with it. Here’s the original first, followed by my adjusted version, where both the lower DLO line and bodyside crease are much closer to being parallel, and the trim at the base of the C-pillar (and beneath the rear window) is removed:


    Better, worse, neither?

    1. Um. First, Oberndorfer´s version is almost exactly what a 21st century Benz E-class should look like. His only “mis-step” was in including the element that Daniel deleted in his revision. Either way, these are believable alternatives. I really would not think it fair to compare Oberndorfer´s proposal to MB´s work since the comparison is so unequal.
      Car design being what is it, it is possible Mr Oberndorfer has effectively excommunicated himself from work in a production studio (by making it plain how mediocre most of it is). Some brands need constant styling renewal and Ford, Opel and Renault do a good job at this (impressively so if you consider the challenge). I would think Oberndorfer would have been the right kind of stylist for Audi, Benz and BMW and possibly someone like Alfa Romeo.

    2. Hi Richard, I think Obendorfer’s C-pillar treatment was a nod to the W123, but the flanks, especially the wheel arch treatment, is pure W124, so that was what I was aiming for in my revision.

      Apart from the fussy front and rear ends, the Wagener saloons all share the same arc that forms the side DLO, a smooth curve that tightens around the rear quarter window. This detail has been around for a couple of generations already and is, to my eyes, now overused and too informal looking for a Mercedes-Benz saloon. Spy pictures of the next C-Class show that this will remain the same:

      Perhaps it’s Wagener’s equivalent of the ‘Hofmeister Kink?

    3. After I wrote that I realised the C-pillar was a nod to the W-124´s detail in that area. I would not have interrupted the chrome of the DLO in the way he did. If I was going to hint at the W-124 I´d do it either more elaborately or very down-played (body-coloured part at the join).

    4. Sorry for the mis-spellings. Obendorfer´s interior is spot on. I understand the chrome detail around the C-pillar better but still feel a little unsure about it. It´s not a deal-breaker. Overall, this is first rate work.

    5. While I still love Obendorfer’s original and its chunkier feel, I think that the lowered and straightened beltline works better with the excellent W114-inspired rear end and makes the general proportions more like that car. The downside is that the rear windows look a bit too much like those of the recently discontinued Lincoln Continental, and perhaps the headlights should be made a bit smaller (their top lowered to align with the bodyside crease) to work with the slimmer proportions?

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