Top 30 Mercedes Benz Cars of All Time
Believe it or not, choosing JUST the best 30 Mercedes Benz cars is damn near impossible. The list needs to include classics and modern cars, the ones that carried huge technological advancements, industry-leading, groundbreaking, massively expensive solutions. But also models that sold in large numbers, building the incredible Mercedes Benz reputation that guaranteed top quality, regardless of the price range, or purpose. This is why everyone will find something that they love on the list, but also probably some what-the-hell moments. Frankly, we don’t care. These are some of the most iconic machines in the world, coming from the most revered manufacturer ever. It’s bound to be good.
Probably the ugliest thing on the list is the 1946 UNIMOG. It’s a damn farming truck. However, Mercedes has always had problems with limiting their cars’ functionality (just look at the current A-Class), so the farming truck was built like a proper tank and it served as a heavy-duty military transportation and even raced in the Dakar rally. After 70 years the UNIMOG machines still go where not many vehicles can.
In any of its variants and iterations, the G model is a beast. First built like a reliable army vehicle with little regard to styling, the box on wheels quickly grew into one of the most revered SUVs in the world, spawning even numerous top luxury versions and commanding prices that make it one of the most expensive Mercedes Benz models and a status symbol. Plus, the boxy styling is still present, 35 years after the first one.
Mercedes has made several cars with total disregard for production costs and the 500K is one of them. A plush, colossal two-seater from the 1930s just did not care, having no trunk and being pushed by either a 7 l, or a 7.1 l engine, which made it one of the fastest cars of the era. Only 150 of them were made, so they go well into seven figures in auctions today. Instead of the trunk, you would get a third folding out seat that would have the third passenger just barely holding on while the driver was breaking speed records. The third seat was unofficially called “the mother-in-law seat”. Extra points for creativity and humor.
- SLR McLaren
Jumping to the current century, the 2003 SLR McLaren is one of the most desirable cars in history. It caused havoc among the two companies, but grew into a legend and definitely a classic to be. The unique styling, an engine that produced 617 hp, the most advanced traction control system at the time, loads of hi-tech solutions or just smart engineering – like the turbo-shaped wheels that feed more air to help keep the heavy-duty brakes cold – made the massive price of $450k actually bearable. Can you imagine its price when it grows classic?
- 220SE W128
The 220SE W128, produced from 1958 to 1960, was the final evolution of the Ponton series and one of the first cars that would later develop into the flagship, industry-topping S-Class. It came as a sedan, coupe or convertible and packed a 2.2l L6 engine and completely independent suspension. If you are looking for a perfect classic Mercedes 220se for sale, it will set you back about $100k, which is not too much for such a piece of automotive history.
The W126 was introduced in 1979 as a major leap for the S-Class models. It was probably the most successful and best sold S-Class model, being produced for 13 years and introducing for the first time numerous safety and comfort innovations, some of which are industry standards even now. The W126 offered things like seatbelt pretensioners, traction control system, ABS, courtesy lights, 8-way powered heated seats, optional power-adjustable rear seats, extremely advanced cruise control system, folding pedals that prevented injury during crashes and much more. These things were tastefully incorporated into the plush design and extremely well built, many of them serving their original purpose even today. Moreover, its advanced styling served as basis for some of the most iconic MB cars that came later, such as the 190 and W124. During its long production run, the car introduced more innovations and technological advancements that lead to extreme popularity and commercials such as the one below, showing that the W126 was not just a highly priced luxury car. Speaking of prices, they have already started rising, but you can still fetch a nice one for less than a fortune, while the rare coupes are getting a bit pricey.
The CLS came in 2005 and instantly became beloved. It was based on the W211 E-Class, but it provided sleeker body, more luxurious interiors and it managed to do what the R-Class failed. It started a whole new type of a car – a four-door coupe. Yes, before the CLS vast majority of sedans were practical, but not very sleek, while coupes were classier, but not as practical. After the CLS we get the four-door coupe body style that is now definitely here to stay. Of course, high quality materials, impeccable build quality and powerful engines go without saying for a high-class modern Mercedes Benz.
- SLS AMG
The first ever in-house design by AMG, the SLS continues a proud heritage of the 300SL Gullwing, serving as a successor that came about half a century later. The wait was worth it, since the stunning SLS AMG came boasting a beautiful mix of classic design features and modern lines and packed with high-tech features adorning a highly-priced modern supercar. Speaking of supercars, the 6.3 l engine came in several different states of tune, going all the way up to 631 hp in the Black Series model. Its massive popularity spawned numerous special edition models which will, having in mind that the standard one is already a highly priced legend of a car, surely prove to be a great investment for forward-thinking car collectors with the buck to spare.
- CLK63 AMG Black Series
We simply had to include a Black Series version model and the CLK63 AMG Black Series is one of the most famous ones. The Black Series models do not have to be black, but they do have to be extreme when it comes to performance. Basically, they are race cars for the street, with lighter bodies, track suspension and racing engines. Just beastly on the track.
It came in 1955 as a cheaper version of the 300SL and it was almost as fun to drive as the legendary 300SL due to its lower weight, despite the lower power rating. Even though the 300SL is officially the start of the SL-Class, it is more of a predecessor of the supercars like the SLS AMG, or the AMG GT, while the 190SL might be the true progenitor of the SL-Class. If you are looking to own such a piece of history, it won’t be that difficult to find a classic Mercedes 190SL for sale, since it was vastly popular.
- 300 SEL 6.3
We simply had to include the 300 SEL6.3, since it is what spawned the top S-Class AMG long-wheelbase models. It was very classy, packed with luxury, 10 cm longer than the similarly luxurious 300S and its massive 6.3 V8 produced 250hp and a stunning 434 ft-lbs of torque which made it extremely popular at the time, since no other car offered such luxury and performance in one. Does the S65 AMG ring a bell?
- 540K Spezial Roadster
If you were up for some classy styling, great performance and filthy rich in 1936, there weren’t many better transportation options than the 540K Spezial Roadster. The car was absolutely beautiful, designed by Hermann Ahrens, and it featured a 5.4 l inline eight-cylinder engine with a supercharger. Yes, a road car with a supercharger at the time when this was a feature almost exclusively reserved for race cars; and yes, an inline eight-cylinder, which explains that beautiful looooooong hood. If these features weren’t enough, you should know that it featured four-wheel independent suspension in 1936 and some sports cars don’t have that even today (hinting at you, Mustang). If what you’ve read still isn’t enough for you, just look at the damn thing.
First of all, look at its styling and then realize that it was made in 1970. Amazing! It was an experimental car for Mercedes who tested various advanced features in it, such as new types of diesel engines, Wankels, turbo, mid-mounted engines, new types of air conditioning, lightweight materials such as fiberglass and more. The sleek design brought about the drag coefficient of .19, which is still light years ahead of the industry standards. This made the C111 surpass 200 mph with ease, breaking several land speed records and its version with a 500hp 4.8 even had an average lap speed of 250.958 mph at Nardo. Average! The same track was the setting for a continuous 12-hour cruise at 195.4 mph at 14.7 mpg (16 l/100 km) Once again, we’re talking about the 1970s.
The 280SL was the top version of the W113 Mercedes Benz. It came as a coupe, or a roadster and featured a 2.8 l I6 engine. The W113 singlehandedly replaced the 190SL and 300SL, giving more luxury and power than the 190SL and falling a bit short of the extravaganza of the 300SL. However, this meant that the 280SL was not about to cost as much as a space ship and this made it possible for more people to enjoy the sports luxury of the newly formed SL-Class. More than 50% of them were sold in the USA, so tracking down a classic Mercedes 280SL for sale should not be very difficult. Moreover, their prices range from about $60,000 to $100,000, but they are very common on the market, so finding even cheaper ones is possible.
The W110 was a mid-size luxury executive car from the 1960s. It was beautifully designed, well built, reasonably powerful and sold very well, with 628,282 of them being built. However, its greatest significance lies in a design novelty that is a standard feature even today and that clearly shows why Mercedes Benz is where it is. The middle-ground model from the 1960s was the first car ever with crumple zones. This invention has probably saved millions of lives by now in almost every modern car. Thanks W110.
Many would say that this was the last “real Mercedes”, but we’d rather call it the perfect bridge between old and new days. It came in 1976 and lasted for 9 years. When it was announced that it would be replaced by the W124, taxi drivers actually organized protests in Germany. The W123 was modern in terms of design and tech, but also built like a tank, which made it a favorite among well off owners seeking style, comfort and quality and also, as used ones became more accessible, among anyone who wanted an indestructible workhorse of a car. Many have gone well past 600,000 miles and there is a story of a taxi driver who bought one of the last series of the W123 as reserve for when the one he drove kicked the bucket. The reserve was found a few years ago with about 50 miles on the clock. Anyone who knows about the W123 does not really need any explanations, while anyone who doesn’t know will think we’re exaggerating anyway.
- 280SE 3.5 W111
The W111, the oldest model in this section, was a full-size luxury car, another ancestor of the S-Class and the 280SE 3.5 was the best among them. It was a top coupe, or convertible version and the last one in the bloodline, featuring an all-new 3.5 V8 with 200 hp that pushed it to 130 mph. Being replaced by the C107, it was the last four-seat convertible for the next 20 years, until the W124/A124 in the early 1990s. It went off the production lines in 1971 with a total of 4,502 units, so finding a good and not too expensive classic Mercedes 280SE for sale might be a challenging, though rewarding task.
- 190E Cosworth
These models had a 2.3, or a 2.5 Cosworth engines and greatly differed from the standard 190 models in terms of power. At about 200 hp and loads of other tech perks, they were designed for rallying and racing and extremely capable and durable, which was proven in 1983 at Nardo where three cars had a combined average speed of 154.06 mph for the entire exhausting 50,000 km endurance test during which they set no fewer than 12 endurance records. If you don’t like calculating, this is equivalent to more than 8 days non-stop driving at 155 mph. Moreover, they were mainly built for homologation purposes, so there aren’t many of them around today.
- AMG GT
The AMG GT is a direct descendant of the SLS which we have already featured on our list and even of the 300SL. It is the top car in almost every respect, featuring incredible technological advancements, reaching 60 in 3.6s in the GT S guise, having 93% of its structure made of aluminum and has a bi-turbo V8 that can push out up to 510hp. If you are lucky enough to have one of them and take it to Nurburgring, it will probably drive itself there since the development team covered 1613 laps there (33,696 km) while setting up the AMG GT. This is car built like the ones when being a millisecond faster to 60 was less important than the pure driving joy. Another perk is … well, just look at the damn thing. That’s a classic already.
- C63 AMG
We know, we haven’t written the generation, right? Who cares, really? Every C63 AMG is a tail-happy, high-revving, V8 small sedan that boasts more power than it makes sense. But, who cares about sense when the heart just loves it.
- E63 AMG
Again, just like with the C63 AMG from the previous part of the countdown, we skip the generation designation. This is the most powerful version of the E-Class in every generation in this century and it’s powered by the mighty AMG V8s that take most versions to 60 in fewer than 4 seconds. Proper supercar territory. Now imagine that kind of performance in a luxury E-Class model, packed with comfort features and hi-tech aides, or in all this in the form of a wagon. Because this is exactly what you get – a perfect family car for 5 (or even 7) people that will inconspicuously drive you anywhere, but that will also shut the mouth of almost every foul-mouthed, two-seater driver that laughs at your wagon as if he were somehow better off with his car. Plus, when you press the pedal to the metal and make the guy eat your dust, you won’t hear your mother-in-law’s terrified screams from the back seat over the sound of sheer awesomeness that comes from the V8.
- 300d Adenauer
Going back to the past a bit. If you were filthy rich in the 1950s and early 1960s, one of the best options for you was the Mercedes Benz Type 300. If you were German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, then you enjoyed six of these custom made in the form of a convertible, hardtop and landaulet which was enough for the car to be unofficially named after one of the most significant people of the era. Aside from the Adenauer models, the car came also in the form of the phaeton, two- and four-door cabriolet, limousine, and coupe, all of which were absolutely beautiful and elegant which made them classy rather than ostentatious. Finding a classic Mercedes 300 Adenauer for sale will probably surprise you when you see that you can get such a piece of history for well under $100,000.
The W124 replaced the legendary W123 and quickly became one of the most revered cars in history. More than whopping 2.5 million were built in the form of a sedan, wagon, coupe, or convertible, featuring 19 different engines, ranging from I4 to V8, plus god-knows-how-many special edition and tuner-made models with V12s even. It too was built like a tank, but it also came with loads of technological advancements that made it plush and sporty, while still staying incredibly reliable. The most famous one is probably the 500E, developed with Porsche and considered one of the most revered modern classics today. There were two facelifts of the W124 and each brought significant technological advancements. They are still relatively common, so you can see a proper everyday car (not a collector-owned one, mind you) with 300,000+ miles on the clock and an interior in a better condition than in most five years old sedans of today. It was so good that its successor, the W210, is widely regarded as not worthy and it is now a cheaper used car than the W124.
- S65 AMG
The top version from the factory tuner of the top, flagship model of, arguably, the best manufacturer in the world. Do you need any more explanation? If you do, then the S65 AMGs are powered by V12 engines packing 630 hp in the current version. It is a long-wheelbase car that can seat five people in ultimate luxury, drive them around in the best ever comfort, protect them from crashes with anything but a teleport and still reach 62 in about 4 seconds. Looking at its imposing size will make you think that it is not the most nimble car out there, but you would be wrong. Everything that Mercedes has to offer is crammed into this car. It is more luxurious than a cruise ship, more powerful than the AMG GT and safer than the Batmobile.
S-Class again. We have already said what a gem the W126 was. The W140 came to replace it in 1991 and it was a lot better. The development cost $1 billion and it was packed with features that are even today considered extremely advanced and out of reach for most manufacturers. Its successor, the W220, introduced numerous technical novelties, but it never reached the sheer status, reputation and the power of presence of the W140.
The best of the best are here. These are the top 5 most significant Mercedes Benz models in history. They may not be the fastest (although some were) or the most expensive, but they are the most drooled-over models that directly influenced the entire industry. And here they are.
- W25 Silver Arrow
The W25 was not the most capable of the Silver Arrows, but it was the beginning of the name (although not the first silver car). The legend states that in the 1934 the maximum allowed weight for Grand Prix cars was 750 kg and right before the Nurburgring race the W25 had 751. In order to shave off the extra kilo, they scraped off the paint and the Silver Arrow was born. There are holes in this story, but, true or not, what made the Silver Arrow so famous is the fact that all of their models were absolutely dominant, the W25 winning that race and many more and its successor, the 1937 W125 boasting a whopping 646 hp, which was surpassed more than 40 years later when turbo engines were introduced in Formula One.
- 710 SSK Trossi Roadster
The SSK came in 1928 and it was the first proper sports car for Mercedes Benz. The car was designed by Ferdinand Porsche and it had more power and lower weight than the S roadster it was based on. There were several versions of the car, the 710 SSK Trossi Roadster taking the cake in our opinion. It was powered by a 7 l engine with a supercharger that produced (for that time) incredible 300 hp and, even more stunningly, 507 lb-ft of torque, which is massive even by today’s standards. And the looks! It looks like something that Batman would drive even now.
The 600 is probably best known for the Pullman version, but the car was amazing even as standard. It was produced from 1963 to 1981 and it was the ultimate of the ultimate, produced to be the best car in the world ever with no regard to cost whatsoever. It was powered by a 6.3l V8 and it featured absolutely incredible comfort and luxury for the time, even incorporating an insane hydraulic system that powered windows, seats, sunroof, boot lid and even automatically closing doors. Oh, yes, and it had adjustable air suspension – in a 1963 car! With all these tech features in mind, can you even try to imagine the interior? The list of amenities is incredibly long, so we’ll just say that its four versions – four-door sedan, four-door Pullman, six-door Pullman and four-door landaulet – were enjoyed by only the most wealthy and powerful. It was built to be the best car in the world and some still see it as that.
Yes, you all knew it would be in the list and most of you probably expected it to top it. However, we feel that there is one more significant Mercedes in the world, so the stunning 1950s 300SL proudly stands at the second place. Its predecessor was a racing car, so it was the fastest production car in the world at 161 mph; it was the first road car with direct fuel injection; it had the stunning Gullwing door arrangement (used as a solution to the problem of entering the car with a lightweight, racing, aluminum frame chassis that surrounded the entire car) and it is still one of the best looking cars in the world. Its worth can be seen from the fact that when there is a classic Mercedes 300SL for sale, auction houses go into a state of shock and the lucky ones who manage to grab one end up selling it for seven-figure sums.
So, what can be more significant than that?
- Benz Patent-Motorwagen
The first car in the world ever, that’s what. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen was patented in 1886 as the first car ever to be powered by an internal combustion engine. It had 2/3 of a horsepower (up to 2 hp in later versions) and it could move at 10 mph, so it was not really beastly, but it was the first car ever that brought about all of the industry and changed the world in more ways than one. Moreover, it was already a proper Mercedes Benz, since Benz’s wife, Bertha, took it for a 121 mi drive to show that it was capable of serving as a reliable long-distance transport.
Categories: Mercedes Benz Cars