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Old 6th May 2013, 20:15   #1
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Default High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

After a few 6 cylinder diesel (OM603) automatics, here is my latest touring model (estate). I'd always been aware of the losses in an automatic transmission, even though nobody made one work as beautifully as Mercedes-Benz, and I have been on the lookout for a manual gearbox version, preferably without electric windows (they are a weak point and quite superfluous).

The smaller five cylinder diesel (OM602) is even tougher than the six due to its greater torsional stiffness, and lighter as well. I recently found a lovely example for sale with winding windows, a manual gearbox and 5 cylinder engine. The perfect workhorse. It runs exceptionally well, having commuted for much of its life from London to Poland with a Polish nurse at the wheel. Originally it was bought by one of Mercedes' own engineers and has a couple of interesting additions, most recently a policeman with a Polish wife has owned the car.

The front to rear suspension pipe needs replacement and there is a tiny amount of welding required but other than that she's fit to do another 480,000km. The only replacement parts to my knowledge are the front wings and bonnet (the originals rusted) and rear axle, which was changed in Poland. Not sure why, maybe it was the differential only (my Polish is worse than Google translate!) And the headlamps were replaced to match the later bonnet.

The picture in the snow was taken a couple of years ago in Poland, but we have had well over a foot of snow for the last few winters here in North Yorkshire. With the correct tyres fitted, the Mercedes' gentle power delivery serves the car well on snow and ice.
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Old 7th May 2013, 22:02   #2
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

Lovely stuff. I have a E220 in the exact same colour with the black strip on the bumper. It is of course an India spec, type II model. I recently had a short affair with a E250D Automatic. Manuals are the norm here and automatics are extremely rare, be it the E220 or the E250D (which were the only two models sold in India. The rest are all direct imports). I recently got a spectacular 300E in Mystic Blue, which is a rare Mercedes colour in any model, it's done just 77,000 kms.

My E220 is almost "run-in". It's 1700 kms away from the 100,000 mark.
Having said that, Indian conditions are very very harsh on any vehicle. So while a car that has done 480,000 kms in Europe, still can do another 480,000, a W124 that has done close to 500,000 kms here, is probably on it's last legs. Let's not forget that the extreme heat, high humidity, poor roads end up taking their toll.

Anyway, your car seems to be in good condition, and I wish you many miles of happy motoring.
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Old 7th May 2013, 22:48   #3
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

Very nice and a very impressive mileage!
These older Mercedes, as long as reasonable well maintained, are pretty much bomb proof.

I own a 1982 Mercedes W123 and sometime in the far future I hope to get to this sort of mileage. There really isn't a doubt in my mind that it can do it. Its just a question of when will I get there. It'll be interesting to see how well the current range of Mercedes will stand the test of times.

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Old 8th May 2013, 05:58   #4
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

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Very nice and a very impressive mileage!
These older Mercedes, as long as reasonable well maintained, are pretty much bomb proof.

I own a 1982 Mercedes W123 and sometime in the far future I hope to get to this sort of mileage. There really isn't a doubt in my mind that it can do it. Its just a question of when will I get there. It'll be interesting to see how well the current range of Mercedes will stand the test of times.

Jeroen
Jeroen, I hear the current E-class feel as if they are once again tough enough to last half a million miles or even a million km. The company is supposed to be going all out to banish the awful legacy of the cheap W210 cars which rusted like a 1970s AlfaSud. Whether or not the costs of maintaining one on the road as long as this allows them to live is another matter, as is the whole business of whether or not they generate the feeling of passion which great cars in the past have done.


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Lovely stuff. I have a E220 in the exact same colour with the black strip on the bumper. It is of course an India spec, type II model. I recently had a short affair with a E250D Automatic. Manuals are the norm here and automatics are extremely rare, be it the E220 or the E250D (which were the only two models sold in India. The rest are all direct imports). I recently got a spectacular 300E in Mystic Blue, which is a rare Mercedes colour in any model, it's done just 77,000 kms.

My E220 is almost "run-in". It's 1700 kms away from the 100,000 mark.
Having said that, Indian conditions are very very harsh on any vehicle. So while a car that has done 480,000 kms in Europe, still can do another 480,000, a W124 that has done close to 500,000 kms here, is probably on it's last legs. Let's not forget that the extreme heat, high humidity, poor roads end up taking their toll.

Anyway, your car seems to be in good condition, and I wish you many miles of happy motoring.
Wow, 77,000 km. That is almost unheard of in Britain. Anything other than an autobahn or super-smooth main road is harsh for a MB's suspension - sometimes I really feel for my car as it flies over washboard surfaces, nids-de-poules and potholes which only ancient Citroens cope with well. Still, balljoints and dampers are relatively easily replaced. At least the rear suspension of the Mercedes is a gas over oil Citroen self-levelling affair (licenced from them) which absorbs undulations and bumps very nicely, although in no way comparable with a DS, CX or GS.

The worst possible thing you can do is run an expensive German car on low profile tyres (50 or less) repeatedly over poor surfaces - I always try and fit one profile higher than standard on all my cars (with a small corresponding reduction in width) given my poor local roads (and speed over them) - I also avoid tyres with very stiff sidewalls - usually the cheap brands. The amount of suspension repairs and wheel replacements with modern cars is very high - mostly due to fashionable massive diameter wheels and low profile tyres.

I'm interested in the extreme heat and humidity problem - surely that is only on trim and paint? With the correct lubricants there is no reason a good car should wear out mechanically just because it is rather hot.

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Old 8th May 2013, 12:57   #5
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

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Wow, 77,000 km. That is almost unheard of in Britain. Anything other than an autobahn or super-smooth main road is harsh for a MB's suspension - sometimes I really feel for my car as it flies over washboard surfaces, nids-de-poules and potholes which only ancient Citroens cope with well. Still, balljoints and dampers are relatively easily replaced. At least the rear suspension of the Mercedes is a gas over oil Citroen self-levelling affair (licenced from them) which absorbs undulations and bumps very nicely, although in no way comparable with a DS, CX or GS.

The worst possible thing you can do is run an expensive German car on low profile tyres (50 or less) repeatedly over poor surfaces - I always try and fit one profile higher than standard on all my cars (with a small corresponding reduction in width) given my poor local roads (and speed over them) - I also avoid tyres with very stiff sidewalls - usually the cheap brands. The amount of suspension repairs and wheel replacements with modern cars is very high - mostly due to fashionable massive diameter wheels and low profile tyres.

I'm interested in the extreme heat and humidity problem - surely that is only on trim and paint? With the correct lubricants there is no reason a good car should wear out mechanically just because it is rather hot.
The W124's we got didn't have self levelling!
Sorry, you're wrong about the suspension. The suspension on a W124 lasts about 80,000 to 100,000 kms. Very very few cars can match that over here. BUT, we do have higher coil springs in the India spec W124's and the coil pads are usually higher, number 3 or 4.

Can't say about the ride quality of Citroens as they aren't sold here.

My 300E has 17 inch rims and Bilstein shocks. The ride is a firmer than the stock E220, but it's perfectly acceptable.

Regarding the tyres, what brands are popular in the UK? I have Yokohama A drives in one, and C drives in the other. The C drives are surprisingly noisy. The A drives according to me, are the perfect balance between silent, long lasting, and grippy.

Well, the standard operating temperature is always 100 or 105 degrees. That probably counts for something. But anyway, you're right about the trim and paint. But the poor roads fatigue the body shell. I know of someone who purchased another W124 so that he could switch the worn out and creaky body shell on his high mileage (400,000 km) E250D.

Apart from that, there is no culture of keeping cars that long here in India. Most people consider a car to be old and worn out as soon as it crosses the 6 figure mark. People who can afford it, don't keep a car for more than 4 or 5 years. Also, I find that car maintenance is not everyone cup of tea.

There is another very good reason why there are very very few high mileage W124's here in India. You must take in to account that the W124, when it was launched, was THE most luxurious car money could buy. People who could afford it back then, were naturally very affluent, and as a result, had many other cars. You think 77000 km is low? I've personally seen an E220 that has run 20,000. Another that had run 25K.
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Old 8th May 2013, 14:22   #6
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

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The W124's we got didn't have self levelling!
I think it was only standard on the Estates - due to their ability to carry more load at the rear.

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R

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Old 8th May 2013, 14:25   #7
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

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I think it was only standard on the Estates?

cya
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Correct. Optional in the rest. But it wasn't a choice that WE got.
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Old 8th May 2013, 16:19   #8
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

The self-levelling rear suspension which used a pair of spheres, height corrector, inline damping and a pair of rams, all fed from an engine driven pump, was offered as an option on the Coupe versions in the UK, not sure it was on saloons. I would have to check on the MB forums for that. It works very well (if not as well as a real Citroen from the 1950s/60s/70s/80s - although MB took out a licence to use the Citroen suspension they didn't quite master it), creating better roadholding and comfort (as you would expect of the perfect spring, a trapped gas).

How much does a low 'mileage' 124 sell for, ish? Low mileage here would be 90 or 100,000 miles. For 1500 you could buy a lovely 124, though the very best go for up to 6000 from a specialist dealer. There are plenty of very smart, useable cars for 7-800, less for a petrol.

To minimise the shocks from poor roads as well as having more spring travel, I would suggest that a higher tyre sidewall would do wonders for protecting the suspension. I usually use higher-profile tyres than are standard (in the UK, everyone seems to want the thinnest sliver of rubber possible running round the rim - it's madness given the poor state of many of our roads).

So instead of a 205 60 15, I will always prefer to use a 195 65 15. As well as these tyres having a differently shaped contact patch which promotes better traction in wet and slippery conditions (as well as cutting through standing water better) they ride more smoothly over roads with a washboard surface, since the tyre absorbs more of the imperfections. Hitting a pothole gives the suspension more chance, too. If I lived where roads were truly awful, I would be looking to fit smaller wheel rims with the biggest amount of rubber wrapped round them.

Popular tyres are the very cheapest for many people - motoring is so expensive, as is everything else in life today. Keen motorists use Yokohama, Michelin, Pirelli, Continental etc., a good compromise is a cheaper brand made by one of the premium manufacturers - BFGoodrich are very good for UK conditions and have many of the properties of Michelins (who make them).

It is worth mentioning that I would always fit Continentals to an Audi, the same (or Pirelli) to a MB, Michelins for a French car and Pirellis on an Italian. This is how the cars like it - for example, an Audi on a set of Michelins never feels quite right or gets the most out of the tyres.
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Old 8th May 2013, 21:55   #9
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

The self levelling is expensive to repair though, isn't it?

Low mileage is considered around 50 or 60K kms. The prices vary from state to state as each state has it's own tax structure for vehicles. The southern part of the country by and large has higher rates, and this causes the price difference.

In Delhi, you can get a trashy E220 in really poor shape for about INR 150,000. That is about 1800 GBP. For a car in top notch condition, you can have to shell out INR 500,000 or maybe even higher in some cases. (Worth noting, that what I call trash and top notch is subjective.)

Vehicles are stupidly expensive in India. The German luxury brands (Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz) are very over priced. Why? Because they can. They have a lot of status attached to them, which is why they charge a serious premium. A C class starts at 25.47 lakhs, or 29,800 GBP as compared to the UK, where they start at around 23,000.

What are you on about? 195/65/R15 is the stock size!
We don't have too many tyre brands here, it seems.

German to a German and so on? Why is that?
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Old 9th May 2013, 05:51   #10
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

The high value of German cars is endemic in Britain too, where with narrow lanes, short straights and lumpy roads - together with a motorway (freeway) speed limit of 70mph (80-85 in reality) - few people ever get to appreciate their expensive car working as it was designed to. Which is on a smooth, very fast road at speeds well in excess of 90mph/140kph.

It could be argued that England is a country whose roads were designed to show up German cars' weaknesses, but they are bought here at high prices. When we had our own car manufacturers, they similarly charged through the nose for the smallest bit of prestige - and lost sales to the more reliable, simpler, more logical, tougher Germans. That was back in the 1970s - today's German cars are to an extent resting on their laurels, relying on previous repuations.

From what I know of India, German cars are similarly out of their comfort zone, yet people still buy them because of their prestige. With poor roads cluttered with all sorts of traffic, potholes, speeds under 160kph etc., how does a German car make sense?

The art of selling and marketing motor cars is a fine one, and one which the Germans excel at. BMWs make their owners feel they are special drivers, MB owners have a sort of natural superiority imparted by their cars and Audis feel better than any other. In reality, they are often simpler and easier to maintain than most other nations' equivalent motors due to logical German thinking, the quality of production is generally good and component quality is good also, most of the time.

Mercedes quality took a dive from the mid-90s (only recently restored but look at the prices), VW/Audi/Skoda have enduring niggles with more recent cars and BMWs are extravagantly unnecessary with over-complexity.

The motor car is at the end of an era, engineering is set to come to the fore once again and in twenty years the average car may have more in common with a tuk-tuk than a W124. But until things really change, we are left with a group of behemoths.

Thinking Brits seem to be buying Korean cars and Skoda Octavias (unless they are very wealthy and/or intelligent, in which case they ride around in a battered piece of ancient machinery such as peeling VW Passat, some faded Peugoet diesel or a tottering Land Rover Discovery) - shunning over-priced Golfs and smaller Audis which traditionally have sold very well. The once-superb VW 1.9TDi engine has been over-complicated by emission controls (as have all diesels) and most cars are so alike today (in Europe) - they all seem to have god-fearing inline fours and MacPherson strut cheapo front suspension. I expect the next major innovations to come out of India or China. In the West we have become overweight, lazy and riddled with cumbersome rules and red tape. The Tata Nano is a very interesting piece of work, and I think there is far better to come.

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Old 9th May 2013, 15:46   #11
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

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The high value of German cars is endemic in Britain too, where with narrow lanes, short straights and lumpy roads - together with a motorway (freeway) speed limit of 70mph (80-85 in reality) - few people ever get to appreciate their expensive car working as it was designed to. Which is on a smooth, very fast road at speeds well in excess of 90mph/140kph.

It could be argued that England is a country whose roads were designed to show up German cars' weaknesses, but they are bought here at high prices. When we had our own car manufacturers, they similarly charged through the nose for the smallest bit of prestige - and lost sales to the more reliable, simpler, more logical, tougher Germans. That was back in the 1970s - today's German cars are to an extent resting on their laurels, relying on previous repuations.

From what I know of India, German cars are similarly out of their comfort zone, yet people still buy them because of their prestige. With poor roads cluttered with all sorts of traffic, potholes, speeds under 160kph etc., how does a German car make sense?

The art of selling and marketing motor cars is a fine one, and one which the Germans excel at. BMWs make their owners feel they are special drivers, MB owners have a sort of natural superiority imparted by their cars and Audis feel better than any other. In reality, they are often simpler and easier to maintain than most other nations' equivalent motors due to logical German thinking, the quality of production is generally good and component quality is good also, most of the time.

Mercedes quality took a dive from the mid-90s (only recently restored but look at the prices), VW/Audi/Skoda have enduring niggles with more recent cars and BMWs are extravagantly unnecessary with over-complexity.

The motor car is at the end of an era, engineering is set to come to the fore once again and in twenty years the average car may have more in common with a tuk-tuk than a W124. But until things really change, we are left with a group of behemoths.

Thinking Brits seem to be buying Korean cars and Skoda Octavias (unless they are very wealthy and/or intelligent, in which case they ride around in a battered piece of ancient machinery such as peeling VW Passat, some faded Peugoet diesel or a tottering Land Rover Discovery) - shunning over-priced Golfs and smaller Audis which traditionally have sold very well. The once-superb VW 1.9TDi engine has been over-complicated by emission controls (as have all diesels) and most cars are so alike today (in Europe) - they all seem to have god-fearing inline fours and MacPherson strut cheapo front suspension. I expect the next major innovations to come out of India or China. In the West we have become overweight, lazy and riddled with cumbersome rules and red tape. The Tata Nano is a very interesting piece of work, and I think there is far better to come.
From what I've seen of the UK, the roads are pretty good! A few years ago, my father and I went from London to Nottingham to Edinburgh, and then Edinburgh to London by road in a rented car.

German cars make sense because they're safe, very comfortable (except for the BMW 3 series), prestigious, and they do well in the potholes (but the suspension gets worn out that much quicker). And 160 kmph? You're having a laugh! The speed limit only goes up to 110. But then again, there aren't cops everywhere, so you can go much faster IF the road allows it. Most people break the speed limit on a daily basis, as it is ridiculously low (50 kmph) in the city. I've gone nearly twice the speed of the speed limit on the highways (the term we use here) on many occasions, and I can't be the only one.

Agreed, the sheer quality of the vehicles is what draws people to them. Although, I don't see why people buy BMWs here, as 90% of the people who can afford one, have chauffeurs, and the rear seat comfort of the 3 and 5 series is really nothing to gloat about.

Mercedes took a massive dive post '95 (world wide) and post '97 here (when the W210 was launched). But I still don't think that they're back to those levels of quality yet.

Skoda has a terrible reputation here. Just search the forums and you'll know. It's just horrific. But the cars are really good, and they sell in good numbers. Skoda has taken a cue from the Japanese (Maruti Suzuki) and Koreans, and have been selling two generations of the same car at different prices. The first generation Octavia was sold alongside the second generation, which was called the Laura until a few months ago when the MK1 was discontinued.

Any particular reason you say that the intelligent ride around in battered old cars?
We rarely get anything other than the god fearing in-line fours, so I get what you mean.
You guys think YOU'RE encumbered by red tape? Take a trip here! Or have a conversation with an Indian businessman!

The Nano is a good piece of work, and unfortunately doesn't do well because it has the tag of the cheapest car in the world. People think it's awfully small and generally quite a nasty piece of work without ever having sat in it or driven it. The car has an incredible amount of space in it. Four people who are 6 feet tall can easily sit inside, and you have to remember, the average Indian is much shorter, so there is really, a LOT of room. To drive, it isn't too bad. It has a 2 cylinder engine, so it's not pleasant, but it isn't unbearable, especially at that price point.

Just out of curiosity, do you ever need to replace the wiring harness in the W124 in the UK? The bio degradable stuff MB used in the 90's doesn't last more than 10 or 12 years. And it's very expensive!
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Old 9th May 2013, 17:30   #12
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

Wiring harnesses - it was the multivalve petrols which semed to suffer here. Anyway, I avoid any 124 post 1992. The steel quality dropped right off.

I look forward to seeing a Nano in the flesh. Tata considered things very carefully, it seems, with elements from the BMC Mini and 50s Fiat 500. I don't like small wheels when roads are potholed - how do they cope?

A lot of people who are intelligent and thinking, as well as those who don't have to worry about money at all put their money into more sensible investments than new cars! To them, prestige matters little. Character and honest design is more important.

I think speed limits should be low where cars are mixing with people, as in cities and built-up areas. 50kph is quite fast to be hit by a tonne of steel if you are on two legs. But I love speed where it is safe to do so!

English roads are good if they are major routes, but back roads can be terrible. Garages are kept in good business with prematurely worn suspension and damaged wheels/tyres.

German cars make most sense on smooth and fast German roads, but something like a Mk1 Octavia is tough and simple, especially in 90hp diesel form. And gems like the W124 class are always good, for no other reason that it was engineered by engineers and without a hint of cynicism.

As for comfort, well on a smooth road a German car is good. But at anything over 90kph on less good roads, they are not as fluid or as comfortable as a good French car. Except to say that some recent French cars have over-stiff springs, partly because they are very proud of their EU-funded roads which are super-smooth. They used to be famed for their cobbles and poor foundations, which what created fine suspension in the first place.
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Old 9th May 2013, 18:02   #13
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Default Re: High 'mileage' Mercedes W124, or just nicely run-in?

Yeah, the M104 & M111 had wiring harness issues.
Steel quality dropped? Is that right? So in essence, all W124 MKII are poorer quality?

Small wheels cope all right, because the wheelbase is that much smaller, so in most cases, the car only has to deal with one bump at a time, if you can picture that.

That makes sense. At the end of it all, if a car is reliable, safe, functions well, and has a few creature comforts with some character (optional!) it serves the purpose.

That is of course one way to look at it, but the speed limit used to be higher earlier at 60 kmph, and the in the current day, people are still doing that speed, so the limit is utterly ignored, unless a road user is aware of some police/speed camera presence.

My trip was only major roads (A1 and M1 mostly, if I remember correctly) and the two capitals.

Could you define prematurely worn suspensions? How many miles/kilometres? How do wheels and tyres get damaged? Unless you're flying through pot holes on a regular basis, I don't see how it is possible. You don't see much of that even here!

The Octavia seems to suffer from a lot of problems in it's AC and suspension over here.

French cars have never sold in numbers here. Peugeot had some presence here in the mid 90's (I think), but they shut shop and left soon after. Recently, Renault has started doing very well, but their line up mostly consists of cars from their Romanian stable, namely Dacia. The Renault Duster is doing very well, and it's ride is absolutely brilliant. I've driven it at some considerable speed over torturous roads during a test drive, and it just took it in it's stride. Very impressive. But that is my only experience with a French suspension.

Another reason why the Germans do so well in India is that they're far better at high speed than anything else. The Japs, Koreans, etc just do not feel half as confident as the European/German cars. The India spec W124 with the higher coil springs does really really well at speed over bad roads. Where other cars do 80 or 90, you can do 120 or 130 with considerable comfort and confidence. My 300E is a German import, so it rides much lower, as a result, it has to be babied over bad roads and bumps.
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Old 9th May 2013, 18:07   #14
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Thinking Brits seem to be buying Korean cars and Skoda Octavias (unless they are very wealthy and/or intelligent, in which case they ride around in a battered piece of ancient machinery such as peeling VW Passat, some faded Peugoet diesel or a tottering Land Rover Discovery) - shunning over-priced Golfs and smaller Audis which traditionally have sold very well. The once-superb VW 1.9TDi engine has been over-complicated by emission controls (as have all diesels) and most cars are so alike today (in Europe) - they all seem to have god-fearing inline fours and MacPherson strut cheapo front suspension. I expect the next major innovations to come out of India or China. In the West we have become overweight, lazy and riddled with cumbersome rules and red tape. The Tata Nano is a very interesting piece of work, and I think there is far better to come.
What a lovely solid insightful post and what a lovely writing style! A real pleasure to read you Sir. I look forward to more!
Cheerio.

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they are not as fluid or as comfortable as a good French car. Except to say that some recent French cars have over-stiff springs, partly because they are very proud of their EU-funded roads which are super-smooth. They used to be famed for their cobbles and poor foundations, which what created fine suspension in the first place.
Ah! Those evocative Citroen Traction Avants,DS's, Peugeot 309's and Renault Alpines.
You're absolutely right about the famous French suspension being necessitated by those quaint cobbled streets which looked great but were murder on the spine!

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Old 13th May 2013, 02:13   #15
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Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Ah! Those evocative Citroen Traction Avants,DS's, Peugeot 309's and Renault Alpines.
You're absolutely right about the famous French suspension being necessitated by those quaint cobbled streets which looked great but were murder on the spine!
As someone once said, every French car is a sports car at heart - it has to be, given their roads. I remember the first time I took a German car on their by-roads and was amazed how I struggled to keep up with a Reanult 5 with little more than half my power. It had poise and good roadholding, well-suited to its native roads - I couldn't believe how my beloved machine was left quite outclassed.
Similarly, when the Germans occupied France in WW2, they arrived with their hugely powerful Mercedes-Benz cars yet couldn't catch the French Resistance with just 60hp under their Citroen Traction Avants. So they ditched their impressive machines and took off in much more impressive Citroens. I was reminded of this a little while ago, see my thread about tyre width and grip (merged with another but still all there - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/tyre-a...ml#post3117986 (Wide Tyres - More Contact? More Grip? or Overrated?)) and look out in the Techincal section for a new thread about common misconceptions/profit-oriented engineering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
What a lovely solid insightful post and what a lovely writing style! A real pleasure to read you Sir. I look forward to more!
Cheerio.
Thank you very much for your kind words - I am more used to people getting frustrated at their long-held beliefs being challenged.
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