A lot can happen over 50 years and Mercedes-Benz’s product offerings have grown substantially during that time. From a couple of passenger car models to a vast array of body styles and functions, we take a look at some of the trend-setters that have appeared along the way
Fifty years ago Mercedes-Benz offered a limited range of saloons in its South African line-up: the Type W110/111 ‘Fintail’ 200, 200D, 230 and 230S were in the process of being replaced with the W114/115 220, 220D, 230 and 230/6 models, and the W108 250SE, 280S and 280SE topping the line-up. The new cars were readily identified by having vertically-stacked front light clusters, a likely American-inspired design feature for the generally rather staid Mercedes-Benz image. Compare this with today’s offering of no less than 24 different Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-Maybach passenger vehicle model lines and it is clear that five decades of progress have not been wasted. Why, there is now even a Three-pointed Star bakkie in the mix! But during that half-century of evolution there have been a number of distinctive Mercs reaching the showroom floors. Here are some of the more notable offerings.
1. W113 Pagoda 1963-1971
The W113 roadster/coupé was a stylish two-seater with a distinctive concave hardtop that quickly earned it the nickname ‘pagoda’.
2. W100 600 1963-1981
The ‘Grand Mercedes’ was available in short- and long-wheelbase guises as well as a landaulet. An SA presidential car for many years.
3. R107/C107 1971-1989
The second-longest single series model (after the G-Class) produced by M-B. The roadster was a two-seater, the coupé a four.
4. W116 S-Class 1972-1980
The flagship model was the first to be officially called the S-Class. It set a benchmark for luxury saloons that rivals found hard to match.
5. W123 1976-1985
Replaced the W114/115 and quickly became the best-selling Mercedes to date with 2,7-million sold before being replaced by the W124.
6. G-Class 1979-1990
The Geländewagen (‘cross country vehicle’) was M-B’s first SUV. Incidentally, 69 pick-up versions of a later model were built between 2013-15.
7. W201 1982-93
The first compact Mercedes-Benz, it proved to be the forerunner of the C-Class. It featured a sophisticated five-link rear suspension.
8. W124 E-Class 1984-1995
The W124 was Mercedes-Benz’s first official E-Class. It was built in 10 countries, including South Africa.
9. W202 C-Class 1993-2000
The original C-Class was M-B’s entry-level model and set the standard for what has become one of the company’s most popular model derivatives.
10. W186 A-Class 1997-2004
A front-wheel drive five-door hatchback, the sub-compact A-Class became Mercedes-Benz’s entry-level model.