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the Mink Test



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    WQ: I never equated the term mass-production with a lack of quality; quite the opposite--I kept repeating how amazing it is that mass produced engines WERE so good; also, you may have missed that I specifically said that Cadillac taught Mercedes how to make mass-produced quality cars. I actually said that, a couple times. I also said how precision engines that are "narrowly engineered" can be a great deal fussier than simple cast iron powerplants that are "tolerance-tolerant". I also said that a Cadillac V8 was more reliable than a Rolls Royce.

    Your junkyard post also agrees with what I've been saying---99% of all 4-door sedans will be in the wreckers, no matter who makes them. Very few people restore 4-doors, not worth it.

     Read the posts, then complain, okay? :)


    ndance: I think what we are seeing is another version of the Great American Dream---that luxury can be enjoyed by the middle class, not just the well-to-do. Of course, this isn't really true, but there are these relatively simple-to-produce/provide "trappings" of luxury and refinement going into middle-range and even entry levels cars, as a new marketing tool.

    The old saying is "You can't sell anything to a happy person". So first you have to make a car owner despise his roll up windows, lack of a/c, cloth interior, etc., and then get him to pay a bit more for something "better".

    You can see how well this has worked if you read around the Town Hall boards. Cars that are without these "amenities" are often thought to be "low-rent" or "low-tech".

    You yourself by espousing a return to practicality and functionality in cars (even if you put performance at the top of your list) run the risk of being branded a fearful technophobe without an E-ticket to the future.

    It's all pretty amusing to watch.

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  • wq59bwq59b Posts: 61
    No, the reason for excessive factory run-in durations was to 'seat' components of less-than-precision tolerances. Long periods of running-in only waste manpower & elevate operating costs- nothing else. They are not an indication of quality thinking (nor is such a practice required prepatory for high-RPM use) UNLESS the very real possibility of initial deficiency is present. Rings, valves, seals, bearings, etc need to set & mate and be established as reliable & leak-free before the engine leaves the factory, otherwise there's a unkown risk of engine breakdown & warranty costs once in the consumer's hands- not to mention (once again) the accompanying undesired publicity. Precision-manufactured engines --regardless if they are built from a "simple", less-glamorous iron or not, or include 'old-tech' components such as pushrods or not-- do not need these excessive run-in intervals and they do not further require break-in periods under private ownership. Cadillac engines are not "GM engines"- they were designed & engineered autonomously from the other divisions by Cadillac engineers and they were not used in other division's products. Cadillac set the standard for precision manufacture in the first half of the automobile industry, and their manufacturing practices in the '60s merely continued this SOP.
    Cadillac engines WERE designed to run at redline for many hours- they were tested at WOT for long durations during R&D and their tolerances and precision allow this as well. There is no design flaw or cost-cutting or deficiency, no- not even a 'snap-ring', that would disallow this. Cadillac blocks have a 20% nickel content and tensile strengths up to 70,000 PSI. No other GM-division's engines were so spec'ed.

    >>"I also said that a Cadillac V8 was more reliable than a Rolls Royce."<<
    And I replied that is absolutely NO compliment. #1: Rolls' are not built in relative quantity as, driven nearly hard or far as, or maintained as poorly as just about any other make. Their reliability is therefore for comparison's purposes: unproven. I'd rather stake my reliability dollars on a (insert any other low-priced car here). #2: Rolls' design & engineering keystone is 'obsolescence'. Roll's has never been the engineering target of an other manufacturer with the exception of NVH levels. Their powertrains specifically have remained unchanged for decades at a time, and are usually years behind the average vehicle's technology level.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    wq-- I'm not sure what you are trying to say here.

    If your premise is that a 60s Cadillac engine has better metallurgy or is more carefully assembled than a 60s Chevy or Pontiac engine, I wouldn't contest that as I have no knowledge of it being otherwise, and the proposition seems like a reasonable one at any rate. Sure, why not?

    If however you are saying that a 60s Cadillac engine is built more precisely and assembled more carefully than a 60s Benz engine, or runs at closer tolerances, then the evidence gets very dicey.

    For one thing, having taken quite a few engines apart, I can tell you with no doubts in my mind that a Cadillac V-8 looks externally and internally like a Vermont Wood Stove next to a Benz engine, and this alone puts me in a state of skepticism regarding the presentation of a Cadillac engine as a precision unit of equal sophistication.

    It's like handing me a Timex and a Rolex and telling me they are essentially the same because they both say the same time.

    In the life of an average 60s car, all this may not even matter, but craftsmanship still shows regardless.

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  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    I always thought combining Cadillac-style amenities with the ride, handling and braking of a Mercedes (or other European sedan) was a good idea. I like a responsive vehicle - and a vehicle with power windows/door locks/sun roof, CD player, air conditioning and ABS.

    Plus, most of those power assists are pretty reliable today - at least on the Hondas that I have owned.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    That's basically what the S class Benzes of the 80s came to...big, big V8 luxury cars that can handle, brake and accelerate in remarkable fashion for their size. Ditto Lexus, although it wasn't quite the handler.

    Cadillac finally got the idea with the STS, but it still wasn't good enough to compete with the Benz 300 & 500 series, and the LS400.

    Last STS I drove extensively was a '93, and back then I thought it was at least 5 years behind Benz and Lexus in development.

    So Cadillac might be closer in 2003. Haven't driven a new one.

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  • lemmerlemmer Posts: 2,687
    read through this discussion again. Does anyone think Cadillac and MB have changed places or at least narrowed the gap between the two in the past couple of years?
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,885
    Interesting thread...I jkust glanced at it too. I dunno about comparing a W114 (?) MB 250 to a Caddy, but that's old news. A SE model would have been more appropriate, not a lowline car.

    Anyway, I think the gap has narrowed from a couple years ago...CTS and STS can be seen by many as C and E class competitors. However, there's no other real matches.
  • martianmartian Posts: 220
    The two companies had completely different design philosophies. American V-8s were designed to be driven in stop and go conditions, with RPMs below 3000 at 65 MPH. In Europe, engine displacements were limited by displacement, so higher compression rations and OHCs were used. What really puzzles me was why American mfgs. delayed inroduction of disc brakes-my dad's big FORD had drums all around, and you could experiece brake fade very frequently-that is scarey. Discs worked better and were mechanically simply-yet Americans endured lousy brakes into the 1980s. German cars have excellent brakes-and they use nice large diameter discs.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    that disc brakes were delayed for so long is that they pretty much demand a power assist. With drum brakes, even a big battlecruiser driven by a little old lady could get slowed down without a power assist. I had a '67 Newport with a 383-2bbl, and a weight of an easy 4000 pounds. Drum brakes all around, and no power assist. It belonged to a little old lady before me, and if she was able to handle something like that for roughly 30 years, anybody should be able to!

    With disc brakes though, even smaller cars really need a power assist in order to safely stop. Unless you're a body-builder with very strong leg muscles!

    Now to be fair, most larger cars back then were equipped with power brakes. But IIRC, disc brakes were a $25-30 option, while the power boost was around $100. If they made all that stuff standard, they'd have had to raise their advertised prices and, well, we all know how cheap Detroit can be. :blush:

    FWIW, the fact that disc brakes were optional, but seldom ordered, speaks volumes to the fact that by and large, the American buying public just didn't care. They cared about how big it was, how cushy it was, and how fast it could accelerate, but not how fast it could stop.

    Here's something that puzzles me with the newer cars, though. On some trim styles of the same model line they offer 4-wheel discs, but on some they still have drums in the rear. For example, the Taurus/Sable wagons have disc brakes in back, but the sedans have drums. And with the Stratus/Sebring sedans, the V-6 models have 4-wheel discs, while the 4-cyl have drums in back.

    Wouldn't it be cheaper in the long run to just make them 4-wheel disc, across the board? I can't imagine that they're really saving much in manufacturing costs by offering it two different ways. And I really don't see how a disc brake setup should be any more expensive than a drum brake. If anything, it actually seems LESS complicated to me! It's much easier to change the pads on a disc-brake car, there are fewer springs and little BS-parts in the assembly, and just by design, disc brakes are self-adjusting, so you eliminate those annoying little adjusters that the drum brakes had which didn't work half the time.

    About the only thing I can think of, in the argument for simplicity these days, is that rear drums are inherently designed to function well as an emergency brake. Just pull the handle or push the footbrake, and a cable pulls the leading shoe against the drum. It's not easy (or maybe not even possible) to make something mechanical like that to cause a caliper to push out and and press the pads against the rotor, so they have to design a miniature drum setup in the rear wheels, which acts as an emergency brake. And supposedly, if you rarely use your emergency/parking brake and the system gets muffed up, it's alot more expensive to fix than the old fashioned drum setup, where at the most the only thing screwed up is a couple of cables.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    The American Crosley offered disc brakes way back in the early 1950s, but they unfortunately corroded rapidly for some reason, and were discontinued.

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  • Being the current owner of a '70 DeVille and having driven 2 '68 M.B Limos - I can say this (keep in mind I have ALWAYS loved the 450SL) I turned down an opportunity to get a '73 450SL convertible in MUCH better shape than my Caddy convertible. They wanted my Cadillac and $3,000.00 for the SL ....

    .... of course I would hate missing out on flying Caddy hub caps when hitting an on ramp too fast with almost 20 foot of DeVille sailing around a tight curve!! :P
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    You shouldn't have to give any money with your Caddy to get a 450SL, especially an early one. They are worth about the same--they might actually owe you $3,000, no kidding.

    Besides, all you'd be getting is a smaller car that eats just as much gas as your Caddy and is 3X more expensive to repair.

    I think Benz performed the $100 bill test on all 450SLs, to see how well they stuck to the upholstery :P

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  • RE: a smaller car that eats just as much gas

    Since the tune up and carb rebuild I get 13.8 MPG
    (before that it was under 9 MPG)

    my '06 Escape Limited (V6) only gets 17.4 MPG

    For a little more than 3 1/2 MPG it's not worth parking the yacht unless the top has to be up - it has too many blind spots.

    As for the Caddy's worth - it was rough compared to the SL.

    That offer was before almost a grand in electrical, new exhaust, water pump, a complete tune up, carb rebuild, a bunch of body work & paint, as well as new tires and a LOT of detailing :sick: .

    It was almost tempting!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    .... of course I would hate missing out on flying Caddy hub caps when hitting an on ramp too fast with almost 20 foot of DeVille sailing around a tight curve!!

    My '67 Catalina has a habit of ditching its right front hubcap. I finally got fed up enough that nowadays I put it on at car shows, but then pop it back off and put it in the trunk when it's time to drive it home!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    But consider that your Cadillac's engine is not going to cost $15,000 to rebuild. Once that 450SL pops a piston or a rod, that's it for the car, it's junk.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,885
    If you want a 107, get a 560SL. The last is often the best, surely the case with that platform.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    That's right! The 560SL handles well and gets decent gas mileage and is pretty quick, too. Three attributes that the 450SL does not possess.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,885
    They are also by far the most expensive variant...but they are that much better than the rest, and their values seem relatively stable now. That car was a real retro car...a 1972 model being made in 1989.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    You can get a nice one for maybe $18,000.

    They were good cars, the 560SLs....

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    one of my coworkers bought a 1973-74 450SL. I think he paid something ridiculous like $15,600 for it. It had close to 200,000 miles on it, but it did look great in the pictures and the video they sent him before he bought it! And even in person, it did look good, although there was a bit of rust in the door sill area as I recall.

    In the end, I think he sunk a couple grand into it during the few years he had it, and finally sold it to someone he knew for about half of what he paid for it. The tranny went out soon after that.

    How much is a tranny rebuild on one of those things?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,564
    with labor, probably $2,800.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,885
    People must see that three pointed star and get all emotional. 15K for a 450SL? Maybe for a perfect ultra low mileage example in 100 point condition, and no 75-76-77 models from what I hear.

    I still almost regret not buying that mint 560SL that was a perfect match for my W126. But of course, that third car would have been a silly move, and I wouldn't have bought the C43 if I had three cars already/
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    People must see that three pointed star and get all emotional. 15K for a 450SL?

    I'm guessing that to some people who aren't knowledgeable, they might also look at a price like that and think that they're still getting a luxury car at a cheap price, especially when they see how much a new one is!

    I know that's one way my buddy justified paying the $16K or whatever he did for his '78 Mark V. His rationale was that car was about $20,000 brand-new, which equates to $60,000 today. So in his mind he thinks he's getting a $60K car on the cheap!

    I wonder if that type of rationale is common? I think one trap I fall into sometimes is when I start thinking that it would be cheaper to go out and buy a nicer version of a car I have rather than fix mine up. However, that still doesn't justify over-paying for the nicer version! :shades:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,885
    Maybe he underestimated repair costs. I think with some of those cars, they are also bought by people who remember them when new. From what I can tell, having something like a 450SL when they were new meant having quite a prestigious and even chic car. Probably even moreso than they are today, due to being a little rarer. Maybe that Mark V can be explained the same way. If you get a no-miles as-new one for well under original MSRP, someone could see that as a deal, esp if they are fond of the car to begin with. It might not be safe logic, but it is logic.

    At the same time, some people think vintage = worth a fortune. If a new SL is 90K, a nice vintage one must be worth a bit, right? Some people assume that about my fintail...if a loaded new E-class is 60K and a S-class is 90K, a shiny old MB with fins and chrome must be worth 30K anyway, right? People have actually told me that.

    Funny thing too...according to my 1976 NADA and KBB guides, a 74 450SL had a MSRP of $15450, and a 73 at $13340 - so that guy paid more than original MSRP!
  • british_roverbritish_rover Posts: 8,458
    Very interesting thread here.
This discussion has been closed.