It’s often said that you can’t put a value on trust. That doesn’t seem to be true in Stuttgart, where Mercedes-Benz is attempting to put a substantial price tag on the peace of mind that comes from buying a classic model from the company itself.
The newly launched All Time Stars European program is being run directly from the company’s museum, and by the same Mercedes-Benz Classic division that maintains and repairs the vast collection. Sadly this isn’t a chance to buy unwanted former exhibits (at least, not yet), but rather immaculate classic Benzes that have been certified and, in some cases, restored by the company itself.
It’s like an approved certified pre-owned program, just on a considerably longer timescale. Three levels of vehicles will be offered. Drivers’ Edition models are claimed to be suitable for “everyday driving and for people who want to tinker.” Collectors’ Edition are in excellent unrestored condition, while—at the top—Premium Edition models are as-new cars with very limited mileages, or those that have been restored by MB Classic itself.
As the service has just been launched we can’t be too critical that there isn’t much stock yet, just six cars are currently showing, with a number of others listed as “Coming Soon.” While the condition of all of them looks impressive, it’s the prices (where given) that are even more striking. Mercedes is advertising a 450SEL 6.9 sedan to Collectors’ Edition standard for €70, 000 ($75, 000 at current exchange rates). Even given the relatively low mileage of this early autobahn-stormer—112, 000 km from new—that’s still what we’d politely term an aggressive valuation. Two minutes with Germany’s favorite used-car website produced this smart-looking, 84, 000-km example for €14, 950. We’ve no doubt the fully certified All Time Stars car is nicer, but €55, 000 nicer?
At the other end of the scale is a Premium Edition 1929 Mercedes 630 Kompressor being advertised for €850, 000, although the online listing suggests the bodywork is modern. And, for those not put off by POA pricing, a genuine ex-factory 1998 Mercedes AMG CLK-LM race car that was apparently used in pre-qualifying for Le Mans. If you’re passing through Stuttgart, pop in and make them an insultingly lowball offer and tell us what they say, will you?
Mercedes already sells classics directly in the U.S from its Irvine Classic center in California, something that will continue as before. There’s currently a 7900-mile W116 300SD for a mere $49, 995 if you’re interested. They are happy to hook up potential buyers with the All Time Stars team in Germany, but there’s no formal link with the U.S. program. With more carmakers moving to factory restorations and certification of originality, it’s an obvious move for Mercedes to make, but the reassurance of buying from the factory carries a sizable supplement.