Luxury Cars

Mercedes-Benz celebrates 40 years of the first Baby Benz

Mercedes-Benz’s lineup modified considerably in late 1982. By launching a brand new entry-level mannequin referred to as W201 internally and Child Benz colloquially, the Stuttgart-based firm made its automobiles accessible to a a lot wider viewers and significantly elevated its annual gross sales.

Though the primary W201 noticed the sunshine that awaits on the finish of a manufacturing line in December 1982, the concept of increasing the Mercedes vary in the direction of the underside had ricocheted via the agency’s analysis and growth division for a lot of many years. In 1948, Mercedes developed a 145-inch lengthy two-door sedan with a Ponton-like design. It did not attain manufacturing. Mercedes tried once more within the Nineteen Fifties: its board gave an entry-level mannequin the inexperienced mild in 1953, and a number of other prototypes have been constructed, however the venture reached a useless finish. It took a number of extra tries (and strain from regulators to enhance the vary’s common gas financial system ranking) earlier than the W201 turned a actuality.

Within the early Eighties, the boxy W201 seemed fully misplaced parked subsequent to a W126 and a W123 in a Mercedes showroom. And but, in hindsight it blazed the trail that later additions to the agency’s portfolio adopted. The W124 launched in late 1984 (and later became the first-generation E-Class) seemed like a jumbo-sized W201, and this angular design language permeated the R129-generation SL in addition to the W140 that ended its profession as the primary S-Class. Magnificence is within the eye of the beholder; you may simply argue there’s completely nothing horny a few W201 however you may simply as simply argue it is characterised by a sublime design that is comparatively easy, pure, and useful. 

From the motive force’s perspective, the W201 felt just like the scaled-down Mercedes sedan that it was. The seats have been developed with a concentrate on consolation, the instrument cluster was clearly legible, and many of the controls have been grouped on the middle stack. With that mentioned, going from, say, a W123 to a W201 required selecting up a brand new behavior: the emergency brake was a lever situated on the middle console fairly than a pedal.

In the USA, the W201 made its debut as a 1984 mannequin with two obtainable engines. The most affordable member of the vary (which, in flip, turned essentially the most inexpensive Mercedes) was the 190E powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 113 horsepower and 133 pound-feet of torque, although these figures elevated to 120 and 136, respectively, for 1985. Subsequent up was the 190D, whose naturally-aspirated, 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel engine developed 72 horsepower and 96 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel-drive and a five-speed guide transmission got here customary no matter gas sort, and patrons who did not need to shift may pay additional for a four-speed automated.

Pricing began at $22,850 for the 190E and $22,930 for the 190D, figures that characterize roughly $65,600 and $65,800 in 2022. As compared, Volkswagen charged $6,530 (round $18,800 in 2022) for an entry-level Rabbit that yr and a 2022 C-Class begins at $43,550.

The W201 was an immediate hit, and its success inspired Mercedes to launch further variants within the Eighties. The 1986 mannequin yr introduced a 16-valve, 167-horsepower evolution of the two.3-liter four-cylinder and a 2.5-liter, 93-horsepower five-cylinder diesel. In 1987, the primary six-cylinder-powered W201 landed in American showrooms because the 190E 2.6. It used the W124’s 158-horsepower straight-six. The vary grew throughout the Atlantic as properly, and Mercedes even took the W201 racing in a bid to dethrone the unique, E30-based BMW M3.

Gasoline or diesel, 4, 5, or six cylinders, and automated or guide; there have been quite a few methods to configure a W201. What by no means modified was the physique model: all through its profession, the mannequin was solely provided as a four-door sedan. Mercedes experimented with a number of totally different prototypes, together with a pillar-less two-door convertible (proven in our gallery), however none have been accredited for manufacturing.

Most variants of the W201 carried the 190 nameplate (by itself to designate a carbureted engine, adopted by an “E” to designate a fuel-injected gasoline engine, or adopted by a “D” to designate a diesel engine) however there was one exception. Within the early Nineties, Mercedes offered a stripped-down, entry-level variant of the W201 referred to as 180E on the Australian market that was powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine.

W201 manufacturing led to 1993 after about 1.87 million models have been constructed. The sedan handed the torch to the unique C-Class, which was referred to as W202 internally and have become the primary compact Mercedes provided as a station wagon. Whereas the 190 was thought-about an inexpensive, strong, and disposable automotive for a lot of many years, it is slowly however absolutely turning into sought-after by fans world wide and values are consequently growing. Many have been pushed into the bottom so discovering a clear, well-kept instance has grow to be simpler mentioned than performed.

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