Car #4: 2015 Mercedes Benz S550
I thought my experiment in short-term ownership of interesting, highly depreciated cars ended when I bought my 2018 Miata. But my curiosity got the better of me, and now I own a 2015 Mercedes-Benz S550 sedan.
Well, we are living in the twilight of the internal-combustion-powered automobile. My next new car will almost certainly be a plug-in electric vehicle. Also, the sedan is a dying breed in automobiles. So before they all go the way of the dodo, I figured I should experience the modern V8-powered luxo-barge (aka land yacht), a category that we will not see again.
The Mercedes S Class is the car that, for 50 years, has defined the luxury sedan (again, say it with me, "luxo-barge"). The BMW 7 series, Audi A8, Lexus LS, Bentley Flying Spur -- they are all discussed relative to the S Class. Despite the twin-turbo V8 engine, the 430hp, and the sub-5 second 0-60 times, these are not "performance" cars. Instead, they focus on isolation from the road, luxe materials, and lots of tech conveniences (i.e., the front seats both have built in massage features).
What piqued my interest in the luxo-barge category? Well, I regularly drive four hours round trip on I-80 (a freeway both busy and boring) to see my parents. And doing that trip in either my Miata or Honda Fit leaves me pretty wrung out. So I started dreaming about something a bit more comfortable. And highly depreciated. With an excellent stereo. (I also have been borrowing interesting cars to liven up the drive.)
So why this one? In order to make the most of depreciation, while also getting modern tech amenities (well, not entirely modern -- this was the pre-CarPlay/AndroidAuto era), I focused on 2014-2016 model years (the first years of the W222 chassis). But most of the S550 offerings are a bit boring -- black or silver exteriors, black or tan interiors, with walnut wood accents. Yawn. Plus, I wanted the Burmester High-End 3D Surround Sound system (a $6,400 option!). And then I happened across this one -- white exterior over "porcelain" Nappa leather interior, black wood accents, and the fancy stereo option. And it was being sold by a Mercedes-Benz dealer near my parents, with reasonably complete maintenance records.
The original owner of this one really piled on the options -- the MSRP on this car was $131,000 when new! In the end, thanks to the magic of depreciation, the car cost me less than a base model Tesla 3. I'm looking forward to learning why these cars (and the luxo-barge segment generally) inspire devotion among their fans.
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