If you grew up in the 1990s listening to Michael Jackson on the stereo, playing Super Mario on your Nintendo Game Boy, and saved your classmates’ telephone numbers on your Casio Magic Diary, you may remember being smitten by cars like the Mercedes-Benz W140 S-class and the BMW E38 7 Series straight out of a Bond movie. Imported Mercedes W124s and BMW E36s were also a common sight on Mumbai’s roads.
However, in recent months, I’ve seen a steep decline in the number of these once very desirable cars from the 1990s. They have become extremely rare to come by.
German luxury cars from the 1990s came with a lot of tech that was probably ahead of their time, like memory seats, electronic gizmos like adjustable suspension, and safety systems like traction control that are now common on cars; however, these are likely to give you trouble when they age and are extremely expensive to fix.
The engines and transmissions of such cars too had a high number of sensors mated to electronic control units that were prone to get troublesome over time. As a result, and more often than not, the cost of fixing some of these cars when they break-down is even higher than their resale value. Due
to this, most cars have been scrapped or are being scrapped.
Cars like the W140 S-class and E38 7 Series are becoming rare to come by.
What is even more alarming though is that it is not just the S-class and 7 Series cars that are almost extinct but also the W202 generation of C-classes and E36 generation of the 3 Series that are getting extremely hard to come by.
If you ask me, resale prices of running examples of Mercedes-Benzes, BMWs and other German luxury cars from the 1990s should skyrocket in a few years, mainly because of their sheer rarity in the country, and our import rules that prohibit us from importing such cars. Well-known collector Viveck Goenka also feels that well-maintained modern classics will fetch a fortune because of their rarity. Of course, at the same time, the costs of maintaining such cars will remain astronomical.
If you’ve driven a S600 or a 750iL with a butter smooth V12 or even a rumbling V8, you would easily know why these cars are now so sought after the world over. However, if you can’t get your hands on a V8 or an even rarer V12, and have always fancied one of these land yachts, try and get hold of a clean example with a relatively humble six-cylinder engine.
While most serious collectors would look at range topping Ses and 7s, if you ask me, I’d keep a keen eye on some older imported Cs, Es, and also 3s and 5s that are almost extinct too. They are really nice to use regularly, and already have great rarity values too!