This story originally appeared on the Gents Cafe Newsletter. You can subscribe here.
Ask raffish tailor, Hardy Amies about style, and he’d reply: “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them”. The Mercedes-Benz W124 coupé is such sprezzatura made metal, and arguably, one of the finest cars ever built. Now is the time to buy.
Flash back to 1987: greed is good, conspicuous consumption spells success. The C124 debuts on a shortened platform of the ground-breaking, E-class saloon and instantly sets its own standard.
This is peak Benz.
A two-door, four-seat GT engineered like few others. Aerodynamic and efficient; practical and tough; accomplished and urbane. It’s a latter-day Lancia Flaminia – the last ember of Mercedes’ old mantra: ‘The best or nothing’.
Grazie, Bruno Sacco; the company’s design inspiration from 1975 to 1999.
His philosophy echoed that of fellow countryman, Giorgio Armani: “Elegance is not standing out – but being remembered”.
Fast-forward to 2022, and the C124 effortlessly balances both. It just works. Everywhere.
The proportions appeal first: angular and unadorned with a soft, flowing touch. Petite outside, generous within.
With time, you appreciate the depth of detail more and more.
Up front, the three-pointed star tops a classic, chrome grille. Their quiet confidence permeates the entire car.
Lower-body mouldings add muscle along the flanks, coalescing in a sharp, chiselled rear.
Look up: pillarless grace prevails. The side windows drop without obstruction into lovely light and air. So beautifully-judged.
Opening the substantial door reveals an interior of functional perfection. Comfort and clarity reign. The boot swallows luggage, plus quelques caisses de rouge.
Fire up: seatbelt ‘butlers’ glide forward; the motor murmurs distant. Prod the wooden throttle, and slur away. Steering’s silky-smooth. The four-speed auto shifts imperceptibly. Knocks or rattles: keine Frage. Wind noise barely registers. Every interaction gently whispers – this is a class act.
Push harder: the C124 responds with precision and verve. Sophisticated suspension injects agility; the ride firms from cosseting to controlled, and you can rev to the redline through the click-clack manual gate.
It’s desert-island good.
Over nine years’ production, the C124 was subtly revised, including a 1993 facelift, which introduced multi-valve engines. Any is robust, imperious and refined.
True luxury is an experience that enhances your everyday.
That’s where these cool, understated coupés excel.
I’ll be hanging on to mine.
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