Still Going Strong

Every new generation of Mercedes suffers from a degree of cost-cutting that the cognoscenti inevitably lament. What was once wool is now acrylic. Leather seats, door panels and sunvisors are now "leather seating surfaces." (And not the classic thick and distinctively fragrant German Roser leather either.) Triple-plated chromed brass is now aluminum, or even worse, chromed plastic.

There is that inexorable march towards cheaper, lighter and more disposable that we accept on some level. Nonetheless. we hold Mercedes and, in particular, its models near the top of the line such as the mid-90s Cabriolet to a higher standard.

We hold Mercedes to a higher standard, and it must be said they do not disappoint. Details may have been cheapened over time, but I am constantly in awe of the A124 for its sheer durability. Years later, this model has withstood the test of time. Both mechanically and aesthetically, the 124 series has defied aging.

The W124 lives on in the form of the Korean Ssangyong Chairman. 
Certainly Korean carmaker Ssangyong agrees. Since 1997, they have produced their upmarket "Chairman" model based on the W124 platform. Ssangyong commenced production as the W124 was being phased out and continues today.

Meanwhile, Cabriolets like mine continue to soldier on. A good decade and a half later, its paint still gleams, the body has proven it's not rust-prone (at least not compared to previous generations of Mercedes), and the motor is a study in quiet, efficient power.

The A124 is not without its own set of issues, but all in all, it's one tough and supremely elegant machine.