Chrome and steel

Just finished washing and polishing my '81 380 SL. Realized that REAL chrome and REAL steel and REAL Paint make a damn fine looking car. A joy to do. Hate doing my '03 Volvo
because it is half plastic. Can I add, tritely, they just don't make them like they used to.
Chip
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On 12/31/07 I traded my 2001 Volvo S80 in on a new '08 M-B C300. I hated that Volvo so much that I'll never buy another one.
It's not that M-B doesn't use plastic --- heck, all car makers do these days --- but all five of my previous Mercedes cars were good solid machines and after 10 months usage it's pretty obvious that this new one is too. The Volvo? I never could say that.
One little example (certainly not all, that'd be too time consuming): The external door window surrounds on the Volvo featured a sort of pebble-grained blackout decal finish. A pure styling gimmick. It provided a little visual interest when contrasted against the body color. When new it was not offensive to look at. It wasn't actually a decal but probably a piece of plastic film that was heat-set over the door sheetmetal. After 2 years however it began to degrade and by the time the car was 3 years old it had weathered and blistered and wrinkled and cracked in numerous places on all 4 doors. Not warrantable, so there was no help from Volvo as far as the cost of repair was concerned. In desparation I asked my idiot Volvo dealer how much it would cost me for him to just put the car in his body shop and bring it back to "as new" condition. You know what he said? "We don't do that kind of stuff here but you could take it to a body shop and probably have them repaint it with a matte finish."
Right.
Thanks a lot Mr. Volvo but I expect more from the car manufacturers I do business with. Now I know Volvo products do not meet my expectations in any number of ways and the company behind them makes too many compromises in the design and manufacture of its cars. For instance - they certainly knew how that crummy plastic sheet would age and they knew it would detract from the car at some future point but they decided to go cheap anyway. Their internal philosophy must be "Build it cheap - sell it high". That's a lesson I'll remember when it's time to replace my '02 AMG CLK430 in a year or two. Volvo won't get a shot at me.
The new C300 is in about the same price category as the S80 Volvo - maybe cheaper when you adjust for inflation - but I've looked at it pretty close and, specifically, I looked at the door window surround treatment. On the B Pillar the rear part of the front door and the forward part of the rear door have a shiny black plastic cover. But in the case of the M-B it is a lot thicker at will not be subject to blistering or wrinkling like the thin sheet Volvo used. I'm convinced the decision to use this type of material probably added a buck or two to the cost of the car and it was almost certainly discussed before the final decision to lock in the specs and build the car was made. M-B bit the bullet and decided to go ahead with it because the car was going to have a 3-pointed star on the hood. Many other fit & finish items likewise give the impression that they'll age well and still look and feel good years in the future.
One thing I defininitely miss though, is chrome bumpers. I know these hydraulic things with plastic covers they call bumpers these days are all the rage from the standpoint of car builders and there's probably a case to be made about improved aerodynamics but I'm not convinced they're a nickle better than the old stuff. Another thing I miss is real glass headlight lenses that don't get sandblasted and pockmarked and turn grayish brown in five years.
--
Pat Durkin

PS - I'm going to post pictures of both my cars on
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