One for the Luxury Lovers

The February 1980 issue of Road & Track was pretty much unremarkable unless you like your cars like you like your living rooms: comfortable, exclusive and in good taste. The Mercedes S-Class has been a staple of motorized luxury since the very first one was launched. Officially, the one pictured was the second generation of the S-Class and, according to the periodicals of the day (this one), it was aerodynamic and wedge-shaped.

And that brings us to a digression. You see, I’ve been a complete car nut for as long as I can remember. By the time I was seven (1983 or so), I could tell you what pretty much every car on the road was. At least the European ones. American passenger cars all looked the same to me. However, I couldn’t tell the Mercedes lines apart. To my eyes, they were all slightly antiquated. Old people’s cars.

This S-Class fell into that view of Mercedes, along with all of its contemporaries. The 190E and 300C were the first modern Mercedes I liked. And I pretty much think all the ones since are beautiful (except for the original phone-box-on-wheels A Class). More than that, I later discovered that I also love every generation of Mercedes before those. So it was just bad luck that I happened to be a child when Mercedes’ only ugly, awful cars were current. Unlucky.

So this S-Class is not one I ever lusted for.

On the other hand, this issue also contains an article about the Aston Martin Volante which is not only a beautiful, muscular vehicle, but also a wonderfully appointed place to be. I never had doubts about those.

The rest of the issue suffered from being one of those off-season specials. A lot of road car stuff about contemporary models, some more interesting articles about future models and some carping about the moronic decade of sudden overregulation of the automobile made up most of it. As always, it’s interesting to see what the concerns of real people in a specific era were (as opposed to reading a history book which will always try to throw a spin on what was happening in light of the writer’s own politics).

Anyhow, this one is more for the sociologists and sensualists than for the die-hard enthusiasts.

Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest novel is a dark historical fantasy about the Etruscans and their desperate attempts to keep the Roman legions at bay. You can check out The Swords of Rasna, here.


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