The top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz S-Class traces its lineage to the W108 platform, and this 1966 250C is a gorgeous and quaintly basic example of the breed.
It was funny that this S-Class descendant was parked near a more recent model…
…and an even more recent model. The florid curves of the ’66 stand in sharp contrast to the newer one’s tightly limned lines.
This 250S is sagging a bit in the rear, but even so, note how low the trunk line is compared to the Jetta next door. Also, from here we can see one heckuva large steering wheel.
Noted French car designer Paul Barcq styled the W108 with classic simplicity and a feeling of athletic heftiness.
The door handles are wrought in deliciously thick metal.
Dog-dish hubcaps that didn’t cover the entire rim sometimes connoted cheapness, but here, they add to the W108’s clean grace.
Carrying the body color unbroken to the wheels makes them an elegantly integrated element of the overall look.
Tail lights are small, and they’re flanked by chrome above and below. That chrome, along with the downturned lenses, meant that the tail lights had a chance at surviving a low-speed tap. It’s the kind of functional design that was the antithesis of Detroit’s devil-may-care styling flourishes.
We can’t forget the majestic Mercedes grille, complete with intricate egg-crate patterning to draw your eye immediately to it. And that beefy radiator-topping ornament looks like it could driven through a house and still be standing.
Bullet-like turn signal lenses are an unexpectedly extroverted detail.
The glassiness of the W108’s greenhouse gives wide-open views to the outside, and from the outside in.
Vent windows were everywhere in new cars in the 1960s. They were a necessity if you wanted to dump your cigarette ashes outside without rolling down your window.
The elegant simplicity continues inside, with straightforward horizontal lines defining the dashboard. Even the genuine wood is looking good on this one, and there’s wiring for our modern world.
Love that giant white steering wheel…
…and its spokes are cracked but generally still intact.
The twentysomething owner of this 250S popped out of one of this shopping center’s stores to see who was lingering around their car, and with good reason – he said that it’s a one-family car that had been passed down through the generations to land in his care.
He was clearly bonded to it, and to enjoy the look of a car and then feel the owner’s bond to it is a neat thing; it completes the circle of understanding how it came to be sitting in this parking space, looking as good as it does.
Walking back to my Toyota Yaris test car, I noticed another blue-plate California gem, this late-’70s 450SLC.
It was just a good day to be Mercedes-spotting at this particular mall.