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Where have all the 350’s gone?

Joel Camarda   San Francisco Bay Area MBCA

The short answer is nowhere.   Everyone who has one is keeping it.   But I really have more to say.  On April 2, I lost my 8 ½ year old Heidi, my 2009 C350 sports sedan.  I was broadsided by a Prius (of all things) who ran a red lite and T-boned us.  The repair cost was equal to the blue book, so the insurance folks called it a write off.  Heidi was good as new, despite 163,000 miles.  I was not really ready to buy a new car.  I was not mentally prepared.  I usually have a car purchase decision well researched and decided in advance.  With MBs’ I do not have to do that too often so I get many years and miles of decision-free happy motoring intervals.  I’ve had 5 MBs over the past 26 years, usually two at a time, one for me, one for spouse.  No sexual discrimination in the Camarda family.

When I first purchased the new Heidi, along with a companion pre-owned 2005 SLK 350, I wrote about them in this newsletter, remarking on “the song of the 350 engines”.   The SLK does not have a GPS voice, so has never been named.  I wrote about them again in this newsletter a few years later, “What’s in a number?”, when the MB numerical model numbers became meaningless, no longer reflecting the engine displacement.

Mercedes discontinued the 350 engine choice a few years ago.  Well, I set about this past April trying to find a pre-owned C350.  I ran an ad in this newsletter.  I got zero responses.  Zero, nada, nothing.  Not even a condolence.   You 350 owners are selfish.  You know who you are.  And I do not blame you.

I love the looks of the new C model.  In fact, the new line up of all the sedan models is just stunning: CLA, C, E, etc., 4-door and coupes.  The engine choice, however, is a little compromised, dominated by the “300”  2.0 L (or is it 1.8, what’s in a number?) turbo i4, 240 HP.  Or jump to the more expensive AMG models for more cylinders and HP.  The “400” of just a couple of years ago would have been ideal, turbo 3.2L V6, 300+ HP,  but could not find one of these.    I test drove a late model C300, and it was absolutely lovely, luxurious, but less exciting vs my 350.  No “song”, and the unavoidable, undesirable, AWD (4-Matic) just adds more weight with no performance advantage (unless you ski).

Now I am sure all of you 300 owners love your cars.  I have two friends with C300’s and they love the cars, and find them plenty fast.   I was going to purchase one, just shopping around for the best deal.

For a lark, I dropped in on the BMW dealership. I was not intending to buy.  I made the mistake of test driving a 2014 335i, turbo i6, 320 HP.   Still had warranty miles.   You know what they say, horsepower talks, nobody walks.  I bought it.   I call her Gretchen, when conversing with the GPS.

 I haven’t totally gone to the dark side. I still have the SLK.  My wife and I took the SLK to the Legends gathering last week.  I still miss Heidi, but Gretchen is OK.