Curt's Newsletter

January 2007

© 2007
No part of this newsletter may be reprinted elsewhere including internet websites without written permission from the author

2008 C-Class Sport

2008 C-Class Sport Sedan. Note Sports Grille. I don't think Mercedes has used the Sports Grille in a sedan before

The New Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Superior Safety, Comfort and Agility

      Stuttgart, January 18, 2007 -- Safety, comfort, agility: these are the outstanding attributes of the new C-Class.  Beginning in late summer 2007, Mercedes-Benz will continue its successful strategy and offer two distinct model choices for the all new C-Class: The C Sport Sedan, available as C300 Sport and C350 Sport, and the C300 Luxury Sedan. Each of them shares a number of advanced features and the value of an extensive list of standard equipment.

         The new C-Class is larger in virtually every dimension over its predecessor.  Interior space has increased in the areas of rear legroom, front and rear hip room as well as front and rear shoulder room.

         The design of the new C-Class is based on the modern Mercedes idiom, which reflects the technical superiority of automobiles bearing the star with taut lines and large, tranquil surfaces. The pronounced wedge-shape of the front end serves to emphasize attributes such as agility and performance. For the first time in a Mercedes sedan, the radiator grille is used as a distinguishing feature to position the model variants more clearly. Three extended, horizontal louvres and a big centrally positioned Mercedes star characterize the Sport Sedan as a traditional design feature of sporty Mercedes models. Together with the sporty, high-quality appointments, this feature emphasizes the youthful, agile appearance of this C-Class.

C-Class Sport Sedan

C-Class Sport Sedan

         In the Luxury Sedan, Mercedes-Benz employs a three-dimensional, louvred radiator grille with a high-gloss paint finish to accentuate other brand-typical attributes such as comfort and luxury.

2008 C-Class Luxury Sedan

2008 C-Class Luxury Sedan, large sedan grille in front, 3-pointed star on the hood

         The two choices for the C-Class allows Mercedes customers to accentuate individual choices, and configure a C-Class to suit their personal taste and lifestyle even more emphatically than before. All the models offer the same extraordinary driving experience that the sedan provides by virtue of further technical improvements. Both by its outstanding long-distance comfort and its dynamic handling, the C-Class sets new standards in this market segment.

Shock Absorbers Automatically Adapt to the Driving Situation

         AGILITY CONTROL – this is the term used by Mercedes-Benz for all new and further developments that improve both comfort and agility in equal measure. This standard package includes the AGILITY CONTROL suspension, which controls the shock absorber forces according to the driving situation: when driving normally with low shock absorber impulses, the damping forces are automatically reduced for a noticeable improvement in ride comfort – but without any compromise in handling safety. When driving more dynamically, the maximum damping forces are set and the car is effectively stabilized. The AGILITY CONTROL steering of the new C-Class has a ratio of 14.5, and is therefore six percent more direct than the steering of the preceding model. The likewise included AGILITY CONTROL gearshift reflects the sporty character of the C-Class with a short travel and precise shifts.

         ADAPTIVE BRAKE is another new development in the area of running gear technology. This is based on the technology of the S-Class and provides additional support functions for even more safety and comfort. Examples include Start-Off Assist for uphill gradients, priming the braking system in critical situations and light contact to dry the brake discs in wet conditions.

The Latest Mercedes Inventions Ensure Maximum Safety

         During the course of its development, the new C-Class successfully passed more than 100 crash tests, including the particularly demanding, in-house impact tests of which some go well beyond the legal requirements. Passing these is a precondition for the highest accolade in automobile safety: the Mercedes star. Occupant protection is based on an intelligently designed bodyshell, 70 percent of which consists of high-strength and ultra high-strength steel. Compared to the previous series, Mercedes-Benz has enlarged the deformation zones even further and improved energy flows. The front-end structure of the new C-Class has four independently acting impact levels, which enable forces to be distributed over a wide area while bypassing the passenger cell.

         The safety technology in the interior has been complemented with the very latest protection systems. Seven airbags are included as standard equipment: two adaptive airbags for the driver and front passenger, two sidebags in the front seat backrests and two large windowbags which extend from the A- to the C-pillar during a side impact. The driver, front passenger and the passengers on the outer rear seats also benefit from belt tensioners and belt force limiters as standard.

Interior Design "Cast from a Single Mould"

C-Class Sport Interior

C-Class Sport Interior, lots of brushed aluminum trim, sports steering wheel with thumb rests, sport pedals

         When developing the cockpit, Mercedes designers took their lead from the sporty sector and included clearly laid-out dial instruments such as may be found in roadsters or coupes. Silver-colored bezels, black dial faces, white markings and glowing orange needles perfectly combine form with function for a high value impression and easy legibility.

         Equally clearly laid out and well-arranged, the two-tone dashboard and centre console of the new C-Class form a harmonious unit in line with the "design cast from a single mould" principle. The same applies to the integration of the colour display at the upper centre of the dashboard. This is perfectly positioned within the driver’s line of vision, but can also be covered or folded away as required, without switching off the radio, navigation system or other units linked to the display. If the pivoting cover of the display aperture is closed, the infotainment units continue to operate.

C-Class Luxury Interior

C-Class Luxury Interior, burl walnut, luxury steering wheel and pedals

New Control Concept for Clarity and Comfort

         The central display is part of the new control and display concept which the new C-Class has adopted from the luxury-class Mercedes models. Its major advantage is rapid access to frequently used functions, which means that the driver does not need to relearn, is able to maintain familiar habits and feels at home immediately. All the control and display elements necessary and important during a journey are located in the cockpit, i.e. in immediate proximity to the driver.

         In the same way, linking the standard multifunction steering wheel with the instrument cluster is an important precondition for rapid access to a wide range of information and functions in the driver’s direct line of vision. Other functions such as infotainment are shown by the display at the center of the dashboard. The driver and front passenger are able to control the radio, navigation system or telephone by using a controller on the center console, or access the main menus using direct selection keys.

COMAND Provides Voice Operation, a Music Server and DVD Navigation

         The Audio 20 and COMAND APS systems are a range of newly developed, optional infotainment units for C-Class passengers. They all feature a keypad for entering telephone numbers and radio frequencies, as well as a Bluetooth interface which wirelessly connects the mobile phone to the hands-free system. An integral 6-CD changer and the voice control system are available on request.

         The multimedia system COMAND APS offers even more functions than before in the new C-Class. One new feature is a Europe-wide navigation system whose data are stored on a hard disc (30 gigabytes). The high-resolution maps are shown on a color display (7-inch) which pivots away and disappears beneath a cover at the touch of a button. Other functions of COMAND APS include a music server with a four-gigabyte memory, a DVD-player for video and audio, and the voice control system, which Mercedes-Benz has likewise improved further: the driver no longer needs to spell out the names of countries, towns or roads, but is able to speak them as whole words. The voice control system is just as convenient when selecting radio stations or entries in the telephone directory.

The C-Class Is the Bestseller in the Mercedes Lineup

         The new C-Class replaces a model series of which more than 1.4 million units have been sold since spring 2000. All in all, Mercedes-Benz has delivered more than two million of the Sedan, Estate and Sports Coupe models in the previous C-Class to customers all over the world. This makes the C-Class the bestseller in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range. Germany is the largest market for the C-Class, accounting for around 30 percent of worldwide sales.

Ocean Drive Concept Car

(It's a CONCEPT Car, not a PRODUCTION model or a car slated for production)

Ocean Drive Concept

Detroit – At the North American Auto Show Detroit, Mercedes-Benz is adding to its reputation as a pioneer and design trendsetter among premium carmakers with the presentation of its Concept Ocean Drive four-door convertible. This study is a one-off creation by Mercedes-Benz which revives the tradition of large luxury convertibles. Not having to work to a design brief or production specifications left the designers free to get on with the job of developing the world's most comfortable and elegant convertible.

                  The Concept Ocean Drive is an awe-inspiring jewel on wheels. As a four-door convertible, it belongs in a luxury genre that has almost disappeared from our roads. Like the luxury convertibles of years gone by, this showpiece from Stuttgart features the maximum in elegance, lifestyle sophistication and exclusiveness. To put it another way, it represents automobile culture at its most attractive and desirable.

                  The one-off special has an all-new body with an almost classic flavour and with clearly defined lines and vibrant two-tone paintwork which are exceptionally charismatic. Although on one level the Concept Ocean Drive displays the restraint of an elite and aristocratic automobile, it is also an open invitation to go on a "topless" cruise along the world's finest ocean promenades. Luxurious, exotic materials have been crafted with consummate skill to create a showpiece of unparalleled perfection.

Ocean Drive Concept Car Interior

Mercedes-Benz design studies – a stylistic journey into the future

                  The Concept Ocean Drive isn't just designed to inspire dreams and fantasies; it also serves a very practical purpose. Because design studies are always a good opportunity for designers to play around with less familiar themes, to see things from new angles and to explore new ideas. Not just a pure design exercise, they are also a way of stimulating a closer dialogue with customers and of trying out new ideas on the general public. This helps the designers get a feel for future styling trends and to develop and implement new design idioms.

                  The unique luxury convertible design study from Stuttgart turns a "dream car" vision into reality. At the same time it is also an affirmation of the design excellence and values of the Mercedes-Benz brand, including the brand's traditional basic principles like excellent build and quality, comfort, effortless superiority, value retention and safety. These values have now been joined by three further key messages: passion, fascination and innovation. The Mercedes-Benz design philosophy both perpetuate proven styling themes associated with the brand and at the same time combines them with new and surprisingideas and forms.

Styling conveys effortless superiority and elegance

                  Apart from the four doors, the outward distinguishing marks of the concept car include a very large and upright radiator grille, LED headlamps and taillights, two-tone paintwork and a striking interplay between taut lines and large, restful surfaces. This lends the one-off special an air of effortless superiority, power, elegance and forward-flowing energy.

                  The long side-window opening which, typically of a convertible, is not interrupted by a B-pillar or window frames, ensures seamless continuity between the exterior and the interior, even when the top is up. Extensive use of high-value materials –such as finest-quality leather, 3D-effect materials and large bird's eye maple trim panels (in the interior and even on the soft-top compartment cover) – and many other thoughtfully designed interior details, highlight the luxurious, unique character of this design study.

Ocean Drive Concept top operation

Top-level engineering

                  The design study is based on the twelve-cylinder Mercedes-Benz S 600, on account of this model's long wheelbase. The technical highlights include:
• the innovative soft-top mechanism resulting in smooth operation and fast closing times;
• the innovative AIRSCARF neck-level heating system, which is featured on all four seats, allowing occupants to enjoy top-down motoring even in the colder months of the year.

                  Needless to say, the on-board equipment also includes top-level Mercedes-Benz innovations, some of which are unique worldwide – including Brake Assist PLUS, the innovative PRE-SAFE® brake system (in combination with radar-based DISTRONIC PLUS) and the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system.

Diesel Buyers

         Interesting tidbit: the people buying the new diesels, as a demographic group, are among those least likely to need to worry about fuel economy.  They are quite well off.  Some are making a statement: “I’m doing my part to cut foreign oil consumption.”  Some just like diesels.

        Of course, those who won’t consider a diesel are entertaining.  Reasons, when given, include: “I hate the smoke.”  Not applicable. “I hate the smell.”  Not applicable.  Unless you overflow the tank when filling, the smell problem is gone.  I hate diesel smell as much as anyone because of my Army experience with it.  “I need power.”  Not applicable.  All of our diesels are quite fast.  Drive one.  “I don’t want to have to hunt for fuel.”  You only have to hunt every 500 miles or so, and a lot of stations have diesel now.  “My wife ain’t drivin’ no diesel.”  Well, I don’t have an answer to that.  We do have a gasoline equivalent to each one.


         If, using Bluetec technology for clean diesel, we could convert the light truck fleet to diesel, we could eliminate annual oil imports equal to the amount imported from Saudi Arabia.

GL320 after 35 mph impact.

One of the reasons you pay the big bucks for a Mercedes-Benz is situations like this. For many years I've been saying you can get killed in a Mercedes, but usually it takes a gun.

GL320 Crash

     (Posted on the MB World Discussion Forum)

  "It was 2 weeks old. Not a scratch on her. 1,835 miles on her. DAMN.

         "Well - ahem. I dropped a cell phone, looked down for it and.... well hit a bus at 35 mph. Stone cold sober, hit a bus. Yes, these things can take a MAJOR hit - here's pics:

     "I have 4 cracked ribs, broken wrist, but walked away from this. And - ALL FOUR DOORS OPEN AND SHUT AS NORMAL. Amazing. THIS is why I buy Mercedes, as even though this was my fault (my first) - I wasn’t killed. Can you imagine this in a Kia Sportage?"

GL320 after 35 mph crash'

Run Silent, Run Deep

                  That was Brock Yates’ advice to the One Lap of America field when I ran.  This was more difficult for us then than it is now since all of our cars were “cleverly disguised as race cars” with numbers and advertising all over them.  We also had that problem of a schedule and the fact that if you arrived early to one of the venues for time trials, you could get some sleep!

                  But for most of us, it’s very good advice, both for avoiding tickets and avoiding accidents.  Go with the flow.  Don’t make waves.  Be invisible.

                  If you want to go a certain speed, pick the appropriate lane.  I was thinking of this a lot while stuck behind a 35 mph vehicle in the left lane while traffic whizzed by at 65-70 in the middle lane.  It took several minutes to get a clear shot to move over and move on.  So the left lane bandit was endangering other drivers by encouraging those behind him to have to make a lane change against traffic going at a much higher speed.  Odds are he wouldn’t have been involved in the accident.

                  In the right lane he might have been right at home.

                  Don’t tailgate.  It’s visible to revenue collectors out searching for prey.  Since they are after both tickets and convictions, giving 2 tickets instead of one means the victim can’t use defensive driving to get rid of both tickets.  At least one conviction is more likely than just giving one ticket.  So the driver who tailgates and then speeds gives him two shots, often with a third, illegal lane changes.

                  This applies to another very dangerous tactic, zig-zagging.  It’s visible a long way away.  I can guarantee the truck driver or motor coach driver can see it from his elevated position hundreds of yards away.  What’s to keep him from reporting it?  Truckers, especially, like to distract revenue collectors by reporting 4-wheelers.  It keeps the revenue collectors out of their pockets.

                  If the left lane is speeding, either speed or get out of the left lane.  But trying to go significantly faster than the fast lane average in hectic freeway traffic is non-productive and dangerous.  You can’t do it without ziz-zagging and/or tailgating.  Perhaps the most dangerous of the violators of this rule are the big pickups that tailgate the car ahead to force him to move over so they can move to their anointed place at the head of the line. The guy being tailgated is going to do one of three things:

1.  Nothing.  This makes the idiot behind angry, so he gets closer.  The tension escalates.

2.  Move over.  Now the idiot behind will tailgate the car ahead of him.

3.  Stand on the brakes. If the guy ahead decides he would like a new vehicle and perhaps some medical damages all he has to do is wait until the idiot behind looks away and then slam on the brakes.  In Texas it’s automatic that the guy behind is at fault.  There are people who make their living provoking accidents from behind, and the idiot tailgater is their natural prey.

Top 10 Questions

at the help desk ( i-button or 1-800-FOR-MERCedes —800-367-6372)
1.  How do I set my favorite radio stations?
2.  How are CDs ejected?
3.  How do I reset the odometer?
4.  How do I program the garage door opener?  (What if it is a Rolling Code?)
5.  How do I set my power seat memory?
6.  What happens if I press the ESP switch?
7.  What is the C/S switch for?
8.  How do I use the valet key?
9.  When do I get my oil changed?
10.  What octane should I use?

         Twice a year the #1 question is, “How do I change the clock?”

         If you’re asking too many of these, either (A) you had a good salesman and didn’t listen at delivery or (B) you didn’t have a good salesman and should have bought from me.

         Oh, you thought I was going to answer them here?  No.  Didn’t I just tell you how to get the answers?

Miscellaneous Ravings

Figuring Out How Kittens Purr

         Until recently, no one really understood the mechanics of purring. Now some scientists believe that kittens purr by forcing inhaled and exhaled air down into the larynx and diaphragm, producing intermittent signals at frequencies between 25 and 150 hertz. Researchers believe that sound produced at those frequencies improves bone density and promotes healing. That could explain why severely ill or anxious kittens purr -- and why humans find a kitten's purr so comforting.

Letter from the editor of “The Star”

         You wrote, "I have yet to receive a complaint about an SLK." Same here. We never get tech questions or complaints about them. Never. I cannot think of a more reliable Mercedes-Benz, especially for an entirely new model with a high-performance engine and that whiz-bang folding hardtop. Same for the AMG models.

         I'm out of here as editor/ publisher on New Year's Eve, so thanks for all of your help on The Star over the years. You are one of the good guys who made the magazine better.

Frank Barrett

         Thanks.  I’m sure sorry to see you go.  The magazine (and the Mercedes-Benz Club America) won’t be as good without you.  The Star is the Mercedes-Benz of car club magazines.  I shudder to think what it’ll become.

Argos Phone System

         I just wanted to thank you for the lead you supplied in your November newsletter. I just bought a 2002 E430, and wanted to activate the phone system. I bought the Argos, it was as easy as they said to install, and all that had to be done was to tell the car to recognize it. It works really well, and I am very, very pleased with this intelligent solution to yesterday’s technology becoming obsolete. I am glad that I am on your list so that I knew about it!

Neil Chandler

Revenue Collector’s Mission

      It should be noted that one of the Metro revenue collectors working normally on the I-10 Katy Freeway HOV Lane has a mission in life.  It is to ticket every “BMW and Mercedes driver who thinks they can drive without a front license plate.”

         It’s also a reminder than no matter how cool your car looks without the front plate, the law in Texas is that your car must wear a front plate.  Personally I’ve always figured I didn’t need to give revenue collectors another excuse to stop my car.  They’ve always found enough on their own—or just made them up in Louisiana.


         Ah, yes, the new Congressional majority promised to be more “bipartisan” and to work harder.  As soon as they took power they did 4 things the first day:

1.  Adopted rules freezing out the Republican minority in the House.
2.  Voted a stealth tax increase (“pay as you go.”)
3.  Sent the President a note saying any attempt to win the war (such as troop surge) would not be funded.
4.  Took Monday off.

         I expected #3 from day one.  It worked in Vietnam.  By cutting off funding they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.  They’re going to try it again.  We should have gotten the message when Bin Laden put out the message in October to vote for them.  We did.  Once more no man, woman, nor child is safe when Congress is in session.  I might add, nor their money or property.

Backup Camera

         I have the rear view camera on my ML320cdi.  The ML just gets a camera, not a computerized parking aid/camera as the S-Class.  It’s helpful, and after 3 months I’m just getting to the point of being able to use it properly.  I don’t try to back up long distances using it, like the long, curving run from the garage to the street at my house.  I’ll look at it, then back conventionally, then look again when I get near the street.  The view is such a wide angle fisheye view I doubt anyone can judge distances with it.

Views on life:

      And remember: life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes

      Life is what you make of it...

kinda like Play-Doh

Zen Sarcasm

1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either.  Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.
4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
5. Always remember that you're unique.  Just like everyone else.
6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
13. Some days you're the bug; some days you're the windshield.
14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
17. Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.
18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
19. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
20. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
21. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
22. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night

RVArthur at home

Most of RV life Arthur likes

RV Arthur on a leash--bad idea!

But walking him on a leash is one of those ideas whose time hasn't come. It probably never will.

RV Arthur

         Arthur Pendragon, our male cat, was aptly named as he has always considered himself king of all he surveys.  He has not, however, been the gregarious, snuggly cat I intended to hire when we went up to the Daisy Hill Kitty Farm and spent a fortune to get him.  He’ll come around some mornings for milk when I’m eating breakfast, but from then on if we want much from him, other than to view him from afar, we have to catch him.

        But things have changed.  We have acquired an RV in which to attend Cowboy Action Shooting® matches and eventual retirement.  We spend a lot of time in it on weekends now, but we have had a few trips in it.  I expected Arthur to not like it since he is taken there in a cat carrier with Emerald in there with him.  Much hissing and growling emits from the carrier.

         Additionally, when we’re moving the RV they’re both in the carrier because they have proven altogether too curious to be allowed to run loose in a moving motor home.

         But, to our surprise and delight, except for a weekend he spent inside the fold-down couch (by choice), he has turned into a gregarious, purring, friendly kitty.  He does like sitting in the windows and looking out.  He wanted out so much The Redhead obtained a harness for him and attempted to walk him.  This worked once.  The next time he demonstrated that he is a magician cat, and, like Houdini’s straightjacket, the harness came off in about 5 seconds.  Then it was a game of getting him out from under the coach for the next hour.  He’s stayed indoors since.

         But at night, with a little coaxing, he will sleep on the nightstand or between us on the pillow.

         At least he does until George S. Patton, Jr. wakes up and runs him off.

Curt Rich         January 2007