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Remember When Mercedes-Benz Had Cute Little Antennas To Help You Park?

In the great era between curb feelers and parking sensors, someone at Mercedes-Benz apparently had an epiphany. Presumably, this happened while they were repairing a power antenna mask that broke in a car wash just minutes after they had backed into a parked BMW. Someone in Stuttgart was having a bad day, perhaps.

The idea was simple enough: Two tiny antennas were deployed from the rearmost corners of the trunk lid when the car was put into reverse. The tiny antennas only extended a couple of inches, but that was enough for a cognizant driver to look back and see exactly where the end of their brand new Mercedes-Benz was.

Mercedes debuted the feature on its w140 generation S-Class in 1990, the most über S-Class of all S-Classes ever built. By the time the car was facelifted a few years later, Mercedes was installing little radar sensors into the big 4-door’s back bumpers (such as on this exceptionally clean 1997 S600). The little antennas are therefore only a footnote in the annals of automotive history. Even Mercedes-Benz had to dig well into its archives in Germany to provide us with the photo above of one of the antennas in action.

The short-lived feature is positively adorable in the event that you happen across an early-1990s S-Class backing out of a parking spot. They don’t go high enough to hang a flag on, though I imagine a creative 500SEL owner might be able to rig up an antenna with a longer mast.

That S-Class earned a deserved reputation for being arguably the most over-engineered car ever made, though the Volkswagen Phaeton could challenge its title. The S-Class was so advanced that it even had a power-adjustable interior rearview mirror, because reaching up is so gauche.

These now-vintage S-Classes have become difficult to find, but clean, low-mileage examples do pop up periodically. The S-Class was a cherished possession for many — or at least one member of a fleet of fine cars. Here’s a nice V8-powered 1995 S500, or you can find your own on Autotrader.

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  1. I was looking at a used W140 in in 2003 and quickly abondoned the pursuit after a few minutes of research. The W140 is one of the least dependable models ever manufactured by MB.  The environmentally friendly wiring used throughout the car prematurely disintegrated throwing countless electrical error codes.  Some owners paid thousands of dollars to remove the umbilical cords in the engine bay that failed from temperature cycles but how do you you know that the the rest of the car won’t fail soon. Over engineered my A$$. 

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Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz
Andrew Ganz is an author specializing in helping in-market consumers get the most bang for their buck -- and the best car, while they're at it. When not virtually shopping for new and used cars, Andrew can probably be found under the hood of a vintage classic that's rapidly losing fluids.

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