The 12 Greatest Mercedes-Benzes of All Time

Mercedes-Benz dates back to 1886, and in the last 129 years the company has made a lot of fantastic cars. There's been everything from world-class supercars to massive luxury barges for heads-of-state and the like. These are, subjectively, the 12 best ever made.

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1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen

1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen
1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen.

 Let's start at the beginning with the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. When I say "the beginning" it really means the beginning. The Patent-Motorwagen is widely regarded as the first car. Compared to virtually any other car, it was absolute rubbish: the engine made only two-and-a-half horsepower, steering was accomplished with a device that would look more in-place on an old-timey bathtub, and it only had three thin wheels. Compared to the other transportation of the time, it was groundbreaking.

Hilariously, even Karl Benz remained unconvinced that his creation was ready for prime-time, so his wife, Bertha Benz, took it to see her mother 65 miles away. She didn't just go on the first road trip in order to publicize her husband's invention, she even acted as her own mechanic on the way, using her hat-pin to clean the fuel pipe and her garter to insulate a wire.

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1976-1985 Mercedes-Benz W123

1976 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon
1976 Mercedes-Benz W123 Wagon.

It's not the most glamorous Mercedes by a wide—very wide—margin, but it certainly is one of the best. You could get the W123 as a sedan, a wagon, a long-wheelbase sedan, or an ambulance and a variety of gasoline and diesel engines were available.  The great thing about the W123 is that it is one of the single most dependable vehicles ever made. To this day, the continent of Africa is reliant on diesel W123s that have managed to survive more than just time, but everything from off-roading to fighting hippos. They are incredible, incredible cars.

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1953-1963 Merceded-Benz Ponton

Mercedes-Benz Ponton
Mercedes-Benz Ponton.

After the second world war, Mercedes-Benz was hurting. Most of its facilities had been converted to the production of war machines, and the vast majority of them had been destroyed by allied air strikes. One of the first cars Mercedes started selling after it rebuilt was the Ponton: which laid the foundation for the modern-day C-Class. The Ponton was a car that had most of the elegance of the more expensive Benzes, but at a much more attainable price.

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth 2.5-16 Evolution II

1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth
1987 Mercedes-Benz 190E Cosworth.

 Almost anything Cosworth touches turns to gold (perhaps Cosworth could be involved in the A45 Black Series I'm dreaming of). It was originally intended to be a rally car, but it showed up right as rally racing was starting to be dominated by AWD cars, so it turned into a DTM car in order to beat the BMW M3.

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1998-1999 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR

2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Super Sport
2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Super Sport.

FIA's GT1 class was awesome; not only were the cars dramatic, fast, and fun to watch, but they needed to be homologated for road use. That means that the CLK GTR isn't just a sweet race car, but there are a few people out there who can drive it around in the real world. It even holds the distinction of being the fastest road car Mercedes ever made.

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2008-2014 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG

2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG
2008 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG.

The C63 is, without a doubt, the most important car AMG has ever made. There are more C63s on the road than any other AMG by a wide margin, and it's easy to see why. The 6.2L V8 in the C63 is the most charming engine I've ever experienced, and it's so bloody good that I even wrote a eulogy for it

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1968-1972 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3
Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3.

The fast, luxurious, and elegant S63 wasn't the first S-Class Mercedes ever dropped with an inordinately large engine under the hood. The '68 300SEL 6.3 was originally a private project by Mercedes engineer Erich Waxenberger. He crammed the 6.3L V8 from the 600 limo in a regular W109 S-Class. It was so impressive to the company's top brass that it got put into production. 

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1963-1981 600 Pullman

1964 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman
1964 Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman.

Coco Chanel, Elizabeth Taylor, Jeremy Clarkson, John Lennon, George Harrison, Elvis Presley, Emperor Hirohito, Pablo Escobar, Fidel Castro, Ferdinand Marcos, and King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

That is a small selection of the ownership of the 600 Pullman. There's a reason for it as well: the 600 is one of the most elegant, luxurious, and imposing vehicles ever made... and you could get it bulletproof.

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1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK Trossi Roadster

1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK Trossi Roadster
1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK Trossi Roadster.

All Mercedes SSKs were great cars with awesome 7.0L supercharged V8 engines. They looked pretty good too, but they were just good looking machines. The SSK with the Trossi body, on the other hand, is a work of art. The sweeping pontoon fenders and rich black paint make for an imposing and simply beautiful vehicle.

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2014 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series.

 The SLS AMG Black Series is a triumph. It's the kind of car that you can drive in the real world with minimal trouble, but miraculously feels like a race car on track. I don't say that lightly either, the vast majority of supercars don't have that kind of feeling. It's brilliant.

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1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

1939 540K Spezial Roadster
1939 540K Spezial Roadster. RM Auctions

The 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster isn't just one of the best Mercedes-Benzes ever made, it's one of the best cars. Five of the most expensive Benzes to ever cross and auction block were 540Ks, and there's a reason for that. It's one of those magical vehicles where the engineering and design are both working in perfect harmony in order to create a legend.

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1954-1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL.

I may have thought of putting the 540K Spezial in this slot, but in the end it just can't be done. The 300SL isn't just the best Benz ever made, it's a touchstone and turning point in sports car design. This is the car that gave us gullwing doors, and not just for aesthetics like many modern cars. The doors were designed the way that they were in order to give the engineers more space to reinforce the chassis near the bottom of the car to improve track performance.

I'll take two.

Which is your favorite?

I've put my choices out there, and that means that people on Twitter are going to tell me I'm an idiot. What is your favorite Benz?