When the minivan that saved your life got retired, you could almost hear the people in the crowd cheering: it was the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
And you can still hear them, because they’re now the biggest selling minivans in the world.
“They’ve got a lot of appeal,” says John MacLeod, the former chief executive of the UK’s biggest car manufacturer, Nissan.
“They’re super-efficient and they’re not a bit old, and they don’t have a lot going for them.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Mercedes was the model for a new generation of cars, as the British automotive industry began to adapt to a more modern world.
The first Mercedes in the UK was the S-class, introduced in 1958.
The car had a huge aerodynamic body, a small wing, and a sleek black roof.
It was a stylish and comfortable car, but it wasn’t designed to go everywhere, especially on the road.
As the British economy grew, so did the number of new car sales, from around 4 million cars in 1950 to more than 100 million in 1964.
But the cars that were designed for the modern world, like the S50 and S55, struggled to sell in the 1980s, when the global economy began to recover.
In the 1950.
The S-classes are a good example of how a car can sell for so much more than it’s worth.
In the 1960s and 1970s, people were spending more on their cars than they were on the things they bought, says Mr MacLeod.
“And the bigger the car, the more expensive it was.
You could spend a lot more on your car if you bought it for a younger person.”
In those days, you were more likely to buy a cheap, disposable car, like a small hatchback or a car that didn’t even need a trunk.
You might spend a few thousand pounds on a £2,000 car.
By the 1980.
“You could spend $20,000 on a new S55 in 1980,” Mr Macglas says.
“But you could spend the same amount of money on a S50 if you were buying it for someone with a lot less disposable income.”
So by the early 1980s a lot had changed.
The S-series, with its aerodynamic shape, small wings and long hood, became the model that people wanted to buy.
In its heyday, Mercedes-Benzes and other luxury brands were selling around 70,000 S-cars a year, according to car magazine Automotive News.
Then in 1999, with the global financial crisis, car companies began to realise that the money they made from selling high-end luxury cars was being spent on making new high-quality cars that could go to a younger demographic.
“The S50 was a great car in the 1950,” says Mr McLeod.
This meant that the car companies had to think about the new generations of cars they were making.
So they began to rethink their design.
The new S50’s bodywork, which featured large fins and an elaborate curved roof, was more modern and less aerodynamic.
The front of the car was now made of aluminum, with an open roof, and the rear was made of carbon fibre.
The bodywork was also longer, with a new front wing and wider front tyres.
The styling was more futuristic.
“Now, in the 60s, they wanted to do more with the body,” Mr McGlennan says.
The new S-models were more compact, but were still big enough for people who didn’t have as much money to spend.
The interior was also more modern.
“I think the big challenge in the 1960’s and 70s was to have a modern, functional interior,” Mr Mahe says.
“The S55 was an excellent example of that.”
When the car got retired in 2014, it was going to be the most expensive car in history.
Its predecessor, the S55-D, was sold for $3.7 million, which was more than the price of a Ferrari 458 it was replacing.
And the S65D, with all the modernisation, was a bargain.
The only thing that made the S75-D look expensive was the carbon-fibre bodywork.
But the S95-D was an exception: it had a very clean, modern interior, and it had even better brakes.
Now, when a Mercedes-Buss has been retired, it’s gone for a bargain price.
But in the old days, the carmaker had to make a choice.
The Mercedes was expensive because it was a luxury brand, and because the buyers were more affluent, says Paul Gildea, the chief executive officer of car retailer Cars.com.
“It wasn’t a luxury car,” he says.
When Mercedes-Class is retired, we