Mercedes-Benz Australia price list – July 1991

In 2020 it is easy to forget just how expensive Mercedes-Benz vehicles were in Australia before the increased competition from brands such as Lexus, Audi and the like.    Additionally, Luxury car taxes were much higher in those days.    In real terms, the cars were significantly more expensive.

Below is a Mercedes-Benz Australia price list from July 1991.     There are a couple of interesting things that can be seen from this list.    Firstly, the 190E 1.8 which is still quite expensive.  It was replaced by the Australia only 180E that slotted in below a luxury car tax threshold making it an attractive proposition.

The second is how expensive the high end models were at the time.    I was driving my 560SEL the other day and trying to work out what the extra $50,000 got you on top of a 420SEL.    In the end I came up with the following for 1987:

  • A more powerful engine (180 vs 150KW)
  • Power reclining rear seat as standard.
  • Limited slip diff as standard.
  • Fanfare horn.
  • Cigar lighters in the rear.
  • Becker CD player (vs Becker Cassette player).
  • Memory electric seats for driver and passenger as standard,
  • 260km/h speedometer.
  • Dual snorkel air cleaner.
  • Anti-squat/Anti-dive suspension.

The 420SEL as sold in Australia had most things as standard including self leveling rear suspension, sunroof, leather, alloy wheels, leather steering wheel, power seats and so on.  A fair number of the features above could also be optioned on a 420.   While in today’s used market the small extra premium to own the 560SEL makes a lot of sense, that $50,000 would have bought you an apartment in Sydney.      One can only presume that most of that $50,000 was pure profit for Mercedes-Benz.

In 1991, you could buy a new large (1100+m2) block of land in Western Sydney (Penrith) for $60,000 or a house and land package for $99,950.   The same house and land would now cost around $1m.

Looking at the tax alone on a 560SEC – it is almost enough to buy a 190E 1.8 pre-tax!    The combined original price of my three W126 cars was over half a million dollars back then and 30 years later they were worth pennies on the dollar.

The other big change since 1991 is that nobody leases a luxury car at 16% anymore.

Comparing to today, the price for a 2020 500SL is $292,500.     An S560L is $309,900.    An E300 is $129,600.    These examples show how much cheaper in real terms the cars are today.    The Mercedes-Benz Australia price list from 1991 is certainly an eye-opener.

ModelList PriceSales TaxRetail PriceLease*
190E 1.8 (Manual)$49,380.30$11.480.70$60,861.00$1,149
190E 1.8 (Auto)$51,278.00$11,922.00$63,200.00$1,194
190E 2.3 (Manual)$64,665.00$15,035.00$79,700.00$1,505
190E 2.3 (Auto)$66,774.70$15,525.30$82,300.00$1554
300E 2.6$83,164.40$19,335.60$102,500.00$1,936
* Monthly, based on 5 years/50% residual at 16% p.a. interest. Recommended retail cost does not include on road costs.

The models sold in Australia were all highly optioned, as evidenced in the original spec sheets (pictured below).   This was one way Mercedes-Benz Australia justified the high prices as compared to other countries.   Local rules also meant Australian models could be quite different to those sold in the rest of the world.

Australian Specification Sheets

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