Choices, choices, choices: a trio of big Mercs

Picture the scene: it’s the early 90s, you’re a German businessman who saw reunification as an opportunity and you’ve just made a killing buying up former East German state assets for nothing and selling them at a huge profit. You’ve got a loyalty to Mercedes but your 190E is no longer cutting it when you pull up at the office, and as much as you love it you want to step up. You value luxury as much as performance; you want a car to take you down the A9 from your office in Berlin to company headquarters in Munich as quickly and with as little effort as possible. You find the growing crop of supercars a little too much, however. Fuel isn’t a concern since the Gulf War ended, but heck even if it cost 100 Deutschmarks per litre your bank balance is booming and you’re not going to break a sweat. You don’t mind buying used but you’ve got to out do Dieter in accounts with his BMW 840.

Snap to 2023 and a diecast collector in his early 30s pondering this hypothetical conundrum whilst confronted with 3 brilliant diecast from three very different brands. But we’re going to start with our German businessman’s first choice: the Mercedes SL500 Koenig Specials replicated in 1/64 by Tarmac Works.

The R129 Series Mercedes SL was sold between 1989 and 2001, with a facelift arriving in 1998. The SL500 model was initially equipped with the 5.0 litre, 32 valve M119 V8 producing a generous 322bhp. Post-facelift cars however were equipped with the newer M113 V8 and power dropped to 302bhp. Our German friend still has the luxury of being able to buy a new pre-facelift car however and visits the dealership to test drive one. He finds the luxury and power to be adequate enough, but he knows the SL isn’t the quickest thing out there. Being a regular to Munich though, he knows of a place that can help: the workshop of Willy König. Under the leadership of the former race driver, the company have been producing wide-bodied, high power monsters under the Koenig Specials brand since 1977.

The modifications on offer for the R129 series included the obligatory wide arch body kit amongst other exterior modifications, but also a supercharger kit that took power to 420bhp. Now that’s more than adequate I’d say!

And Tarmac’s Global64 miniature version is certainly more than adequate. A top 10 of 2022 already in my eyes. Finished in Mercedes Bordeaux Red Metallic and sporting SSR Vienna Kries the details are fantastic for what is Tarmac’s entry level line. It’s a stunner.

The interior colour choice is spot on and it rolls beautifully on rubber tyres. And it just looks awesome. I also managed to bag a chase version but I’m more of a fan of the regular release.

Back to our businessman though. Let’s just say he’s undecided on the demo SL he drives at the Koenig showroom. He heads back to his hotel to mull things over, but on the way passes a Mercedes dealer. Outside something catches his eye: a 560 SEC AMG.

The 560 SEC AMG comes from the “pre-merger” era where AMG were still a stand-alone tuning company (they even collaborated with Mitsubishi and apparently Honda) and a totally separate entity from Mercedes-Benz. Designed to be a showcase of what AMG were capable of the SEC AMG utilised a 6-litre V8 with 385 bhp and 410 Ib-ft of torque. Top speed was a touch under 180mph, not bad for a car that weighed over 1.7 tonnes. About 50 were built with prices starting from 270,000 Deutschmarks.

The Hot Wheels version is one of the best mainlines in a long time in my opinion. Designer Sonny Fisher has done an awesome job: It’s a big, brutish, menacing looking thing.

The Retro Slot wheels work incredibly well on this with the silver lip and the lines of the AMG wide body kit have been very successfully replicated. There’s also a neat touch of two big subwoofers on the rear parcel shelf, obviously a buyer who ticked all the options!

Sadly my example falls foul of some of the most irritating slips in Mattel quality control. The paint on the bonnet of mine is awful and there were issues with wheels where the chrome lips had somehow seemingly shifted on to the tyre sidewalls. The decals are also very patchy in places but really I’m still incredibly impressed with a diecast that cost me £2.

Back in Munich, there’s even more on the businessman’s mind. He’s now driven the 560 SEC AMG and has even more to think about than he did after the visit to Koenig. And just to muddy the waters even more the dealership manager has just invited him to look over another 560, this time his personal car: a W126 560 SEL.

The W126 was the second generation S-Class manufactured between 1979 and 1991. The range topper was the 560 SEL model powered by a 5.5 litre V8 initially producing 296bhp but later de-tuned to 268bhp. It was crammed with all manner of gadgets offering high levels of safety, luxury and driver convenience and remains a car that has huge road presence even to this day.

The 1:64 scale version here is made by Master who to be honest I know nothing about other than they appear to be a Chinese brand. But I do know this thing is incredible.

The detail is superb. There’s faux wood visible in the interior, there’s a tiny three-pointed star on the big grille, headlight wipers sit on clear headlights and I love the Hanover license plates. It’s also a big bit of metal, and heavy too. And it rolls brilliantly, as good as any Mattel product. It arrived too late in my collection to be added to my top 10 of 2022, but it would have made the cut with ease. It’s a monster.

Our German friend finds the lack of power a bit of a problem but is drawn to the luxury and comfort. Plus the dealer is showing the extensive range of personalisation on offer and notes with a smile that “there are tuners out there…” Whatever he picks each car has strong appeal, and a lot of presence. And the very same can be said of the three miniature versions. Which one would you leave the showroom with?

Instagram: @alex_the_hoarder


(Click here for the Tarmac Koenig SL on Ebay, here for the Hot Wheels 560 SEC, and here for the Master SEL 560)

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