Class of 1996 – Blog Entry


I grew up in a family of oil enthusiasts and started looking at pictures of cars in magazines from the moment I could turn a page.

In 1996 the best and most expensive car you could buy in India was the Mercedes-Benz E 220 (W124) or the E 250 if you wanted a diesel. Even though most enthusiasts at the time were not very happy that the W124 arrived in India at the end of its life cycle, I am happy that it arrived on our shores because it is my favorite generation. of class E.

If you wanted a big bike, the most powerful you could get was the BMW F650, or “Funduro” as it was popularly called. Unlike the E-Class, the Funduro was BMW’s current model at the time and the very first chain-driven BMW motorcycle. What made the bike special for me was the four-valve-per-cylinder Rotax engine and BMW’s Dakar victories in 1999 and 2000.

I got my E 220 – which was on display at ’20 Years of Class E in India’ celebrations last year – after a painful four-year search that began in 2009 when I did an article on the purchase of used E 220 for this magazine. However, for the Funduro, I had to wait until last year for my father to pass it on to me.

The W124 and F650 may have had their fair share of flaws, but they don’t feel their age and are still very capable, even by today’s standards. Especially the W124, which started life in the mid-1980s. The E 220 is almost as easy to drive as any modern sedan of the same size. It lacks features like electronic parking aids and infotainment systems, but comes with a decent amount of comfort and safety features. What I like most is its style and tank-like build quality; especially the thud with which the doors closed. The mechanics are not complicated either and are easy to repair and maintain. Even though I bought a manual by choice, sometimes I want an automatic because I mostly drive in the city.

The Funduro still has enough performance by modern standards and is as comfortable as any bisport bike in the same segment today. The use of two Mikuni carburetors, instead of fuel injection, and the lack of any kind of electronics make the Funduro even more appealing to me. There are also its share of problems, but those that can be easily fixed, like updating the voltage regulator, which is prone to failure, to a reconfigured one. If you want better handling around town, a common modification internationally is to drop a tooth on the front sprocket; I admit that I haven’t done it yet.

Today we are spoiled for choice. And while I’m sure we’d be drooling over automobiles today, 21 years from now I’m not convinced they’ll age as gracefully as the W124 and F650. If you want a modern classic car or motorcycle with Indian heritage that you could enjoy for a lot more
years to come, look no further than these two models. Buy one now before the prices go up exponentially. You will not regret it.

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