The Only Way to Go

Gene Jurick
The Jurick family has enjoyed the savings and adventure offered by the Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program – eight times

The Only Way to Go

The Jurick family has enjoyed the savings and adventure offered by the Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program – eight times

Article and Photography Gene Jurick

Remembering my three years of military service in Germany, I often told my wife Ruth that we would return someday. After 12 years of marriage and two children – and just having sold our business – we decided to visit Germany in 1976.

1976 280 Sedan

The best idea was to buy a car while we were there, drive it while vacationing, and ship it home afterward. We considered many makes and models and chose a 1976 280 sedan to purchase through the Mercedes-Benz European Delivery Program.

Placing our order May 3 for delivery July 1, we ordered a classic white with red interior, opting for electric sunroof, stereo radio, cocomats and parcel nets. Because the car would be driven in Europe but shipped to the United States, we had to pay for the catalyst exchange program, one-month European insurance package, import duties, local port charges and shipping costs, totaling $14,000, which netted an approximate 7 percent discount on the U.S.-delivered price. Those additional costs are included in today’s European Delivery Program, with the discount at the same percentage and much less effort for the buyer.

We toured Germany for a month and dropped the car off in Bremen. Six weeks later on Sept. 20, 1976, we picked it up at the vehicle preparation center.

Was it worth it? Better believe it. Eight years later, we ordered a 1984 190D 2.2 automatic through the same program.

1984 190D Sedan

The 1984 models offered more standard equipment, so the only extra cost would be $249 for the metallic paint, The gross discount on the U.S.-delivered $23,510 list price was approximately 16 percent; after including the additional program charges, we saved nearly 7 percent again.

This time, we brought our 11- and 16-year-old children. The trip was a great value, both in terms of our kids’ experience and the pocketbooks of merchants along the way. It was also a parental learning experience; even halfway around the world, a brother and sister in the back seat of a 190D can be a challenge.

Purchase and planning was effortless, but several weeks before leaving for Sindelfingen, Mercedes-Benz informed us that a metalworkers’ strike made our car unavailable. Undoing our travel plans wouldn’t be effortless, so I offered to buy any model already built. Good news: A light ivory 190D 2.2 was available – alas, not my preferred astral silver, but it was still okay.

We were the only customers at the delivery center, and because the strike had ended, we got a private factory tour, which gave us great insight into production methods. We later retrieved the car at Houston’s port, then near our home in Dallas.

Was it worth it? Better believe it. Our next trip was four years later to take delivery of a 1988 300E.

1988 300E

As was true with the 190D, the 300E was well equipped with electric seats, sunroof, ABS, auto transmission, theft alarm and metallic paint – all standard. By this time, return shipment from drop-off to the local dealer was included. An export deposit to cover U.S. customs duties and a European driving insurance package were still extra.

The investment in the new 300E was $38,083, significantly more than our previous purchases, but the net percentage discount from U.S. dealer MSRP was still about the same, which covered most of the expenses of our European vacation.

Our second and third purchases – this was our third, buying the 300E – included our two children and on this tour in 1988 we explored the Eastern Bloc countries.

Again, we brought both children – now four years older – and much more manageable. We had to secure visas for most of the countries we visited – many still under Communist regimes – including Yugoslavia (now Croatia and Slovenia), Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland. We shipped the car home from Frankfurt.

Was it worth it? No question about it. Eight years later, we returned.

1996 E320

We nearly messed up on this purchase; we wait to see the colors on actual cars because they can vary so much. By the time we had decided on ruby red, the color wasn’t available through the Euro Delivery Program. However, a friend at the zone office got a zone car diverted to program, and the game was on.

The next trip was in 1996 to buy a ruby red E320, and this time my wife Ruth and I made the trip on our own.

The program’s logistics had improved, with virtually no additional costs and by this time included two free nights in a first-class hotel. We also ordered a “Black Forest Alps Rally” package that included a self-guided tour through Southern Germany and Austria with six nights’ accommodations for two. Although the net discount was down to 5 percent, it was enough to cover our optional tour and transportation costs.

Ending our trip in Munich at Hotel Bayerischer Hof, after two pleasant nights in a lovely suite with breakfast included at Mercedes’ expense, we left the keys and documents for the car at the reception desk before heading home.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Three years later …

1999 SLK230

By this time, we had sold the old 450SL we had bought used, and needed – well, wanted – a new sporty, Sunday car. With its retractable hardtop, the SLK was it. We ordered heated seats and automatic transmission – we didn’t want to shift, and evenings were cool by the beach where we lived.

Three years later, we wanted something more sporting, so we ordered a 1996 SLK230, which was a ball to drive, but short on luggage space; top-down motoring required that we leave our luggage at the hotel.

Concerned with luggage space, we borrowed an SLK from the zone office for a test fit; the trunk was adequate with the top up – top down – not so much. Top-down motoring would be enjoyed with luggage left at the hotel.

The price included a similar 5 percent discount as on the 1996 car. All arrangements were similar to the previous car, though this time we traveled mostly in Germany. Again, we left the car keys at the reception desk after two days at the Bayerischer Hof, and the car was on its way by the time we headed to the airport.

Same question, was it worth it? Must have been. We used the Euro Delivery Program for our 2003 E500 in September 2002, and again four years later with a 2007 E550 in September 2006.

2003 E500/2007 E550

Both these purchases were similar, and by this time, the European Delivery Program was pretty much the same as it is today. The biggest difference was our switch to V-8 engines. The difference from our 1996 E320 was huge. The numbers of amenities now standard was substantially greater. Of course there were still extras and accessories you could buy, but the basic car is very well equipped. Nevertheless, I ordered the option packages on both cars.

Our silver 2007 E550 on the floor of the delivery center. The delivery center had been revamped by 2007. 

The European delivery price is easy to determine: It’s simply a 7 percent discount off the total sticker price, including options and packages. The only listed price is 15-day Euro road insurance; all other costs, including shipment, customs, marine insurance, and 15 days of road insurance are included. Total savings on the E500 amounted to $4,462 – again covering costs of a nice vacation.

Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in early 2002, Ruth was unable to accompany me four years later when I took delivery of our 2007 E550. The navigation systems built into the cars make it much easier to get around the country – even alone. My daughter Jennifer joined me for the second week of the trip, which brightened the experience.

Again, was it worth it? My answer’s the same. I didn’t hesitate when it came time to get my next car. However, my most recent Euro delivery in 2011 was different in several ways. My dearest Ruth had passed away the year before. And though I was gradually acclimated to that change in my life, I would never have thought I’d embrace buying a sporty car like a CLS63 AMG.

2012 CLS63

I hadn’t really warmed to the first-generation CLS introduced in 2006. But when I saw pictures of the second generation, I was immediately attracted; I drove one at the Amelia Island Concours and was sold. One catch: The one I really wanted was the CLS63 AMG model – normally, AMG models aren’t available through Euro delivery, especially with the performance package I wanted.

On my latest trip, in 2011, things were a little different because I decided I wanted a CLS63 AMG, which isn’t on the normal European Delivery Program.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten to know some fine folks at MBUSA through the MBCA, so I was able to present my request and get approval to take delivery of the AMG model in Europe. The final arrangements didn’t include the standard program discount, but I didn’t care. I hate it when I get attracted to a specific car that way.

This time, I participated in Mercedes-Benz Club of America’s German trip, which entailed traveling in Europe for almost a month; I would have time to visit Mercedes’ museum, and the VW and Porsche museums.

Even better was the jewel-in-the-crown opportunity to drive the Nürburgring, a world-famous 14-mile-long racetrack where auto manufacturers, enthusiasts, racers, and average Joes can go to find out how fast their cars, or their drivers are, with a fee of about $30 per lap. I accomplished four laps, recording the whole experience on a video dash-cam. 

Was it worth it? More than I can say. On this trip, I checked off two bucket-list items, purchasing my 550-horsepower Affalterbach hot rod and then driving it on the Nürburgring as fast as I could – without hurting myself or the car. Would I do it again? Absolutely.

How about you?

Besides the reduced purchase price, you can enjoy a fantastic European vacation in your own new car with the savings when purchased through the Europen Delivery Program. There’s a lot of information at that highlights the program’s advantages, how to build your own car, and visualize driving along the autobahn or lovely two-lane European roads.

The staff of the delivery center is unfailingly helpful, efficient, and knowledgable. They can do anything from demonstrating safety features to confirming a hotel reservation and providing directions.

Once you’ve “built” your car, print a copy of your spec sheet and visit the local dealer’s Euro Delivery Sales Specialist to ensure you are dealing with someone trained in the program who will help you make the arrangements rather than trying to sell you something on the lot. A refundable deposit is required when orders are placed, and financing or leasing agreements must be arranged by the 30 days before scheduled delivery date.

Taking advantage of the European Delivery Program means a dream car and a dream vacation … it’s worth it.