Drive Time: Markleys recall Mercedes days
June 2, 2017
More than 20 years later, Dave Markley and his dad, Bob, reminisce about their days as Mercedes-Benz dealers in Greeley.
That was back in the '70s, '80s and early '90s when, with the help of another of Bob's sons, Dan, they also sold Volkswagens and, at various times, Saabs, Hondas, Mazdas and Isuzus. Bob served two terms as mayor of Greeley.
Dave, earlier this week, recalled the introduction in 1982 of the Mercedes 190e, a compact executive car. "My all-time favorite car," said Dave, "is a Mercedes — the SL450. It's a classic today."
I, too, have had some favorites coming out of Stuttgart, Germany, and, like Dave, the SL550 is to my liking. The finest Benz model I've driven was four years ago, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG Roadster of 557 horsepower and an astounding 664 lbs.-ft. of torque, with price tag of $171,225.
I spent the Memorial weekend in a new Mercedes model. The 2017 GLE43 AMG SUV, a replacement for the ML series, was provided for my annual Memorial drive to Wray and Sterling and back home to Greeley.
For the Mercedes to show up for the drive was fitting, for its AMG division, representing sport and performance, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
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The new GLE is part of the newly launched 43AMG series featuring a powerful 6-cylinder engine and a shorter-shift-timed, 9-speed, automatic transmission.
AMG, founded in Germany in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher as a sports car and performance brand, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler AG, producers of Mercedes-Benz automobiles.
The GLE43 AMG I drove is equipped with a 3.0-liter biturbo V-6 engine of 362 horsepower and 384 lb.-ft. of torque. Its sport suspension, all-wheel-drive system, braking and dynamic select-shift were enhanced along with the engine/tranny by AMG.
Most of my driving time with the GLE was split between Comfort and Sport in the select-shift feature; other choices are Sport-plus, Snow and Individual modes. The upgraded suspension of double-wishbone front and multilink rear, both with air springs and torsion bars, is of firm response in lateral movements.
It was quiet in the pretty little town of Wray; most everyone apparently attending the high school graduation ceremonies Saturday morning. Bonanza Ford was closed; the building originated 74 years ago as Dale Wells Ford Garage, where I tagged my dad around. The Wray Gazette was closed, as was the Upstairs Downtown restaurant. So, Jan and I drove out to the north edge of town for lunch at the Sandhiller, where owner Julie Koch sat down for a nice visit.
A fun discovery among all the high-tech innovation in the Mercedes was a working cigarette lighter in the center console; I've not seen that in several years.
The midsize GLE, with large, comfortable front seats, is a five-passenger SUV crossover boasting 38 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. Running boards are attached so tightly into the GLE's underside they're almost too narrow for use.
With AMG and safety options, sticker price climbed to $83,745 for the GLE.
The Markley automotive operation, dating back more than 80 years, was started by Bob's father, Ferd. Bob and his brother, Gene, joined their dad in the Fort Collins dealership; then in 1969, Bob moved to Greeley to buy the VW franchise. Bob sold the Greeley business in 1993; Gene's son, Doug, continues to oversee the Markley establishment in Fort Collins. Bob, 90, is retired in Greeley.
— Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.