Roll the dice? 2002 Mercedes-Benz S600

Very rarely do the fine people at Mercedes-Benz perpetrate a major mistake. But when they do, oh boy. Maybe it’s just the nature of the beast of car manufacturing that when mistakes do happen, it’s usually of grand proportion. Today’s car, a 2002 S600, is one of those mistakes. It’s not the sub-par build quality and lack of longevity that makes this car an absolute nightmare, it’s what is under the hood they makes this W220 almost radioactive to any buyer.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2002 Mercedes-Benz S600 on eBay

Year: 2002
Model: S600
Engine: 5.8 liter V12
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 138,599 mi
Price: Buy It Now $3,445

2002 S600 Mercedes that runs and drives but has an oil leak from the top of the motor in back.  The motor has 389 horsepower. It delivers it very smooth. The transmission shifts so nice through all of the gears. The wheels are correct factory S600 wheels wrapped in as new Michelin tires. The brakes stop this heavy car easy. The exhaust is all in good order. The battery works just fine and is the big battery. The car goes down the road so smooth. The inside is loaded up with heated, cooled massage front seats, wood all over the place, Suede headliner, leather dash, steering wheel. Heated power back seats with lumbar. The navigation and Bose system is great!!  The car has a clean clear title in hand ready to transfer. No extra fees in my auction. The 2 coil packs and the set of xenon headlights are worth $3000 alone!! Make me a fair

This problem with this W220 is the 5.8 liter M137 V12 engine. There is a reason why this engine only lasted for two years in the United States before moving to a 5.5 liter twin-turbo M275. The M137 is notorious for out of round cylinder walls and oil fouling basically making the engine a giant paper weight. The excessive blow-by oil fouls all of the downstream oxygen sensors. So you say, “what’s one or two O2 sensors?” Except there are eight on this S600 which adds up to a total cost of $1,600. What if you damage the cats too? There are six of them at a cost of $8,000. At this rate, you’ll be living on the street with a bunch of real cats.

For this specific S600, the seller comes out and says this car leaks oil from the top of the motor towards the rear. This the dreaded M137 oil cooler issue. There is a long metal plate in the middle of the oil cooler. You need to access this to install new o-rings to fix this leak before you fry your transmission control unit with hot oil also turning the transmission into a boat anchor. The oil leak isn’t something minor when this happens, it goes from a few drops to a quart rather quickly. This job doesn’t sound so bad until you hear that you need to pull the heads to access the oil cooler. It’s only a $350 part but the killer is the many many hours it takes to pull the heads on a Mercedes V12. This entire repair basically starts at a few thousand dollars and only goes up if they find vacuum or breathers hoses that need replaced.

So should you buy a reasonably clean 2002 S600 with runs and drives just fine for $3,500? Of course not! You are signing up to spend thousands of dollars and be potentially be left with parts and scrap value once something catastrophic happens. If I was forced to buy own this car as-is, I would drive it until the inevitable happens then start cannibalizing it, because there are plently of rusty W220’s out there looking for parts.

– Andrew

Tuner Tuesday: 2006 BMW M5 Dinan 5.8

Nate’s look at the E34 and E39 Dinan M5s over the past week is a poignant reminder of the factory-backed performance available in these super sedans. In the best style of “Q-Ships” – World War II merchant ships that hid surprising armament behind their docile exterior – they’re turned up but never outrageous. When it came to the E60 chassis though, with 500 horsepower on tap how did one increase the already world-beating performance? In Dinan’s case, there was no replacement for displacement, as they punched out the 5 liter V10 to 5.8 liters. The result was an additional 100 horsepower and around 80 lb.ft more torque while still maintaining the stratospheric redline. Yet that insane performance was available in a wrapper which looked no different than a standard M5:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2006 BMW M5 Dinan 5.8 on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday Dinan 5-off: 2008 M5 S2 5.8 6-speed v. 2001 540i 6-speed

I know that, amongst the authors that grace these pages, I seem to do a lot of comparisons of cars, some of which are extremely unlikely comparisons. One of our readers termed my picks a “Cheese and Chalk” competition; in many ways, he was right. After all, how can you really compare cars that are in completely different demographic categories? To be fair to me, I don’t always do such, but in that case that’s the appeal of the “10K Friday” series – taking a fixed budget and looking at the wild variety of cars that’s available simply because they’re similarly priced. However, I also like to compare similar vehicles and that’s the case today. I have two rare examples of Dinan-modded BMW 5-series. On the surface, they’re quite similar – both grey metallic, both with light grey interiors, both with normally aspirated motors, both have silver multi-spoke wheels with polished lips, and both have 6-speeds. But the level with which Dinan has breathed on them is quite different; consequently, one has double the power of the other, more technology and more complexity. That model also has one tenth the mileage of the other, and unsurprisingly is on offer at ten times the price making these seemingly very similar 5s very different. Which is the winner in your mind?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW M5 Dinan S2 5.8 on eBay

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