Johnny Cash’s 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

It probably isn’t a surprise that the ”Man in Black” Johnny Cash also liked in his cars in black. It might be a little bit of a surprise that the romantic outlaw musician liked his black car to be a Mercedes-Benz 560SEL. I have to admit I didn’t expect a man with an image like Cash to choose such a fancy car like a 560SEL, but I suppose the W126 will make believers of us all. Cash purchased this vehicle new in 1990 which meant he would have been 59 years-old at the time, so it’s not like he was in the prime of his lawless ways, but image is everything and I guess in the pre-internet days it was a lot easier not to be seen. Nonetheless, this is what is claimed to be his last car and now it is up for bid in Tennessee. Fair warning, if you are expecting a prime example 560SEL, you aren’t going to find it here.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Johnny Cash’s 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay

1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL Hearse

I have said this before and I guess I will say it again, just when I think I have seen it all, something else surprises me to no end. What you are looking at today is a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL modified into a hearse to resemble a small, ornate Japanese Buddhist Temple. To my surprise, this W126 isn’t in Japan. It is Raleigh, North Carolina of all places where it will be up for auction at the Raleigh Classic Car Auction. I have many questions and not a lot of answers, so let me try to make sense of what is going on with this wild thing.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL Hearse at Hemmings

1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

When I see the word “concours” being thrown out there when describing a used car, my eyes usually roll over pretty hard. It’s becoming the buzzword for any car that is generally above average in condition, but no where near the level of pulling it on a golf course and having a group of men in floppy hats inspect for dirt under the fuse box lid. Every once in a blue moon, of those cars does actually pop up for sale and it carries an outrageous price. But this 1986 560SEL for sale in Florida not only looks outstanding, but won’t cost you the price of a new S-Class either.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on Hemmings

1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL with 28k miles

I’ve made no secret of my love for the W126 on these pages. Produced between 1979 and 1991, they date from a period when Mercedes-Benz produced over-engineered cars with an unrivaled reputation for durability and quality. The W126 sat at the top of the range, offering the highest levels of luxury, safety and refinement that money could buy. Whenever I see one on the road today, especially if it’s in nice condition, I immediately think “old money.” Many well-heeled owners, too attached to part with them and wealthy enough to afford the upkeep, simply held on to their cars, replacing parts as necessary. It’s not unusual to see them being driven by their original owners, and buyers usually don’t have to look too hard to find one-owner examples in good condition. With a $20k price tag and only 28k miles on the odometer, this one falls into “collector” territory.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

The nice thing about the W126 platform S-class is that you can still find a car suit to suit every budget. A quick look on local Craigslist throws up several examples in various states of repair for a few grand. And some of them look pretty clean. But of course, as the old adage goes, there’s nothing as expensive as a cheap Mercedes. And cars at that end of the market, particularly the V8s, are likely to need some costly repairs at some point or another, just as a matter of course. But what if you were in the enviable position of having an unlimited budget and a desire for a W126 in almost brand-new, showroom condition? What kind of money would you have to spend, and what would it get you? Perhaps this mint condition, range-topping 560SEL with an incredibly low 39k miles on the odometer is the answer.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay

1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL


The Mercedes-Benz 560SEL was the definitive über sedan for more than a decade beginning in the early 1980s. They weren’t particularly eye-catching or glitzy but had a refined, tasteful appearance in a way only a classic Mercedes-Benz could pull off. With a rear seat that was almost five feet wide, passengers were treated to the utmost comfort and the driver had adequate power at his disposal with the M117 V8 under the hood. Want to look like a diplomat for a day? This 1987 560SEL in Desert Taupe for sale in Illinois is a good way to do just that. For those thinking a classic S-class in good condition with low miles is out of reach, read on.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay

1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL


Last week, we featured a rather remarkable 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL with just over 16,000 miles on the odometer. Only two model years separate that car and this 1990 560SEL for sale in Illinois, however, they are a world apart in terms of the executive car formula. The W140 that replaced this W126 S-class was large and in charge. Perhaps too large, given its reception at the Geneva Motor Show in 1991. While it was a technical tour de force, many were lamenting the passing of the W126. The 560SEL was the standard bearer for German luxury for many years, that is to say a car that was elegantly styled with bulletproof build quality. To this day, these are cars that blend in nicely into the automotive landscape. It’s hard to explain how they can pull off both the classic and modern look at the same time, but they do. Like the 500SEL from last week, this 560SEL is another low mileage piece, with just under 10,000 miles on the clock.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay

1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

Moving on from the low mileage 560SL we saw yesterday, let’s take a look at that car’s sedan contemporary, the 560SEL. Germany has always been renowned for large luxury sedans, but the standard bearer of this segment for years has been the S-class. Of all the S-classes to have come and gone, my favorite was perhaps the one from the era of my childhood, the W126. Combining the durability of a W123 with the stateliness of a presidential limo, these cars were really in a class of their own for over a decade. Even when production ended in 1991, they were still at the head of the class when it came to safety, performance and luxury. Sure, it might have looked a little dated in the early 1990s, but looking back, this Bruno Sacco design has aged quite well. If I was about to take the W126 plunge, I would probably stick with the ministerial look and choose black. This 1989 560SEL for sale in Florida is quite mint, though, showing only 52,000 miles on the odometer. It does, however, remind me why I would never move to the Sunshine State. I don’t have enough white belts. Or cars.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560EL on eBay

1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

While on a business trip to The Netherlands last month, I happened upon a very clean Mercedes-Benz 560SEL parked on the edge of one of the famous canals of Amsterdam. This car, like much of the older metal tooling around this capitol city, was in quite mint condition. The dedication of the Dutch to classic vehicles is quite impressive and warms my heart, as I find little out there on the new car market these days that I’m interested in. The W126 is one of those cars I wished they still produced to this day, as it just has a timeless air about it. I highly doubt that years from now, the last three generations of S-classes will age quite as graceful as this car has. It was one of Bruno Sacco’s best designs, in my opinion. If you missed your chance at a new 560SEL, this example for sale in New Jersey has covered just over 14,000 miles, making it one of the lowest mileage examples on the marque. It comes, however, with a stiff price tag.

Click for details: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay

1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

Throughout the years, Mercedes-Benz has dabbled with über sedans to cater to its wealthiest clientele. The 600 was, and still is, considered by many to be a watershed moment in executive motoring. Later on in 1992, the 600SEL was perched atop the S-class range, with it’s 6.0 liter V12 engine and available four-place seating. Their latest chapter saw the revival of a storied name from years past: Maybach. Sadly, the brand lasted but a scant decade, from 2002 to 2012. In the eighties, it was a different story, with the top dog being this car: the 560SEL. From 1986 to 1991, this car was the vehicle of choice for businessmen, celebrities and heads of state the world over. Today, the W126 S-class is still revered for its durability and classic, restrained Mercedes-Benz styling. This 560SEL for sale in California is a minter, with just over 53,000 miles on the clock.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on eBay