There isn’t a whole lot left to be said about the Mercedes-Benz W126 coupe and especially the 560SEC. But, I keep finding really nice examples of them for sale, so more words are needed. If you at the main body line in the photo above, you see how everything is perfect until you run into that big, clunky door handle. The designer of this car, the legendary Bruno Sacco, said that it is the only flaw in an otherwise nearly perfect design. Those door handles were not his idea, but rather the engineers that focused on safety and all the other stuff that ruins fun. Supposedly whatever the original design on paper was for this coupe wasn’t deemed safe and functional in a crash so they had to go with what you see today. Sacco even went as far as saying he wanted to have those door handles modified on his personal 560SEC just because it bugged him so much. I see his point and who am I to argue with the guy who designed some of the most iconic Mercedes ever?
Edit 6/13/2017: the ABC Exclusive replica 560 SEC is back on a no reserve auction for a $15,000 starting bid. Click HERE!
Coupe versions of the Mercedes-Benz W126 chassis are popular fodder for these pages, and in particular we love to look at some period modified versions. Just last week Craig looked at a 1989 560SEC with period AMG bits, though that car was not an originally modified car. Today I have a comparison of two different directions modifications took in the 1980s on the C126, and in many ways it is a commentary on both how to properly present a car and…well, how not to. Whether these cars are to your taste is another matter, but we can certainly see the divergence in style pretty quickly. Which one is the winner? Let’s take a look at the European specification AMG model first:
The W126 380 SE I wrote up yesterday got me back on a Mercedes kick and I quickly came across this badass ’87 560 SEC. I’ve long thought that Benzes look best in black or white and I think this car in a garage next to yesterday’s 380 SE would be a perfect garage. The big white cruiser for you and your friends and then this black coupe for you and one lucky passenger. The back seat can accommodate grown adults if need be as only 3 inches was shaved off the W126 SE chassis and the large doors make for easy passenger entry and exit. However, I think the vibe of this car is best honored with two people riding in style up front. The 560 SEC was Mercedes’ statement car, the kind of vehicle reserved for the executive with a wild side. It cost more than its rivals like the Porsche 928S, BMW 635i and Jaguar XJS, something that I think actually helped it succeed. At this level of luxury there are those people will automatically assume the most expensive option is the best and I think in this case they would be right. I would rather have a 560 SEC than any other personal sport coupe from the era, even the M6. While I love that car, I don’t think it has quite the same presence as this black beauty and sometimes presence (though rarely) beats performance. Sure we couldn’t get our hands on a manual option here in the states but I honestly think that’s ok because it this car is more of a mean city cruiser than a country road carver. Besides, the 4 speed automatic in this was quite ahead of it’s time in that it had a topographical sensor that would let it know if the car was on an incline or decline. This allowed for impressive engine braking when coasting downhill and smooth starts without using the brake pedal when going uphill. Just one of the many pieces of technology that we take for granted today that was pioneered on the W126 chassis.
While I’m sold that it’s worthwhile in most cases to buy a top condition car from a careful one owner home with a spotless record and no miles on the clock, there’s something that’s at least romantic about the idea of restoring a lesser example back to driving quality. In the case of some older German metal, this is certainly possible; it’s not necessarily the least frustrating way to do things, but one can take a certain amount of pride in resurrecting a car from neglected status back to the road. Today’s example is a great case in point; a W126 Mercedes-Benz is a well build, solidly engineered thing of beauty. Add the pillar-less SEC coupe to the mix and the end of the run 5.6 V8 and it’s a great combination, only heightened by the right sprinkling of AMG and Euro bits. And with a low “Buy It Now” price, this 1988 has me dreaming of a winter project:
The W126 is still considered by many to be the pinnacle of Mercedes-Benz’s combination of luxury, style, affordability and longevity, and it’s no wonder why. It was a huge sales success when new and the stout over-engineered design means that today there are plenty that are still available in good shape. It’s pretty amazing, actually – it’s quite rare to see a good condition E23 or C2/3 Audi in good shape today, but it’s almost rare to find SELs and SECs in poor shape. But at least on these shores, most of the later examples are the big-engine 5.6 V8 U.S. models – while there are some early 5.0 European market cars that were imported, it’s rare to see the later cars on this shore. That’s especially true of one of the lowest production number variants of the W126 – the 420SEC. With only around 3,600 total produced, they’re a fairly rare sight anywhere:
Following up on our trio of AMG-equipped cars Tuesday, a W126 500SEC AMG that I wrote up last year has resurfaced on eBay. Last time around the car sold for $13,100 – but there’s a twist this time, as it appears that the current seller (who, it should be noted, has zero feedback) is offering the car at a discounted $10,000 with a non-running engine after having driven it less than 1,000 miles. Condition appears to be equal to December’s auction with some better photos this time around. I’m still not a fan of the chromed wheels, but refinish them in graphite with polished lips, tone down the tinting and in my opinion this car would be a stunner. Is it worth the rebuild? I hope someone thinks so!
The below post originally appeared on our site December 17, 2013:
Today I found another not real AMG, this time a 380SEC, and you know what? I’m just not sure that I care that it’s not a “real” AMG because – well, just look at it. In all of it’s white glory, this Pearlesant AMG replica with Pentas and brown leather just looks so perfect, I can easily forget that it doesn’t have any monster motor in it. That memory lapse would undoubtedly be assisted by the quite low price this big coupe is being offered at. Take a look for yourself:
Model: 380 SEC
Engine: 3.8 liter V8
Mileage: 117,014 mi
Price: $ 6,888 Buy It Now
1982 MERCEDES-BENZ 380SEC
AMG HAMMER BODY SCULPTURE
You are looking at a rare hard to find 380SEC with a one of a kind AMG HAMMER body sculpture. This 380SEC has a beautiful Pearl White exterior along with a unique Dark Brown interior. In addition to the exterior upgrades there was also a AMG HAMMER steering wheel added to the interior to give it a sportier feel. Don’t miss the opportunity to own this masterpiece.
117,014 CARFAX CERTIFIED MILES!!!!!!!
Thats only 3,774 miles per year!!!!!!!!
For more information feel free to contact Private Collection Motors,INC at 949-791-2167. Thank you and happy bidding
Lower miles, great condition, period correct modifications; this car strikes me as all win. So what if it doesn’t have the big motor? That just saves you from some even bigger bills down the road repairing it. This strikes me as one of the best deals we’ve featured on Tuner Tuesday to date; for less than $7,000 you too can feel like a Saudi Prince. In my mind, this car is just about perfect if you like the SECs – it’s got the right wheels, right stance, right interior, and that body kit doesn’t take too much away from the overall look. Would I change anything? The white grill is a bit much, but I’m just not sure I’d change it because I think it fits the overall package. The hood pin striping is a bit horrible though.