1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC AMG Widebody

2017 marked the 50th anniversary of AMG that was celebrated through the year with various events and press pieces. As a result, lots of AMG cars young and old came out of the woodwork for sale. All of a sudden, a clapped out 1995 C36 with faded paint is a desirable car that people are fighting over. You take the good with the bad and today we have, I think, one of the good. It’s a desirable 1989 560SEC for sale just out of Leeds, England. What started life as your standard W126 coupe was transformed into a 6.0 AMG monster … I think.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC at Motorhub UK

Year: 1989
Model: 560SEC
Engine: 5.5 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 16,767 mi
Price: £109,995 ($145,237)

 

******* FACTORY 560SEC AMG 6.0 HAMMER WIDEBODY LHD 1 OF 50 EVER PRODUCED WORLDWIDE *********** Left-hand drive, Metallic Black, Costing in excess of $200k when new, just 50 of a projected run of 100 cars are believed to have been completed pre-merger by the AMG factory. Utilising their own 385 bhp DOHC 6.0 version of MB’s big V8, along with suspension and interior upgrades and the stunning body modifications, AMG created what is, even today, regarded as one the most desirable and easily recognizable factory modified modern Mercedes. , High Spec Includes, Full Black Upgraded AMG Recaro Leather Interior, Wood Capping Including Door Cards, AMG Steering, Amg White Dials, Electric Seats, Heated Seats, Memory Seats, Climate Control, Air Conditioning, CD Player, Cruise Control, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors, Central Locking, AMG Upgraded Suspension, AMG Sports Exhaust, Full Wide Body BY AMG Factory, AMG Split Rim Alloys, Fresh Imported From Japan From A collector, Japanese Service History, Recently Recommissioned, No Expense Spared,, Very Rare And Collectible Model,, £109,995

This car is a classic AMG Japan creation. This car left Germany as a regular 560SEC and at some point in its life was transformed into what you see today. That equals lots of AMG parts and even more wood. If you see a modified Mercedes from decades past and it has an extreme amount of wood in it, it is almost always from AMG Japan. Everything looks really great and is no doubt a really stunning car.  But, I see a problem under the hood. Everywhere in the sellers description and everywhere on this car it is labeled as a 6.0, but it is clearly stamped on the valve covers as a 5.6. Now, I can’t prove this isn’t a 6.0, but it is very easy to add a bunch of stickers and badges to a car while it is not so easy to add AMG valve covers. You can make the call.

Vintage AMG stuff is extremely hot right now so seeing this one listed for sale for over $145,000 doesn’t surprise me at all. Is it worth that? In my opinion, no way. I understand these cars are selling for big money, but it seems like a giant risk to me. Lots of these pre-merger cars have little to no documentation as to where they came from, who did the work and what exactly is in the car. I feel like these cars are bringing big money because they are rare, they look cool and there is some sort of speculation going on that values will just keep rising on them. While I agree on the first two points, I can’t say I see these ever being multiple six-figure cars. I look at it this way: A really nice regular 560SEC you can pick up for $20,000 and it will probably keep it’s value for a good while. So is this car, with a bunch of body work, interior treatment and what may or may not be a 6.0, worth another $120,000?

– Andrew

1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD with 11,300 miles

File this one under another great Mercedes-Benz that you usually see with hundreds of thousands of miles on but for whatever reason has almost none. This 1984 300SD shows a crazy 11,300 miles and looks every bit the part. You can totally see why people plunked down almost $40,000 (over $93,000 in 2017 dollars) for these when they are new. It’s frugal, handsome, secure, has enough to power to get out of its own way and all this won’t cost you a fortune to keep going. Except this car, as you might have guessed, will need a small fortune to take home with you.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD on Mercedes Heritage

Year: 1984
Model: 300SD
Engine: 3.0 liter 5 cylinder
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 11,300 miles
Price: $35,000

Single owner SD through 2015.
Rare 904 Midnight Blue with Creme leather.
Spectacular preservation from new.
Spotless engine bay.
Full handbooks.
Runs and drives beautifully.

What is there to say about this car? I overwhelmingly prefer the gen 1 (1981-1985) W126s over the later ones even though they do look a little more dated, but I think that’s the beauty of them. Give me a clean set of 14 inch Bundts with a OM617 and I’m as satisfied as I can possibly be in owning a car. This is a great color combination with the Midnight Blue and tan interior even with those terrible North America spec headlights.

Like I said, all this is going to cost you. $35,000 is a ton of money for any W126 but it’s tough to fault the seller for asking it. The market for clean golden-era Mercedes diesels isn’t slowing down but I wouldn’t bet on this car gaining anymore value once you start driving it. As I’ve said before, miles don’t scare me one bit so I’m really not the guy that this car appeals to. Cars like these are always fun to see in their original glory, but I’ll gladly take home one of these for less than a third of the price and still enjoy it just as much.

– Andrew

1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

I’ve been living with my W126 300SE for several months now. In that time I’ve clocked up about 1,500 miles and taken the car on a few road trips in the mid-Atlantic region. Apart from a couple of initial hiccups (which I wrote about here), it has been a pleasure to own and a real joy to drive. Comfortable, stately and classically good looking, my friends joke that all it needs is a set of ambassadorial flags on the front bumper. It’s true that the 3.0 liter motor lacks the low-end torque made by the larger V8 models – I have to use the kick-down switch at the bottom of the throttle pedal more often than I did in my smaller W201. But once up to cruising speeds on the highway, the 300 behaves much like the 420 and 560. The six cylinder M103 motor is robust and relatively easy to fix (except for the fuel injection system, which can be a bloody nightmare when it goes wrong). And the proportions of the short-wheelbase exterior are, to my eye at least, just right.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SE on eBay

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL Limousine

Throughout last week I checked out a few custom creations from coach builders both really interesting and a little odd. I didn’t have plans to continue this streak until I ran across this creation. What we are looking at today is a 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL limousine by Trasco. Trasco is a German company that has been producing both stretched and armored S-Class since the launch of the W126 chassis. To this day they still do conversions on not only the W222 but G-Wagons, 7-series, A8, Land Crusiers/LX as well as some other vehicles you typically see with protection. Of course with the majority of limos built in the 1980s, they reflect the times quiet well. This one is no different.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL Limousine on Hemmings

Year: 1990
Model: 500SEL
Engine: 5.0 liter V-8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 126,560 km (78,640 mi)
Price: $22,000

1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL, 45cm limo by TRASCO

Guessing off the seller’s description, this 500SEL was lengthened by almost 18 inches in the center of the car. This allowed room in the rear seating area for a small television and what looks like a VHS player. But to be honest, this whole car looks like a mess. The exterior of the car is pretty beat up with bumps and bruises everywhere on the bumpers. The rear badges are literally held on by a bunch of different style self-tapping screws drilled straight into the metal. Inside, it doesn’t get much better. The gauge cluster was modified with some of fake stones on the dials and the surrounding area of it looks like it was painted with a coarse paint brush. The privacy curtains are lace of all things and don’t offer much privacy at all. The entire car can be described as filthy as it looks like a good vacuuming wasn’t on the priority list before taking photos of the this poor thing. At least one redeeming quality is that the wood looks to be in fine shape and hasn’t cracked yet.

This Trasco creation for sale in Japan is listed $22,000, which I don’t need to tell you that is insane. I’ve seen other Trasco W126 limos sell for a third of this price and they weren’t in nearly as bad a shape. I guess maybe this might appeal to Japanese buyers who want to pony up this kind of cash. I just hope they like 1980s nostalgia and a giant coat of arms in the middle of their limousine.

– Andrew

1985 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC

When I brought home a nautical blue W126 last month, I was pretty chuffed to find a car in such an attractive and unusual color. But ever since then, I’ve been seeing nautical blue Benzes pop up left, right and center. I hadn’t really noticed them before, but it turns out that color code 929 isn’t as rare as I first thought. Still, it is gorgeous, and looks just as nice on the C126 coupe as it does on my W126 sedan. This particular car was spotted by fellow contributor Andrew H. It’s a Euro-spec 500SEC, powered by a version of the 5.0 liter M117 motor unsaddled by US emissions restrictions. That means it should be good for about 250 hp, give or take. Performance won’t be blistering – the SEC is more of a grand tourer than a sports car – but that motor is definitely more potent than the one offered in the US-spec 500 from the same period.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500SEC on eBay

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1991 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC

The C126, the coupe based on the W126 S-class, is a firm favorite around here. And for good reason: the lines penned by famed designer Bruno Sacco have aged very well, and these cars still command great road presence even today. With the C126, you get the stately good looks and bank-vault build quality of an S-class, but repackaged into a slinky, pillarless bodyshape. Collectors might want to park their money in ultra low mileage examples. But I think these cars deserve to be driven and enjoyed – they’re wonderful grand tourers, ideal for covering vast distances while keeping the passengers inside cosseted in safety, comfort and style.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC on eBay

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1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SE

Now that we are just about done drooling over Craig’s new 300SE, it’s time to take a look at another W126. This 1985 380SE for sale in Kentucky offers up another shade of blue on the S-Class, the darker Nautical Blue Metallic. This one also has two extra cylinders with the M116 3.8 liter V8. Fortunately for everyone, this Gen 1 W126 has been highly cared for and shows only a hair over 45,000 miles. But are you willing to pay the price?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SE on eBay

Model: 380SE
Engine: 3.8 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 45,100 mi
Price: $8,900

“ONE OWNER! Garage kept Only 45k Original Miles! Owner invested $6400 in upgrades recently…you will NOT find this year and mileage anywhere on the internet. Near perfect condition! Very Very minor paint chips…almost cannot see them. Trunk appears to have never been used. Leather is perfect and the overall interior is pristine. This is a one of a kind car and there is NOT anything like it on the entire internet for this year, make, and model. No fading in paint and the tires are newer. Chrome has no blemishes. Just a beautiful car. Mechanically it runs and drives like new. You will not be disappointed.”

From 1980 to 1985, the 380SE was sold along side the 380SEL, 500SEL and of course the diesel 300SD in the US. In 1984, the M116 in the 380SE/L was upgraded to a dual-row timing chain to fix chain failure issues that the earlier engines suffered from. The dual-row 380SE/L only lasted until 1985 until it was replaced by the 4.2 liter V8 M117 that birthed the 420SE/L that carried on until the end of W126 production. This being a 1985 car, it’s a far more desirable car in the eyes of enthusiasts and anyone who just wants to maintain these cars to go forever.

This car specifically looks to be a great example of a short wheelbase 380SE. Inside and out the car looks like a true 45,000 mile W126 should look. Another great sign that this car was cared for is that it rides on Michelin Defender tires which is the premier tire for 14-inch Mercedes wheels. (Unless you are insane and buy Michelin XWXs for $370 a tire!) People who don’t care about their cars usually don’t spring for the expensive Michelins when it comes to replacing their tires. The over $6,000 in recent repairs that was done in one swing is another great sign as well.

The Buy It Now on this one is set for $8,900 and while I can’t argue against it, you are paying a premium for a 380SE at that price. You can probably go find a nice Gen 2 560SEL for that kind of money or find a really nice 300SD if you want to go the diesel route.

– Andrew

Craig finally buys a 300SE, but it’s not all plain sailing …

As readers will know, I’ve been on the lookout for a 300SE for a while now. In fact, one of the first cars I wrote up for GCFSB was a 300SE, which should tell you something. After a couple of false starts, I finally have a W126 I can call my own.

I found it on Craigslist while looking for cars to write up for the site. It stood out because it was in exactly the spec I’d been looking for. It was a 1989, a Gen II car with the more modern looking leather seats and updated exterior side cladding. It was in a great color combination, nautical blue over mushroom cream leather. And, unusually for a 1989 six cylinder, it was equipped with a passenger side airbag and upgraded Bose sound system, options that are more commonly found on the V8s. It also had only 116k miles on it, and was priced fairly. Unfortunately, it was located in Austin, TX, while I’m in Washington, DC.

After a lengthy back and forth with the seller, apparently an enthusiast who assured me it was in excellent running condition, I decided to buy it sight unseen and have it shipped to me. After a couple of weeks of delays on the shipping company’s end (I went with the cheapest option, and it showed), the car finally arrived. At first I was thrilled. It looked great.

But my excitement soon turned to disappointment as the hauler tried unload it. The car wouldn’t start. To be more precise, the car would start with a puff of black smoke out the back and die immediately. It did eventually start on the fourth or fifth try. It then ran rough for a minute or two, like it was misfiring, then smoothed out. My heart sank.

We eventually got it off the transporter and I gingerly began driving it, uncertain what the problem was. On acceleration from low RPM there was a definite hesitation and the car felt sluggish, slower than the other 300s I had driven before. The economy gauge on the dash also wouldn’t peg left on idle, as I know it should. In fact, at startup it was nearly in the middle. I’ve had a Mercedes with the M103 engine before and I knew this could be caused by vacuum leaks or problems with the CIS-E fuel injection system. So it was off to a mechanic for diagnosis.

Mechanic 1 said that there was a vacuum leak inside the fuel distributor and that I needed to buy a new one. He said I could take my chances with a cheap one from eBay, or he could get me a re-manufactured unit for $600. I had never been to this shop before. I only went there because my preferred mechanic couldn’t fit me in for another week. I wasn’t sure I could trust him. So I held out for a second opinion.

A week later mechanic 2, a Benz specialist to which I used to take my 190E, said the fuel distributor was fine. He said that the car was running rich – which would explain the poor starting and running and condition – because the 02 sensor had failed and the duty cycle was stuck at 90%. So the first line of attack was to install a new 02 sensor.

Unfortunately, even with the new sensor onboard he couldn’t dial in the fuel mixture correctly, though he was able to lean it out considerably. Cold starts were still hard but the car was running much better than before.

Suspecting a short or another sensor problem somewhere, he eventually diagnosed a broken fuel injection ECU/ECM, the black box behind the carpet in the front passenger footwell. Reading the threads on the forums, I gather that the ECU provides pre-programmed settings for the air/fuel mixture on cold starts before the 02 sensor reaches operating temperature and takes over. Apparently ECUs rarely fail, but when they do, they produce symptoms like the ones I had been experiencing.

I ordered a used ECU from eBay that matched the part number on my old unit. Once it arrived, I put it in myself (it’s as easy as changing a battery) and crossed my fingers. The car started from cold on the first turn of the key and settled into a smooth idle. Success! I took it back to mechanic 2 for a final adjustment of the fuel mixture, and then took the car for an emissions inspection. It passed with flying colors.

Now that it’s finally running properly, I love it. The interior, in mint condition, is a very comfortable and relaxing place to be. I look forward to doing long distance trips in it with my wife, who approves of the passenger airbag. All the electrical accessories work, including the heat, A/C and original Becker radio. The nautical blue exterior really is gorgeous and I’ve received numerous compliments from strangers in the short time I’ve been driving it. There are a few blemishes in the paint, some small scratches here and there, but that’s about it. I’ll probably have it gone over with a dual action buffer at some point.

Some people complain about the 300SE/L being too slow, but I think the performance is fine for what it is. It pulls quickly enough in city traffic and cruises admirably on the highway. The handling is also nowhere near as boat-like as I feared it would be. I think this is where the short wheelbase SE really excels over the long wheelbase SELs. I do miss the E34 525i which this car replaces – it was admittedly a much more spritely car to drive. In an ideal world, I would have kept both.

I texted the seller in the vain hope he might offer me some money back. He had, after all, assured me that it needed no repairs. I’ve received no reply, and I suppose his silence speaks volumes. I think I learned a valuable lesson here. I will probably never buy another car sight unseen again. Not unless it’s from someone I know I can trust. I will also not be going back to mechanic 1.

– Craig

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

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL

Buying a high mileage car can be a bit scary, even if it’s a Mercedes with a reputation for longevity. Odometer readings can have a profound psychological effect on our perception of a car’s health (and worth), making people leery of high mileage cars. But in truth, at a certain stage in a car’s life, maintenance history and upkeep become far more important than any number on the dash. This is particularly true of the W126. A low mileage car that has been sitting is liable to cause you more problems than a high mileage one that has been driven and cared for by a meticulous owner. The upshot is that if you shop around and choose wisely, you can score a bargain on a high mileage car. This 300SEL, for example, has 286k miles on the odometer and a cheap price tag attached. Offered for sale by a knowledgeable and friendly Benzworld contributor, it offers a budget friendly entry point into W126 ownership backed up by plenty of maintenance history.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL on Benzworld

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