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2001 Mercedes-Benz S600

As we are now into a new decade, I figured now is a good a time as any to remind you to never buy the car I’m looking at today. What is it? The 2001 Mercedes-Benz S600. Not just the 2001, but any vehicle that comes with one of the worst engines ever made, the M137. This engine was so bad, that it only lasted three model years the US spanning from 2000-2002 in the S600 and CL600. Mercedes quickly admitted their errors and switched to the M275 in 2003, and that was so durable that iterations of it are still in production today. Why exactly was this thing so bad? Lets refresh our memory.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2001 Mercedes-Benz S600 on eBay

Year: 2001
Model: S600
VIN: WDBNG78J51A205735
Engine: 5.8 liter V12
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Mileage: 72,480 mi
Location: Covington, Pennsylvania
Price: $6,00 Buy It Now

This is a gorgeous 2001 S Series S600. Very well maintained and loaded. Brand new Pennsylvania inspection through 1/21. Clean title. Immaculate inside and out. Only 72K miles!
We are listing this under our Auto Salvage Ebay account but this car belongs to our separate Auto Dealership business.

There is a slight bubbling over rear wheel wells. See last two pics.

Must be seen to really appreciate.

The problems with the M137 boils down mostly to complexity and poor quality. These engine love to have out of round cylinder walls and oil fouling that kills all the downstream oxygen sensors. Not one or two like you are used to, no. There are eight on these cars. Dump a bunch of oil into one of the six catalytic converters? Good luck passing emissions test ever again. Manage to skirt that issue and you still have to deal with the dreaded oil cooler issue. They located this right on the top of the rear of the motor so when it leaks from the failed o-rings, it dumps hot oil all over the transmission control unit. To fix those o-rings, you have to pull the heads. Are we having fun yet? Not to mention all the suspension issues on these early W220s, the shifters that like to break, EIS issues that fail at random, and you basically have a basket case of an automobile. Don’t forget the rust either!

This example up for sale in Pennsylvania is well on its way to becoming a rust bucket. No mention at all from this dealer about any issues, but the fact that they are a dealer of salvage auto parts means my confidence is pretty low when it comes to everything on this car. It is only $6,000, but you have to figure that is going to be $6,000 down the drain once something catastrophic happens. Compare this to a 2003+ S600, and it is basically half price all things being equal. I’d maybe think about driving one of these if they were literally free, but other than that, there are far better cars to waste your money on.

– Andrew


  1. Rev Charlie
    Rev Charlie January 24, 2020

    Sound like the perfect lawn ornament… Unless you can get it on to the balcony of your condo or apartment…

  2. Brad
    Brad January 24, 2020

    The interior straight out of a Dodge Intrepid fleet vehicle.

  3. Tirefriar
    Tirefriar January 24, 2020

    Andrew, excellent write up. Quick and to the point, keep it up mate!

    Seems that in those days the cylinder count limit on German cars was 8. Anything more it was a crap shoot!

  4. MIKE B
    MIKE B January 24, 2020


  5. michael blechman
    michael blechman January 24, 2020

    the perfect car for a tech school class…

  6. sumyunggai
    sumyunggai January 24, 2020

    The M275 V12 TT, the M137’s successor, is actually a good engine. I have a later W220 S600 with the later engine. However, any 2001-2002 S600 with that M137 is basically a parts car, far as I’m concerned. I *might* give him $1,500 for it as a parts car, but that’s about it. This selling “dealer” is waaaaay too proud of that car.

    They are indeed rust buckets, as any Mercedes-Benz earlier than late 2003 tends to be, unfortunately. That rust will spread up the body faster than a politician can grab campaign contributions. Had Mercedes-Benz stuck with the previous M120 V12 engine used in the W140 chassis, and then followed it up with the M275 TT, that would’ve been a lot better.

    That there is a parts car. Plain and simple.

  7. Bryan
    Bryan January 25, 2020

    @Brad again with the Dodge fleet car comments…

    I’ll ask again, have you EVER been in one of these cars??

  8. Mr. Nightingale
    Mr. Nightingale January 27, 2020

    I waited 11 months for my special order 2001 S600 to be built while I drove a well equipped brilliant silver sport package 2001 S600 that was a cancellation spec from a hockey player. The silver sport replaced the black S600 that was D.C. Area first S600 delivery. As a S600 fan, deep DNA type, I replaced my azure blue W140 S600 as one does. 4 place seating was my trademark â„¢ option I always had to have. My order arrived 4\2001 as the most loaded S600 thus far for the dealer. Special order paint and 4 place seating accompanied every single option offered for the 2001 model year. 3100 miles driven, she currently sits in my garage under a cover as a few other S600’s came and went. I am consumed by worry of what problems have manifested as a car sitting undriven is probably exponentially worse condition wise than an example that has been whored out as a NYC for hire plated sedan with a nonexistent service history to speak of. Yay me on picking literally the worst example to have babied like an only child.

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