Almost a month ago I checked one of the best Mercedes-Benz W126s I’ve ever seen in a Concours-level 1987 560SEL. Today, we have another outstanding 1987 W126 that isn’t quite Pebble Beach-ready, but it is damn close. This car comes to us from South Carolina dressed in Smoke Silver Metallic with the rare burgundy leather interior in a condition that isn’t often seen. And oh yeah, it’s a diesel too.
The other day I wrote about how I was getting the itch to swap out my daily driver, an E34 525i, for an older Benz. One contender for the car’sÂ replacement is a W124. But I’m also very tempted by theÂ W126. There’s something irresistible about these timelessly classy and statelyÂ cars. AÂ 560SEL would be my first choice, but I have a long commute and aÂ V8 is therefore out of theÂ question. So ifÂ I were to take the plunge on an old S-class for daily duties, it would have to be diesel model. From what I’ve read online, the six cylinder diesel engine in the 300SDL gets pretty similar gas mileage to my 525i – around 27-28MPG on the highwayÂ – which is pretty remarkableÂ given the size of these things.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 300SDL on eBay
Halfway through the W126 S-class production run, the diesel engine was upgraded, from the familiar and reliable OM615 inline-5 to the OM603 inline-6. The first W126s to employ the OM603 experienced teething problems, something unthinkable from Mercedes-Benz at the time. Heat from the diesel particulate filter, a part integral to the emissions control system, would cause the aluminum heads to fail. In some cases, debris from these filters would damage the turbocharger. After two years, Mercedes stopped selling the diesel S-class, but it would return once again in 1990 for the final two years of S-class production. Mercedes debuted a larger version of the OM603, displacing 3.5 liters. However, this engine had its own set of problems, as the larger bore led to head gasket failure and passage of oil into the cylinder bores. In addition, failure of motor mounts could cause screws to loosen in the crankcase which would lead to another set of issues. It was reported Mercedes-Benz replaced a number of engines in these cars, but never issued a formal recall.
If this didn’t scare you away from a late-model W126 diesel, then read on. The 350SDL was not the sales leader of the W126 pack, as most opting for a large Mercedes on these shores wanted V8 power. This 350SDL in Florida has seemingly escaped the wear and tear most of these diesel powered Benzes, showing less than 60,000 miles on the odometer.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 350SDL on eBay
Over the years, the presence of diesel engines in the Mercedes-Benz lineup has waxed and waned. For 2012, a variety of Mercedes-Benz models, mostly SUVs,…