1991 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

Fresh off the 1988 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL from a few weeks ago, luck would have it that another nice W126 comes up in a less than common color of Pearl Blue Metallic. This one is in V8 guise with the 4.2-liter of the aptly named 420SEL. Much like the 300SEL, it is a whole lot of everything you need and really nothing you don’t. One of the things that bugged me about the W126 is that heated seats was only offered on the top of the range 560SEL, but seems a little petty for Mercedes to do considering what the S-Class was at the time, but I guess that was the reality of fancy options in the late 1980s. This example from California checks in with a fair 142,000 miles, so not exactly a low mileage example that will burn a bunch of value if you drive it. What’s not to like?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

In case you missed or forgot about the totally rad 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC ABC Exclusive, take a look again at a big piece of the 1980s projected in a car. That C126 is a well-preserved look back in time at how extreme popular aftermarket car styling was, and how much our tastes have changed over the years. I was most impressed at how well that car held up because once that kind of styling fell out of favor, often they were dumped off and left to fester. Today’s car, a 1987 420SEL, is one of those cars. This car at one point was probably just as stylish and cool as that 560SEC with its massive fender flares and high dollar wheels, but sadly has fallen in to disrepair and probably won’t ever recover. Let me tell you why.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

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1990 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

Readers of my posts will know that earlier this month I was on the brink of swapping my E34 5-series for a short-wheelbase W126. But the vicissitudes of life have a way of intruding into even the best-laid plans, and at the last minute I had to pull out of the deal. Both the buyer lined up for my car and the seller of the W126 were saintly in their understanding, for which I remain grateful. So I continue to daily drive the 525i. Since I’m going to hang onto it for a while longer, I decided to do a bit of tidying up, replacing the sagging headliner and refreshing some front suspension components. Meanwhile, I continue to keep a watchful eye on W126 market. A short-wheelbase 300SE was top of my list, but closely followed by the 420SEL. With these, you get the additional torque of the 4.2 liter V8, but without the costly-to-repair hydro-pneumatic suspension that comes on the 560.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

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1986 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

4I have an itch to buy a W126. Yesterday I test drove a 420SEL that popped up for sale on my local Craigslist (not today’s car – we’ll get to that in a moment). The one I drove was offered at a fair price and when I noticed that it was parked only a few blocks away from my house, I felt obliged to take a look. I had never driven an SEL before. Here are my first impressions: 1. They really are huge. The hood alone seemed to stretch out for miles in front of me. I dreaded to think how far back the trunk extended. “What a nightmare this must be to park in the city,” I thought to myself, as I delicately threaded the car through DC morning traffic. 2. They look glorious in person, even when a bit dinged up, as this one was. 3. When you push down on the throttle you don’t so much surge forward, as waft gently toward the horizon on a magic carpet of dignified torque. Despite being smitten with the car I let it go in the end, concluding that, with snow and ice season just around the corner, I couldn’t justify picking up a RWD, nose-heavy V8 as a daily driver. But I did spend the afternoon gazing wistfully at other 420s for sale on the internet. That’s how I stumbled across this lovely, low mileage example for sale in Florida.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday – El Benzamino: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL Pickup

Every once in a while I see something that’s so horribly wrong it’s somehow right, and when it comes to 1980s German tuning there was plenty to go wrong. But while some wrong is predictable (I’m looking at you, Keonig Testarossa strakes on everything), sometimes the very wrong is unpredictable. Take today’s unassuming 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL. I’d like to think when it was conceived and born, no one in Germany would have thought “Do du what we can do with this know?” and then sketch out a 2-door pickup truck. No, that takes American know-how and strategery. And if you were going to do it, why not do it poorly? As in, take a mid-range model (so not cheap, but also not as powerful as it could be!), make a very awkward transition to the bed which, by the way, doesn’t have a tailgate, adorn said unusable bed with plenty of diamond plate and then throw in some extra taillights for good measure? And then make it two-tone and fit some later model AMG wheels. Yet, again, somehow this goes so full-on horrible that it becomes kitschy. This is dogs playing poker art for cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL Pickup on eBay

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Near-flagship status: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL vs. 1989 BMW 735iL

German manufacturers were riding high in the 1980s, solidifying their reputation as makers of some of the world’s best automobiles and introducing new models at a rapid clip. When it was introduced in 1980, the W126 Mercedes-Benz S-class was at the pinnacle of automotive technology. Almost a decade later, it was beginning to show its age but people still loved this car for it’s stately manner and stellar build quality. BMW took the executive car fight right to Stuttgart’s doorstep in 1987 with the introduction of the E32 7 series sedan. Larger and more powerful than its predecessor, this luxury sedan offered V12 power, eclipsing the 5.6 liter V8 at the top of the S-class range.

Today we’ll look at two of the lower-end models in the executive portfolio of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, both with under 30,000 miles on the clock. We’ll start with this 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL for sale in Arizona.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on Hemmings Motor News

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1989 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

The W126 S class was a childhood dream car for me. While most my age were enchanted by Countaches and Testarossas, I was dreaming of owning a black W126 some day. To this day, these big sedans represent everything I love about the Three Pointed Star. These were cars that solidified the idea that everything you did, the Germans could do better. I still see plenty of S classes from this era on the road and like a fine timepiece, they just don’t go out of style. This 1989 420SEL for sale in New York has been lovingly cared for and while it isn’t the top of the line 560SEL, it has the rare orthopedic seat option. Certainly a boon for anyone contemplating long journeys in this fine machine.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

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1987 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

There’s an annex parking lot across from my apartment that houses the overflow from the local Mercedes-Benz dealer. I can’t hide my dismay at the lack of diversity in colors. Most vehicles are all silver, white, black or gray, with an odd reddish car mixed in. Look inside these new cars and there’s even less variety in terms of what you can trim out your car with, unless you take a dip into the very expensive personalized programs luxury manufacturers tend to offer. It seemed that manufacturers, including Mercedes-Benz, were a bit more adventurous years ago, with interesting cloth patterns and a wider range of leather hues on offer. This 420SEL is the first of its kind I’ve seen with a green leather interior, which is sure to raise an eyebrow with W126 fans.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

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Joe DiMaggio’s 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL


Baseball season is fast approaching, with Spring Training just a few weeks away. For fans of America’s pastime, this particular 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL is tied to a significant piece of the sport’s history. It was Old Timers’ Day at Yankee Stadium in the summer of 1991, and one of the team’s greatest players, Joe DiMaggio, was on hand as it was the 50th anniversary of his 56 game hitting streak. That day, he did something rather out of character and treated the crowd to a speech. Afterwards, DiMaggio was presented this S class as a token of appreciation by the team. Now, almost 15 years after his death, this very car is up for sale in Arizona.

Click for more details: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL owned by Joe DiMaggio on eBay

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1986 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL

The late 1970s and the 1980s were a time where manufacturers sought to slim down their offerings in the quest for greater efficiency. Mercedes-Benz was no different and introduced a new S class in late 1979, which was more aerodynamic and returned greater fuel economy. This new range, the W126, carried the flagship torch for 12 years and saw a mid-cycle refresh in late 1985. Two V8 engines supplanted the 3.8 liter V8 that was offered for the US market, a 4.2 liter and 5.6. The 4.2 liter engine was derived from the 3.8 engine and the 5.6 was a development of the 5.0 liter V8. Larger 15” alloy wheels and sleeker lower body cladding helped to modernize the car’s appearance until the W140 replaced the W126 in 1992. We’ve seen a few clean W126s here at GCFSB lately and this 1986 420SEL for sale outside of Philadelphia is no exception.

1986 Mercedes-Benz 420SEL on eBay

This is the nicest original 420SEL you’ve seen on ebay, ever. And I am not kidding; I have bought, driven, and sold over 120 W126 chassis Mercedes cars in the last 7 years, more than anyone in the USA including any Mercedes dealer. I have had 9500 mile 560SELs, limos, AMG cars, and more. This 1986 64K mile 420SEL is ridiculously nice. It’s a two-owner car since new, has a great service history, has spent its entire life in sunny Florida, is fully serviced and prepped for its new owner, and has NEVER been in an accident and has all its original body panels and paint (except for hood which was scratched so I had it profesionally repainted). All the little things you look for in a mint W126 are here; the nice orange instrument cluster markings, wood trim free of cracks or fading, ice-cold A/C, rock-steady 650RPM idle, dry spare tire/wheel wells, tidy engine bay, gorgeous undercarriage, and much much more.

Yes, this car is expensive. Yes, you can find a less expensive one (I can even find you a less expensive one if you’d like), or even a low mile car for the same or less money. Yes, the market value has declined for these unappreciated kings of the autobahn. But I will tell you this; if you want the best, a W126 that drives like a proper W126, that was cared for its whole life, that feels like a new car and also LOOKS like a new car, that is unmolested, untouched, has ZERO weak areas, and will not need $5K invested in it in the first 6 months you own it, this is the car for you. I will do everything needed to make sure this car is 100% for the winning bidder, and I can provide literally hundreds of references from buyers that will tell you I do what I say, and deliver what I promise.

This is a 1986 420SEL in acrtic white over burgundy leather and matching burgundy carpets, door panels, and dash. This car has only 64,xxx original miles, was a two-owner Florida car its whole life, looks simply amazing, and has no rust or rot anywhere. The trunk is BONE DRY, and the rear window shows ZERO delamination or fogginess. This car was loved, and it shows. Exterior 9.9 out of 10 (I’m finicky) – Excellent overall condition paint, body, glass, and trim. No dings. No dents. This 420SEL looks amazing, with a deep shine to its white blue paint that’s like looking into an endless mirror. This car looks great even under fluorescent light in a garage. Imagine getting an 26 year old white car with no swirl marks or spiderwebs in the paint….amazing! The lower side-body moldings and cladding are in great shape. Rubber, glass, and trim are all great. The chrome is nearly perfect with no pitting, the glass is perfect, even the pinstripe is perfect! The tires are correct Michelins Energy, always a good sign of proper care; no cheapo tires. They are at about 10% remaining. But I will include a near-new set of correct Michelins at the buy-it-now price. Factory alloy wheels balance out excellent and look great.

Interior 9.9 out of 10 – Seats, carpets, headliner are all in astounding amazing original condition. The back seat looks like no one ever sat in it! No saggy seatbase cushions or worn out faded leather. The door panels, dash, and center console are all fantastic. The headliner is not faded or droopy, even the Gen I leather rear seats, notorious for pulling and shrinking over time, are perfect! The nets on the backs of the front seats are tight like new. Here is more good stuff. If you know these cars, you know at this age if not in absolute collector-quality condition, the orange instrument cluster needles and markings are faded to dull yellow, the wood trim shows stress cracks and cloudiness/fade, there is moisture in the spare tire well, the door jambs are rough and faded, the headlight bezels are cracked/cloudy, etc etc. NONE of those issues are present with this car. The condition of these items, and all the other items like them, is astounding AND original. You will not find a better condition 420SEL anywhere.

The door panels and wood trim are also in great shape, like the rest of the car. Even the trunk and spare are mint, and the tool roll is in place, in its original plastic, as is the first-aid kit. The spare tire and both wheel wells are BONE DRY. The spare tire, jack, and tools are original and have never touched the ground. Electrical 10 out of 10 – All seat motors, windows, vacuum lock system, lights, radio, sunroof, wipers, defogger, mirror, and other items work properly. The HVAC system is fast to respond, and operates perfectly with scalding hot heat and ice-cold A/C. This system blows harder out of the rear console vent than most W126’s do out of their front center dash vents!

Mechanical 10 out of 10 – Engine starts, idles, runs, and revs to redline in every gear smooth and STRONG. This 420SEL runs hard, especially at high speeds. Transmission is smooth yet very aggressive, and downshifts eagerly. No abrupt engagement, just fast, firm, progressive shifts. She runs at high speed with no vibrations or noises. There are no leaks….NONE. No vacuum leaks causing idle or door lock problems, no head gasket leak which these cars are famous for, and no exhaust leaks either. Since this was a Florida car its entire life, the undercarriage looks WAY better than it should for being on the road for 26 years.

This car has passed THREE inspections with flying colors. A pre-purchase overall inspection, a suspension/brake/wheel/tire/exhaust inspection, and my mechanic has gone over ths car as well. After a thorough inspection for problems, nothing of significance was found. But some little items were addressed anyway: brake pads, wiper blades, a relay, all new fuses, oil/filter change, trans fluid/filter change, and more. Engine is strong and VERY eager to run, transmission smooth and ready to drop down two gears at your command to rocket you past slower traffic. Brakes are solid and pedal feel is firm. Suspension is tight like new, no worn tie rod ends, ball joints, shocks, or anything else. Steering nicely weighted with no play in the box. ZERO leaks or noises. This car drives and handles like new.

Recent services listed above, and the MB service history included with the sale. It comes with books, 1 key, tools, and first-aid kit. Even the hood badge proving this car was a European delivery 420SEL. This car was LOVED. No rear window leaks common to W126 cars, no rubber rot, no leaks, no lukewarm A/C….NOTHING. Everything is in fantastic shape, and at 64K miles, it’s not even close to broken in yet! If you’ve been waiting for that time-capsule car, it has arrived. If someone selects the buy-it-now option, I will provide a full $200 detailing including engine and carpet steam cleaning, MB OEM carpeted floor mats, the Michelin tires mentioned above, and all services mentioned above. I’ll even include Toughguard paint protectant. This stuff is simply amazing for durability, as it will last up to five YEARS. Dealers charge up to $695 for this stuff! That’s over $2000 in value!

Nits: While the exterior looks fantastic, and even the bumpers are virtually unmarked, the car does have a few light scratches, a few small touch-up marks, etc from use over its 26 years. THAT’S IT! There are no other significant cosmetic or mechanical problems whatsoever, and if you know the W126 chassis cars, you know it’s amazing to find one in this overall condition.

The color combination of this W126 isn’t my favorite, but red interiors have gained a bit of popularity in recent years, no doubt helped by companies such as Audi offering a vast palate when it comes to interior trim. I’m sensing that W126 values are starting to track those of the W123, one of the most revered Mercedes-Benzes in terms of durability. I’ve seen a vast array of 1986 through 1991 models selling in the $5,000 to $15,000 range. Any example with well under 100,000 miles will garner a good bit of attention, but priced wrong, and they won’t move all that fast in an economy like this. While this is a lot of car for $15,000, I can’t help but think if this was $1,000 to $2,000 cheaper, it would sweeten the deal that much more. I would pass on the paint protectant though. When properly cared for, Mercedes-Benz factory finishes are good enough to stand the test of time.