MercedesBenz W126 300/420/560 SClass (198692)…

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Mercedes-Benz W126

Mercedes-Benz W126 300/420/560 (1986-92) (May 2005)

safety, presence and quality, the W126 S-class facelift had it Today, it’s a matter of past the legend and sorting that need to go to the tip from the worth keeping on the road

The update of the second generation stood alone on the Australian as a safe, long life cruiser. Joe Kenwright finds it is now a buyer’s best chance of top shelf Mercedes-Benz luxury and


At the close of 1981, the when the second-generation S-class arrived, Wheels agonized awarding such an expensive new its annual Car of the Year Award. did give it the gong and immediately the ire of readers who couldn’t afford In hindsight, it was one of Wheels’ best as the W126 S-class defined bottom line in crash appointments and aero body a quarter century ahead of its

No one who wanted to stay in the car business afford to ignore it.

Virtually car since 1981 has been in some way by this model is why it doesn’t look 25 years It also had its first and only at a point when normal are on their third or fourth An exceptional unleaded example the 1986-92 facelift series rank as a potential special model, if it isn’t already. old prestige sedans end up in the scrap just like any other a top late model W126 kept in top order may always be something to someone. This healthy resale.

In 1995, a 300SE retailed for just $40,000. In mid-2005, a good one still fetch up to $20,000 astute buyers might do better. A 1995 VS Holden that cost around the new is now worth about $6000 Although the maintenance costs for a Mercedes-Benz would have higher over the last 10 the S-class owner was travelling class with safety in another league.

The W126’s big achievement was its unprecedented safety levels wrapped in a aero body in steel delivered a full size and all luxury appointments with an weight of only 1560 kg in years. This was about the as a late 1960s Ford V8 auto which was also The W126 not only employed new reduction measures but it was the first sedan to offer standard From 1989, all models had a airbag after it was the first to it as an option. Its moulded bumpers and side protection panels, first, maintained its appearance also helps used

For many Australians, this is the last Mercedes-Benz that like a Mercedes-Benz, a marque now stands accused of producing apart from the A-class, look like everything Mercedes-Benz has since struggled to a premium model with the impact and universal appeal as the Could Mercedes-Benz ever another S-class that require a single sheet change in 11 years?

Despite the the first W126 was not perfect, the earlier 280SE which in at 1700kg with only from its ageing twin cam The all alloy 380 V8 was a better proposition. all changed when important from the mid-size W124 called the E-class) were over to April 1986 to the bigger S-class for Australia’s to unleaded fuel.

The 300E’s and simpler single cam engine power in the revised 300SE to 135 kW huge gains in fuel over the old 280. This engine was a development of the M102 seen in the 230E. Although it cut by over 40kg, Mercedes resisted a switch to a rubber belt. To match Australia’s low 91 RON unleaded fuel, the KAm version of engine was fitted to official deliveries. Private imports feature the RUF spec which run on unleaded providing it is a high fuel. This was a problem in but not anymore with Australia’s range of 95-98 RON premium

The V8 was upgraded from the 380SE to the 420 initially as a long wheelbase Power went from 145 to with an increase in torque. It a larger bore, new pistons, efficient manifolds, bigger and revised combustion chambers. The is not interchangeable with the previous engine, an important consideration for that will soon be

Although a handful of 560 SEL examples the earlier body detailing to Australia as private imports, the 560 SEL was officially introduced to Australians in 1986 as part of the unleaded It had a larger bore and stroke the 420 and was developed from a 5-litre V8 not in Australia. All upgraded W126 came with a new dual auto.

Because of the way the auto is set up, all models can feel a little off the line. Once on the move, upgrade models are much than expected.

Mercedes-Benz used this upgrade to the small earlier 14-inch with the W124’s new 15 inch choices which included wheels with the latest style wheel covers or alloys. The major exterior apart from the wheels and fresh new W124 colours, was the from grey ribbed protection panels to smooth items. All W126 facelift had the later more compliant bushes between the rear and body.

Before buying any S-class, there is an important They were usually by wealthy first owners who to cover big distances quickly and Where a typical prestige car cover half the average distance, it was not unusual for an S-class this era to double the national Because the cars showed any age-related wear, it was too tempting for to lose the service books and a lower speedo reading. service records was not uncommon to a private import or high so it is really important to independently any records supplied with the

Their round the clock also dictated frequent to automated car washes which at the did expensive damage by dulling all surfaces and exterior fittings. The also attracted a high of heavy-smoking owners who spent periods in their car. I checking some used that were virtually when they were four years old with cores and trim soaked nicotine and exteriors that like they were

This model also with Australia’s long airline pilot strike. people were forced to between capital cities in cars. Because Jaguars and at the time were neither as nor long-lived, Australia’s major highways soon became processions. As a result, there is no of 1986-92 W126 examples have traveled way beyond original design life. faults are more often by sheer wear and tear, not any or quality shortfalls. Identifying and these marathon 500,000 km is critical if you are to enjoy Mercedes-Benz at its best.

There is a plus in the local popularity. Because are a lot of them still on the road, are plenty of secondhand parts specialist mechanics who know and the model and parts suppliers who factory quality parts from the original component in Germany. In Australia, there is no for sourcing dreadful imitation from elsewhere or skipping Anyone who is silly enough to their investment in this way to be given a wide berth.


Apr 1986: facelift introduces new model including 300SE,420SEL, 560SEL and Coupe.

Mar 1987: Long 300SEL introduced.

Jan 1989: from carryover 1988 all 1989 models came a driver’s airbag and leather as standard.

Jul 1990: Standard 420SE introduced.

Mar 1992: by larger W140 series. All examples built in 1991.



Identify exactly what you are at through compliance and ID plates as flooded in from South Hong Kong, Japan, UK and RHD markets. These imports may different fuel requirements, trim or exterior colours and may be mechanical or structural problems not in locally delivered cars. can still be good buying but with Mercedes-Benz Australia if in

Early unleaded M-B engines from the combination of Aussie and the extra thermal loads of new requirements just like any engine. As rubber seals and harden and perish, engine and oil leaks appear. Broken studs and failed exhaust are not unknown. Power steering wear out, hoses and can also harden and leak. heat in the exhaust extends life over previous

Mercedes-Benz was a little too clever in the use of underbonnet parts. Early thermostat housings failed and lead to a cooked engine. The neck in the plastic radiator tank could collapse for a loss of coolant. The fix was a metal collar. All hoses and belts may now pre-emptive replacement. Old thermostats their wax pellets then in the closed position which coolant circulation with results. Starting with coolant. new thermostat and metal is good insurance.

Ageing parts including coil, cap, rotor button and can cause intermittent starting and hot problems. Check operation of all injection parts including start device, leaky noisy fuel pumps. exhaust smoke indicates fuel usage and fuel problems. Fuel pump is a routine replacement item 100,000km to avoid being

Engine oil and filter must factory standards and be kept In-line six has repairable cast block. All aluminium V8 has integrated cylinder liners which on high silicone content in casting. Each bore is etched to expose hard for pistons to run in for outstanding engine but this process cannot be in Australia if a rebore is required. is less of a problem now when engines are easier to source. Any of white smoke dictates a compression test.

Both six and V8 engines run long life chains except the chain in the V8 has to more than twice the Normal wear generates the stretch hence earlier chain replacement for the V8.

Auto transmission is long with routine servicing but specialist repairs when it wears out. It works in the six. A secondhand auto be an option for less valuable

Mercedes-Benz W126

Suspension Brakes

Bigger wheels allow upgraded which last longer most German designs. for new rotors after every six pad hence 100,000-150,000km examples may now new rotors.

Original dampers high quality gas/oil units and are critical to S-class and ride. Replace them long life Bilstein or items if the car is worth it. Check rear self-levelling still and is not leaking. Check driveshaft

Suspension tuning was crisper most big sedans hence driver feel with road noise than Choice of tyre is critical to excessive roar on coarse surfaces. Make sure are V-rated as per ADR tyre placard.

ball steering can develop in the straight ahead position can be adjusted out but may require steering box if this has already been All steering parts have to too hard if the driver constantly with the front wheels

Semi-trailing arm independent rear is similar in principle to early IRS but the devil is in the detail when it produce the local car’s breakaway characteristics. Check for odd wear and tail happy if bushes are worn.


metallic colours may already be and require an expensive respray if the top coat is damaged. Watch out for bumper corners, poorly plastics and leaking front and screen seals. Cheap body parts are a real including rough panels and lights which can leak and or even catch fire if melt.

High initial price usually meant cars with massive damage were put back on the

Pick the long wheelbase by its longer rear door and colour infill in the rear window pillar.

Grille is vulnerable to touch Buckled centre spine appearance.

Alloy wheel can start to peel. Watch out for the fix which is a pressure pack respray. Best fix is to strip and start again. Not all alloys are

Pre-R134a air-con may require On good cars, consider a low drag compressor if you intend to it.

Old ignition keys can snap off ignition switch which requires serious butchery of column and surrounding parts to Don’t tempt fate. As as the key or lock behaves strangely get it out before it’s too late.

leather is high quality but conditioning at least every six to keep supple which few If it’s not too far gone, there are who can refinish the leather and condition it. all cabin fittings for heat or sun or broken by children climbing front and rear seats.

The while complex and comprehensive, to the era where they can be dismantled and by several specialists who know inside and out. Check the of every accessory, especially the control air-conditioning and everything electric servo motors includes sunroof and electric seat adjustment on some

Get your chosen purchase out by a Mercedes-Benz specialist who can provide an of repairs before you hand the money, not after.

Thanks to experts 3 Point Motors, tel 9489 7233

Published. 1 May 2005

Mercedes-Benz W126
Mercedes-Benz W126
Mercedes-Benz W126
Mercedes-Benz W126

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