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Hoop SuperDork
1/6/13 1:23 a.m.

In my wild goose chase for a daily driver replacement, I have come across this here W126: http://cleveland.craigslist.org/cto/3525052048.html

The ad itself is pretty ambiguous and I seem to recall somewhere on here that the W126 420 is the one to avoid. I did a search on here for W126 but not much popped up. What should I look for in finding a decent W126?

Travis_K UltraDork
1/6/13 3:14 a.m.

The only one that isnt very good is the us spec 380, there isnt really anything wrong with the 420. I have a diesel one so I don't know much about the gas engines, but in general if everything looks to be in good shape (the interior isnt trashed, all the electrical stuff works, the transmission shifts well, etc) its probably fine. If it has much more than 200k it probably needs a suspension rebuild (not very difficult) and maybe a new timing chain. From everything I have seen they are very well made and designed to be worked on easily.

Hoop SuperDork
1/6/13 3:21 a.m.

Thanks for the advice. I just found this one: http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/3523936143.html

I think I'm in love.

Hoop SuperDork
1/6/13 3:25 a.m.

Also Travis, how much are you spending on average for repairs?

Travis_K UltraDork
1/6/13 3:46 a.m.

Well including stuff like tires, euro bumpers, etc I have probably spent ~$3k in 2 years of driving it. Front suspension rebuild was about $1k counting buying a spring compressor and all the parts. I did recently spend $30 for a used brake caliper and ordered $100 worth of pads, rotors and caliper rebuild kits to fix it properly, but I haven't actually had to repair anything other than that.

I dont know how much complexity or maintenance expense changes with a gas engine and ABS, I don't have any experience with that part of it.

Lugnut Dork
1/6/13 7:10 a.m.

I have a 560SEL. I wouldn't say it is more expensive than most of my other cars to maintain. Parts are readily available. I have probably put six hundred into it in parts correcting the deferred maintenance and getting it into shape. But then again, I really like the car and I have been fixing cosmetic stuff, too, which is unusual for me.

93EXCivic MegaDork
1/6/13 8:33 p.m.

I know nothing about them but they are sexy. I am very interested in them though.

Rusted_Busted_Spit UltraDork
1/7/13 9:04 a.m.

They are from back when Mercs were still built like tanks and as the above picture shows they can go from Grandma car to OMG. One of these days I will have one.

cutter67 Reader
1/7/13 9:41 a.m.
Hoop wrote: Thanks for the advice. I just found this one: http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/cto/3523936143.html I think I'm in love.

i looked at this one in pittsburgh. i wouldnt give him over $1800.00 for it

TRoglodyte Dork
1/7/13 12:45 p.m.

I own a car very similar to that , 88 420 sel. Uses premium fuel and lots of it. As a daily driver it may get expensive. Remarkably agile and fairly quick for its size.

bluesideup Reader
1/7/13 2:17 p.m.

My dad had an '89 300SEL and although it had the smallest US engine with the long body the car was plenty quick. I wouldn't call it a drag car but they weren't dogs. I don't remember the exact mileage but I want to say mid 20s on the highway.

It did have a weird problem with corrosion in the fuse box. Every once in a while the radio display would get weird and you'd have to clean the fuses in the underhood fuse box. I'm sure someone has a solution to that kind of thing though.

Excellent highway car and very comfortable for tall people.

Travis_K UltraDork
1/7/13 4:15 p.m.
iadr wrote: In reply to cutter67: really? Why? That appears to be what would be an $ 11,500 car if it were here in Alberta.

Just depends on the area. You could have as many of those as you wanted in california for $2500-$3500, and they are often even less than that. The state will pay $1200 to scrap older cars though so $1500 is usually about as cheap as it gets.

bluesideup Reader
1/7/13 5:40 p.m.

The stock version of the SWB cars like the black car above are available all day long in Southern California for around $2000. Not sure if there's much you can do performance wise but you can make them look cool.

chandlerGTi Dork
1/7/13 6:34 p.m.

I'm a big fan, lots of stuff can be done to make them nice looking cruisers. Mine was bulletproof besides needing the self leveling system rebuilt. Not to big a deal.

M030 HalfDork
1/7/13 8:14 p.m.

I've had a lot of them come through my shop and I once restored a 560 SEC (126 coupe). Here's what I've seen go wrong withthenm:

  • slow shifting automatic transmissions and/or no reverse
  • howling rear differentials
  • faulty self-leveling rear suspensions (a bitch to put right)
  • poor idle quality (usually a Vaccum leak)
  • inoperative climate controls (costly to fix)
  • and rust! Particularly in the rear quarters and trunk floors but also the door bottoms
JThw8 PowerDork
1/7/13 9:06 p.m.

I had a 91 300 SEL. Great highway cruiser. I wouldn't call it fast, at least off the start but it rolled out nice.

As others have noted, fairly bulletproof, but when something does go wrong it isnt pretty. Transmissions seem to be the weakest link. And the insane vacuum systems. Still I'd own another, it was a great driving car.

EvanB GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/8/13 12:19 a.m.

If you do get one, replace the headlights with euro units immediately. That is my biggest complaint with the W126.

YMMV, IMHO, etc.

Travis_K UltraDork
1/8/13 1:15 a.m.

The depo euro lights are less than impressive as far as light output, I put the stock lights back in mine with hella e code lenses and it's much better. I eventually want to get some real Bosch euro lights but they cost $250+ for used ones and it needs money spent other places first.

Travis_K UltraDork
1/8/13 4:34 a.m.

One thing that is important to check that I forgot to mention is the driveshaft flex discs. They aren't very expensive if I remember right, but if one fails it can potentially damage the car bad enough its cheaper to replace the car than fix it.

JThw8 PowerDork
1/8/13 7:39 a.m.

I cant say I agree with that, the Depo's were at least better than the stock lights when I switched them out on mine.

Still have the stock headlights and tails around here somewhere if anyone needed any.

chandlerGTi Dork
1/8/13 10:04 a.m.

I hated the cheap aftermarket euro lights on mine, I ordered some off eBay Germany and was very happy with them. I switched them and the wiring over from the first one to my AMG when I got it and never had a complaint.

benzbaronDaryn Dork
1/8/13 11:50 a.m.

Someone on the benzworld forum had a cheap Uro flex disc fail on his w126 and blow up at the transmission side which damaged the transmission casing/output shaft basically totalled the car. For the flex disc use only mercedes genuine or good quality aftermartket parts.

I don't know about the headlights on the w126 but I have both euro and us dot style headlights on my slc and to be honest neither one is great. I want to check the voltage I'm getting at the lights and maybe relay the headlights.

Curmudgeon MegaDork
1/8/13 12:05 p.m.

Yeah, transmissions and vacuum systems are the biggies. The entire A/C system uses vacuum actuators which are not terribly expensive but dayumn are some of them hard to get to and that's where the big $ come in. We used to add a cheap choke cable to work the defrost actuator via the wrong end of the linkage for those who could not afford to replace the things. Also having a leak anywhere in the vacuum system will lead to weirdness with all of it.

If it rattles at startup, it's likely timing chain tensioners. That's generally because the chain is worn. All it takes is for it to jump a couple of fangs and then you have bent valves, for some reason this happens mostly on the left bank. The chain can be 'rolled in' if it hasn't jumped.


I had a lot of people complain the eBay aftemarket headlights just were not bright enough. Dunno why.

amg_rx7 Dork
1/10/13 12:13 a.m.

My father has one. I absolutely hate the way they drive. The steering sucks. The suspension sucks. Big and boaty. The seats suck. The diesel power output is pretty lethargic also.

Looks cool in the right color w/ big wheels but so do a lot of cars.

Travis_K UltraDork
1/10/13 12:23 a.m.
JThw8 wrote: I cant say I agree with that, the Depo's were at least better than the stock lights when I switched them out on mine. Still have the stock headlights and tails around here somewhere if anyone needed any.

I'm sure the depos are better than the stock sealed beam lights, I just meant that the hella h4 lights meant to replace the sealed beams are a lot better. I eventually want to get some real euro lights for mine but they aren't cheap.

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