Thursday, August 14, 2014

5k: Original Gangsta W126: 1987 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL

The W126 generation Mercedes-Benz was the successor to the W116 S-Class platform.  It was released in 1979 with a sleek and aerodynamic body design, and a cornucopia of big inline-6 and V8 engines.  It is the last car you'd ever expect to be fun in an autocross...but this video and also this one on youtube make it look awesome.  If you are going to buy one, it would be good to find a low mile, original owner example offered in great this 1987 Mercedes-Benz 420 SEL offered for $3,900 in Solana Beach, CA via craigslist.

The W126 chassis survived a remarkable 12 years before being replaced by the W140 in 1991.  Oddly enough the W126 chassis has aged well and doesn't look bad today.  Even stranger is that if you see one on the street, it could have been built in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.  How many executive sedans can claim the same?  This one is in really nice shape -- together with a Crockett-style white sport coat you will have the complete 1987 package here.

Under the immaculately clean hood of this 420 SEL is a 4.2 liter SOHC V8 engine that puts out 201 horsepower and 228 ft-lbs of torque.  It doesn't sound impressive on paper, but it will move the 3900 lb long wheelbase sedan around with decent vigor.

See a better CA sunshine plate equipped special?


  1. Beautiful example if the little old lady story is to be believed. I really like these cars, but does not favor them (15mpg) as much as a similar Cadillac Brougham (18mpg) or Lincoln Towncar (19mpg) Can anyone say if the government's take on this is accurate?

    1. Anecdote time: In my friend's W126 420 SEL loaded with 4 people and a long-weekend worth of luggage, we averaged 20mpg and some change between LA and Palm Springs round trip on the freeway. This was at roughly 70mph average, with the A/C blasting.

      Around town the thing was dreadful though. 15mpg was but a distant fantasy in LA traffic and on surface streets. I think his worst was 11mpg between fill ups in all-city / canyon road use.

  2. Had one of these, an '86 if memory serves, in the mid '90's. It was a very nice car, but tough to keep the front end aligned owing to the weight. It destroyed front tires. Repair costs were high. Enjoyed as a driver, but paid a price.

  3. My wife wanted on of these really bad but we couldn't find a clean one. Ended up with a W140 that was great but not as cool looking as these.
    Driving one give you instant diplomatic immunities

  4. I had a '90 560SEL with low mileage about six years ago. Wonderful ride, especially on the highway - as mentioned, fuel economy was terrible in traffic. Sorry I sold it after two years of ownership and would definitely have another.


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