1984 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 380SE Gasoline from North America


This car is an economical investment in first class driving


Replaced all four tires.

Replaced broken steering damper.

Installed new muffler.

Repaired right rear power window mechanism.

Replaced leaking power steering gearbox.

Replaced engine computer and idle valve.

Replaced (seized) smog pump.

Replaced instrument lamp rheostat.

General Comments:

Car is solid with no rust after 20 years of service.

Despite its size and weight, the car is very responsive and comfortable for both short and long drives.

Total cost invested in car is less than $5,000.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th February, 2004

1984 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 500SEC 5.0 litre V8 from North America


Reliable luxury, modestly priced


Water pump failed. Dealer replaced under warranty. The main problem with this car was that it wasn't driven enough.

Hairline crack in brake rotor which made a 'tuning fork' hum. Dealer replaced under warranty.

Electrical system problems, heater switch kept blowing. Dealer rewired fuse box, end of problem.

Aerial motor is dead.

General Comments:

This car is heavy and fast.

Because it's a rear wheel drive and because of its beautiful engineering it can turn on a dime and give you change.

The suspension is wonderfully stiff so car does not have any lateral sway. The faster it goes the better the ride.

The seats are incredibly comfortable and supportive.

The brakes are incredible. My previous car, a big Pontiac Bonneville, always felt like the brakes could barely handle the weight of the car. The Benz has brakes 25% larger than average (The Mercedes salesperson told me this), and I believe him every time I apply the brake pedal.

The car is classically handsome.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th November, 2003

3rd Jan 2009, 21:42

A-men! I have a 1984 500 SEC I purchased from the original owner 2 years ago...43K miles... wonderful car, it's like going down the freeway on a sofa... solid ride, comfort, room unsurpassed... today's cars may have more HP, but they don't ride like this baby...

1984 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300 SD turbo diesel from North America


A Lux ride at a dime store price


The only complaint I have is that the car shakes a little at idle after it is warmed up. I believe that after changing the primary and secondary fuel filters this will be remedied.

Complaints aside, the only other quirks with this car (as with 99% of all the other S classes of this period) are:

The seats no longer have support due to the horse hair padding drying up.

Many of the suspension bushings have dry rotted and need immediate replacement.

The cruise control amplifier no longer functions.

General Comments:

For the money these cars can't be beat. However, if you are in the market for one do be cautious of its service record. A poorly kept vehicle may at first seem like a great bargain, but will cost you dearly in the long run.

I was very fortunate to find my car being sold by a private owner for $2200. Aside from having nearly a half million miles on the odometer, it was in good working order with only minor faults that were described above. I was also surprised to see that I was the 3rd owner of the car and that it had full service records through 2000.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th August, 2002

1st Apr 2004, 18:10

The shaking at idle on my car was remedied by installing a bolt that installs at the back of the injector pump. There is a spring that apparently keeps pressure on a part in the pump. The bolt should be tightened slowly, until the shaking stops. The cost of about $30.00 solved the problem. Good luck.

31st Jul 2004, 16:50

Motor mounds may be the problem.

31st Mar 2008, 19:57

Hi normally this problem is due to the pump used in the 5 cyl turbo diesel and is the regulator of the fuel pump. This is not a very expensive repair (at least in my Country).

1984 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300SD 3.0L turbo diesel 5 cylinder from North America


Mercedes-Benz luxury on a Chevy budget


Had the transmission rebuilt when I bought the car ($1400 CDN).

Minor surface rust repair (parking lot dings).

Some interior trim put back together.

Not much else it needs at this time (I don't consider routine maintenance to be a repair).

And yes, the power windows all work (a problem with any M-B).

General Comments:

I bought this car last year for $1500 CDN, as it had a sick transmission. This particular transmission, also used in certain other M-B models had a problem with a servo piston hanging up or failing outright, causing no forward gears or severe slippage, though reverse worked normally. Having the transmission rebuilt completely was insurance that it would continue to soldier on, though my transmissions' problem was in fact the servo piston.

That being sorted, I am very happy with this car. I have driven many Mercedes before, but this is my first time owning one. The turbo-diesel makes for decent power over non-turbo engines, (not quite like my V8 Chevy though - see my article on my white on green '78 Chevy Caprice 4-door, which I still have:) ) and with way better economy than any gasoline engine, plus far more long-lived. The engine starts right away, even when cold, and still has excellent compression, and oil consumption is negligible.

The car handles exceptionally well on the highway; it seems to become more stable the faster I go. In town, it is well behaved, and is easy to park for its size; it has a smaller turning circle than other cars it's size. The cabin is roomy, and comfortable. It has supportive seats that are very conducive to the drivers' needs; however I have noticed that some of the interior trim could have been designed a bit more carefully, in particular the plastic around the back window, on my car; once off, it doesn't want to go back on easily. The controls take some getting used to, but are quite logical once you figure them out. The car still has it's Becker cassette stereo, which is a bit confusing to use at first, but like the rest of the car, it has a logic of operation all it's own. The heater and air-conditioning works well enough, once you get it set up (mine is the automatic type).

I like the styling of the W126's, modern, but with still a bit of the older M-B styling (I find the W140's to be somewhat coldly forbidding, but still are good looking). Nice wood on the dash, chrome in all the right places, high quality paintwork (white with tan M-B tex interior) which, unfortunately, needs some attention due to inconsiderate drivers/passengers of other cars in parking lots. No accident damage though.

In my opinion, it is screwed together better than any other car out there, and is actually not too hard to work on (I do my own mechanical work). I know a fellow with an '82 M-B turbo-diesel (300D, W123) with 495,000 KM on it, which I find reassuring, knowing that with proper maintenance, my car will have lots of life in it yet. I think I'll hang on to this one... :)

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 22nd April, 2002

9th Jun 2002, 15:33

Excellent review friend. I have been considering the purchase of one of these very fine automobiles for quite some time now. All that needs to be resolved now is which variant. The Germans certainly knew how to produce a classy ride.

11th Jul 2002, 17:33

Having owned a 1988 E-class for 100K miles, I was impressed with the straight six engine. When I sold it, I found an interesting compromise: the same engine in the 126 long chassis, my favorite M-B body style. This 300SEL is a 1990, a year before the styling department produced the unfortunate 140 body. It's an interesting car full of paradoxes: Slow on acceleration, but plenty fast enough, big and luxurious, but remarkably agile for its size, reasonably easy and relatively cheap to service, compared to the eight, and 24 miles per gallon! I thought this model was unusual when I bought it, but now I see many SELs of this vintage, with the six, in eastern Long Island. Down sides include the lousy radio, easily replaced, and the mysterious heating/AC system. Jon C.