1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class SEL 420 from North America


One word: MAGNIFICENT!!!


The timing chain let go at 148,000 miles causing major engine failure. I had no idea this could happen. Up to this point the engine was perfect!

General Comments:

This is the most incredible Mercedes I have ever owned. I highly recommend it, if you can still find one in good condition. That is the reason I replaced the engine after the problem rather than replacing the car!!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th May, 2008

1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class SDL 3.0 turbo diesel from North America


My dream come true?


Hard shifts.

General Comments:

I just bought this car today. For $1500 it seemed like a deal.

The sunroof is bound up. The brakes are noisy. It has not been driven much lately.

I saw one comment that suggested that hard shifts were typical, but I wonder?

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 2nd May, 2008

2nd Apr 2009, 21:04

Yup, it seems like you got a good deal. I can't find a single one here in California for under about $3000 USD. And the $3000 ones need work.

BTW, diesels in general shift sort of hard under hard acceleration. They don't tend to generate a lot of vacuum which controls the shifting. Check to make sure that all vacuum hoses are connected properly under the car.

Also there is a 'vacuum modulator' under the car next to the transmission pan (this also controls the firmness of shifting). I wouldn't suggest you mess with this unless you are confident in your mechanical skills. You will never be able to make it shift completely smooth, you can only adjust shift points (when it shifts) and slightly how hard it shifts.

ALSO, if you haven't already done so, have your transmission fluid, filter and gasket replaced. Don't do a flush because a clogged filter can also cause hard shifting and eventually lead to a bad transmission. So yeah it was common, but you can dial it in a little bit better. Good luck.

1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300 SDL 3.0 turbo diesel from North America


Great car!


Kick-down switch needed replaced soon after I bought the car. $20.

General Comments:

I love everything about this automobile. At 22 years old and 340,000 miles it has held up exceptionally and it runs great. The MB603 diesel in my opinion is the best in performance and duration. I saw one the other day with twice the mileage of mine and the owner said he has yet to even think about rebuilding the original motor yet. I guess my SDL is just "broken in" so to speak. The only thing I can't figure is for a car that cost 50k new why in the world didn't they put a cup holder in the darn thing... -CAG.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th March, 2008

16th Feb 2010, 12:27

I just picked up my '86 300SDL from the CA Bay Area this weekend.

It has 240k miles on the chassis, and around 120k miles on a new engine - the prior owner ran over something on the highway, which damaged the oil pan, causing oil to leak and seizing the engine, so the engine was replaced by her insurance.

This car is simply unbelievable! I have a ’83 300D, which is my daily driver and was looking a ‘S’ classe diesel – I looked at several 300SDs with the OM617 engine, but was unimpressed with the overall poor condition and high asking price of most of these SDs, as can be expected with years of neglect and out of touch owners.

In comparison my 300SDL is a 2 owner (the 2nd owner bought the car in 1988), has a complete service history, has been garaged and is rust free.

I found the car on Craigslist, and after a test drive, knew this was the car for me. I paid the asking price of $5,300, as I felt this is reasonable for such a well maintained example.

The car is light years ahead of my 300D. Firstly the OM603 engine sounds nothing like my OM617 – although I love the clatter of my 617, I have to say the power delivery from the 603 is smooth like silk.

My wife and I drove this heavy car around San Francisco the entire weekend, went to Oakland for breakfast every day for 3 days, and despite the steep hills and traffic, AC running, the car only used 5 gallons of diesel.

On my drive home to LA, I filled the car up in Oakland, and drove all the way home (360 miles) and only used a little more than a half tank of diesel.

There are only a few things I would change/replace on this car.

The driver’s seat frame is creaky and sagging (probably broken spring), so I will change that in the near future, although the upholstery is perfect.

A rear window switch is erratic, so I’ll be changing that, and finally I’ll be getting all the windows tinted lightly to protect the interior, even though the car will be garaged and only driven on the highway – for city driving, I will continue driving my 300D. I'll update this entry in a few months with anything else I think is pertinent.