1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 420 SEL 4.2L from North America


Bank vault build quality, space shuttle performance


AC Compressor, $900, but common for this model. Clutch-fan $80. Radiator coolant reservoir $200.

General Comments:

Overall the car is a joy to drive. I must admit the service costs separate the men from the boys... major service last year (2003) $3700. The one thing you will always find amongst MB owners is the constant of the autos always being well over 100,000 miles and it's in the prime of it's life. I just don't see that anywhere else. The S class is my second MB after having owned 2 BMW. Yes the MB is little more expensive in upkeep... not trips to the shop mind you: but the parts are a little more expensive.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th October, 2003

1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 420 SEL W126 4.2 V8 from Australia and New Zealand


The car I always wanted to own and drive


Sun roof jams on closing.

General Comments:

The 420 SEL is luxurious and quiet with lots of power from the V8 engine, excellent ride and road handling.

I love the shape and finish of the car.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th July, 2003

1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 560SEL V8 from North America


Reliability, Comfort, Class, and Performance~ all in one lovely package!


When I first considered purchasing the car, I brought it in for an inspection and they found it needed new front shocks ($200) and also the front torque converter seal replaced ($250). Other than that the car checked out beautifully. I had those problems fixed and have had no problems since!!

General Comments:

This car is a beauty! Sleek and Classy! So well-built, and quite a smooth ride. The V8 engine gives it plenty of power and "get-up-and-go".

Although it is a 1986, it is full of features that most new cars don't include! Heated, leather seats, auto climate control, power seats/windows/locks, security system. As well as features, many cars are just now making the standard. Such as ABS brakes, airbags, child safety features, etc.

The AC is colder than any car I have ever driven!!

So much room and very comfy seats.

I really love this car. I forsee it having a very long life!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 2nd July, 2003

1986 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 560SEL 5.6L DOHC V8 from North America


Better than any new car under $35,000


The mechanism that holds the driver's side door open broke (as in the bracket broke off), but I doubt this is Mercedes' fault.

I'm beginning to think the car was in an accident due to some paint over spray on the body cladding on the driver's side. This would explain why, when I took the door panel off to replace the bracket, one of the retaining bolts was missing. It wasn't rattling around in the bottom of the door or anything, it just wasn't there. So, either someone at a body shop or at Mercedes forgot this bolt, leaving only 2 bolts to hold it in place. Because I have no way of knowing why the bolt was missing, I cannot fault Mercedes for it.

The only other problem is that the bumpers have faded. This problem is not unique to Mercedes though - it is extremely difficult to get paint to stick to urethane.

General Comments:

Before I start talking about the car, it should be noted that while I've only had the car for 5 months, my dad owned it for 3 or 4 years, and my grandfather bought it around 1990, so I know the car pretty well.

Given this car's age, its performance is outstanding. The U.S. spec model is rated at ~8 seconds 0-60MPH, 140MPH top speed. I haven't tested the top speed, but I can tell you that mine easily keeps up with a Mustang GT to 100MPH. While not explosively fast from 0-~40mph, once it hits 2nd gear, it is a very, very fast car, especially given its 4200lb weight.

Handling is decent, although again, you have to keep it in perspective. Given the car's near-20ft. length and 2-ton+ weight, it handles very well.

Continuing on the subject of performance, the car is an outstanding sleeper. People don't seem to notice the "560SEL" badge, or at least they don't know what it means, because they tend to be real surprised when it turns out that that huge Mercedes is a lot faster than they thought it was.

In terms of build quality, the thing is built like a tank. Everything on the car, from the trunk lid to the window switches just feels solid. The doors don't click shut, they thunk shut. The term "bank vault" may be overused, but it's an accurate description of the car's build quality.

I find the interior to be very comfortable. The seats are firm, and there's a good reason for this - they are designed to keep you awake and energized on long trips. The dash layout is outstanding, the air conditioning produces colder air than my grandparent's 2003 S600 does, and the automatic temperature control is smart enough to not turn the heater on full blast before the engine has warmed up. In terms of features, it has a lot of what newer cars do - power front and rear seats, seat heaters in the front and the back, power windows, sunroof, etc. Unfortunately, it does not have a CD player (we're talking about a car from 1986 here!) and the stereo is horrible by today's standards, although it does all right considering that all it has to work with are 2 3.5" dash speakers and 2 6.5" rear speakers...

People don't give Mercedes enough credit for their tremendous engineering prowess, which is present everywhere in the car. Even the shape of the taillights has a purpose - the channels in the lens are there to blow snow and ice off of the lens. The door handles, too, are shaped the way they are for a reason. Their shape provides the maximum amount of leverage possible for opening the door after an accident. It's details like this that show just how much thought Mercedes puts into their cars.

My only real complaint is the gas mileage. The EPA rated it at 14/16, but with the way I drive, 12mpg is more realistic. This, combined with it's need for premium (because of the 9:1 compression ratio), makes for expensive fill ups.

Finally, there are a few potential problems with the 560SEL that you should be aware of if you're in the market for one. The 560's engine puts out just about as much power as the transmission can handle, so the transmissions tend to die around 100,000 miles. The timing chain should also be replaced around 100,000-150,000 miles as a precautionary measure because if it fails, you'll be needing a new engine. Finally, the 560SEL has a self-leveling rear suspension, which can be very expensive to fix if it needs it, so you should be sure that it has been maintained properly.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 8th May, 2003

21st Jun 2003, 17:39

This person's experience is very similar to mine. I've had over 30 cars in my life, and four others were Mercedes. It's possible that the 560 SEL is the best car in the world. (This is not meant to be hyperbole.)

I have two friends who are Mercedes Benz mechanics. They both agree. "Don't get a new one. Even with 285,000 miles, the 1986 S class is better." I love the looks of the new one, but I'll stick with the tank like reliability and raw power of my '86 560 SEL!