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


Brilliant car, when it works...


Broke down the day I bought it.

Continues to misbehave at will....

Guide rail broke - timing chain jumped a tooth, which led to major engine damage: $4k repairs.

This car has been plagued with undiagnosable (the car is still in the repair shop) rough running, which continues to resurface even now almost a year after buying it.

All major electrical components have been replaced in the engine, under warranty (thank goodness).

Other than those nightmares, the only defects have been a burned down ignition coil, and faulty electric window motors which needed to be replaced.

Regular servicing costs at an authorized dealer are not inexpensive.

11 months of ownership have cost over C$6k, and would have been much more (9k) if it were not for Mercedes goodwill and warranty.

General Comments:

The car - when it works, and I bought an immaculate looking one with full service history - is amazing. Fast, silent and hugely comfortable. It is a product of the end of an era when things were designed to really satisfy and give pleasure rather than being built to compete with the likes of Lexus and Acura.

If you can find a good one, there is no better car for the money - but can one find a good one ???

But despite my nightmare, I would still recommend it over the newer used S-Class models which have so many electronic motors and computers that I doubt any owner who would have to pay his own servicing costs would sleep at all.

Happy hunting.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th August, 2000

17th Dec 2002, 14:00

I have a 1990 420Sel with 43,000 miles on it. It is, without a doubt, one of the best cars I have ever owned. I have had numerous BMWs and this is, by far, a better made car. Maybe the ones discounted on this site are lemons or were not properly maintained from day one. Anyway, I will never get rid of mine. They don't build cars like this anymore. Everything now is to compete with the Japanese automakers and searching for only good gas mileage.