1989 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 560 SEL 5.6L petrol from Australia and New Zealand
Very, very impressive for a car of its age - but never again!
Failure of silly self-leveling hydraulic rear shocks.
Failure of hydraulic pump for silly, over-engineered, self-leveling rear nonsenses.
Started burning oil (appears to be valve stem seals).
Fuel pumps failed.
Electrical failures... window winders, aircon, windscreen washers locked on, stereo speakers randomly drop out... basically anything electric is dodgy.
Rear wheel bearings... a nightmare to repair.
Water pump. What a sod to get out (one bolt had to be hack sawed off).
Despite the failures noted above, I love this car. It's powerful and heavy, so it makes a great towing car for my boat. It looks well, it has loads of space, it goes like blazes.
It's deceptive: the throttle pedal travel is very long, so you tend not to use much throttle, but if you push it all the way to the floor and kick down below about 100 kph, it is very very respectable, and below 50 kph, where it will kick into first - it will knock your eyebrows off. The ride is a bit less than you'd expect: OK, but much more road roughness comes through than you would expect. I have a similarly-aged Jag XJ, and while it is much less powerful, it rides much more smoothly (while still being much more taut in the corners).
Fuel economy is not bad considering the engine size. I get 18 mpg on average, more on the open road.
The reality is that it's wonderful to own, but I'd never touch another Merc with a 10 foot pole. There is a distinct air of over-engineered frippery that goes wrong. And I've noticed a lot of other older Mercs burn oil too. Not something you'd expect at the mileage I've got on the clock (not much over 100k miles when I bought it.)
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No
Review Date: 26th December, 2010