1990 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 420 SEL 4.2 from North America


This one's a keeper


Front passenger lock does not deactivate the alarm. Small inconvenience that I'm not fixing. Only set off the alarm once when I forgot and unlocked the car from the passenger side.

General Comments:

Incredible shape for a 25 year-old car. Pristine condition. The rich leather looks absolutely new. Remarkable highway ride.

Not the most frugal on gas, but then it's a V8.

I prefer the look of the older Mercs - especially those before the W126, but I think the W126 strikes the right balance between vintage and "engineered-for-lifeness".

Things like rust protection, aerodynamics - much better on the W126 than previous models. It's the last of the engineered to the max models, and to my eye, the last of the good looking Mercs before they all got too bulbous.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 12th February, 2015

1990 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300 SE 6 cylinders in line from Kenya


Flawless engine in an ageless body. I couldn't ask for more


Leaking boot.

Hand brake not working.

Mechanism for folding driver's seat backwards not working.

Driver's window leaving gap at the top.

Minor engine leaks.

General Comments:

The most beautiful specimen of 300SE I have seen for many years. Bought it recently for the equivalent of US$10,000 - pre-owned vehicles are very expensive in Kenya.

It is light blue (diamond blue) with dark blue dash board and dark blue leather seats.

If the mileage of just over 80,000 kms is genuine, then I am the luckiest man on the planet. If it is not, I would be disappointed, but I would not get a heart attack.

I will repair all the faults right away as I intend to keep the car the next 25 years.

126 is just the right Merc for me. To me, A-Class is a toy, C-Class too small, newer S-Class either shapeless or too expensive, and Four Wheel Drive extremely ugly.

Within 126, I like the 300SE because of the refinement compared to 280SE. Engines over 3.0 litres are really needless.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th December, 2009

1990 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300SE In-line six from North America


The best thing I EVER bought; after owning it for 3 years I can still get more for it than spent


Voltage regulator brushes failed and were replaced at 190k cost $200.

Repaired a rusty area under the rear window that was also under the trunk gasket- $250.

General Comments:

I truly believe I am driving the finest production car ever built, the 1990 300SE. As with most S-Class, the folks who buy them new can usually afford to take care of them properly, as was the case with my car. The car has a quiet cabin, and a wonderful ride both in town and especially on the road. It would be hard for an 'established' person to find a better car or a better overall value. It is also one of the safest cars ever made.

After 1991 ALL of the luxury brands added oodles of electronic gadgets which are sure to fail and expensive to repair. While my car has airbags and ABS, the only "electronic" features I was compelled to add were a CD player and keyless entry. One of my favorite stock features of the S-Class is it's practically unnoticeable rear defroster elements. Other than while they are quickly defrosting your window, they are virtually transparent.

I average 17.5mpg overall, but-knock on wood- have had very little to fix in three years of ownership. I will be replacing the tires soon though. You will get a safe car discount on your insurance and you can buy a REALLY nice one, after a patient shopping period, for under $5000. Trust me, hold out for a nice one and you will save money as you will have little to fix upon gaining ownership. One flaw this is common to see on this vintage is a non-functioning A/C. For me in the PNW, it is not a problem for it to be non-functioning, but in warmer climates you should know that fixing it can run $2500.

They are so well built that I expect to drive mine the rest of my life, I am in my forties, and I tell my friends it will be my coffin as well when I die. Sure I may spend 3000 on an engine one day, and the same on a transmission one day but isn't it nice to own a 18 year old car that such repairs are 'investments' rather than good money after bad. Some folks have gotten 1,000,000 miles on the W126 chassis which includes the 300SE. Now THAT is a fine machine, and in the long-run it has to be greener than the ten ordinary cars it would take to go a million miles!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 1st February, 2009

16th Feb 2009, 17:01

Well said.

13th Sep 2009, 21:42

Best car ever. I have had mine since 1990, and have 350,000 miles and still drive it everyday instead of the new one. As long as you keep up the maintenance, this car will go forever. Well worth every penny.

12th May 2011, 00:53

I bought my 300SEL for $4.5k 3 years ago. It had done 180000 kms.

I have had the following done/replaced: transmission overhauled, head and timing gasket replaced, motor and gearbox mounts, flex discs, timing chain and guides, water pump, SLS spheres, trailing arm, steering gasket, all brake hoses, plugs, leads, hoses/belt, fuel pump and filter, 4 new tyres, O/Voltage and fuel relays, front brakes, hand brake pad and next to do is the front seat needs repair, windscreen is sand blasted and lamps in the panel need replacing.

Sigh... Terrible fuel consumption. Is it worth it? Probably not. I may get $4.5k for it now private or $500 from a trade in, but what a ride! Great visibility and whisper quiet. Will outlast me and still be going long after a 2011 Aussie car!

25th May 2011, 11:48

I am looking at a 1990 SE and the asking price is 6995.00. It is in excellent condition, 1 owner, 48,000 miles. Totally complete maintenance records. Never has seen snow. I believe it is worth the price, but I have seen others newer and cheaper. It is hard to find pricing and value.

Wondering if anyone out there has an opinion?

6th Jan 2012, 01:05

Buy it, it sounds like a very good investment. I own a 300 SE that I restored to the tune of just under $20,000.00. Since then it's been dead reliable. You'll never be sorry, they are a machine that "knows the road". Mine now has 254,0000 miles.

Rory Gibbons.