1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 300SEL 3.0 six cylinder from North America


Grand, elegant, diplomatic, fast, well-built!


Plastic side of radiator cracked, requiring entire new radiator ($900 at dealer).

A/C blower stopped working, requiring replacement.

A/C control unit started sending cold air when warm air desired (and vice versa), requiring replacement.

Transmission became slow to shift into reverse, requiring many new parts and gaskets.

Upper control arms on front suspension are shot at 150K miles. Time to replace.

She goes through brake pads, but that makes sense for such a big, heavy machine. (Don't ignore the brake-pad warning light until it goes off, which it does eventually. Then you'll be buying new rotors, too, as I did -- once.)

General Comments:

An amazing, fast, solid, comfortable, high-quality, well-designed car! Absolutely in love with it after all these years. Wouldn't dream of a new S-Class -- too forgettable and not enough "Mercedes-ness" anymore.

Quality of materials and fit is better than anything new. Glossy wood. Unbelievably fresh-looking leather after 155,000 miles. Feels like you could stand on the open gas flap. Door hardware and latches that are almost "over-designed." Glove box door lines up perfectly with dash. I could go on and on.

Quiet details continue to impress after seven years of ownership, such as wood trim on the dash that "wraps" around ends of dash, where it's only seen when doors are open. A turn-signal lever that is weighted perfectly. Simple, push-button switchgear that has a positive, solid feel to it. Even the chromed trim around the doorhandles where you insert the key is elegantly beveled and sculpted.

Rear legroom in my long-wheelbase W126 is positively generous, even when front seats are moved back. Everyone gets ample legroom in the stretch S-Class. First comment any backseat passenger makes!

The 3-liter six-cylinder engine is smoother than most V8s. It's a little slow off the mark (this is a big, heavy car!), but once she's wound up, there's power on tap. Silky smooth (a cliche, but true) and very, very quiet.

Brakes and steering a dream, with just the right balance and feel. I've never been afraid to fling this one around corners, despite its size.

A grand presence when parked or moving. I think Bruno Sacco and M-B got this W126 absolutely right in the aesthetics department. There's an absolute "rightness" to the lines. For such a physically big car, the folds and contours of the body make it appear remarkably light and agile. Same goes for the inside styling. Nothing jarring or zoomy or overstyled. There's a real Mies van der Rohe ("Less is more") quality to every line and surface.

Can you tell I'm in love? Nothing like approaching this authoritative, diplomatic machine, slipping onto that perfectly supportive seat and slamming that door. Thunk! Nothing sounds like it! Twist the key and glide away in all that leather, wood, solidity and absolute elegance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th November, 2003

24th Nov 2003, 21:04

I absolutely agree. That car you have there is, in my opinion, the last over-engineered MB.

I once accidentally slammed my fingers into the door frame of my 300SE. My fingers looked like they had come out of a cartoon after I managed to get the door back open. You could only imagine the pain and agony that followed after. Those cars are almost TOO solid.

Anyway, I have three examples. I have a 300SE, a 300SDL, and a 350SD. I never plan on getting rid of any of them. You just cannot replace them, plain and simple. The long wheelbase model is definitely the best choice for road trips, but it sure is hard to park, isn't it? Not too different in length compared to my full-ton 3500 extended cab 4x4 pickup truck.

1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 560 SEL 5.6 liter V8 from North America


The Mercedes Flagship Luxury Liner


The auxiliary fan switch had to be replaced. ($55.00 part & labor)

The button that is used to set the clock no longer works properly.

One window switch did not work when I bought the car. ($16.00 part & labor)

General Comments:

I purchased this car on Ebay, sight unseen. I planed to have it delivered, but the seller could not arrange that. I live in the very top corner of east Tennessee, and the car was in Malibu, California. After two weeks of listening to the sellers lies, I bought a plane ticket and went after my car. I did not realize that I just got on a plane to go get a car that I knew nothing about, other than it was a Mercedes, until the plane was landing. I took a taxi to the dealership, got in the car and started home. To make a very long story short, I drove at 90mph for 18 hours per day for three days. I went through the desert, the national forest, and tornado season in Oklahoma City. (nightmare - don't ask) The car never faltered.

The car runs perfectly, with out any audible noise from the motor in the passenger compartment.

The seats are very comfortable, even on long trips. With other cars I have always been stiff and sore after driving for a long period of time, but not with this car. The leather is buttery soft and still show no signs of wear at all.

The trunk is massive. It would be a wonderful gangster car, you could fit an entire family in the trunk. (just kidding)

It is definitely an open road car, and not intended for country back roads. It is not exactly a car that you can zip around curves in.

The power is unbelievable. If you press the gas down, you don't really feel the car speeding up, but you can feel your head go back against the head rest. I do enjoy being able to out run teenagers in there little sport cars that they have spent more money modifying than they did on the car itself. This car will do it with out even having to push the engine.

Maintenance is not cheap. While I have had no problems to report, Mercedes are all about preventative maintenance. These cars require a major service around 125,000 miles. This major service ran me around $6,000. As for all the other required services, they need to be done as recommended by the maintenance book. If you should come across a Mercedes with a lot of problems, more than likely it has not been maintained properly. If you own a Mercedes and it has some problems, get out the maintenance book, have you done everything as the book recommends? Those do come with the car for a reason you know. Most people would be surprised at how often the service intervals are. (I am making reference to everything other than the oil changes.)

Mercedes do not have any actual problems very often, but when they do get out the smelling salts and be sitting down.

Mercedes are not cheap, but, think about this. The old Mercedes diesels have gone a million miles, and with the modern higher end Mercedes it is not uncommon to go seven or eight hundred thousand miles. How many cheaper cars that you see everyday would it take to last as long as one Mercedes? -you get what you pay for.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 30th July, 2003

18th Oct 2004, 02:14

Add another kudo.

I bought my 560SEL two years ago. Also on Ebay.

I would not buy one of the newer models, as they are different creatures than the last W126 flagships. This model is the end of the 20th century world class power sedans. Nobody will ever improve what this vehicle embodies.

The power is amazing. The bearing and simple curb-side charisma of this vehicle is beyond the pale. Particularly the 560SEL, for it means something to those who know the breed. It is at once elegant and brutal. Particularly in the color I have, pearl black with gray interior. It does not simply park - it presides.

1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class SEL 560 from North America


Best deal in an used car - unknown too many


A/C needed a new compressor - $1000.

Nitrogen Chamber - $350.

Rear Window (it stopped working) - $130.

General Comments:

Comfortable car that has a steady feel, specially over 80mph. Once you get acquainted with this feel, it's difficult to drive anything smaller.

Once initial repairs are done - just regular TLC needed.

Dealer work is extremely expensive by my experience, you need to find a good repair shop. Word of mouth is the surest way.

This car's gotten regular praises from auto-mechanics regarding how solid it is in terms of performance and quality.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 20th May, 2003

1991 Mercedes-Benz S-Class 560 SEC 5.6L from North America


A Classic when it hit the Showroom Floor


Minimal repairs, I changed the radiator and brake pads. At 112,000 miles, the shop recommended a timing chain replacement. $700.00.

General Comments:

Artistry in motion!! This is the best handling and best designed car I have ever owned. The visibility is excellent. The controls are all within easy reach. I can easily see all instruments on the dash. For a heavy car, the acceleration is outstanding and the braking superb. It is a luxury tourer that I love to drive, and I am continously asked what year it is. Many pleasurable and safe driving miles are down the road ahead!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th October, 2002