Date registered: Feb 2008
Vehicle: 2004 W220 (S430) ; 2001 R129 (SL500) Sport
Location: Alabama Gulf Coast--formerly Charlottesville, VA
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Rocky is right. Go to the W220 forum and you'll find out what you need to know. In a nutshell, you'll be told to steer clear of the '00-'02/early '03 models because of problems with the Airmatic in particular, and the electronics. I have an '04--that year model gets the 7-speed transmission and the DVD-based nav system (rather than 12 CDs). General consensus is get '04 or later, stay away from the 12-cylinder models unless you've got a fat wallet and GOT to have the speed, and think whether you need 4-matic or not. The 4-matics are not problematic, but they get only the 5-speed, have lots of extra moving parts, and seem to be a little less economical than the 2WD versions. My '04 has been trouble-free in the 15k miles I've owned it and it is a wonderful vehicle. It's deceptively fast, drives smaller than it is, will surprise a rice-burner in the twisties, dead stone luxurious, and I'm averaging 22+ mpg in mixed driving (with a relatively light foot).
"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you."--John Steinbeck