Date registered: Jan 2003
Vehicle: 1990 560SEC Euro
Location: Windermere, Florida
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
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Cruger, I agree with Flyboyike once again......your description of the steering suggests something's wrong. The steering should have a fairly solid, "heavy" feel, responsive but not overly "crisp" ("crisp meaning excessively nimble, like some modern sporty cars). The 450 SEL suspension is fairly modern, with ball joints and high caster. Even so, an overhall would likely cost $2K at many shops.
The next-smaller Mercedes model, from 1977 through 1985, was the W123 body style, commonly the 300D (sedan) and 300CD (coupe) in the US, less commonly the 280E and 280CE. I've always considered the coupe to be quite attractive, and have nearly bought one on two occasions. These models also have seen service as taxis around the world, and are considered a little too "pedestrian" by some, an opinion that I DO NOT share.
Either with the 116 or 123 cars, there's also a separate category for these, here on this web site, and there you'll find aficionados that are a lot more knowledgeable of those models than I.
Lastly, you may even consider an older W108 car, like the 280SE or 280SE 4.5. I've had two of these cars before. Expect them to feel MUCH older, even old-fashioned, yet they'll feel comfortable and stable, on streets and on the highway, even at speed. I estimate these cars to be about 8 inches shorter than the 450SEL, and maybe a little narrower. The A/C is typically weak on these cars, as they were really intended for the Northern European climate.
Similar to the W108 is the W109 car, with air suspension (no steel springs). These include the 300SEL, 300SEL 3.5 and 300SEL 6.3. I suggest you STAY AWAY from these cars, due to the complexity and repair cost of the air suspension. Maybe consider these models after you have the experience of a less-problematic Mercedes model.
Keep in touch, and good luck!
1970 300 SEL 6.3
1979 450 SLC 5.0
1990 560SEC Euro Conversion