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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It is time to get rid of my Porsche 911, which I have had since 1986, and now I want a big, long, 4-door MB 500 or 600. It seems that a decent example can be had for about $40K or a little more. Where can I find the answers to the various questions about how the cars have changed over the years I am looking at? For example, I have read in one ad that 1997 was the last year the cars were 'hand-made', but what's the truth? I will have a driver where I will be living in the former Soviet Union, and would like the longer car for the bigger back seat, but what exactly does the SEL label really mean? Is one car a service nightmare, and another a gem, and where can I read intelligent reports about such things? I plan to buy the car here in the US, but are they cheaper over there (not counting the stolen ones)? I would welcome any ideas on these topics, or any others that informed contributors believe I should be thinking about. There is a MB dealer in the city I will be living in, and I think service rates are much lower than here, but parts may be more expensive. If anyone has any experience of such things I would be interested in that too. Thanks.
 

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If you are using the car in Europe you will find it much cheaper to buy it in Germany rather than take a US car over to Russia. You might investigate to see if M-B offers anything like the Starmark program [extended factory warranty on used M-Bs back to '94 -- see http://www.mbusa.com/brand/container.jsp?/starmark/index.jsp] in Europe which would allow the car to be serviced under warranty [at M-B's expense] in Russia. A W140 (the '90s S class) can be very expensive to own out of warranty.<br> <br> SEL is long wheelbase, but M-B dropped that designation in '96 when all the V-8 S class sedans were made long wheelbase; see the model Overview under the Starmark site for details.<br> <br> Given the Russian crime scene, you may want to consider whether you want to make yourself a target with sus a conspicous car as a S600 (or at least debadge it as many Europeans do). There are also 'guard' versions of the S class which are armored to withstand different classes of munitions.<br> <br> You might also consider a W126 (such as a '88 - '91 420SEL or 560SEL, or a diesel 300SDL) which would be much cheaper to buy, equally solid and imeasureably less expensive to maintain as it is not electronic-dependent like the W140s. Again, W126s should be widely available and inexpensive in Germany.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Just to correct c43amg- The SEL designation was dropped beginning in the 1994 model year. Short wheelbase v8s existed only in the European market.<br> Whether the car was long or short, they all shared the 'S' designation-making it confusing to the untrained eye on which was which.
 

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OK, so it sounds like I should be looking for a 1996-1999 model. Before 1996 there seems to be a terrible problem with the evaporator (whatever that is) that will cost thousands and thousands of dollars to fix. There is apparently not that much difference between the 500 and 600, and while some say the 500 has a plenty big enough engine, others appear to like the V12. There is no specific maintenance problem with either version that I should consider in buying one or the other. The 2000 and after versions look lousy to me and I have heard that they are not as nice a car with lots of Chrysler plastic, etc. Does anyone think any of this is wrong or needs to be further refined? Would it be right then to say that all of the cars built during that period have the same wheelbase, and there are no longer versions that would give more back seat leg room? I think that the W140 is, to my eye, the finest large sedan in the world (leaving out Rolls and Bentley and other impractical such models). Color me self-indulgent, but I want the best car in the world. If there was an article or site that made all of the above model differences information more clear I would still love to know about it. Lastly, does anyone have any information as to where I could find out about prices for these cars in Germany for example? There is nothing on the MB website that I can find. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
'96 Bad Tranny? '97 Last Year Hand-Made? '97 Model Upgrade? Who Knows?

I hear that in 1996 MB put the new 5-speed electronic transmission in the W-140 and that '96 W-140's have lots of problems with this. I have also hear that 1997 was the last year that they 'hand-made' the cars, and that 1997 and previous are better in some way. However I have also heard that the 95-96 have better interior materials than later versions. I have also heard that there was some sort of small model upgrade with the 1997 W-140s. If all of this is true, it would seem to indicate that the 1997 model has some advantages to the 98 and 99, but perhaps not. Who or where are the experts or more reading material on this? I have reviewed all 8 pages of discussion here, and looked at all the relevant cars on Autotrader. Any other recommendations or thoughts are welcome. Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
'97-'99 W-140 Only Seems To Be The Answer

I think I finally found the place where most of the questions I have asked have already been discussed at length. I put this here in case anyone else is looking for good answers. I still haven't seen the specific answers to some of my specific questions, but it is clear that only a 97-99 S600 or S500 would be a smart move.<br>
Here is the site I refer to:<br>
<br>
http://www.mercedesshop.com/shopforum/showthread.php3?s=02c222e1c65af04c7df8081face3d26f&threadid=19772<br>
<br>
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Re: '97-'99 W-140 Only Seems To Be The Answer

The Mercedes website gives detailed information as to the standard and optional features -- you can nagivate around from year-to-year and model-to-model:<br> <br> http://www.mbusa.com/brand/container.jsp?/starmark/overview/overview_engine.jsp&subNav=overview&yearModelCode=99_S500G&class=99_S&rnav=012345678&menu=6_2&spec=5<br> <br> This info is for US cars; I understand that a wider set of options (usually more stripped down versions and, in some cases [e.g., non-AMG cars], manual transmissions) may be available. There are various websites for used German cars but facility in German may be useful to figure out what's on offer.<br> <br> There is no 'extra' long wheelbase than the 'V' models (which in the US include all the V-8s and the V-12), unless you can find a one-off limo stretch job.<br> <br> The preference for an '98 or '99 W140 is (a) Mercedes' general modus operandi of getting the kinks fully worked out towards the end of a model run, (b) the car being, of course, newer than prior years of the W140 and (c) vis-a-vis the current W220 S class, the W140 is larger, heavier, more solid and the last of the 'old style' M-Bs, tho the W140 is also heavily electronic-dependent (unlike the '86 - '91 W126s, which are the last of the big-body primarily mechanical cars).<br> <br> The V-12 will be significantly more expensive to run (you have 150% of the cylinders of the V-8 and higher gas cost) -- in Russia, it may send a 'gouge me' signal and you may not be able to find as much experience in working on a V-12.<br> <br> Depending on what the roads are like where you are going, you may be better off with the new M500 or even a G-class.
 
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