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Discussion Starter #1
Hello, I am having trouble deciding between two cars that I really like: 1986 560sel with 123k and 1980 300sd with 100k
The 300sd is around $4500 and the 560 is around $3,000.
The 560 needs the timing chain/tensioners done and a paint blemish on the right of the lower rear window. The 300SD needs nothing as far as I know... cosmetically and mechanically good.
So with everything done, the 560 will be around 6,000. I really like the 560SEL in general but I am worried about its general reliability and running costs. I know the diesel is allegedly a lot cheaper to keep in order. I would appreciate any advice on this matter. Thanks in advance.
 

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85 500SEC (Euro), 87 560SEC (now sold)
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1,141 Posts
No getting around the longevity of the 300SD's. I saw one today parked and checked it out. She was in really nice shape with the odom around 380k miles. Eventually I will have to buy one. :)
 

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Two '87 570SECs, one '87 560SEL
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4,445 Posts
My 560SEL is coming up on 300K miles and works great. But...like most of the cars on this forum, it gets the maintenance it likes and needs. This site is why I drive an '87 560SEL and an '87 560SEC. Buy the 560SEL and enjoy the ride. People here can help diagnose EVERY problem / concern, provide needed instructions on how to fix anything, and sources of parts (NEVER buy Uro parts).
 

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Outstanding Contributor
350SDL, '17 GLS450, "Grandpa's Roadster" Project Car
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3,084 Posts
Buy the one that is most rust free (look underneath). The heavy undercoating can hide a lot of serious issues. Pretty much any mechanical issue can be fixed "good as new"; rust not so easily.
 

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560SEL 560SEC 300SEL E320 Cab. MB Metris Van / 300TD 300TE 300SDL, 300D, Unimog 406 (Gone)
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2,314 Posts
The 560 will not be worth $6000 when it is done. But, it will be a better drive. Personally, since I have had both, even at the same time, plus a 300D and 300TD and a 350SD, I would choose the diesel. It is a much cooler vehicle - very idiosyncratic. And, in a gas crisis you can always get fuel.
 

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1977 W116 450SEL and 1988 W126 560SEC
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416 Posts
Hello, I am having trouble deciding between two cars that I really like: 1986 560sel with 123k and 1980 300sd with 100k
The 300sd is around $4500 and the 560 is around $3,000.
The 560 needs the timing chain/tensioners done and a paint blemish on the right of the lower rear window. The 300SD needs nothing as far as I know... cosmetically and mechanically good.
So with everything done, the 560 will be around 6,000. I really like the 560SEL in general but I am worried about its general reliability and running costs. I know the diesel is allegedly a lot cheaper to keep in order. I would appreciate any advice on this matter. Thanks in advance.
It all depends what the purpose of the car is. If it's a daily driver, the SD hands down. Now chassis wise, the W116 and the W126 are worlds apart. The W116 300SD is really a time capsule that will get you anywhere, just not in a rush. As a weekend cruiser I'd go for the 560, without a doubt.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks to all the replies. I completely agree. I do have to say that my general interest for the 560SEL comes from my grandma having one when I was younger. Her’s still had way over 100k miles but she barely drove it and when she did, it was short commutes only. And my grandparents only really did oil changes ... that’s it. I like the SD a lot too and especially because it’s a W116. My main questions about it are if it has decent ride quality and how quiet it is on the road. I also assume since it’s a W116 and a shorter body it will handle quiet well, but that’s my assumption. Keep the info coming :D
 

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Discussion Starter #10
also, I forgot to ask, by “world ap
It all depends what the purpose of the car is. If it's a daily driver, the SD hands down. Now chassis wise, the W116 and the W126 are worlds apart. The W116 300SD is really a time capsule that will get you anywhere, just not in a rush. As a weekend cruiser I'd go for the 560, without a doubt.
thanks, by “world apart” what do you mean? I am still kind of new to this topic and would like to know more.
 

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1989 560 SEC - V-8 Kompressor - 95 E320 Estate
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1,902 Posts
I have been around both these cars for many years. Prefer the w126 300SDL (86-87) over the 116 car. 116 is great on the highway, handling around town ?? not my cup of tea. 116 funky trans shifting and ride like a boat. W126 is when they got everything right. Again, gassers like 560SEL are very pleasant in all areas. SDL is a workhorse but best on the open highway. Best you drive both and make your own decision and most important is to get a good PPI from a local indie that KNOWS these cars. Best money I have ever spent was on a PPI for a car I did not buy. As John350 mentioned, on any Benz from this era rust is a deal breaker. Everything else can be fixed. Good luck with your search. Mike
 

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1986/1990 W126
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13,575 Posts
I love the W116, although have never seen a diesel one. Rust is an absolute killer on those though which is a real shame. One of my first cars was a petrol W116 280SE and that thing took a proper battering with no complaints whatsoever. We hooligan'd that thing everywhere and the handling and poise was superb.
I used to be able to get it quite far off the ground at times on a route that had a ramp. Poor thing..

The W126 doesn't rust in the same way at all and handles and drives better in all respects I would say. But as mentioned above, a 560 will not be your friend at the pumps..

Wish I could have both but the W116 is expensive here and a rust worry with our salted roads.
 

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1977 W116 450SEL and 1988 W126 560SEC
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416 Posts
also, I forgot to ask, by “world ap

thanks, by “world apart” what do you mean? I am still kind of new to this topic and would like to know more.
The 116 behaves and feels like the older car, with a less comfortable suspension than the 126 and noisier at speed.
 

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1991 500SEC sub 50K mi. 1987 560SEC Now 150K mi. 2018
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4,207 Posts
With acknowledgments to others' advice offered above. I will say I bought my first W126 in 2003 and have added a tad over 90,000 happy miles to its odometer over the ensuing years.
My wife & I just love the 560.

For my next foray, I bought another SEC in early 2017 because after living the W126 experience, I simply fell for it in the eBay photos. I just had to have it.
Since that morning, I have added another 25 > 30,000 miles to it in recent years.

Given the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, they are of the very, very best cars I have had the pleasure(s) of stewardship during my 58 years of [legal] automobile enthusiasm...

May you choose the very best for you in the very near future!

MBL
 

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1990 300 SEL
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63 Posts
I want to know what happens when you go the other way, from a W126 to a W140? Will it be sublime perfection or a wrong turn that's hard to back out of? Anyone know from their own experiences?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I want to know what happens when you go the other way, from a W126 to a W140? Will it be sublime perfection or a wrong turn that's hard to back out of? Anyone know from their own experiences?
It depends on the condition of the W140... All I know is that there will be a ton more electronics which can be a good or a bad thing. W126 will be easier to deal with, but the W140 had a lot more modern features that even most high-end cars do not have today. The V8 models (preferably the last two years) should be the most reliable. Stay away from the inline-6's! Low mileage and decent condition is very important. Again, a 140 is as close to a modern luxury car that you can get before you leave 1998 (last year of the W140).
 

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1991 500SEC sub 50K mi. 1987 560SEC Now 150K mi. 2018
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4,207 Posts
Bad-a-boom!

It's NOT a W126.

Walk around one: for the look, I think.
Drive a W40 some for comparison... Maybe you'll be swayed?

I cannot believe there is a viable consideration.

NutCase that I am, I stated here maybe 12 years or more years ago,: My next car will be another SEC.

Yup! True enough.... My modern cars will have to stand up to this above automotive metric.

Happy SEC enthusiast here!

M
 

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1989 560 SEC - V-8 Kompressor - 95 E320 Estate
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1,902 Posts
My many years of experience with both W126 and W140 always steer toward the W126 for enthusiasts, owners on a budget and those who are willing to deal with DIY maintenance and repairs. W140's are wonderful cars but not for the timid and at this point in time owned by enthusiasts with DEEP pockets. One big challenge is finding an indie that actually knows the W140 systems and diagnostics. The cars are extremely heavy with sophisticated suspensions which equals a big budget to keep them performing as designed. Therefore W126 is my preference for regular folks wanting a nice young classic MB. A few years ago I had a 98 CL600 with 85k miles and the PO (enthusiast) had already spent over $10k replacing nearly every steering and suspension component and that car showed pride in ownership. Visit the W140 section of BW and read about ALL the expected maintenance and what to look for in purchasing a good W140. When they are well sorted they are wonderful but they can empty your wallet in a short period of time. Mike
 
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