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I am in the process of purchasing either a W126 Mercedes 420SEL or a W140 S320 sedan. This would be my 3rd Mercedes. I love the older W126 models because they are virtually indestructible, and have less electronics of potentially breaking down. The W126 in question is a 1987 420SEL with 150K miles on it. I love the huge back seats of the 420SEL, and I especially love solid door thump; a definate tank on wheels. My second choice, a 1997 S320 with 135K miles, is an absolute beauty. The infamouse "princess Di mobile", a work of art in every way. I don't know which one to get as I have been reading reviews about the S320 and most of them are positive, but then I come accross some people who tell me to stay away- From electronics nightmares, to transmission issues, to the pnematic door closing assist, to the brake pads wearing down every few months...I have been reading about these issues. The W126 obviously doesnt have all the newer features so wouldnt be prone to these breakdowns. Is there an S class owner who has had both the W126 and the W140 and who would recommend one over the other? Any suggestions or questions would be appreciated. Keep in mind that the service history of both cars I will probably not be able to get, so I don't know if the timing chains have been replaced, etc. My first choice is to get the W140, but I dont want to be at the repair shop every week with constant problems. Any suggestions?
 

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I am in the process of purchasing either a W126 Mercedes 420SEL or a W140 S320 sedan. This would be my 3rd Mercedes. I love the older W126 models because they are virtually indestructible, and have less electronics of potentially breaking down. The W126 in question is a 1987 420SEL with 150K miles on it. I love the huge back seats of the 420SEL, and I especially love solid door thump; a definate tank on wheels. My second choice, a 1997 S320 with 135K miles, is an absolute beauty. The infamouse "princess Di mobile", a work of art in every way. I don't know which one to get as I have been reading reviews about the S320 and most of them are positive, but then I come accross some people who tell me to stay away- From electronics nightmares, to transmission issues, to the pnematic door closing assist, to the brake pads wearing down every few months...I have been reading about these issues. The W126 obviously doesnt have all the newer features so wouldnt be prone to these breakdowns. Is there an S class owner who has had both the W126 and the W140 and who would recommend one over the other? Any suggestions or questions would be appreciated. Keep in mind that the service history of both cars I will probably not be able to get, so I don't know if the timing chains have been replaced, etc. My first choice is to get the W140, but I dont want to be at the repair shop every week with constant problems. Any suggestions?

Hi,

Both W-types are fantastic cars in my opinion. IGNORING for a moment the various things that DO GO WRONG ONCE IN A WHILE with such old cars, my opinion is:

W126:
- Overall good build quality (certainly much better than the ordinary cars, I had before been used to driving).
- You must read W126 specialist forums, BEFORE PURCHASE, so you know exactly what to look out for, when evaluating the actual state of the car.
- Cheap spares. I purchased an entire 260SE from Germany, simply for sapares. Saved me A LOT of money over the years.
- Be careful with a car which has a sparkly clean engine bay - there are a lot of stuff down there, which can get ruined if some over eager salesman tries to clean the area up with a steam cleaner. (trust me - I know from experience)
- Downside (at least in Denmark): Very few MB mechanics around, who actually KNOWS the W126 intimately. Most of the new mecs. only know how to diagnose new smart computerised models, having the computers do all the work.
- If you are looking at that big an engine, be prepared for some seriously BAD fuel economy. My 260 does around 9 km pr litre. I had a friend with a 380, which did under half that !
- Many - including myself - really believe that the W126 is the best looking MB ever made. It has sort of a timeless beauty to it. It is big, but not vulgar.

W140:
- Even better build/feel quality. I mean, the doors are about twice as thick as the W126's, and the windows double-glaced.
- You can feel that it is a newer car, in many ways, for example better noise insulation.
- In my 400SE, when it was still running :crybaby2: I did a trip from Stockholm to Copenhagen and back (approx. 1500 km) with an average fuel economy of 9,5 km pr litre. This I think is pretty good - I dont know how smaller engines are compared to my V8 though.
- Many people think the car is too big, and very vulgar. (Personally I don't really care...:thumbsup:)

In general I have to say - based on experience - that you should have a newer less sophisticated car as plan B, if you rely on an old Mercedes. I wish it was not so, but it has been for me personally. As long as you know this, you will be fine, and not get too stressed out by the fact that sometimes the old timer simply wont run.

Good luck with your decision.
Jacob






PS: I have had a W126 260 SE 1986 for 3 years, and a W140 400 SE 1992 for 2 months.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thanks..

Hi,

Both W-types are fantastic cars in my opinion. IGNORING for a moment the various things that DO GO WRONG ONCE IN A WHILE with such old cars, my opinion is:

W126:
- Overall good build quality (certainly much better than the ordinary cars, I had before been used to driving).
- You must read W126 specialist forums, BEFORE PURCHASE, so you know exactly what to look out for, when evaluating the actual state of the car.
- Cheap spares. I purchased an entire 260SE from Germany, simply for sapares. Saved me A LOT of money over the years.
- Be careful with a car which has a sparkly clean engine bay - there are a lot of stuff down there, which can get ruined if some over eager salesman tries to clean the area up with a steam cleaner. (trust me - I know from experience)
- Downside (at least in Denmark): Very few MB mechanics around, who actually KNOWS the W126 intimately. Most of the new mecs. only know how to diagnose new smart computerised models, having the computers do all the work.
- If you are looking at that big an engine, be prepared for some seriously BAD fuel economy. My 260 does around 9 km pr litre. I had a friend with a 380, which did under half that !
- Many - including myself - really believe that the W126 is the best looking MB ever made. It has sort of a timeless beauty to it. It is big, but not vulgar.

W140:
- Even better build/feel quality. I mean, the doors are about twice as thick as the W126's, and the windows double-glaced.
- You can feel that it is a newer car, in many ways, for example better noise insulation.
- In my 400SE, when it was still running :crybaby2: I did a trip from Stockholm to Copenhagen and back (approx. 1500 km) with an average fuel economy of 9,5 km pr litre. This I think is pretty good - I dont know how smaller engines are compared to my V8 though.
- Many people think the car is too big, and very vulgar. (Personally I don't really care...:thumbsup:)

In general I have to say - based on experience - that you should have a newer less sophisticated car as plan B, if you rely on an old Mercedes. I wish it was not so, but it has been for me personally. As long as you know this, you will be fine, and not get too stressed out by the fact that sometimes the old timer simply wont run.

Good luck with your decision.
Jacob






PS: I have had a W126 260 SE 1986 for 3 years, and a W140 400 SE 1992 for 2 months.


Thanks...

I think I have made up my mind already, I am getting the 420SEL next week I hope. That is, unless, I go drive the S320 on impulse and decide to buy it right there and then. That wouldn't surprise me :D
 

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I had a 1990 W126 500SEC and just now I have a 1992 W140 S500. Without a doubt the S500 is a much better put together car, nicer to drive, feels more up to date and is much more powerful.....in saying that my 500SEC was a better looking car being the coupe. If I had a choice, over a saloon W126 or W140 Id definately go for the W140.
 

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We've got an '88 420SEL in at work, and man that thing feels dated. It's in great shape, has 58k original miles, but man, is it bland and dated.
 

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Think you might find we are biased here.

I have owned a S320L and had no problems with it at all. That said it was a year old when I bought it, had 11,000 on the clock. Sold it nine months later with 28,500 miles.

Zero problems. Buy a late W140 from '97 onwards and the harness problem will not be an issue. On the 320 the main problem is the cylinder head gasket but it is a once only fix.

W140 is a better car than W126....which itself is a Mercedes legend.
 

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I am in the process of purchasing either a W126 Mercedes 420SEL or a W140 S320 sedan. This would be my 3rd Mercedes. I love the older W126 models because they are virtually indestructible, and have less electronics of potentially breaking down. The W126 in question is a 1987 420SEL with 150K miles on it. I love the huge back seats of the 420SEL, and I especially love solid door thump; a definate tank on wheels. My second choice, a 1997 S320 with 135K miles, is an absolute beauty. The infamouse "princess Di mobile", a work of art in every way. I don't know which one to get as I have been reading reviews about the S320 and most of them are positive, but then I come accross some people who tell me to stay away- From electronics nightmares, to transmission issues, to the pnematic door closing assist, to the brake pads wearing down every few months...I have been reading about these issues. The W126 obviously doesnt have all the newer features so wouldnt be prone to these breakdowns. Is there an S class owner who has had both the W126 and the W140 and who would recommend one over the other? Any suggestions or questions would be appreciated. Keep in mind that the service history of both cars I will probably not be able to get, so I don't know if the timing chains have been replaced, etc. My first choice is to get the W140, but I dont want to be at the repair shop every week with constant problems. Any suggestions?
I have both cars and love them.
The 140 is a better car overall. Both have individual characteristics. Get wider tires and low profiles for the 126 as it wallows a bit. Or upgrade shocks and springs or do both. The front seats usually need stiffer springs. Less maintenance issue than 140.
Get a 560SEL if you can find it. Nicer interior with a few more options.
 

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Personally, I prefer my 560's to my 600... Hell, I hardly drive the 600 compared to the other cars. If you like highway cruising a 140 is where it's at..but when it comes to tossing the car about, those extra 1000lbs make themselves Known in a not so enjoyable manner!

Jonathan
 

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560SEL is where it's at. That would be the only W126 I'd ever consider. I must say though, the W126, especially the later ones, are the best looking Benzes ever, W140s included. The only reason I say this, is because the 140 looks a lot taller than the 126 does, and IMO having a low, long profile is a key ingredient to an amazing looking luxury sedan.

I took a good long look at that '88 420SEL we have for sale at work, here's my quick impressions:

-Gorgeous exterior design. Long, lean, low. Much thinner profile than the W140
-Design is very purposeful...everything is done for a reason, nothing excessive
-Built with an extremely high level of attention to detail. After 20 years, it still feels brand new. Everything shuts with an authoritative thunk, feels tight and solid.
-Much less flashy than the 140, and all newer Benzes
-Has an aura of quiet assertiveness and confidence and a bit of cold arrogance
-Love the single thick horizontal piece of walnut trim across the top of the dashboard
-HVAC controls are confusing...nothing but pictograms and the temp is in Celsius. What's that about???? Doesn't seem as easy to use or electronic like the W140 (and all american cars) has.
-Seats are springy, much like in a semi truck.
-No cup holders anywhere. But then again, I guess cup holders didn't get big until the '90s.
-Engine bay isn't as aesthetically pleasing as on the W140. Nothing is covered and it's not as clean looking.
-Compared to the 140, all of the shapes in the interior are much less organic and much more square and upright. Examples are the door panels, dashboard design, and the stitching patterns in the seats.

I didn't get to drive it, so I can't report on that, but that sums up what I've seen so far.
 

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I have not long since made the change from W126 to a W140, as has already been said, the W140 is a great car and the W126 is getting a bit dated now, all depends on how much money are prepared to spend on the car in the long term, if you don't mind payout out for others to do the work go for the W140, if you wan't to do the work yourself go for the W126.
 

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About cup holders..... The W126 has sort of these, in the glove compartment, when you open it there are 2 "holes" into which you can place your cup ;-) Not much, but its there.
 

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Have only just bought my C140, and it's now in for a maintenance service. Have had my C126 for a year and a half now.

How do I rate them?

C126
Smooth and powerful, although 420 was never the best of the V8's
Amazingly comfortable and stylish upholstery despite being 17 years old
Beautiful shape and profile from front and side, rear not quite as appealing!
Older car that feels like it could cut it with most modern vehicles.

C140
Nicknamed the "Bismarck", with good reason, a sturdy tank of a car
More comfortable seats than C126, that hold you better in corners
Handling much improved over C126 despite not having active suspension
Profile a bit bland; but menacing road presence especially in rear views

I admire them both greatly, but for slightly different reasons. I think the C126 is more stylish and has a better image, but with the C140 you really do feel like nothing was made as solidly, and that it will go on forever. Here's hoping after it's maintenance service it does!!!

I think the choice of which one is a very personal thing and depends on what you want the car for, or what you want it to do. Me personally, I like the different driving experiences they offer, and enjoy them both equally. But if fuel economy's a big consideration for you, you should steer away from the V8's, and take a 6-pot. Even then they're not that great, either of them.

In summary: awesome machinery whichever one you go for!!!
 

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"560SEL is where it's at. That would be the only W126 I'd ever consider. I must say though, the W126, especially the later ones, are the best looking Benzes ever, W140s included. The only reason I say this, is because the 140 looks a lot taller than the 126 does, and IMO having a low, long profile is a key ingredient to an amazing looking luxury sedan."

I guess the same can be said about the newest iteration of Jaguar saloons vs. the 90 models which were even lower than the 126 model!! -- and look extremely svelte.
The 126 had more creases in the side panels and therefore makes it look longer and lower. The 140 has less body work there and has a more solid appearance.
 
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