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1985 MB 500sel (Euro)
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380 Posts
somehow the whitewalls look better on an SE or SEL, not so much on the SEC.
 

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1986/1990 W126
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14,482 Posts
The power reclining rear seat I have in the 420SEL in my possession would like to have a word with you...
Definitely was the occasional exception in the US wasn't there.

Of course in the rest of the world anything was possible. I've seen a 300sel with self levelling, we've even seen an SEC with what looked l like factory curtains and that wasn't even on the options list.
 

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84 500SEL AMG, 90 560SEC AMG, 85 500SEC AMG Widebody
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1,831 Posts
That is a nice 420SEL for sale on BaT, except for the side trim added to each full side of the car, the chrome "eyebrows" over each wheel opening and the steel door edge guards. If I were bidding in this car, I would want to know if those long trim strips along both sides are double sided taped on or if they are screwed into the sheetmetal. I know the chrome wheel opening trim is screwed into the opening edges (turned down edges), but those holes should be hidden from view). The door edge guards really bother me - I bet if you pull them off they would dig deep scratches into the paint. Horrible idea by the original owner to install all of those silly items.
 
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2004 E55; 1984 500SEC
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33 Posts
Agreed with everyone else. With $8k-$10k, you should be able to find a nice 560SEL. Being in CA, you would probably be looking at only US spec cars because of CA emissions. It is hard and expensive to register a Euro-spec W126 in CA. Good Luck!
 

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85 500SEC (Euro), 87 560SEC (now sold)
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1,358 Posts
He should definitely consider 420SEL's. No SLS, but whatever. There are incredible examples out there for under 10 grand. All you California guys have endless choices!
 

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1981 300SD, 1976 300D
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949 Posts
Agreed with everyone else. With $8k-$10k, you should be able to find a nice 560SEL. Being in CA, you would probably be looking at only US spec cars because of CA emissions. It is hard and expensive to register a Euro-spec W126 in CA. Good Luck!
To be fair, it’s not impossible. My car: 1982 500SE, registered in CA from 1984-2009. Parked until 2018, resurrected, then the shop held a lien sale since the customer wouldn’t come pay the bill and collect the car. Buyer got it to CA smog on first attempt in fall 2019, and it has a BAR label and dual cats on the down pipes from the Euro logs.

Granted, it ended up with me here in AZ (where it also passed smog on first attempt) because of CA’s insistence on collecting all the back fees from it’s 10 year rest, but there’s no intrinsic reason it couldn’t be done. I would agree that a CA spec 560 would be less of a headache.
 

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1989 560 SEC - V-8 Kompressor - 95 E320 Estate
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2,061 Posts
If the OP is still around I'm just about finished preparing/restoring a very nice 1990 560SEL, white with dove grey leather interior. All the heavy lifting is done. Lemforder motor mounts, Bilstein front shocks, MB chain tensioner, cap/rotor, cam oilers, valve cover gaskets, all fluids/filters, correct Bosch spark plugs, freshly refinished bumpers and wheels, near new Michelins, original dark orange cluster needles, beautiful original burlwood and factory sound system. This is what I remember off the top of my head. Dead stock example. No leaks or squeaks. 110k original miles and ready for 110 more. WDBCA vin so it is CA ready. I posted some undercarriage shots somewhere here on BW. A little over $10k but well worth it. Objective was to build/present a great example on BaT which will probably happen in the next couple weeks if not sold locally or sent to Dubai. Late w126's in white are extremely sought after cars in that area.
 

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I am looking to buy a W126, preferably from 1986-91 and am new to Mercedes. I've alway loved the design and the presence this type of Mercedes has. The only problem is that I am not super well briefed on what to look for when shopping around for one and I'm no mechanic. Low mileage will cost $$ and I'm not looking to spend $20k on a 30+ year old car so I know they will be higher mileage at this point. There aren't many for sale where l live (LA) but from what I can tell there's a few 420SEL's and 380SEL's. Are these desirable models or is the 560SEL the one to aim for? What about the 350SD/SDL? Also, this would be a daily driver. Any thoughts, helpful hints, anything would be great!

Thank you!
From all the cars you listed, in my opinion the 350SDL turbo diesels are the best. The Mercedes diesels are 2nd to none. If you can find one of these, go for it. It is truly a classic of all the cars on your list. I wish I still had mine. I love the diesels. I have a GL350 BlueTEC. and it is great.
 

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I am looking to buy a W126, preferably from 1986-91 and am new to Mercedes. I've alway loved the design and the presence this type of Mercedes has. The only problem is that I am not super well briefed on what to look for when shopping around for one and I'm no mechanic. Low mileage will cost $$ and I'm not looking to spend $20k on a 30+ year old car so I know they will be higher mileage at this point. There aren't many for sale where l live (LA) but from what I can tell there's a few 420SEL's and 380SEL's. Are these desirable models or is the 560SEL the one to aim for? What about the 350SD/SDL? Also, this would be a daily driver. Any thoughts, helpful hints, anything would be great!

Thank you!
Best u can get 300sd sdl got a 92 sd 138k love it.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
So before you find a candidate find a mechanic - one who knows these cars and pay the $100 - 200? to have them do a detailed inspection. A car with nice exterior and interior (things you can see) and seems to run well might need thousands of $$ in repairs.

But I agree that 8 - 10 you ought to be able to get something nice.

Good Luck
I did find a reputable mechanic here in LA, G&N Motors. They were highly recommended by my coworker who had a 2004 SL500.
 

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Discussion Starter #34
Best u can get 300sd sdl got a 92 sd 138k love it.
It seems like the SD and SDL variants are much harder to come across. I'm in no rush but there must've been fewer of them in general when they were imported or bought new here in the US.
 

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Discussion Starter #35
The power reclining rear seat I have in the 420SEL in my possession would like to have a word with you...
I don't foresee carrying a lot of people around so I might pass on a reclinable rear seat but....If on the off chance I'd ever let anyone touch my car or drive me around in it, then I might just want that option though. True, 560's definitely had the better options but I too have seen 420's with reclinable seats. They're much less common.
 

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'91 560SEC, '91 300SE (sold), '98 Yota, '02 S-10 Hauler
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Knowing the work tha magicbigdaddy puts in the cars he has and if I were in the market for a 126, he would be one of the first ones I'd be "kicking the tyres" on

If the OP is still around I'm just about finished preparing/restoring a very nice 1990 560SEL, white with dove grey leather interior. All the heavy lifting is done. Lemforder motor mounts, Bilstein front shocks, MB chain tensioner, cap/rotor, cam oilers, valve cover gaskets, all fluids/filters, correct Bosch spark plugs, freshly refinished bumpers and wheels, near new Michelins, original dark orange cluster needles, beautiful original burlwood and factory sound system. This is what I remember off the top of my head. Dead stock example. No leaks or squeaks. 110k original miles and ready for 110 more. WDBCA vin so it is CA ready. I posted some undercarriage shots somewhere here on BW. A little over $10k but well worth it. Objective was to build/present a great example on BaT which will probably happen in the next couple weeks if not sold locally or sent to Dubai. Late w126's in white are extremely sought after cars in that area.
I would advise original poster to message about this one quick.
 
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Discussion Starter #37
He should definitely consider 420SEL's. No SLS, but whatever. There are incredible examples out there for under 10 grand. All you California guys have endless choices!
I am definitely open to the 420SEL's, but I also am in no rush. I'd like this to perhaps be a Christmas gift to myself. But we will see.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
If the OP is still around I'm just about finished preparing/restoring a very nice 1990 560SEL, white with dove grey leather interior. All the heavy lifting is done. Lemforder motor mounts, Bilstein front shocks, MB chain tensioner, cap/rotor, cam oilers, valve cover gaskets, all fluids/filters, correct Bosch spark plugs, freshly refinished bumpers and wheels, near new Michelins, original dark orange cluster needles, beautiful original burlwood and factory sound system. This is what I remember off the top of my head. Dead stock example. No leaks or squeaks. 110k original miles and ready for 110 more. WDBCA vin so it is CA ready. I posted some undercarriage shots somewhere here on BW. A little over $10k but well worth it. Objective was to build/present a great example on BaT which will probably happen in the next couple weeks if not sold locally or sent to Dubai. Late w126's in white are extremely sought after cars in that area.
Wow, that is definitely a good offer! I'm just now seeing this. I appreciate the thought and it's very tempting considering how much care and work you've put into it but I'm going to have to pass for the time being. It is a bit sudden and I don't think I'd be able to get up to your location any time soon to see it in person.
 

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I don’t think you are a serious buyer ready to buy any car now . It’s ok to be a window shopper but don’t put yourself out as someone ready to spend cash now
 

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If you want longevity, a diesel is the way to go. Back in the day when MB was handing out badges for for mileage, the vast majority wearing those badges were diesels. The 300SDL was probably the most reliable, the first 350 motors had a tendency to crack #1 piston. The 350 has a bit more power but the 300SDL will run 80-90mph all day on the freeway, just takes a bit longer to get there. Also, fuel economy, the 300 SDL will deliver 26 mpg @ 65-70 mph all day long with the air on, 20-22 mpg around town, at least that is what I get. Gassers are fine if you want more performance, a 560 gets poor fuel economy but a diesel is cheaper to operate over the long haul. Having run a Porsche MB repair shop, I can honestly say the 126/123/107 is probably the best that MB has ever built. The 126 is a true luxury vehicle built with quality materials, nothing like what they are putting out today. Drive a diesel and see what you think, they won't impress you with their performance but the economy and reliability are the best.
 
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