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94 s420 98 s420
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited by Moderator)
I recently went to see a 98 s420 and it made me appreciate the older models more, there were lots of changes that I thought is what made the 140 what it is. Things that I noticed were small things that I prefer on my older 94 s420.

Aside from the tail lights and corner lights, I noticed things like the fuse card being of maybe lesser quality paper.

Same with the fuse box door, its a bit different with cheaper plastic.

The wiring harness is attached using zipties rather then the old harness fastned with heavy duty plastic rails and allen screws.

The wood under the arm rest is gone and there was a plastic sliding door.

The lights on the guage were whitish and thought the orange tint on old clusters was more classy and kept the Benzs markings.

The easy access in the trunk for tail lights are gone, no more flapping door with a knob, it looks like you have to remove the pading to access the bulbs.

The skirt under the seat is useless but again gone on this model, it used to collect my keys from time to time now I guess it would fall into the back.

The seat belt buckles dont wedge on the female side, wich made it easier to buckle up without looking.

The cup holders are made of cheap plastic.

The secretive side compartment in the door handle are gone, probably for room to the side airbags.

The ashtray was black plastic rather then chormed, but popped up in the same fashion.

The wood that houses the shifter is no longer split in half where it can be popped up by removing the two screws near the ashtray but its all one piece to the top of the climate control.

Finally I wonder if this was a short wheel base model, I sat in the passenger side and adjusted the seat to go all the way back and my feet touched the firewall, in my 94 I still have 4 inches or so before I touch. Was this an indication of a shortwheel base model or they shrunk the 140 in later years.
 

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1993 300SEL (Sold) 2007 X5
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I don't like the gaping hole in the bottom of the front doors they have, but thats not enough to stop me buying one.
 

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1989 500SL (R129);2001 R170 230SLK; 1992 320CE
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1,036 Posts
bass1175 said:
Finally I wonder if this was a short wheel base model, I sat in the passenger side and adjusted the seat to go all the way back and my feet touched the firewall, in my 94 I still have 4 inches or so before I touch. Was this an indication of a shortwheel base model or they shrunk the 140 in later years.
Hmm... Liebling I shrunk ze 140!

Nope, same internal and external dimensions throughout it`s production run so I guess that it was the SWB.

I agree with you that there was a gradual erosion in quality of materials used in the W140s over it`s production run. Fortunately it was so high to start with that even at the end it was streets ahead of what followed.
 

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2012 E350 CGI Avant Garde Sport, 2011 E350 Avant Garde Cabriolet
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If you're in the US the only W140's that were short wheelbase were the 300SE,
S320 (available in short or long wheelbase) and the 300 and 350 diesels. The US spec S420's were ALL long wheelbase. Could it possible be a Euro spec version?
 

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94 s420 98 s420
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Discussion Starter #5
I called up two dealers and provided the vin and it was a long wheel base, but when I sit in both theres an obvious difference in how much gap between the tip of my toes and the wall. Maybe dante who owns both can give his input. Out of all the difference the one I really didnt get is doing away with the easy access pannel for the rear light bulbs, it dont make any sense at all. I thought it was nice and easy just swinging back the plastic door and changing out any bulbs needed.
 

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CL 500 // S 500 L // E 320 T
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548 Posts
SSL said:
I agree with you that there was a gradual erosion in quality of materials used in the W140s over it`s production run. Fortunately it was so high to start with that even at the end it was streets ahead of what followed.
I totally agree with the previous statement. At facelift time (1994/1995 models) M.B. did over 1,700 changes to the S-class, MOST of them had the original purpose of cheapen the manufacture process (hence: quality!) and to simplify many overcomplex engineering systems which tended to be unreliable.

But, to begin with, the W140 was the most expensive vehicle ever developed by Mercedes-Benz in terms of design and production economics. The originial development engineer and most of his staff were FIRED after production started due to alarming over budget costs.

The first four years of production the W140 only produced losses to M.B., until the car was facelifted and production costs were lowered (along with quality and final consumer price, which allowed to raise sales proportionally).

There are two views of the issue of lowering quality for the facelift:

1/ Prefacelift models were original and masters of quality as intended, BUT they had a lot of over complex issues which made the cars somewhat unreliable.

2/ Postfacift models were cheaper versions of the original king in many fronts, BUT most of the over complex issues were dealt with making these models more reliable (and please notice that I stress the word "most of" - some annoying issues like the A/C evaporators were never fixed). Also, postfacelift models benefit from a series of newly developed systems such as xenon headlamps, parktronic, electronic transmissions and newer engines.
 

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1996 S600 (Sebastian), 1999 SLK230 Kompressor (Tie Fighter)
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638 Posts
If you own a 140 it doesn't matter what year it is. it is THE finest automobile ever offered the general public, bar none. Who gives a fuck if it has cheaper plastic this or that....those tiny items mean absolutely nothing in relation to the wider view of this vehicle and to history and to those in remote posterity.

That being said, i swear on the souls of my grandchildren, that i will not be the one to break the peace we've found here today. but, should anything happen to my youngest son, who's coming back to be cleared of all these false charges; should a policeman's bullet find his head, or should a bolt of lightning hit him, then i do not forgive, and i will blame some of the people in this room....ahem!
 

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1986 560SEL, 1986 560SEL, 1992 500SEL, 1999 S500
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473 Posts
CUPHOLDERS???? You got cupholders? I can't find any on my 92 but I count that as a blessing. Besides, I don't think they make one to fit my FOUR Os. When I pull up at the company picnic and park the 500 SEL next to the boss's 2003 S Class I think he gets the picture. There has never been, nore ought there be, another such as the mighty W140. Woops, gotta go open another 40!!!
 

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DaimlerChrysler said:
If you're in the US the only W140's that were short wheelbase were the 300SE,
S320 (available in short or long wheelbase) and the 300 and 350 diesels. The US spec S420's were ALL long wheelbase. Could it possible be a Euro spec version?
Almost true but not quite - indeed all S420s were long, and all 1993 400SELs were long, but 1992 400SEs were all short wheel base.
 

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2012 E350 CGI Avant Garde Sport, 2011 E350 Avant Garde Cabriolet
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Sorry I fogot about the 400SE's. He was talking about a 420 and it slipped my mind.

Are you sure you're not a former student of mine? They always enjoy reminding me how feeble my mind is!
 

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1994 S500 Sedan
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1,214 Posts
Some additional differences seldom noted:

1. Pre 95 models use seamless front seat back leather covers for a more 'seamless' look - no pun intended. With the headrests raised, notice the stitching that runs perpendicular to the front and back of the seat backs. My guess: a more cost effective production process. The little differences that matter most - especially to those enjoying the comfort of the expansive rear!

2. Another quality problem seen on many 95+ models is that the rear bench seat bottom becomes deformed and misshaped along the piping (which should be a straight). This of course comes as a result of use. Whereas, pre 95's with comparable wear and tear do not seem to experience this as early, if ever.

3. What has improved on the 95+ models: the longevity of the original floor mats - believe it! The backings of the pre 95's were prone to becoming detached from the rest of the mat. Also, the stitching around the mats would fray.

4. A very ANNOYING lacking of the pre 95's was the fact that you could not fit the leather owners manual case anywhere in the cabin! Where the new, but not pretty, gapping cubby space of the 95+ models enables storage on either the drivers or passenger door. For those with pre 95's: where do you guys keep your manuals? I've had to stow mine in the trunk sandwiched in the hole between the dealer fitted CD player and the rest of the trunk. Not an ideal spot as it has become 'warped' over the years. MB could have found a way to make the glove compartment just a little more deep or could have reduced the height of the leather case and manual!!!

5. I also believe that 95 and 96 models used a better finishing process / clear coat for the 8-hole wheels, as I have seen MANY pre 95's with a hazy look to them - obvious damage. While NO 95's or 96's with similar haziness / fog. True the 94's are older, but 2 years should not make much of a difference, especially with 12 - 14 having already passed.

6. A nice addition to the post 95's were the tiny Bose badges on the rear speakers behind the rear seat headrests, which are readily visible to one standing outside and looking in through the rear window. BUT this does not in any way make up for the removal of the motorized rear mirror!

In all, if you put a 94 and a 95 S500 side by side, there are obvious differences in the quality of plastics used throughout the car: inside, outside, and under the hood. Besides more simplified electrical components, this, I believe is where most of the $8k difference ($95k - $87k) is realized - the plastic! Yet, the 92 - 94 500's did have the motorized rear seat back as standard - something I feel they should have keep on the facelifted models to better distinguish the 420's from the 500's. Guess all part of their price reduction program. But I do wonder, does anyone know the MSRPs of the 1994 and 1995 420's? Such that neither was equipped with the motorized rear seats as standard, I wonder if the difference was less than $8k? Anyhow, I've always found the blank wood panel in the rear doors to look strange. PLUS, why the hell did they not include this feature as standard on the 99 Grand Edition?
 

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1994 S500 Sedan
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The facelift that has been referred to in this thread really covers two years. 95 is when MB significantly reduced the price as a result of cosmetic changes (exterior design elements, lighter weight materials, etc...), 96 is when many of the electronics were simplified.

Note that the 95's retain the pre 95 HVAC control unit, radio head (rounded button edges), 4-speed non-electronically adjusted 722.3 transmission, parking aid antenna, and other elements I am overlooking. Then in 96, these and additional electrical components were further streamlined.

So, to my knowledge the parking aid antenna were standard on 95's - not an option. You mention that you’ve seen some 95's WITHOUT the system. If so, these 95 must have been produced on the heels of the 96 run - some of the last 95's made? As to a specific manufacturing date where the change takes place - I do not know.
 

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SL55, 300SE, GL450, Daytona 955i
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the post face lift is 1-2" shorter and 1-1.5" difference in hight, thats why they look much much smaller

the frame is exactly the same, but the bumpers, lower plastic trim, and springs were changed throughout the years.
 

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1999 Mercedes Benz S320 Long Wheelbase.
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No doubt that the early models were built using better materials and a better overall build quality, but I will always prefer the 97-99 models due to three basic reasons.

1-Improved aesthetics:
I prefer the design of the second generation wheels, the revised tail light design, and the monotone look. It just looks SO much more modern IMO.

2- Improved electronics:
I like the revised design of the 1996+ HVAC controller, simpler to use, easier to look at, more intuitive. Plus, the later models just had more standard features.

3- Improved reliability:
Most of the major kinks were worked out. No more problems with wiring harnesses, but we still have the A/C Evaporator problem, and the 3.2L HG failure.

But I still admire the early models and their unadulterated "cost be no matter" mind set.
 

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Agreed as to how much more youthful the 95 and 97 revisions made the W140 appear. It's almost as if the pre and post facelift W140s come from different eras (though, updating the turn signals, the grill, and painting the lowers to match works wonders for a 92 - 94). Having such a large impact from such minimal (appearance) change is impressive on MB's part. BMW did great with their E65 facelift as well. In my opinion, they took it from being an absolute beast to a thing of refinement - with the most minimal change possible. However, one major difference, I aspire to have BOTH a pre AND a post facelifted W140, whereas I would never, ever, consider a pre facelifted E65! Nothing wrong with having both a 1994 S500 and a 1999 S500! White on Grey and Black on Beige, respectively, please. :)
 

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My father's 1995 S500 has the adjustable rear seat. I think they discontinued that in MY1996. In addition, the side mirrors are more rounded and lack the character line added in 1996 with the more squared off design of the E-class of the time.

FYI, if any one is looking for an excellent condition 1995 S500 white on gray let me know.
 

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1999 Mercedes Benz S320 Long Wheelbase.
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I think all S500s have power rear seats, along with heated front and rear outboard seats.
 

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Power rear seats became an option for the S500 in 1995, and the heated front and rear seats continued as standard until 1999. Another feature removed I had issue with was the switch enabling the driver (and front passenger) to raise the power rear headrests from the front dash. Oh well... I still cannot understand the lack of headroom offered to rear passengers of current day W221s.
 

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Most desirable year? Hmm... relatively tough question. For those who never owned a W140 previously, either '99 or '98 - no question. For those who owned a '95 - '99 W140 previously, either a '99 or '98. For those who owned a '92 - '94 W140 previously, a '94 with 100k +/- 20k miles, or if none found with such mileage, a '99 or '98. For me? My 95k mile, owned since new, '94 S500, of course :). If it had to be replaced though, I would seek the following - in order: '94 S600 - mint, '99 S600 - mint, '94 S500, '99 S500 GE, '99 S500. All needing to have between 70 and 100k in miles.

As for most desirable models... 600's and 500 GE's will always top of the list, though well kept unmodified ones are a rare find. Plus, a 600 owner may be held to higher maintenance costs than other models offered. This leaves 500's closely followed by 320 LWB's, depending on the owner's performance-mpg consideration. I never understood the rationale of one purchasing a new 420. Similarly, MB never offered an SL420 - only SL320's and SL500's. Keeping power-weight ratios ideal. I remember test driving (without the salesman - father was in the passenger seat) a new 300SL back in '92 - unbelievably nimble and balanced! Though, they did offer CL420's and no CL320's?

Does anyone know the specific differences between '97 and '98 W140s?
 
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