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1978 300d
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395 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Well, my '78 nonturbo 300D is a little slow for my tastes, but owning a Benz makes me never want to own anything else, so I was considering seeing if I could sell or trade my car for a nice late 80s 420sel. I don't know much about the 420 aside from the fact that it's a V8; could anyone tell me a little about them? I know they get poorer MPG than my car, but the price to fill it up is also significantly lower (I've been paying $3.38 per gallon lately:crybaby2:) I'd like to get an idea of whether I'd be paying about the same amount for gas. How powerful are they? And, of course, is it a reliable car? I'm sure it has its little quirks like any old car, but I'm hoping to find a good daily driver.

Thanks!
 

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1984 300TDt
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265 Posts
Idk about the car much but an 88 420 SEL caught my eye on CL about a month ago. Wish I had $1400 at the time.

Edit: you can always ask over in the 126 forums.
 

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1978 300d
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395 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Idk about the car much but an 88 420 SEL caught my eye on CL about a month ago. Wish I had $1400 at the time.

Edit: you can always ask over in the 126 forums.
great! thanks, i wasn't sure which forum it'd be under
 

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Premium Member
W-1-2-3 Go!
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16,161 Posts
Increased power at the expense of increased fuel consumption.

The handling between the W123 and W126 is quite similar but the W126 is more "damped" from the road and environment since it's an S class. It will have a newer feel too due to the materials used, as well as the design of the interior.

You will also get more space in the trunk and rear seat. More amenities and options. It will also have electric seat adjustment compared to the manual in the W123.

More information on the W126 section regarding body (exterior and interior) and engine repairs.
 

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1980 280e
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670 Posts
Have you thought about vegetable oil?

I think the 300sd and the 380sel had optional anti-lock brakes and drivers side airbag, on the 420's I think they are standard but if not find one with at least anti-lock brakes, the airbag is somewhat of a non-issue because they are expired by now (there should be a sticker in the drivers door jam that has the expiration date, but it might have been removed for some reason, then just assume the airbag has expired imo), if you want to re-up the airbag with a new one then get one with an airbag (other wise disconnect the stock one, not sure what an expired airbag would do to your face in an accident), newer ones (atleast 1990+) have passenger side airbags also. I also would go with the HD suspension (the seats are spring loaded sort of like a semi-truck seat, they have a few inches of travel to absord the bumps, more travel than a w123 seat, the w126 HD suspension is quite abit firmer than the w123 HD suspension), it should also have heated seats (on the 500sel and 560sel the rear seats are motorized and heated they might be in a newer 420 also, or maybe they were optional). I believe the newer ones have adjustable stearing wheels and the windshield washer nozzles are heated (could be wrong but I think the side mirrors are heated also on the newer ones, or it was an option).

They might have self leveling rear suspension (the 500sel and 560sel does stock, that might have been an option on the 420) so that might need work but personnaly I think its worth it, they have the bigger front disk brakes (as we all know by now), and maybe the most important they do better in accidents (w126 was made for off set crashes), they also have headlight wipers and a larger sunroof (newer models have a tilt feature which is cool). There was also a 420se that is supposed to handle better. As far as quiet is concerned the 1985 500sel is about the same actually as a w123, they are tuned so that you can hear sirens and the engine, I can only speak about the 1985 500sel because my mom had one, it was not a anechoic chamber, maybe the newer w126's with the new interior are quieter. Also it should have a factory alarm system.

Overall they are definately a step up from the w123 in almost all ways, the w123 probably has a handling advantage with the proper tires and suspension setup, but the w126 still looks modernish even by today's standards where the w123 looks very classic. Personally I prefer the w126 over the w123 as far as a drivers car is concerned.

edit: Don't forget the memory seating for driver and passenger, very cool feature. Also recommend the zebrano wood if you can find it, the burl wood is probably faded. The headrests are motorized also.
 

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1978 300d
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395 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Have you thought about vegetable oil?

I think the 300sd and the 380sel had optional anti-lock brakes and drivers side airbag, on the 420's I think they are standard but if not find one with at least anti-lock brakes, the airbag is somewhat of a non-issue because they are expired by now (there should be a sticker in the drivers door jam that has the expiration date, but it might have been removed for some reason, then just assume the airbag has expired imo), if you want to re-up the airbag with a new one then get one with an airbag (other wise disconnect the stock one, not sure what an expired airbag would do to your face in an accident), newer ones (atleast 1990+) have passenger side airbags also. I also would go with the HD suspension (the seats are spring loaded sort of like a semi-truck seat, they have a few inches of travel to absord the bumps, more travel than a w123 seat, the w126 HD suspension is quite abit firmer than the w123 HD suspension), it should also have heated seats (on the 500sel and 560sel the rear seats are motorized and heated they might be in a newer 420 also, or maybe they were optional). I believe the newer ones have adjustable stearing wheels and the windshield washer nozzles are heated (could be wrong but I think the side mirrors are heated also on the newer ones, or it was an option).

They might have self leveling rear suspension (the 500sel and 560sel does stock, that might have been an option on the 420) so that might need work but personnaly I think its worth it, they have the bigger front disk brakes (as we all know by now), and maybe the most important they do better in accidents (w126 was made for off set crashes), they also have headlight wipers and a larger sunroof (newer models have a tilt feature which is cool). There was also a 420se that is supposed to handle better. As far as quiet is concerned the 1985 500sel is about the same actually as a w123, they are tuned so that you can hear sirens and the engine, I can only speak about the 1985 500sel because my mom had one, it was not a anechoic chamber, maybe the newer w126's with the new interior are quieter. Also it should have a factory alarm system.

Overall they are definately a step up from the w123 in almost all ways, the w123 probably has a handling advantage with the proper tires and suspension setup, but the w126 still looks modernish even by today's standards where the w123 looks very classic. Personally I prefer the w126 over the w123 as far as a drivers car is concerned.

edit: Don't forget the memory seating for driver and passenger, very cool feature. Also recommend the zebrano wood if you can find it, the burl wood is probably faded. The headrests are motorized also.
wow! quite an informational response :D is there any difference between the 420 and 560 performance wise? i'd like all the extra amenities if i can find one in my price range..of course, i still have to sell my car :thumbsup:
 

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Premium Member
1967 250 SL, 1965 300SE lang
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3,062 Posts
A W126 is more complicated with more things to break and it's bigger. If you don't like how slow your W123 is but you DO like the size, get a faster W123. You could get a 280 E or a Turbo Diesel. If you want the bigger car but also want better economy, get a 300 SD (big body, turbo diesel engine). W123 = simpler W126 = newer, more things to break, more complicated, more luxurious.
 

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1985 300SD 1988 560SEC 822 1976 450SEL 1981 300SD
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1,075 Posts
I have both 126 gas and diesels...an 81 300SD, and an 88 560SEC.

Do the diesel, an 85 300SD if you can find one. ABS/airbag, OM617. Gen2 interior.

Only 560s have burl walnut, rest have zebrano.

Failing that, look for a good 300SE
 

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'83 300D
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638 Posts
I had been looking for w126 for about 6 months, sort of why I picked up another w123 instead.
Many of the ones I found were really abused or neglected, no fault of the car. Some had serious rust issues along the base of the rear window, bad enough that I could put my hand against the inside of the glass from outside the vehicle.

Beautiful cars really. If you can find one for a decent price and in great condition, I say go for it. Myself I'd love to get my hands on a 300SD.
 

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'73 450SL, '83 300CD, '01 E320 4matic
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2,446 Posts
I have both, and have had a few of both, and I prefer the W123 hands down. The turbodiesel is a good upgrade from the N/A diesel, but I never really minded the non-turbo.

Everyone has pretty much stated the obvious. The 126 comes with a heftier gas bill, and generally there is more to go wrong. The 126 gets you more luxury, a smoother ride, and some more space.

With that 'modern' luxury also comes a bunch of creaks and groans, and other undesirable things. The main ingredient in my W126 is self adhesive felt pieces, cut to fit in a variety of hidden locations. The molded door panels rub on the door sills and make obnoxious noises as the 126 ages. The front ends also seem to require more front end work.

Another thing to consider is the timing chain and guides on the 420 need to be replaced if they have not already. It's fairly costly, even as a DIY.

Having said all that, my 126 is actually my daily driver anymore, and it's a pretty reliable car. But it is more costly to run and maintain than the 123s. I also think the 123's are more fun to drive, and I prefer the simplicity by a long shot.

They're both excellent cars, but the 123 is going to be the least needy in terms of running costs among the two, with no question.

You could make a good compromise by finding a 1985 or earlier 300SD, as has been said- the first gen 126 does feel a lot more like the 123 in terms of ride and handling. They softened them up some in 1986 with the gen2. I had an 84 300sd junker parts car that rode and drove better than my 88 300SE. I also had a 560SEL which was extremely cumbersome (the LWB gen 2's are kind of boaty). I test drove an '82 380SEL euro, a year or so ago and felt that it held the road a lot better- The gen 1 w126 cars feel German, the gen 2's feel more 'American luxury'- softer ride at the expense of road feel and confident handling.
 

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A W126 is more complicated with more things to break and it's bigger. If you don't like how slow your W123 is but you DO like the size, get a faster W123. You could get a 280 E or a Turbo Diesel. If you want the bigger car but also want better economy, get a 300 SD (big body, turbo diesel engine). W123 = simpler W126 = newer, more things to break, more complicated, more luxurious.
turbo diesels are still slow

wow! quite an informational response :D is there any difference between the 420 and 560 performance wise? i'd like all the extra amenities if i can find one in my price range..of course, i still have to sell my car :thumbsup:
420= 4.2L v8
560= 5.6L v8
most people say go for the 560, they are faster and have more options, but are more expensive.
if you buy one with over 100k you'll want to do a full-tune up and probably the timing chain (maybe injectors if you have deep pockets) and it will feel like a new engine. especially when coming from a MB diesel:thumbsup:

Have you thought about vegetable oil?
engine killer
 

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1985 300SD 1988 560SEC 822 1976 450SEL 1981 300SD
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1,075 Posts
More on the diesel option of a W126: sure, a 420 or 560 will get up to speed quicker, with more drama - once the turbodiesel has built a head of steam it will keep up with most any 420. My 300SD is happiest at around 140kmh, or 85 mph. Quick enough where I live to get a sizeable fine and/or ban. In the meantime, it sips diesel at about 10l/100km, versus 16/100km for my 560. So it keeps on cruising by the gassers stopped for fuel.

Plus, with the OM617, kinda neat to know one (almost) like it powered the C111 prototype. A 12-hr average of 316 km/h, almost 15 to the imperial gallon?
 

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How expensive are the cars to replace and how many miles before replacing it if it was run on vegetable oil?
$3-4k for a nice one with at least $1k in the wvo system. not to mention the time to prep it. you definitely won't run that long on one. my buddy had an '83 300d ran 140k-180k on one using it properly. could've gone over 300k w/o it:surrender:
 

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More on the diesel option of a W126: sure, a 420 or 560 will get up to speed quicker, with more drama - once the turbodiesel has built a head of steam it will keep up with most any 420. My 300SD is happiest at around 140kmh, or 85 mph. Quick enough where I live to get a sizeable fine and/or ban. In the meantime, it sips diesel at about 10l/100km, versus 16/100km for my 560. So it keeps on cruising by the gassers stopped for fuel.

Plus, with the OM617, kinda neat to know one (almost) like it powered the C111 prototype. A 12-hr average of 316 km/h, almost 15 to the imperial gallon?
300sd top speed 120 0-60 13sec
420sel top speed 140 0-60 8sec

300d and 420sel are completely different. gas/diesel, huge size difference, list goes on and on.

what's your price range? regardless of where you live, i'd buy this
swap out the ugly interior and never look back:rolleyes:. it's a one owner. Not as reliable as a diesel, but do the chain/head gasket once and probably a tune-up, and other than fluids and shocks your good for another 100k:cool:
 

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'84 SEC EuroCoupe, '85 200T EuroWagon, 2012 Nissan Maxima SV Sport
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3,172 Posts
Of the 4 Mercedes I've owned over the past 30 some odd years my favorite was the W116 '79 450SEL.
 

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1985 California 300 D Turbo Diesel and '85 Federal 300D Turbo Diesel. '84 Cali 300D - SOLD
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360 Posts
How expensive are the cars to replace and how many miles before replacing it if it was run on vegetable oil?
If done properly, you can run on a blend of WVO/diesel with no modification to the car. It runs quieter, same mpg's, and will do so for a long time. I know there are purists who will chafe at this but I've seen it done and done it with no problems thus far. BTW, I have an 85 300D for sale, $1700. Everything works except AC and CC.
 
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