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1988 560SEL sold:
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...sound like a wine vintage, LOL

There was an old piece of advice not to buy appliances and cars manufactured between Thanksgiving and New Year's because the workers tended to be preoccupied, giddy, or stressed out and that reflected on the quality of products assembled during that period.

There is some truth in above, and I was curious if there was any corelation between events that took place in Germany and the quality of the MB outputs.

I tend to think 90 or 91 W126 were probably the best ever since the car itself is a masterpiece to begin with but Germany enjoyed the following events:
Oct 89 - Berlin Wall falls
June 90 - West Germany wins World Cup
Oct 90 - Germany unified
The euphoria of above events combined with strong economy and Deutsche Mark that supported Germany in the 80's must have had impact in the morale of the workplace.

Then in the 90's MB struggled as initial excitement of reunification had abated and reality of paying for near-defunct East Germany set in. It was around that time that the quality of MB products started to decline - before merger with Chrysler, though that acquisition catalyzed the decline.

Any History major or MBA's out there willing to shed some insight?
 

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mercedes 300sel
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if anything the fall of the berlin wall would make the production of 1990 91 126 worse. morale was high for the east only, they came and got jobs all over the west, moral wasnt exactly high in the west . production of mercedes was best before 1990 due to the fact that communist were close and they competed with them, the west were very sure to make the best quality products, not only in germany but the whole democratic nations, and since the wall fell there was no competition with there neighbors anymore and they stoped trying to impress and compete with them.
 

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1991 300SE 250,000KM Award Recipient
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IMHO 1991 was the best year for the W126 kind of the culmination of all the years of 126. I had a 1983 300SD a 1985 300D and now have a 1991 300SE and it is a great car. The addition of dual airbags is a big one for me, but the console glovebox sucks a little. I know the difference between Diesel and gas make up for some of the difference in feel but the 1991 is just better overall, again, IMHO
 

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I havent been in a 91 for a drive or driven one but logically I would say 91 is best.
 

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1989 560SEL
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interesting proposal about historical events influencing car quality. i wonder if anyone has ever done research on this...

nonetheless, let me go out on a limb here:

i propose that all 1986-1991 w126s were comparable in initial quality (and, most likely, so were the pre-'86 models). but today, in 2005, 14 years after the last w126 has rolled off the (german) production line, whatever small inter-year variability in quality that may exist is irrelevant. the best bet is to look for a w126 that has been well maintained during its lifetime, and whatever year it was made, *that* will be the best year for that particular w126...

okay, that may have spoiled the fun... so to add to the speculations above, i agree that the fall of the berlin wall was probably not the same euphoric event for the west germans as it was for the east germans. on the other hand, i doubt that mercedes regarded trabant as a competitor, so it's unlikely that pre-'89 w126s are higher quality because w. germany felt the heat of competition from its east german counterparts. probably introduction of new features, changes in component manufacturers, and the timeline of development events at audi and bmw had more to do with mercedes quality over the years.
 

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1991 560 SEC, 1989 560SEL, 1999 C230, 2009 E350 Sport 4m, 2011 E350 Cabriolet
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In my opinion I would have to say that the 1991 model seem just a bit better. Not by much though. I have an '89 560 SEL and a '91 SEC. I think what sets them apart is that I have the optional traction control and automatic antenna on my '91 560 SEC. The '89 did not offer that option. Other that may be some additional insulation. I love them all...

Bob
 

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500 SEC AMG, 560 SEL, 500 SL 6.0 AMG R129, CL 55 AMG Kompressor, 300 E W124, E 220 CDI W210, CL 500
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for me the best year of W126 is 1987 to early 1989 because is the year of the 560's ECE european version (300 HP)[:p]
 

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It depends on what you want in a W126. If you want one loaded up with stuff - 1991. I however much prefer 1979 and 1980. No engine managemnt systems whatsoever,no cats, no pumps, no 02, no electric idle control, dual exhausts and mechanical CIS which means you can tune it up on the side of the road with a 3mm. And of course there's none of that stuff to break - sort of like 1969 all over again. Oh and there was also the 280S available with a stick which might soon be seen in a more favorable light with the gas going up.
 

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1991 300 SE
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When I hear ‘best year’ I hear ‘most trouble-free.’ That would have to be the first generation cars. Not that the second generation is bad just more prone to problems with the added technology. I love my ‘modern’ 300 SE and the build quality of both my cars is excellent but at well over 200,000 miles my 500 SEL is solid and still going strong – I sometimes wonder what the condition of my 300 SE will be 100,000 miles from now. [?]
 

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When looking at both generations I did notice the build quality of my 83 was a bit better and I mean BIT than the 89 300SE i was looking at. The trunk lid and hood on mine are more heavy duty and heavier. I would still choose an 89 tho [:(]
 

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The one's that had the automatic antenna switch, or, the one's that had rear foglamps? One's with square seating, or the one's with the traditional design? The one's with the 7 inch wide wheels, or the ones with premium sound system(10 speakers vs 4).

Make your choice....I can't. It doesn't matter to me.
 

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For diesels, it would probably be the 1987 300SDL for LWB models, and the 1985 300SD for regular wheelbase models, the 85-87 126 diesels had a better rear end ratio so the rpms would be less at higher speeds. For gassers, I would think it would be 1991, that year would have the most refinements to it compared to other pre 91 W126s. And as for that question about special edition W126s, there were some made in South Africa until 1994 I've heard.
-Joe
 

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Those cars are an awesome pair! I would love to drive one of the euro versions... what a kick in the pants!

MBGary - 3/30/2005 2:30 PM

I fully agree, I have both a 560 SEC Euro 300HP and a 560 SEL Euro 300 HP see attached photos. Comments welcomed.

MBGary
 

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1990 300SE
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NordRhein - 3/30/2005 3:34 PM

It depends on what you want in a W126. If you want one loaded up with stuff - 1991. I however much prefer 1979 and 1980. No engine managemnt systems whatsoever,no cats, no pumps, no 02, no electric idle control, dual exhausts and mechanical CIS which means you can tune it up on the side of the road with a 3mm. And of course there's none of that stuff to break - sort of like 1969 all over again. Oh and there was also the 280S available with a stick which might soon be seen in a more favorable light with the gas going up.
I'd say it's a bit easier to tune it up with the addition of an o2 sensor and what not. Than again, anything is hard to do if you don't understand it.
 

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I can't be the 91 version... Sorry i beg i to differ,

Thou i own a second generation w126, I still have to say the first generation is better it's the truth( i had two 1 st gen w126 a 280 se and a 500 sec, both have been sold.).

1. First generation w126 had higher quality leather seats if any one bothered to notice, the carpets were also of better quality. Plastic were higher grade as well... Look at the seat belts clip, there is a differnce in quality, 1 st generation plastic have a lower tendence to fade unlike the second generation w126. Engines and gearboxes were more duable, I'll wager a w126 280 engine had the longest life span of them all. The only weedy engine is the w126 380 (worst engine mb made).

2. if you love electronics the w126 second generation is the car you'll love. There was more sound insulation on second genration as well. The engine consumed less fuel and produced more power a positive point for the second generation.

3. engine management system became more complicated and resulted in more repairs.....
 

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Some may argue that generation one was superior in terms of pure reliability and craftsmanship.

We drive classic cars - one of the most important points in driving these is the body condition from corrosion. Mechnical items can be fixed. Rust is not so easy to fix. Generation two has superior body galvinzation and rust prevention methods from the factory.

I've read articles that a well taken care of 126 is still better protected from corrosion than many newer vehicles.

Having driven a generation one 300SD and now jumping into a 1991 560SEC or SEL, I'd have to agree that the generation one is probably less problematic due to simplicity - but my 300SD had an underlying rust problem that only a pro could really see - that really bothered me psycologically knowing if I kept it I would see a work of art turn into a junker. I argue that generation two is better based on rust prevention technology.

Reliability: Gen 1 > Gen 2
Well equipped: Gen 1 < Gen 2
Rust protection: Gen 1 < Gen 2

I'd have to say 1991 for best year...last production run...altough...I am seeing some 1992 126's in Japan that I am considering hehe. So 1992 best year? hehe just joking.

Hope I did those little alligators right - been years since I've used them [8D]

Tory
 

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1966 200 Diesel; 1985 500 SEL (wrecked); 1991 420 SEL; 1979 280E (Home Market); 1993 190E 2.6
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1985.
 

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