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I have a 1998 SL500 40K miles. I love the car, but I want to buy a W140 so the family can go along every once in a while. I have narrowed it down, thanks to this forum, to a 1997, 1998 or 1999 model. The car will be driven very little, maybe 4000 miles per year, tops. I would appreciate everyone chiming in on their recommendation: 320, 420, 500 or 600? What is the max miles I should consider? Thanks in advance. Taylor
 

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The 5600 is a great car in either coupe or saloon form, but do the family want to be whisked along at those kind of speeds. The 500 offers the same as what you have, again in either form. its easier for the kids to get out of a saloon, but there again if you do not want them to get out, then take the coupe
 

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The model year 1997 was the final change to the major systems in the w140. Choosing any model in any year you mention gets you the same car.

My suggestion would be to go with a 420 or 500. The 320 is underpowered, the 600 is complicated to repair, and with a family, there may be constraints on the pocketbook. You're already familiar with the V8, I say stick with that.

But any 140 you choose would do you well, I am sure.
 

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Buy whichever one is in the best condition mechanically, electronically and cosmetically. Service records usually indicate that the car was taken care of. When I was in the market for a W140 I was browsing around and looking for S500s or 600SELs but I couldn't find any in reasonable condition.. I settled with a 97' S420 that I found to be in pretty darn good condition overall with a owner that took pride in the car.

If you don't care about the SLS and want a car with better fuel economy and less maintenance costs go for the S320.

If you don't want the SLS feature or rear reclining seats then go with the S420.

Since you mentioned you'll be using this as a family vehicle you should consider the S500 or S600 since they come with the SLS as a standard feature. (Just make sure the SLS fully functional!) That way if you have very heavy things in the trunk and a car full of people the rear end won't drop an inch or so... Either way both SLS and non SLS models arguably ride just about the same.


Now just because the S320 is cheaper to maintain doesn't mean it will necessarily be more reliable than an S420, S500, S600... These are all reliable cars IF they are maintained properly.
 

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It's all much of a muchness when the cars you're looking at get to this age. The general consensus is that the S600 is the more costly to own given that there is less space in the engine bay for a mechanic to work around, thus higher labour costs.

If the car is not going to be a daily driver (I would assume then it would be used for trips away?) I would go with a long wheel base S420/500. You've got a good mix of power for motorway speeds when loaded with 4/5 people and luggage.

Personally I wouldn't buy anything with more than about 90,000 miles. That being said I'd take a well maintained 120,000 mile car over a 60,000 mile one which was not maintained. It really comes down to proof of prior work done and overall condition.

There really are no rules given the variety on the market. Just make sure you get a pre-purchase inspection by a shop who knows what they're doing.
 

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I agree with the other posts - stick with the V8 and quantify yourself for SLS. If you have a big family and will be packing down the trunk - get the S500.
 

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I would say the 1997 since I think it was the most powerful 5 Liter V8 made. The M119 engine is not as powerful as the early years before 1998.

I would make sure you have 722.6xx transmission in it since it is more common, and more efficient.

I have no regrets for my 1996 S320-Plenty of power for me.

These cars have a lot of parts, so the reliability just by the number of parts they are less reliable, but properly maintained car is very reliable.

The S320 and S420 does not have to deal with expensive shock replacement

Best of luck,

Martin
 

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The 98-99 has a different armrest upper section with more usable (americanized) cupholders.
 

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Buy whichever one is in the best condition mechanically, electronically and cosmetically. Service records usually indicate that the car was taken care of. .
I would agree with SaleenS7 on the above statement and these should be the overriding points between the various models in any year.
 

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Unless you need the SLS on the S500, I think the S420 is the sweetest engine - but as everyone has said the magic words are full service records, service records, service records and PPI, PPI, PPI...

Personally, I'd get either the 420 or 500, unless fuel economy / cost is an issue then consider the 320. Still, nothing is as expensive as not doing your due diligence on the prospective car you may be interested in purchasing - like 3-4k for each one of the big repairs - transmission, wiring harness, AC evaporator, vacuum sssist on doors/trunk, rear suspension... (although wiring harness unlikely to be an issue in a 97 - 99, I'd still check it though)
 

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I would say the 1997 since I think it was the most powerful 5 Liter V8 made. The M119 engine is not as powerful as the early years before 1998.
?

MY 1992 was the only year that produced the most power throughout the whole lineup. 600SEL had 402hp(408 EU), 500SEL had 322hp, 400SEL had 282hp and so and so forth.

After the throttle enrichment was removed, the hp figures stayed the same from 93-99. S600 had 389hp, S500 had 315hp, S420 had 276hp, etc.

OP: the only difference the 98/99 had over the 97 were better cupholders in the armrest and a service indicator logo on the cluster. Otherwise, theyre all similar.

If an S600 is too expensive for your budget, why not get a S500 Grand Edition? :thumbsup:
 
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