Wow! Thanks a bunch, and no way should you apologize for a long reply.
It's interesting that you are unsure if it's genuinely a 560, because the seller said a previous buyer insisted it was not a 560. Thank god for this forum! What a dummy I am for driving 40 miles and not writing down the VIN. I don't remember if there were two intake hoses, but it was definitely a V-8 and it looked just like the other 560 I drove. I just can't remember about the wood or the reservoir or the intake. I do remember seeing what seemed to be a belt-driven aux. hydraulic pump on the pass. side of the engine that looked like it had a clutch. I assumed that was the hydraulic pump for the self-leveling system which would indicate a 560. Now that I think about it, I remember punching the throttle up a hill and telling the seller that it didn't seem to be developing full power. Later I decided that must be related to the tranny problem, though.
I like to work on cars, but I read a post about the W126 procedure for replacing the evaporator. Sounds like an SOB to me. I'm an okay mechanic but I don't like the sound of one members' recommendation to "mark the vacuum hoses with little pieces of tape" scares me a bit. And by no means am I capable of disassembling OR reassembling an automatic transmission.
Too bad, I thought I had found a low-mileage diamond-in-the-rough. I really appreciate your help. Once I get over my broken heart (this benz was black with a grey interior, remember) I'll start looking again. Thanks so much.