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Old 10-05-2006, 03:35 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 20
116 vs. 126 opinions, comparisons?

Hi, everybody I'm looking hard for a 300SD or SDL, and am drawn to aspects of both series cars. Could those of you who've had both, or who have much wisdom on the subject, weigh in with your recommendations?
I'm looking for a daily driver, but not a minter (unless I get really lucky); mechanical and interior condition matter more to me than a few dings and rust spots. And I'm looking in the under 2500.00 range, not at the pricey beauties.
While I'm here, I may as well ask--if there's anybody out there with a really nice SD or SDL that needs a new home, I'd love to hear from you...
Thanks very much to all, Dave Kent (Glassman) in Louisville, KY
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Old 10-05-2006, 04:16 PM
mj_sid's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Jose CA
Posts: 146
Hi Dave,

I've had the pleasure of both automobiles [79 and 80 SD's (116 Body) and my current beauty a 87 SDL (126Body)]. As I'm sure you know the 78-80 SD's are the 116 chassis and the 81-85 SD's are 126 chassis both use the same (or practically the same) 617 5 cylinder Turbo engine. The 86-87 SDL's use the 603 6 cylinder turbo engine. I really like all of the SD's I have owned. The 126 and 116 SD's are pretty much the same size however the 126 SDL are larger and more powerful but I'm not sure they are in your budget.

You need to watch out for the Climate Control Survo on the 116's they tend to go out and are a pain. You can put in an aftermarket replacement however. The 126's have some newer features that I like (auto seats, airbags ABS) but the 116's have a really great look (IMHO). Both cars can have issues with rust (the 116 a bit more than the 126 I think).

Both cars are great; I would say go with whichever you can find in descent shape and at a price you will pay. If you are a wrencher the 116's have practically disappeared from the junk yards around here but there are plenty of 126's.

OK I've gone on long enough. Let me know any specific questions you may have.


Current Stable:
1987 300SDL
1980 450SEL

Out to Pasture:
1982 300D KIA (Rice Rocket vs. 123: He hit me at 80-100MPH I walked away he went to the hospital. Sounds fair to me!)
1985 300D EURO Scrapped (got more money from state than car was worth)
1979 & 1980 300SD Great Cars!
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Old 10-05-2006, 04:56 PM
Rashakor's Avatar
Darth Diesel
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Philly PA
Posts: 676
mj_sid summed up pretty well the big differences. Both are good.

I would like to add that with the budget set at 2500 you can only pretty much get W116d or beat up early W126.

A cool thing of the W116 that many people forget is that many of their parts were used into the W123. so many suspenssion, steering, body accesories are directly transplantable...
not so with the W126 and even between early W126 and late W126.

The bane of the 116 is rust, but it is a more stylish (looks like a beefy SL) more nimble car IMHO than the W126 in the same price range.

W116 are rarer and flashier automobiles (got Chrome? this one is only second to 1950's cadillacs!).

On the other hand, W126 are modern cars and could compare with any mid level offering even nowadays... (note that that can be a negative thing when you are a DIY)
Aquilae non capunt muscas! (Eagles don't hunt flies!)

1979 300SD Black/Black MBtex239000mi
1983 300TD euro-NA. White/Olive Cloth-MBtex 201000mi. Fleet car of the USA embassy in Morocco
1983 240D Labrador Blue/Blue MBtex 161000mi
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Old 10-05-2006, 05:38 PM
david s poole
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: dallas
Posts: 1,822
116-------rust and seats that have rotted because of age and no good ones left in salvage yards[although you can swap123 seats in by changing the bottom rails,which gives you 5 more yrs] 126---------lots of cheap parts more modern chassis.
David S Poole
European Performance
Dallas, TX

"Fortune favors the prepared mind"
1987 Mercedes Benz 420SEL
1988 Mercedes Benz 300TE (With new evaporator)
2000 Mercedes Benz C280
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Old 10-05-2006, 06:21 PM
Wodnek's Avatar
Vintage Mercedes Junkie
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Southeast Wisconsin
Posts: 1,658
The 116 for all of its size and mass handles like a sports car.
1959 Gravely LI, 1963 Gravely L8, 1973 Gravely C12
1982 380SL
1978 450 SEL 6.9 euro restoration at 63% and climbing
1987 300 D
2005 CDI European Delivery
1995 E300D Handed down to daughter
2006 CDI Wifes

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Old 10-05-2006, 07:30 PM
Stevo's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NW WA
Posts: 6,285
I really like the 116 look, they are a classy ride. I understand they were only manufactured in 79 & 80 and only for the US market. A friend has a nice one and loves it but says the parts are much more spendy than for his W123.

1985 Euro 300TD 5 spd 220K
1985 Euro 240D 5 spd 130K
1979 240D 5 spd, 40K on engine rebuild
1994 Dodge/Cummins, 5 spd, 121K
1964 Allice Chalmers D15 tractor
2014 Kubota L3800 tractor
1964 VW bug

"Lifes too short to drive a boring car"
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Old 10-05-2006, 07:36 PM
t walgamuth's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Lafayette Indiana
Posts: 32,357
actually the 126 shares a lot of parts with the 123 too. mostly mechanical and suspension and brakes.

the 126s usually only rust behind the rear wheels at the joint in between the bumper and the body.

tom w
[SIGPIC] Diesel loving autocrossing grandpa Architect. 08 Dodge 3/4 ton with Cummins& six speed; I have had about 35 benzes. I am finishing a 39 Studebaker Coupe Express pickup in which I have had installed a 617 turbo and a five speed manual....I also have a 427 Cobra replica with an aluminum chassis.
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Old 10-05-2006, 07:53 PM
sixto's Avatar
smoke gets in your eyes
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: SF Bay Area
Posts: 20,195
Drive a $6-7000 example of a 78-80 300SD, 81-85 300SD and 86-87 300SDL to get a feel for how each series should feel. This will give you a baseline for evaluating $2500 cars.

There is a general sense that these are not $2500 cars. You either pay $5000 for a good car or buy a $2500 car and spend $2500 in the first year bringing it up to par. There are good $2500 cars out there; but you have to know how to spot the diamond in the rough. Few things are more gratifying than paying $750 for a slug of an SD then cutting the 0-60mph time in half by cleaning gunk out of a manifold fitting.

Get to know the things that are costly to repair/refurbish. For example the front end of many running W126s selling in the $2500 range will likely need a considerable amount of work ($1000-1500) to bring back to like new condition. Or you live with some noise and looseness. I don't know if the same is true for the W116.

And then on the matter of cost of ownership, these cars are economical if you handle most of the service yourself. The next best thing is to have a good relationship with a good independent shop. The reason many of these cars sell for $2500 is the owners can't justify the cost of dealership service. In the extreme, look at how many S500s are available under for under $10K. These are cars that cost close to $80-100K 10 years ago.

93 300SD
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Old 10-05-2006, 11:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 409
Originally Posted by sixto View Post
Drive a $6-7000 example of a 78-80 300SD, 81-85 300SD and 86-87 300SDL to get a feel for how each series should feel. This will give you a baseline for evaluating $2500 cars.
93 300SD

Great advice! And applies to any used auto purchase.

1995 E300
2015 VW TDI Sportwagen 15K
1977 240D (197K)
2002 Subaru Legacy L Wagon (115k) (Wife's)
Gone but not forgotten:
2005 Buick LeSabre
1998 C230
1984 300D
1983 240D
1981 300SD
1974 240D
1974 Fiat 124 Spider
1968 Triumph TR250
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