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  #1  
Old 12-29-2000, 01:13 PM
PaulC
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Assuming you could find models representing every possible permutation of the 1986-1991 S-Class in very good condition, what would be the best choice using the following priorities?

1. Ease of service
2. Power
3. Durability

I'm considering picking up an S-Class and am all over the place in terms of deciding upon which model I should concentrate my efforts. I live near the Poconos and don't want a car that will have to wind it's guts out to maintain a decent rate of speed on Interstate hills. Does this describe the 300 SE/SEL?

I would appreciate your opinion, particularly if you have experience with S-Classes of this era.

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  #2  
Old 12-29-2000, 01:56 PM
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The 1990-91 420SEL & 300SE/SEL are great cars! 560SEL require a few more $$$. And they love gas! The diesels, 350SD/SDL have had too many engine problems!
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  #3  
Old 12-29-2000, 02:20 PM
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I am very happy with my 1986 420SEL. As far as I know there weren't too many changes between 86 and 91, but it would be safe to assume that the later the model the more likely it would be to have these changes. I don't know what year but I think passenger side air bags were introduced later in the series. My 86 only has a driver side air bag. I have gotten respectable gas mileage with my 420 (for a car of its size and the way I drive it. I average 17 mpg when I split city and hiway and I have gotten as high as 23 mpg from three straight tanks on a very long hiway road trip. I think you would be satisfied with the power it has. The 560 is more powerful and has some more cool features like adjustable rear seats etc., but eats more gas and the rear suspension is beefed up a little more making the ride a bit harsher.

I would say to get the latest model that meets your budget for this car. Check it our thoroughly. The biggest things I have had to replace/repair were the exhaust system centre resonator and rear muffler assmebly - very expensive, the secondary air pump and the sunroof. I think there was a conversion for the sunroof as early models had lots of problems. They say if the conversion wasn;t done you could expect to repair the sunroof every few years. Check to see what year they came out with the updated sunroof.

Great cars, I'm sure you'll yours when you get it.

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  #4  
Old 12-29-2000, 02:20 PM
PaulC
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M.B. DOC:

I've pretty much discounted the diesel models for the same reason you have. I notice you limited your selections to 90-91. Did these years represent an improved subseries of the W126 or are you just saying newer is better? Also, assuming 4 good snow tires, do these cars do well in snow?

Thanks.
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  #5  
Old 12-29-2000, 02:23 PM
PaulC
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Thanks Jason

Thanks for your response, Jason.
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  #6  
Old 12-29-2000, 02:28 PM
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These cars are great in the snow if you have good tires. I've driven through some of the worst snow storms and slush and ice that eastern Canada has to offer with no problems.

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  #7  
Old 12-29-2000, 07:05 PM
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If I have my pick I would pick an 89' or newer 560 because the engine was improved in 1988 and the interior was upgraded in 1989. These improvement also were applied to the 420, but the 560 offer significant better power and torgue. The W126 is wonderful in every way. Good luck.
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  #8  
Old 12-29-2000, 09:32 PM
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Best S Class

Well, for my money, a 300SE or SEL is the best choice. Model year is probably less important, although '89-91 had alot of refinements.

I have a 90 300SE and it's a good ballance of performance, reliability and economy. The 124 engine was the workhorse of the MB line during that period and except for a few quirks, has proven to be very reliable. It may be one reason diesels became less popular.

Some might say it's underpowered, but, I came put of a 300SD, so to me it's a rocket. You should see fuel mileage around 20 MPG and they require less maintenance than a V8.

In any event, no matter what you choose, you'll be driving one of the best cars ever built...by anyone. They are a to drive and own.

Best of luck!



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  #9  
Old 12-29-2000, 10:20 PM
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S-Class

I had a 89 300se and to this day I am sorry I did not keep it.
Even with the 3l. motor there was plenty of power, you just needed a firm right foot. It had only one problem, the AC had a leak noone could find, and that was the reason I finally sold it off.
I got it with 75k miles and put 40k more on it.
The motor is the same as the 300e series and parts and service are a snap. The 8cyl motors are a little more demanding.
Good luck whatever you choose, but always remember, its a used car!
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  #10  
Old 12-30-2000, 02:16 AM
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My '89 300SE is very reliable. No major problems
since almost new (1990-used).
I use it to travel to San Diego from San Francisco
and it climbs a steep pass (grapevine) with 4 people
easily. 17-8 MPG City, 23 hi-way.
Only has a sublime uneven idle which I have not bothered
with yet.
The clearance under the car does not forgive uncivilized
non-flat roads (like rain ditches!).
Have fun.
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2000, 04:48 AM
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I have owned 3 300SE models. They have all been very reliable, and I am very pleased with the performance.
Maybe it's my luck, but in two of the models I've owned I have had to replace the water pump which was quite expensive.
My dad has owned a 420SEL and was very pleased with it. He owns a 500SE now. If I had more money I would go for a bigger engine, but fuel prices in the UK are stupid, so I will stick with the 300.
Whatever model you choose, you won't pe dissapointed!

Cheers
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  #12  
Old 12-30-2000, 11:16 AM
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Small improvements

Each & every year these cars had slight changes, you can't see them all but they enhance the car. So the last 2 years of these cars was the best!!
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  #13  
Old 12-30-2000, 12:41 PM
Q Q is offline
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Just remember that "L" means 6 more inches. With my 6'1" height, back seat passengers of my non-"L" car could use a little more room.
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2001, 10:11 AM
PaulC
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I just wanted to thank all who have replied to date on this issue. I'll be looking at an '89 300 SE this week and will keep your thoughts in mind.

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