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George-c 02-11-2001 07:51 AM

I just test drove a 90 300SEL w/ 94K miles on it. It drove like a new car, very impressive all around. A real beauty too, black & black leather, hmmmmmm.

Its at a local MB dealership where they took it in on a trade. Of couse their asking what seems to me an incredible high price of $14,900... I know I can low ball them to a point, but should it be worth? For an eleven year old car w/ 94K on it, it is in very good shape. It does have two or three minor dings, minor scratches that compound should handle, a small web crack in the front D/S light assembly and a good size dent in the drivers side mirror (merriting replacement). I did notice a tiny bit of seapage of oil or whatever on the bottom of the motor, but *none* on the ground where it had been parked for days at least.

1- Any known problems with this model that I should be aware of?
2- Whats a real world price for this car?

3- Is there such thing as love at first sight?

4- I think my wife is jelous already?

Thanks, ~George~

tompass 02-11-2001 01:32 PM

I have an 89 300SE with the same 3.0 6 cylinder engine and have not had any major problems at all. You may find that the car is a little under powered, especially the SEL which is heavier than SE, when accelarating from a dead stop but on the highway it really rolls along.

Davis Lo 02-11-2001 01:47 PM

I had a 1990 W126 300SEL which gave me a very reliable impression. I owned it until 130,000 kms and the only problem was the slippage of the transmission at about 80,000 kms(this is common in HK's Stop-and-go driving). Otherwise,it is a keeper and only a proper maintenance is required. What a good choice!

Mike Murrell 02-11-2001 03:24 PM

I have a '91 300-SEL that I've put 40,000 trouble free miles on. Gets 20mpg on the highway. If you're a diyer, you may find this car a bit easier and less costly to maintain than other MBs in the same body style.

The M103 motors are notorious for either leaking or consuming oil. Keep an eye on the dipstick; otherwise, a nice automobile.


Mike Murrell

wilton 02-11-2001 04:59 PM

The 126 is a fantastic chassis - hard to beat!! 'Dont know about the 300 engine - mine's a 91 350SDL.

nellotare 02-11-2001 05:26 PM

car prices
Here's the NADA web prices:

1990 Body Style: Sedan 4 Door 300sel; Model Number: CA25; Weight: 3,785; Low Retail: $13,025; Average Retail: $15,100; High Retail: $16,375

Prices shown are retail consumer values and to be considered as selling prices. Trade-in and loan values are
confidential for our dealers and industry base subscribers. Trade-in values are to be determined by local dealers
and are generally lower than values shown.

Mr. BILL 02-11-2001 09:23 PM

Well,thought I'd weigh in on this too. I have a '90 300SE and I love it. It's smooth, quiet and comfortable. Some might argue it's a little underpowered, but since you are accustomed to a diesel, you'll think your driving a rocket.

The 103 engine is the proven workhorse of that era and is less expensive to maintain. The 126 body is considered by many to be one of the best looking and engineered cars MB ever built.

The fact that you are looking at the end of the run is good, as by then they had all the "kinks" worked out. They do weep oil from around the timing chain cover. Keep an eye on the dip stick and you'll be fine.

The miles are certainly low. If the condition is good,I'd guess $12K-13K would be in line. Check to see if A/C and valve guides have been upgraded.

You'll love being a member of "The German Yact Club"

Good luck!

tompass 02-12-2001 08:17 AM

Mr. Bill is correct in stating that the 103 will weep some oil from around the upper timing chain cover. This requires replacement of gasket material for around $200. Also the cam cover at bottom of engine will weep some oil. Again about $200 to replace gasket. I have 104K on my 103 and the bottom plastic pan is bone dry.

PaulC 02-12-2001 10:35 AM

For comparison: A used car dealer in NE PA specializing in high-end Euros has an '89 300 SE with 94,000 miles in similiar condition for a $12,900 asking price.

Oliverp 02-13-2001 01:38 PM

From my experiences with the 300SE (I have owned three), I have had to replace the water pump on two of the cars at about 110,000m - 130,000m. Air conditioning units don't seem to be the best. I'm not very technical, but the car I own now, the a/c doesn't work, and on my previous 300se, the a/c seemed to run quite warm at times.
I have just been told I will have to get something done with the head on my current car (at 136,000m), I think it is leaking oil.
I'm saving the best points till last though!! Even with all these problems, which if you consider about 500,000 miles have been covered - the problems haven't been too bad. This car is fantastic. I am more than happy with performance, I can beat most, and keep up with the best. But why race? You look cool!!!
I'm only 19, so it's even better for me. Although I spend 1400 a year on insurance and 70 a week on petrol, I love this car. I feel 100% safe, it's built like nothing else. My dad drives a W140 500, and he enjoys borrowing my car sometimes, because he said it is a completely different ride.
What comes to mind when I compare the two cars is, the W126 seems to have been built by hand, the W140 by robots.
I consider this to be the best car in the world (or at least the W126). If you compare the technology to what we have now, this car still has few rivals. That has got to say something.

[Edited by Oliverp on 02-13-2001 at 01:49 PM]

wilton 02-13-2001 04:08 PM

Someone implied that the gasoline-fed 300 may be lacking for power to drive a 126. My 91 350SDL has only 134hp; it has always had more power than I've needed; I certainly don't plan to ever let it really go "wide open", though I'd like to try it at some place like Indy. What hp does the 300SEL have? Significantly more than 134, isn't it? A 126 is not really meant for drag racing, anyway is it.

tompass 02-13-2001 07:45 PM

The 103 has 177hp in both the 300se and the 300sel. Just does not have the torque off the line that a v8 has.

C Holmes 03-29-2001 10:37 PM

BUY IT, The 300sel is a fine auto. I have a 90 in perfect condition. She feels heavy off the line but thats because it is. The tranny starts off in 2nd gear, if you step on it they go just fine. Mine has 50k on it and it leaks oil like everyone says they do, and maybe burns some. This was a concern to me at first but a german buddy says "they all do that" Anyway very reliable comfortable and affordable car to own. I will probable have one as long as they are still around.

ymsin 03-30-2001 01:15 AM

Very concise advise dispensed here. Do look into the comments on the oil.

I would be particular on the chasis, so tat if you do decide to invest in this marque, you'd do so knowing that your chasis will need minimum attention (and maximum enjoyment).

Check for any waves along the bodyline just to be sure its really accident free, and then the rust (if any) along the bottom of the floor mat, boot cover, windscreen/backscreen hinges, on bonnet, and particularly right beneath the door mounting/sill.

For a concise illustration of most problems encountered by W126s, do make a dive into

Fuel consumption is excellent for long haul drives, but horrid for short distance/traffic crawls.

Tranny change a little rough but on the whole, a durable car.

Its one great car to be having.

andy day 03-30-2001 12:34 PM

...........for what it is worth, I have a 126 chassis 500SEL bought last May with a V8 M117 engine. Regular oil changes have kept this car running sweet as a nut and what appeals is the low end torque of the 5.0 ltr engine. change the oil often and change it hot,it will last forever, enjoy !

sixto 03-30-2001 05:51 PM

I'd like to chime in but everything's been said. My only challenge is that the AC in my 91 300SE is as cold as I can expect it to be.

While you're checking for evidence of accidents, make sure all the body panels have the correct VIN tag. There should be a tag on each front fender (near the firewall), each door (near the hinges), trunk lid (forward edge), and possibly on the bumpers too. There might be more, but these are the ones I remember.

Expect to need a head gasket in the next 20-30,000 miles. If you need one, then it won't be a suprise. If you don't, lucky you.

Good luck,
91 300SE

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