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  #1  
Old 07-13-2002, 02:33 PM
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Thumbs up Test Drove 1998 S500. What else do I need to know?

After about a year of contemplation, I drove a 1998 S500 today. I was very surprised by how well it performed, and how nimble it felt despite its size and weight.

I was expecting it to feel heavy and sluggish -- especially in comparison to my 260E -- but it actually felt not much different, except for a somewhat softer ride, smoother transmission, and softer-touch accelerator.

In my opinion, the 1997-99 S500's are what owning a Mercedes is all about. That being said, is there anything I should know before taking the plunge and buying it?

Also, for those of you considering an S600, as I was, the independent dealer I was visiting emphatically advised against it, mainly because you are stuck going to MB dealers for service and repairs (engine and dignostics are very different on the S600) and they, of course, will gouge you on costs. He says they had S600 and they were a service/repair nightmare. Also, there is so significant power or performance advantage over the S500.

Eric Silver
1989 260E (soon to be S500)
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  #2  
Old 07-14-2002, 05:17 AM
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I would definitely buy it if I were you and it was the right price. Here are some things I would check:
Phone cover on dashboard
Cupholder
Sunshade
Oil pressure and Engine Temp
Oil changes. M119 is an engine that likes its oil to be changed alot.
Rust on mufflers
Condition of rotors and tires.
Startup of a M119 motor also tells if it is still tight and tuned. Starts up strong and then it should be as quiet as "an ant pissing on cotton" and idle at a steady 600 rpm with no shaking or vibration.
Doors should vaccum close fast and quiet
Exterior door handles. Some stick open. Back side should be very tight, front doors aren't as taut as the rear ones.

If you get the car take it to a mechanic and have him test the O2 sensors. 75k miles is the maximum amount of mileage I would buy. Unless documentation shows timely service/oil changes. I have a 99 S420 and I believe it has the best interior that MB every made. I also have a W220 S600 but I always get more compliments on the s420. "Damn, this car is like a limo...I feel like Princess Diana." The new s-class is overbearing and common. The 97-99 S-class is the zenith of what a benz is suppose to be. The v8 is excellant but the trans is the real angel. Its shists are unnoticeable when cruising like a CVT but then feels like a F1 gearbox when nailing the throttle.
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  #3  
Old 07-14-2002, 11:01 AM
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Hi Royaii,

This car is a 1998 with only 39,000 miles, and appears to be in perfect condition. I'll be taking it, or a similar one, on a 2-day test drive in the next week or two, and will check the things you mentioned.

What I did notice so far are the strong engine startup and quiet running (the silence was actually a bit disorienting -- the car seemed too quiet - and I felt the engine more than I heard it). The transmission was silky smooth, and I was totally impressed with the power, handling, and true bank vault feel of this car. In reading the various threads about the W140's, someone said driving this car is like flying a jet, and that is indeed the sensation I got.

I was also pleased with the rapid acceleration, and how it handles hard acceleration with such grace and dignity. (I am sure many young hot-rodders have been shocked to have been effortlessly out-run by "gray haired gentlemen" in giant S500s!)

One thing I noticed was that the S500 I drove had about an inch of clearance between the top of the front tire and the bottom edge of the fender. On an identical S420, clearance was about 2 inches. Is the 5.0 engine that much heavier that the 4.2? I rather like this lowered appearance up front, which is actually lower in profile than my 260E.

I agree with you 150% that this is what a Benz is supposed to be. In fact, I think the 97-99 S Class is to Mercedes-Benz what the Great Pyramid is to ancient Egypt: the absolute pinnacle of their engineering expertise. I love it.
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  #4  
Old 07-14-2002, 12:33 PM
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Nice car!

Does this S500 have the optional Adaptive Damping System?

Good luck with your purchase..

~Paul

___________________
'91 300E, 215K miles
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  #5  
Old 07-15-2002, 01:54 AM
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Posts: 193
WHAT???

My fathers 99 S500 GE is exactly like you said. But, my 93 300SE is NOTHING like that. The engine runs smoothly AFTER startup (although it does have a very raspy sound). The accelerator must be practilcly buried into the floor to get anysort of takeoff. Then the transmission takes its time to shift down into first gear. While its leisurly shifting, the engine revs an extra 2000RPMs, followed by an abrupt shift into the next gear. Thats why, if i want show off, i drive the Millenia!!!!!
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  #6  
Old 07-15-2002, 04:16 AM
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My s420 looks like it is lowered too. There is virtually no clearance between the tires but they have never rubbed. The mileage is awesome. Watch in 30 years, these cars will have the desirability as the gullwings that we drool over today. I'm actually thinking to buy a 99 S500 Grand Edition and keep it in a bubble for a couple decades. The Grand will be the gem to own. Another highly desirable cars of this generation will be the Designo SLs of 2001 and The Silver editions of 02. MB only released the Designo SL in the states for only 1 year. Here is a list of what I think will be the collector MB cars of future.
E50 AMG-Only produced for 1 year. Have you seen one these on the marketplace lately. I bet you won't. Collectors have probably snatched them all up. Will be known as the predecessor of the much more popular E55. Kind of like the Porsche 912, not a 911 but still very desirable. Is it the m119 engine inside? E55 is not here because of popularity.
C36 -1st official AMG-MB car. Shows MB's true tuning ability. C43 was powerful but was just 430 engine dropped in. 36 was bored, stroked and many C36 specific parts.
sl55, sl launch
aforementioned cars above
s600 designo
SLK230-Why is this on my list? Hardtop convertible. If MB had not introduced this advancement, I bet you wouldnt see Lexus making their immitation.
500E-porsche benz. Need I say more
All W140s but especially the perfected 97-99 models.
W220 does not have the soul or spirit of the w140. W140 driving experience is unmatched. Steering so light that driving with a finger is possible.
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  #7  
Old 07-15-2002, 10:46 AM
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Paul,

Yes it does, but since I never experienced it before, I am not sure if I noticed it.

Eric
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  #8  
Old 07-15-2002, 10:49 AM
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Benz_man,

It's because of the engine -- the S500 packs more power and torque than the 300SE. In fact, it required conscious effort to avoid jack rabbit starts in that car.

Eric
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2002, 11:00 AM
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Royaiii,

I love that lowered look, and would probably use wider wheels and tires in the back to fill out the wheel wells a bit more (an extra inch should do it).

Also, this was a black car and so well polished and relective that he hood was almost invisible. Were it not for the star, it would have been nearly impossible to clearly tell wher the blacktop road began and the hood ended. (This is true even on my "old" 260E, but more so on the S500 because of the lower profile and slope of the hood.)

This dealer had a GE as well, but it was out on a test drive so I could not see it.

I actually never heard of the E50 AMG until you mentioned it. I would have assumed it was a Renntech-type of designation.

Eric
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