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Old 09-05-2002, 03:58 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Portland Oregon, USA
Posts: 65
Higher Milage 420SEL Purchase Q's

Hello All,

I have located and seen an absolutely *MINT* condition black 87 420 SEL that I am considering to purchase. I have not driven the car yet, but it has a New MB Transmission, and a New engine Top end. The owner was fanatical about maintence, and it shows! The thing is.. that the car as a whole has 220k miles on it. (Though it really looks like it has 20k on it!) my question is.. longevity-wise, how does the botton-end of the engine stack up in the 420SEL? If it has a new Top end, and a new Transmission; is having 220k on the bottom end of the engine a bad thing? I am going to give it a better look this weekend and drive it.. .. any opinions?

Thanks all guys, you're great!,

(Former 81 240d owner)
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Old 09-05-2002, 04:44 PM
Benz Crazy
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: NJ
Posts: 67
I'm not a mechanic, but I'd have a compression test and leak down test done, for starters. The key to buying a car with that many miles would be to have as much documentation as to what's been done to it.
1990 420 SEL / 151K mi.
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Old 09-05-2002, 06:13 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Portland Oregon, USA
Posts: 65
Here is a Pic of the car

He is asking $5750/offer. I checked Kelley Blue Book, and the Retail for this car is..7200 (and that doesnt reflect the Engine + Trans replacement!)..I thought his price was a fairly good deal (?)...

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Higher Milage 420SEL Purchase Q's-615.jpg  
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Old 09-05-2002, 09:06 PM
David C Klasse's Avatar
CheFrac is Back!
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mission Hills in the City of San Diego
Posts: 2,352
Go for it!! I have always heard that the bottoms of MB engines will forever. I say you've found a great buy. Why is the man selling the car? I think that 5750 seems like a pretty fair price for the car. GOOD LUCK!
2006 E350 w/ 155k miles (Daily Driver)

1993 300E 3.2L Sedan w/ close to about 300k miles
2003 E500 Brilliant Silver (Had 217k miles when totalled!)
1989 300E with 289,000 miles (had for <1 yr while in HI)
03 CLK 500 cabrio (Mom's)
2006 C230k (Dad's)
1999 S420 (Mom's/Dad's)
2000 C230k Sport sedans
2001 CLK320 Cabrio (Mom's)
1995 C280 My First Mercedes-Benz... (155k miles. EXCEPTIONAL AUTOMOBILE. Was Very hard to let go of!)
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Old 09-05-2002, 09:50 PM
Provo Spain?
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 656
My friend Fred saw a 420 sel with over 350k on it, and was flawless. (Fred you there?) I thought it might be more, but I don't want to misquote him. I'd try to go lower on the price, worst thing they can say is no.
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Old 09-06-2002, 04:11 PM
blackmercedes's Avatar
Just a guy
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: St. Albert, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 3,492
I agree with some of the above advice:

1. A leakdown and compression test will tell you what you need to know concerning the engine. If it is fine, don't worry. I've seen all sorts of MB engines (4,6, and 8's) at very high mileages, and bottom ends tend to last longer than most owners (the avg MB buyer in Canada is 60).

2. The thing to worry about are the things that can $1000 you to death. ACC and AC. Suspension components and electrical items. Check that the timing chain and RAILS have been done. Problematic on the M116 4.2L engine.

I can't comment on the price (I live too far away) but would caution about using KBB or other measures. If possible, take the car to a wholesaler and shop it out. The closer you get to that price the safer you'll be. Suppose that "Cash for cars" will give you $4000 for the car on the spot. Paying $5000 means you're $1000 "illiquid" on the car. And don't forget that premium cars carry premium prices.

We just sold our 1998 E300D turbo. Most 98 E-Class cars sell in the $40-42K range. Despite all the troubles we've had with the E300, we still got TOP dollar for it. ($47K) Tons of warranty left (nearly three years) and a superb service history. Also, despite being nearly five years old, the car could have been parked in a showroom and sold as new. Premium cars sell at premium prices.
John Shellenberg
1998 C230 "Black Betty" 240K
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Old 09-06-2002, 09:52 PM
Dave Bunker's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Elk Grove, CA. 95758
Posts: 90

Just to add to everyones comments.....I too just bought a 1987 420sel. It has 185,000 and complete records down to car washes. I felt very comfortable with the milage after alot of researching. I bought it with various small problems. DS window regulator needed replacing. I did that last Saturday myself. It was a piece of cake. DS, door lock needed repair, did it myself, needed new front ws. Did that today. Several other small items still need attention. The engine had all the important things done, so I am in pretty good shape. I do have a small trany leak at the front. That will be my next task. The m116 uses a quart every 5000 or so, AC has been converted to R134a, I'm not too crazy about R134a, I might go back. It blows cold but not as cold as R2. I might be able to put up with it for the cost. It's a great car and I am having a blast cruzing in it. The paint looks like it was just off the assembly line, not a scratch or ding. Not sure how he pulled that off. It's Dark Blue with Gray interior. I paid $6900 and felt I got a good deal. Email me if you have any further questions.

Happy MB Motoring
Dave Bunker
Dave Bunker
1987 420SEL, 180k strong Blu & Grey
2004 Road King Custom
Sacramento, CA
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Old 09-08-2002, 11:24 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Portland Oregon, USA
Posts: 65

So.. I am going to go back to the car this week and see if I have some luck on lowering the price (from $5750)... How reliable are 420SEL's in general? I went back yesterday, and gave this car a pretty good look-over. Looks like it was hardly driven (despite the odometer reading)!.. All accessories worked. Tested A/C - Compressor turned on and cold air came out (whew!). Started right up on first try (with engine cold). Bushings on front suspension appeared new! Are there problems inherent in the 420 engine (or W126 series, in general) that i should be concerned of, despite the top end rebuild and Trans replacement? Are there other components that usually do not fair well after 2xx,xxx miles??
Your comments have been SO helpful!!!!!

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