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Old 10-25-2003, 03:49 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3
420SEL Purchase - Am I On Drugs?!

Hi - I'm new to this forum, so the topic may have been discussed before so forgive me. But, I think I might need therapy, so here goes...

I have found a 1989 420 SEL with 225,000 miles. It has every maintenance record for every service - even down to the previous owner purchasing cleaning supplies from the dealer. And it is in very good condition. The dealer is asking $5900.

Like an idiot I drove it - and loved it. It drove like a dream. Now I'm in the precarious position of explaining to my wife (not to mention anyone else I know) why I want to purchase a car with 1/4 of a million miles on it.

I mean, I know these things last a long time, but am I crazy for even considering this? Am I on crack or something? What happens if something major goes wrong - how much will it set me back? I'm buying primarily as a daily driver for the work commute.

Any thoughts / comments would be appreciated!

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Old 10-25-2003, 04:24 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: tulsa, oklahoma
Posts: 18
Older Mercedes Purchase

No, you're not on drugs, but under the influence of a genuine Mercedes-Benz. The same thing happened to me about 18 months ago when I suddenly purchased a 1993 300E with 124,000 miles. It drove so well and felt so old-school Mercedes that I had no choice but to take it home and make it my daily driver. Thousands of dollars later...most of it spent for reconditioning rather than repairs...I came to the more realistic conclusion that older Mercedes are better suited to be hobby cars rather than daily transportation. Today I am feeding my MB habit with a beautifully preserved 1987 560SL. If it continues to run and drive flawlessly, great. If not, no sweat because it's a toy.

After saying all that, I would love to have a 420SEL. I drove several before getting my 300E and they seemed the essence of what we must all admire about the brand.

Bruce in Tulsa
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Old 10-25-2003, 04:25 PM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,315
Don't do it!

First, this sounds like the first Mercedes that you've gotten serious about, so you have a limited perspective.

Second, this is a lot of miles for a car that's got to get you to work every day. Unless you can verify the mileage on the transmission and what components have been replaced and when, you could well be walking into a deferred maintenance money pit.

Third, this is an S class, top of the line. But also the one with the most expensive electronic and vacuum gizmos to wear out and fail.

Fourth, for a the same money or a little more you should be able to find a car with less than half the miles

All MHO, and I am sure others will express themselves on this.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 10-25-2003, 04:58 PM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 2,209
If the car is in prime condition. Almost no nicks or dings(God forbid; rust) in the body. The upholstery is like new, no cracks in the dashboard, very few cracks in the center console woodpiece, and maintenence records every 7500 miles BY THE AUTHORIZED MB DEALER! Then go for it. MB dealerships tend to replace parts that don't need changing often.

One owner cars are the best. Couple that with being serviced by the dealer since day one, and you have a car that has been overmaintained throughout its life.

Make sure the timing chain has been done(again) before purchasing, too.
1987 300SDL (324000)

1986 Porsche 951 (944 Turbo) (166000)

1978 Porsche 924 (99000)

1996 Nissan Pathfinder R50 (201000)
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Old 10-25-2003, 05:11 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Kingsport, TN
Posts: 375
Well Joe,

you have to be prepared to spend money on it for the "privilege" to drive it. A transmission from the MB dealership will be around $ 2,500, air conditioning repairs are expensive, I paid $2,500 for a ringgear. If you can do things yourself, then it looks a lot better, provided you have the time and facilities. You can see on this forum how brake rotors are replaced (my next project) and a lot more, but if you have to pay for it, it is an expensive car.

With that milage, you better have it checked completely including a compression test. I saw at least 20 different 420s over a 3 months period before I settled on mine, which, incidentally, was the first I saw at a dealer and was still available 3 months later.

But I second Bruce's thought, it is a hobby for me, too and I have another car just in case.

Welcome to the disease...

Reinhard Kreutzer
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Old 10-25-2003, 06:16 PM
Hatterasguy's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Milford, CT
Posts: 19,252
I have been looking at 420's for a while. That is a lot of money for a car with that type of mileage. For 6k you shold be able to get one with 100k less on the clock. Try great site. Also if the top end hasn't been done yet it is probably due. These 420's are great cars and I have heard of some with 500K plus on the clock. If you buy this car plan on putting some money into it.
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Old 10-25-2003, 06:31 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3
First, thanks for the responses. I've been doing some research on these cars on the forum and this is just a super place.

At this point, I think I will be patient and try to look at a few more. Although this one, even with the high miles, was very well kept. No cracks in dash, no rust and drove well.

I'm curious about getting an inspection for one that I do get serious about. Do I just take it to a MB shop and tell them I need a "pre-purchase inspection" or are there specific items I should request?
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