Sedans & Coupes

Cars and Bids Bargain of the Week: 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL

While Bring a Trailer is a great auction site, especially for classic and vintage vehicles, it’s not the only one. Automotive YouTuber Doug Demuro recently formed his own site, Cars and Bids, which focuses on newer classics and enthusiast vehicles. As with any automotive sales or auction website, not every car listed will necessarily be cheap. But you can find a few bargains there, such as the 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL described below.

The W126 Mercedes S-Class: the last ‘true’ Mercedes-Benz?

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, aka the W223, is the 7th-gen version of the nameplate. The 1979-1991 W126 Mercedes S-Class is the 2nd-gen model, Car and Driver explains.

The side view of a black V12-powered 1992 Mercedes-Benz W140 S-Class sedan
1992 Mercedes-Benz W140 600SEL | Mercedes-Benz

The W126 Mercedes-Benz S-Class precedes the W140 model, which Autotrader describes as arguably the greatest S-Class. However, many enthusiasts consider the W126 to be “the last true Mercedes-Benz,” Hagerty reports. Or at the very least, the last great S-Class, Hemmings and Bring a Trailer report.

That might be because of the 2 models’ different focuses. Although the W140 has plenty of gadgets and features, the W126 Mercedes S-Class is concerned with reliability and material quality, Autotrader reports.

That’s not to say the W126 S-Class is bereft of luxury or safety features, though. It was one of the first cars to offer standard airbags, Hagerty reports, as well as seatbelt pre-tensioners. The 1987 model had standard traction control, Car and Driver reports, and was the first Mercedes tested for front-offset collision protection.

Because of its long production run, the W126 Mercedes-Benz S-Class came with a wide variety of engines. There are six-cylinder models, ones with V8, and also turbodiesel W126s available, Car and Driver reports. There are even some AMG models available, Automobile and Car and Driver report. And in addition to the standard sedan, there are coupes available.

And in 1991, Cars and Bids explains, the flagship was the W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL.

The 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL on Cars and Bids

A black 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL
1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL | Cars and Bids

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As the ‘L’ in its name implies, the 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL is the long-wheelbase sedan, ClassicCarsForSale explains. It’s powered by a 5.5-liter V8 rated at 238 hp and 287 lb-ft, which goes to the rear wheels via a 4-speed automatic.

The gray-leather-upholstered and wood-trimmed front interior of the 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL
1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL interior | Cars and Bids

Being the flagship, the 1991 560SEL listed on Cars and Bids has plenty of luxury features. It has heated front and rear seats, automatic climate control, a sunroof, leather upholstery, and wood trim. The steering column is electronically-adjustable, Hagerty reports, and the sedan features headlight wipers. The 560SEL also has several more subtle quirks and features, such as hidden storage areas behind the rear seats. And this particular model has tinted windows, as well as the factory first-aid kit.

An overhead rear 3/4 view of a black 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL in a parking lot
1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL overhead rear 3/4 view | Cars and Bids

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Admittedly, this 1991 W126 Mercedes S-Class isn’t perfect. Its paint is chipped, and there’s damage to the rear bumper. Plus, the driver’s seat is worn. However, Cars and Bids notes it’s an accident-free 560SEL. And the current owner has replaced worn suspension and electronic items as needed.

What makes it a bargain buy?

As of this writing, with 5 days left in the auction, this 1991 W126 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL is listed at $2300. That’s a very low price, especially for one in this condition. Good- to excellent-condition 560SELs can easily go for $10k-$20k, Hagerty, and BaT report.

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The 1991 560SEL listed on Cars and Bids has 122,200 miles on the clock, but that isn’t an issue, Hagerty reports. The W126 is even more robust than the W140, and with fewer electronics, there are fewer potential (and potentially expensive) headaches. The biggest issues are the vacuum-operated power locks and the A/C compressor, and the latter’s been replaced on this example.

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Plus, as a 1991 model, this W126 has better features than the earlier models. It has better HVAC and cruise control systems, standard ABS, improved suspension and steering, and better switchgear. It’s not fast, Autotrader reports, but it still feels incredibly solid and luxurious. None of the trim feels cheap, and both the seats and the ride quality are extremely comfortable. The bank vault cliché definitely applies to the W126 Mercedes S-Class.

So, if you’ve been looking for a classic, quiet luxury cruiser, this 1991 560SEL may be just the bargain for you.

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