Want a Reliable Classic Daily Driver? Try This One

It is a romantic proposition; driving to work, school, and your favorite hangouts in a car straight out of the history books. They look fantastic, often sound great, and waft from point A to point B with the sort of character that newer cars simply don’t have. However, if you want an accessible classic daily driver with a reputation for bulletproof reliability, your options are limited. Never fear, though, because the Mercedes-Benz W126 might be what you need. 

What is a W126? 

A Mercedes-Benz W126 S-Class is a great option for a classic daily driver
A classic Mercedes-Benz W126 | Getty Images

A Mercedes-Benz W126 is the name assigned to the second generation of S-Class, the company’s flagship luxury sedan. Further, the W126 ran from 1979 to 1992. The cars were popular and imported worldwide, so you can find examples just about everywhere. 

Furthermore, while they aren’t fast or powerful cars, they are very comfortable. The 450SEL and later 560SEL packed 4.5L and 5.6L V8s, respectively. That means a pleasing soundtrack and the heritage of a Mercedes-Benz eight-cylinder engine. In addition to smooth running V8s, the S-Class interiors are adorned with pleasant materials like leather and wood. 

What makes the Mercedes-Benz classic daily driver reliable? 

Given how many cars Mercedes-Benz produced between 1979 and 1992, the parts are still readily available. Furthermore, the W126 is relatively straightforward, with only a few complicated procedures. Gear Patrol reports that a few significant maintenance events may seem daunting, like replacing the timing chain. However, parts are cheap, plentiful, and easy to install with a bit of know-how. 

How much is a Mercedes-Benz W126?

Given the long tenure of the W126, price ranges are broad. For example,  Hagerty reports that a 1990 560SEC with the (nearly) 5.6L V8 engine will run as much as $137,000 in Concours condition. Keep in mind that Concours condition cars are the most immaculate examples globally. All of those show cars are in perfect and original order with the highest levels of cleanliness, not classic daily driver-friendly.

However, Hagerty also reports that a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL W126 with the 4.5L V8 has an average sales value of $11,700. A 1980 450SEL valued at that price is in good condition, representing a car in working order with no visible flaws from a reasonable distance. That means that classic daily driver hunters can get a fuel-injected classic Mercedes-Benz luxury car on a budget. 

What other reliable Mercedes-Benz classic daily driver cars could you buy? 

A Mercedes-Benz W126 is a great prospect for a classic daily driver
A classic daily car like the W126 is exciting | Jan Woitas, Getty Images

The 450SEL W126 shares a powerplant and drivetrain with the 450SL and 450SLC, so mechanically, the vehicles are similarly reliable. Further, when Mercedes-Benz upped the displacement to (again, nearly) 5.6L, the company also put the engine in the SL, or Sport Light. 

Although there are stigmas surrounding the reliability of cheap, used Mercedes-Benz vehicles, many reliable options exist. If you’re willing to work on them, a Mercedes-Benz W126 could be a solid classic daily driver.

Should you buy a Mercedes-Benz W126 S-Class? 

According to Gear Patrol, there are a couple of things to consider when contemplating a W126 as a classic daily driver. First, if you are averse to spending some money to maintain the vehicle, you may want to consider something else. Next, if you are unwilling to get a little grease under your fingernails, the rigors of classic car ownership might not be for you.

However, if you’re not afraid to keep the car in good condition, and you can drive it with patience, it may add a little something to your life. If you want to read a bit more about classic car daily drivers, scroll down to the following article. 

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