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    Wabenzi in Africa

    OWNER: ROBERT COUCHER

    CAR: #1988-Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #1988 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-126-Series / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126-Coupé / #V8

    I haven’t mentioned the ‘Big Block’ before. This is the Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126 my father has owned for over a decade. It lives in Cape Town and on our last trip over for Christmas he lent it to my wife and I.

    I had never taken much notice of it before. I was never mad about the colour - a Broederbond racing bronze, significant because it is rumoured the car was previously cwned by General Magnus Malan, a past Minister of Defence in South Africa.

    But I have read that the W126 series, 5547cc #Mercedes-Benz-V8 560SEC was often cited as the best coupe of the 1980s. Weighing some 1750kg and pumping out about 300bhp, it promises a 0-60mph time of seven seconds and a top whack of 150mph. So I pile my wife’s ample luggage into the huge boot and we motor off in comfort. The Benz slides down the motorway in air-conditioned serenity with its typical MB wooden throttle response, woollen steering and sluggish auto-box.

    Leafing through the Big Block's fat silver- covered handbook, it seems it has a fully stamped MB service history from new and the 167,000km (104,000 miles) reading is correct. Then I read that the gearbox has two settings: ‘E’ for economy and ‘S' for standard. Surely ‘S’ is for sports...

    Next morning, on a solo mission, I fire up the 560 and switch to ‘S’ mode. The Benz pulls away in first gear (in E it moves off in second) and instantly feels a lot more alert. After allowing the big V8 to warm properly, I reach the bottom of a long mountain pass and floor it. The Wabenzi draws a deep breath and hoofs up the road with a muted roar. The steering, despite its loose straight-ahead position, becomes accurate when weighted into the comers, the handling is taut and sharp when pushed, and the big brakes more than capable of slowing the beast down for the next bend.

    Later, with my wife back on board, I slip the gearbox back into ‘E’ mode and smile in the knowledge that the Big Block can be awakened at the merest flick of that innocuous little switch.

    Above Switch to the left of the transmission selector is key to unlocking 560SECs huge potential.
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    CAR: #Mercedes-Benz-500SEC / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-500SEC-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126

    Year of manufacture #1989
    Recorded mileage 29,025 (see text)
    Asking price £13,950
    Vendor Edward Hall Classic Mercedes, Worminghall, Bucks; tel: 01844 339666; edward-hall.co.uk

    WHEN IT WAS NEW

    Price £50,250
    Max power 228bhp
    Max torque 299lb ft
    0-60mph 7.9 secs
    Top speed 140mph
    Mpg 18

    This six-owner #Mercedes-Benz-W126-Coupé , with options of traction control (ASR) and heated front seats, has been properly cared for. It has a full service record and several thousand has been spent on fettling over the year that Hall has looked after the car. The factory paint is nice, bar a couple of tiny blemishes in the lacquer, plus the chrome and trim are good and the alloy wheels unkerbed; they’re shod with 2016 Dunlops, with an old Michelin MXV on the spare. The tool-roll and warning triangle are present, plus it’s rust-free underneath and there’s no filler in the rear arch lips.

    Inside, the carpets – protected by M-B overmats – have an only slightly used air, commensurate with the mileage, which is about 91,000 allowing for a speedo change at 62k in 2010. The veneers are all smart with no cracks, the dash top is mint, the hide still supple and only lightly creased… and the original first aid kit remains unopened in its cubby in the rear shelf. There are a couple of small spots of surface corrosion in the engine bay – mainly on pipes and brackets – and the lower windscreen seal looks a little sorry for itself, but the spring towers are perfect. The motor has had the cylinder heads rebuilt and new injectors fitted in the past couple of years, the aircon compressor was replaced and the transmission received new seals. The fluids are all the right colours with levels spot-on, plus the exhaust doesn’t look very old. It’s nice to see an M-B battery, too.

    It starts easily without smoking and drives beautifully, with no creaks, groans or rattles in the suspension, tracking and braking straight handsoff – Hall replaced a rear caliper not long ago. Though it lacks the ultimate stonk of the 560 (300bhp, 335lb ft), it’s 140kg lighter and will hurtle along effortlessly, flattening bumps in the road as it goes, but is very easy to drive. Oil pressure is the typical M-B maximum 3bar deflection at all times, coolant temperature is a steady 82ºC and everything functions. The aircon shows willing and Hall plans to have it regassed. It comes with a new MoT, handbook and two keys, plus it will be serviced when sold.
    SUMMARY EXTERIOR Excellent, bar minor paint marks

    INTERIOR All present and correct, it all works and it’s all holding up well

    MECHANICALS Appears to want for nothing

    VALUE ★★★★★★★✩✩✩

    For So smooth and accessible it’s hard to resist the performance…

    Against …so you won’t crack 20mpg

    SHOULD I BUY IT?

    Super style, no needs (hard to think it’s 28) and the sensible choice of the V8s. If you must have Godzilla, then Hall can probably find you one.
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    The V8-hammer: 5.6-liter, 279bhp, from 7500 euro in fair condition #Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126. The SEC front section is massive and stylish. King lettering on Alu-Haube, forged Fuchs wheels in channel cover design. Functional instruments, not to exceed are lavishly equipped center console with #Becker-Mexico . The enormous pulling powerful 5.6-liter V8 developed 279 hp.

    Before the debut of the 500E was the 560SEC the overhaul Ammer of Mercedes. The outside and inside stresses discreet luxury coupe, thanks to rich displacement is both relaxed cruising and brachial bite.

    Lunch is soon, but the high fog has still not fully cleared. At a dismal failure street in the east of "Warzburg" park in the 560SEC with the engine running, small white exhaust circles around the dual exhaust pipe give it away. The eight-cylinder engine is running with a 600 rpm, we must make an effort to listen to. We are in Auto lean on a rendezvous with the top model of the SEC series agreed. Two men in the large circle work trousers coupe, a cleans the washers, and the other takes on the chrome parts the last drops of the washer. Almandinrot acts in this asphalt tristesse as dark as Barolo in the bottle, later it is the sun light.

    Instead of instructions there is confidence: With an affirmative "know" if the vehicle registration through the open frame enough. The extra wide door is filled into the castle of the driving belt feeders, servile the wide black band. Even if the engine is not at temperature, on the way to the gas station he shakes the condensation water from the exhaust, the tachometer displays 281 322 kilometers.

    It is by no means a Concours car, this large, elegant coupe in the rare color, but you can feel and sense that it once as a new car was a charming beauty. The Mercedes designers Bruno Sacco and Joseph Galli places villages brought it was already the end of the 1970s in its timeless form, ten years it was built from 1981 to 1991, the 560he came first with the gentle 85er-face-lift, a few playful smoothed.

    The deep black leather has the body heat is not admitted, IT CREAKS with every movement, the oil pressure is okay, the reserve indicator lights. Of at least 10.5 : 1 gets compressed V8 100-octane petrol provided that he was the evil spirits flee. Point 12.09 pm the sun breaks and the SEC loses its to maturity. Now he dumpelt out of town with 1500/min stoic.

    He now knows that I do well with him my that length from the penetrating power of his 279 hp wants nothing to do with. I ride him like a 230 CE, he thanked me with soft, yes the imperceptible switching process gen. The more power of 27 hp compared with the 500he he has a new crankshaft with significantly more stroke due to what 5.6 liters result.

    S-Class coupe with SL face the tachometer jerks not violent, it weighs gently. Faster than Tempo 80 goes just didn't. I wish that my own counter up to the beautiful line of the Coupé in the slide past to enjoy. But I look forward toward the horizon, where the vineyards, start on the long, ruby red shiny hood.

    At its end is not a star in sight because the SL-style in oversize on the radiator grill logo. With its instruments has signalled to me the SEC wellness mode, the tank is half full, the needle drops hardly, how should you then roles. The Becker Mexico remains switched off. The engine murmurs quietly in the background, a dense carpet of sound, the luxury cars and heavy sounds, but by no means a sound that you stirring. Remain the emotions on the 560 SEC on Form and feel limited?

    It is conveniently located in the large cars, is positioned at the front man baronial, the center armrest unfolded, the right arm was based. Only a few tiny corrections to the ingenious seat silhouette on the door trim and the location is perfect. Surrend quietly moves the head restraint is something that the backrest slides a piece. The cruise control and speed limiter clicks clean, I put it to 110, which are just 1800 rpm. When 1990 incredible 160 000DM top-SEC is he as standard, as air conditioning, rear head restraints and the tone-setting headlight wipers. An exact parallel to the six point nine, the over- #Mercedes in the 70s. Without cat had the 560 SEC 300 HP, only then would the coupe an assassin. The vines back closer to the streets are narrow, winding uphill and downhill. It is amazing how agile the heavy coupé in the closed curve angel touch. The steering feels good, it has hardly any game. But the suspension is showing its age, especially the level of regulated rear axle filters the ground waves only moderately.

    But even as new cars rolled off the 560 SEC according to auto motor and sport-test considerably shorter than its more docile brothers 380, 420 and 500, tribute to the high-performance. We had him, the S-Class model, urgently the superior room-link axle must treat. Nice for a W201 190D Operator not on the four times as expensive coupe may levy. In the middle of the dense vines gespinst shocks me on a mile-long two-lane straight, a dead branch, cut off from the ring road. From the dead, as called, now I want to know it.

    60 in the fourth level adopts the SEC, I then the accelerator pedal slowly. Even without the hard back of the Trigger Kick-downs, rushes the coupe vehemently to the front. Rapidly accelerated the tacho needle marks for 80, 100, 120, 140. Only at 3500 rpm does the V8 angry his staccato voice. In the leading wind ropes hiss post past until the almost right-angled left curve on the horizon the arrogant puts an end to drive. Crackling in the exhaust line rolls of 560. It pleased him to be nurtured, now we go sit back.

    Servile belt feeders, nappa soft leather seats, the center console as a bar: the coupe is a wellness lounge

    conclusion so far I thought, a 380 SEC suffice to make stylish and sophisticated V8 continue to enjoy. Finally he also has plenty of performance. But a day with the 560 SEC instructed me a better. The flagship model is still wonderful. Many extras are series, and the time for gentle, time brute engine offers an outrageous desire full power experience.

    Nice atmosphere in burr walnut veneer with black leather handle in and a heaven as in the boudoir.

    The Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC, C 126, year #1990

    FACTS & FIGURES engine type M117, water-cooled 8-cylinder #V8 -engine, a cylinder angle of 90 degrees, the front longitudinal, bore x stroke 96.5 x 94.8, 5547cc displacement, performance 279bhp at 5200 rpm, max. torque. 428 Nm at 3750rpm, compression 10.5 : 1, two valves per combustion chamber, actuated via a chain-driven camshaft per cylinder bank and the towing lever, hydraulics Valve clearance compensation, cylinder heads and engine block made of light metal, five crankshaft bearings, mechanical and electronic. Injection #Bosch KE-Jetronic, map-controlled electronic ignition, closed-loop catalytic converter, Olin holds 8 liters engine power transmission four-speed automatic torque converter transmission, limited-slip differential (ASD), rear-wheel drive chassis and body Cx (Cd) 0.35; self-supporting steel body, hoods made of aluminum, the front double wishbone, coil springs and a stabiliser, hi. Diagonal swing axle, coil springs, hydropneumatic level control, servo recirculating ball steering, disc brakes, forged aluminum rims 7 J x 15, tires 215/65 VR 15

    Dimensions and weights Wheelbase 2845 mm, length x width x height 4935 x 1828 x 1402 mm, weight 1750 kg, Fuel tank 90 litres

    PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Max speed 155MPH, 0-62 in 7.9 seconds, MPG 19

    Construction and pieces all Mercedes C 126 from 1981 to 1991: 74 060, 560 SEC: 28 929 copies of purchase advice

    / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117 /

    Many SEC are strained much driver cars. This is in old age by maintenance jam noticeable. Even the moderate rust protection is a problem.

    Body-CHECK
    ■ The condition of the jacking points, the rear wheel arches and the bottom of the screen frame is representative of the body of the coupé. All three are lots of rust, one should not buy. Also the condition of the interior is important for dark colors like olive or cream there is no substitute more, this is unfortunately also for the cult, but wear joyful pinstripe velour.


    Technology-CHECK
    ■ The legendary ruggedness of large Mercedes technology is in old age of their borders. A typical defects of the light-alloy V8 engines M116 and M117 are the fragile plastic runners of the timing chains, which can break, what capitals engine damage. Therefore you should replace it as a precautionary measure, it cost about 1200 Euro. Vulnerable are also idle speed actuator and flow divider of the #Bosch-KE-Jetronic , whose defects by start-up difficulties and irregular running of the engine, but also speak to marodem ignition cable dishes in addition to distribution. The automatic gearbox should the switching points are correct and no slipping of the converter with high switching speed can occur. If the rear axle is hard and feels poltrig, the spring balls of the level control is defective.

    Prices for introduction 9/ #1985 ( Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126) 133,608DM classic analytics-price 2016 (000/4800 State 2/4) 22.000 Euro

    SPARE PARTS
    The location is typical of the brand, engineering parts are fully and rapidly available. But the Mercedes models can on the sub-sector. Coupe-specific equipment and trim parts are very expensive. After production from Hungary or Romania often do not have the same level of quality as the former original parts.

    CLUBS AND specialists in the #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126 / Club e.V., Michael Sterl, old citizens Strasse 29, 04617 Rositz (Thuringia), tel. 98/803 03 44 73 08, www.S-Class-club.de Car House Wildermuth, MB-partner, Steinheimer Strasse 1, 74321 Bietigheim-Bissingen, Tel. 071 42/60 34, www.wildermuth.mercedes benz.de cult mobile with star, Jens Schiwy, Walter Bertelsmann-Weg 2, 27726 Worpswede in Bremen, Tel. 01 76/ 84 03 08 83, www.cult mobile.de


    Weak points
    1 fender and standing plates
    2 front wheel arches (Lenkkhebelber.)
    3 front axle photographs
    4 skirts, jacking points
    5 Doors
    6 wheel arches, rear side parts
    7 rear screen frame
    8 timing chains slide
    9 Flow Divider KE-Jetronic
    10 level control
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    Buckley’s market matters
    A CAR TO BUY NOW BEFORE PRICES TAKE OFF / SEC is on the up, so perhaps a Sunbeam Rapier is the future? #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 /

    Having been badly mauled financially by an experience with a Silver Shadow, a pal of mine is going back to Mercedes and has come to the conclusion that the car to grab at the moment is the W126 SEC. He has set his heart on the late 560 version on the basis that it’s got the biggest engine and ticks the 6.3/6.9 performance boxes, but without the potential heartache of those earlier cars. That all sounds good, but the issue now is finding the right car because these big pillarless Mercs seem to be getting snapped up almost immediately. He looked at a nice low-mileage car for £12k last week but was put off by its mild ‘pimp’ with unsavoury alloys and the inevitable boot spoiler. A high-mileage and fairly humdrum example then came up in the trade but sold immediately for £9k. There is obviously something in his SEC theory.
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    HAVING IT LARGE

    With rare, period bodystyling, these modified 126s will never fail to stand out from the crowd. Pumped up with subtle and effective aftermarket additions, these grand #W126 #Mercedes make a very striking pair. Words Kyle Molyneux and images Eric Richardson. #Mercedes-Benz-W126 #Mercedes-Benz-V126 #Mercedes-Benz-C126 #Mercedes-Benz-500SEC #Mercedes-Benz-380SEL #ABC

    Take two Modified 126s. Prior to CCM getting hold of it this long-wheelbase #Mercedes-Benz served as a wedding car for 20 years.

    We hadn’t heard of D&W until we spotted these two Mercedes for sale at Classic Cars Manchester, both claiming body kits by the enigmatic Bochum tuner.

    From a time when #ABC-Exclusive was fitting gold plated wheels to 126 S-Classes, and Koenig was making widebody conversions for the 126 SEC, as 1980s aftermarket styling goes, the #D&W conversions here are low key, but - exposed screw heads aside - pretty successful in their own right.

    This 500SEC’s fleshed out form is particularly effective, coated in solid black paint and complemented by a low lying, three-piece Zender spoiler at the rear. The once flagship coupe is also packing 16-inch wheels that are a full two inches larger than standard and really ground the body. With a jaw Brad Pitt would be proud of, it’s the car I spend the most time looking at, but that’s probably got something to do with the fact the SEC is so ruddy cool even without the help of aftermarket modifications.

    The 380SEL’s deep bumpers, low sills and virgin white paint make it perfect Gulf state material, and it looks positively ridiculous in front of Shrigley Hall Hotel's stately frontage, the Cheshire based location for today’s sun kissed photoshoot. But the long-wheelbase 126 (V126) definitely has presence of the sort only a five-metre plus German limousine can achieve, along with the respect that goes with it.

    The V126 SEL and the C126 SEC are well known in Mercedes circles, but their influence reaches further than that. Yet as corrosion and other misfortunes continue to erode the number of survivors, they are a dying breed, drops in a stream that’s been drying at the source since the early 90s. Even more rare is a 126 Mercedes with period aftermarket additions, so to have two examples shoulder-to-shoulder here makes us feel seriously lucky.

    IN THE MOVIES

    These two cars are simultaneously anti establishment yet accepted as part of the 1980s Mercedes establishment, a time when aftermarket modifying really took off thanks to an abundance of companies ready to carry out the most extreme conversions the world had ever seen. Mercedes’ wealthy customers and their cars were prime candidates.

    D&W was one such firm, founded by Detlef Sokowicz and Werner Bauer in Dortmund in 1971 before moving to Wattensheid two years later. Bochum beckoned in 1977 and that’s where the company settled, expanding to Frankfurt in 1985 and adding a “mega center” to its HQ in 1988. This impressive, brand boosting structure had a small part in the 1991 German film Manta, Manta, which also featured several D&W tuned cars including a W201 190 that battles with the star of the show, an Opel Manta, during one (unintentionally) hilarious and action packed chase sequence.

    By 2001, D&W was turning over around €87m, but things changed during the global recession and it was rescued from bankruptcy in 2009. A hasty reformation pushed it towards selling thousands of aftermarket parts for all makes of cars, and today it claims more than 200 outlets across three continents and 21 countries.

    Supporting these is D&W’s hot pink, Playboy esque parts website (I’d advise not viewing it at work!), and working the brand’s image in the most spectacular and bizarre way, a North American F-86 Sabre jet fighter with leopard print paint and female manikins posing on the wings stands outside its Bochum headquarters. I think it’s fair to say D&W is not your average German tuning company.

    The air of mystery surrounding D&W extends to these feature cars, as there is no record of exactly when the branded bodykits were added, and there is no hint whether upgrades extended to the suspension or even the engine - getting behind the wheel of each car later, neither Mercedes felt any more or less wieldy than the stock item.
    However, this is not to say that these two cars are without fundamental merit. Previously owned by a Chinese expat, this 1982 500SEC (with 560 badging) has covered just 61,000 miles and was in a collection for 10 years, prior to Classic Cars Manchester acquiring it.

    As well as the bodykit and diamond cut alloy wheels, inside there’s full grey leather upholstery with black piping, and an electrically adjustable Raid steering wheel akin to period #AMG efforts. Other equipment includes air conditioning, cruise control, front electric memory seats, an electric rear blind, a tilting and sliding sunroof, a Blaupunkt stereo and an alarm system backed by central locking. With all this in mind, Lee Farrell of Classic Cars Manchester is asking £10,995.

    The #1984 380SEL is £2,500 cheaper and has covered 20,000 miles more. As well as the D&W bumpers and skirts, it boasts a colour coded front grille and #BBS wheels, which make its past all the more surprising - prior to CCM getting hold of it, this long-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz served as a wedding car for 20 years. During that time, it even had a discreet rear spoiler. Cosseting those within is blue velour upholster)7 and matching carpets. Unlike the SEC, it features Zebrano trim, plus electric windows and mirrors, central locking, a brick like #Blaupunkt head unit and #ABS .

    It is the 500SEC I find myself behind the wheel of first and one improvement strikes home immediately. The Raid helm is much, much smaller than the SEC’s notoriously large standard item and lends the grand coupe a more sporty feel, even if the turning circle remains the same. The leather wrapped wheel is also ribbed on the underside around the nine and three o’clock positions, giving your fingers a better grip of the rim.

    NEVER GETS OLD

    I’m well accustomed to the M117 V8’s offbeat soundtrack, but it’s still thrilling to hear again and has the same impact as listening to a heavy metal album after a period gathering dust on a shelf. The aluminium motor doesn't pile on revs like a modern V8, rather it stacks them in a controlled and brutally efficient manner, arriving at the maximum 299lb ft of torque at 3,000rpm before achieving the full 228bhp at 4,750rpm (500SECs built during 1985 to 1991 had even more performance).

    The V8 sits on top of a double-wishbone front axle, which is teamed with a semi trailing arm design at the rear, the latter also with torque compensation technology to reduce squatting and diving under acceleration and braking respectively. It’s a highly effective combination for long distance comfort and, body roll aside, provides unbelievable handling balance for a car of the SEC’s size.

    The 380SEL shares this set up bar the torque compensation tech (hydropneumatic level control was optional on both cars), yet feels less interested in satisfying the keen pilot. That’s not surprising given that most SEL owners were more concerned with space and luxury than pace and involvement round their local back route. This is echoed in the driving position, which is much higher than the SEC’s and leaves you towering over the slimline dashboard.

    The 380SEL’s M116 V8 underwent dramatic changes during its time in service. For example, its cubic capacity increased from 3,818cc seen at its launch in June 1980, to 3,839cc from October 1981 until September 1985 when it was replaced by the 4.2-litre 420SEL with the same block. October 1981 also saw the compression ratio jump from 9.0 to 9.4, but power decreased from 215bhp to 201 bhp. However, torque leapt from 225lb ft to 232lb ft, recovering some in-gear performance. The reason for all this work? To achieve a reduction in fuel consumption and exhaust emissions, this task placed under the banner ‘Mercedes-Benz Energy Concept’.

    THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT

    The 3.8-litre engine was the smallest V8 in the 126-series range and lacks the low down grunt of the 500SEC’s powerplant. But it makes all the right noises and does its best work just before the redline, which is no surprise when peak power hits at 5,250rpm. Although slightly narrower than the SEC, the SEL still feels like a bigger car - when tackling sharp turns, you are all too aware that its length trumps the grand coupe’s by 225mm.

    The SEL is also 34mm taller than the SEC, meaning more room for your bonce and an altogether more spacious feel in the cabin. Of course, the SEC can’t hold a candle to the LWB S-Class’s rear legroom, but it does offer more supportive seats and a similar sized boot.

    It is funny how, even when dressed in rare, aftermarket addenda, we still talk about the fundamental virtues of these 126s. On this occasion, the tuner parts are a pleasant distraction from the car underneath, although their exact origin remains something of a mystery.

    I find it ironic that during the era of unrestrained tinkering that was the 1980s, these cars were granted nothing more than minor nips and tucks. And while other tuners have matured since that magical period, D&W has gone to new extremes with a new business model, seemingly with the aim of attracting a different audience altogether. The company clearly doesn’t like following the crowd!

    Colour coded BBS rims with high profile tyres on the 380 V8. SEL's Zebrano wood trim with a Blaupunkt unit seated in between.

    This 500SEC is a Batmobile for the thinking man.

    CAR #Mercedes-Benz-500SEC-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz-380SEL-V126
    ENGINE #M117 4.973cc V8 / #M116 3.839cc V8
    POWER 228bhp @ 4.750rpm / 201bhp @ 5.250rpm
    TORQUE 299lb ft @ 3.000rpm / 232lb ft @ 3.250rpm
    TRANSMISSION 4-speed auto RWD / 4-speed auto RWD
    WEIGHT 1.610kg / 1.615kg
    0-62MPH 8.1 sec / 9.8sec
    TOP SPEED 140mph / 130mph
    FUEL CONSUMPTION 18.6mpg / 19.9mpg
    YEARS PRODUCED 1981 - 1991 / 1980 - 1985

    OVERVIEW

    Take a 126-series chassis and add a strong and old school, eight-cylinder engine, and you have a world beating combination - this long-wheelbase saloon and coupe also have added visual impact. Figures for a standard #1982 500SEC and a standard #1984 380SEL; mpg according to EEC urban.

    There is plenty of room to stretch out in the 126-series SEL.
    The SEC was only offered with a V8, the SEL sixes and V8s.
    From the wheel to the seats, the SEL feels like a very big car.
    Grey leather with black piping in the two-door Mercedes.
    Unusual grille mesh of unknown origin on the SEC.
    Both Mercedes here have covered pretty acceptable distances. ‏ — at London, UK
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    Reach for the star – youngtimer #1989 #Mercedes-Benz-500SEC-C126

    The tide has changed and Mercedes’ old flagship coupes are now slowly but surely increasing in value, so grab one of these V8 grand tourers while you still can!

    The classic car market is a curious place. At the top end, superstars such as the 300SL Gullwing, 190SL and Pagoda SL are all rapidly increasing in value - the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI) reporting increases of around 17 percent in the 12 months since its last assessment.

    Looking towards the other end of the spectrum, you find the youngtimers, otherwise known as modern classics, built from the mid 1970s to very early 90s. Not quite achieving full classic status just yet, these cars are currently very affordable to most and often prove themselves capable of being more than just weekend wheels. They are also relatively straightforward to maintain, making them even more attractive to those with shallower pockets and who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty.

    As ever, which modern classic #Mercedes-Benz you buy all depends on personal preference. But if you are in the market for something with a degree of modernity about it, including features such as air conditioning, electric seats and so forth, then you can’t go far wrong with a 126-series SEC, once the pinnacle of #Mercedes ’ coupe range. Being something of an SEC fan, it was a very welcome surprise to receive a call from Jonathan Aucott, proprietor of Avantgarde Cars in Tamworth, Staffordshire, inviting me to sample the 1989 500SEC you see gracing these pages.

    Debuting at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September #1981 , the SEC was introduced by Mercedes as the successor to the C107 SLC, although it was based on the #W126 S-Class rather than an SL, as in the SLC’s case. Thus the SEC carried the model code #Mercedes-Benz-C126 . If you were the sort of person who usually sat in the back while someone else drove, you bought the S-Class, but if you preferred taking control then the SEC was the car for you. That does not mean the coupe’s rear quarters are uncomfortable, however. Designed to take four adults in total, the SEC’s long doors and retractable front seat belt arms offer good access to two well padded rear seats.

    Choosing the driver's seat instead, a suitable position can be found in seconds thanks to the door mounted, seat adjustment switches. At lower speeds, I find a more upright seating position suits in the SEC, as there is a lot of car to keep track of. Out on the open road, however, a more laid back position feels better suited to what the 500SEC can offer the driver looking for thrills on quiet B-roads.

    GENTLE GIANT

    Although the SEC is 4,935mm long and 1,828m wide, it never feels out of its depth on winding British roads. With just over three turns lock to lock, the recirculating balls steering gives a degree of feedback, though a touch more would be no bad thing, while the ride is, as one would expect from the 126 platform, exemplary.
    With a keen right foot, I find the 500SEC very eager to please, and not too far off what the much coveted 560 model can offer.

    Claiming 4,973cc, this 500SEC’s M117 V8 gives away 574cc to its big brother (due to a shorter piston stroke), while offering 261 bhp at a frantic 5,200rpm - 35bhp less than a similar aged 560SEC without a catalyst. Hut the 500’s peak torque is an impressive 299lb ft, just 37lb ft less than its big brother. All of which means the 110kg lighter #Mercedes-Benz-500SEC is a mere four tenths slower to 62mph, punching through the benchmark time in 7.2 seconds before the fun ends at 146mph (the #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC touches the magical 155mph). The 500SEC’s trump card is fuel economy, returning 17.9mpg on the EEC urban cycle, 32.1 mpg at 56mph and 25.5mpg at 75mph, versus the 560SEC’s 16.5mpg, 26.7mpg and 21.9mpg respectively. But who cares about economy, anyway?

    DOWN TO BUSINESS

    To find out what the market can offer, I spoke to Jonathan Aucott, proprietor of Avantgarde Cars. “The days of these Mercedes being bargain basement cars have now gone. Prices bottomed out about five years ago, when £1,500 cars existed and were usable but needed some work. The market has gone in search of the high quality cars, which is pushing up the prices of those cars that fit the criteria, while the lower priced cars are quite rough, unless you’re lucky.

    “There are a number of weaknesses to watch out for if you’re buying an SEC, though,” admits Jonathan. “The leading edges of the front wings above the bumper are dirt traps, and eventually rot. Likewise the rear wings over the rear bumper - these take a lot more work to repair than the front wings, which are bolted on, but still cost about £300 per wing.

    “Beyond that I have found that no matter what age or mileage of the car, the headlining tends to sag, usually just behind the sunroof, as a result of the glue drying out over the 20 plus years since it was applied. It can be repaired for somewhere in the region of £300, and most of that is taken up by the labour costs to remove the trim that retains the headlining.”

    The other issue any prospective SEC owner should be aware of is a corroding rear bulkhead, which sits below the parcel shelf. With the boot open, reach under and feel for any rust. Alternatively, if rot has taken a good hold it can be seen by looking down through the rear screen into the gap between the parcel shelf and the window rubbers. If corrosion exists here then it is probably wise to walk away from the car, as repairs are simply uneconomical.

    With the range comprising four V8 models (the 380SEC, 420SEC, 500SEC and 560SEC - #C126 ), one might presume values of survivors ascend in that order, but that isn’t necessarily the case.

    “What I have found is that the 1985-on, post facelift cars tend to command a higher price than the pre facelift cars, while engine size doesn’t make a huge amount of difference,” reckons Jonathan. “A 560 might make 10 per cent more than a 500, while a 420 might make 10 per cent less, but overall condition is key. Yes, there are collectors who will pay a little extra to have a 560 instead of a 500, but for most customers it comes down to one thing - condition.

    “One other aspect that helps an SEC sell is its colour scheme,” continues Jonathan. “Dark coloured cars with a light interior seem to be the most desirable, while lighter coloured cars tend to stay in stock longer. I don’t know why that is, perhaps people feel the darker colours make the car look more purposeful, but it certainly is the case in my experience.”

    FIND YOUR OWN

    The insurance premium on a modern classic like this example should not be too bad. Peter Best Insurance (peterbestinsurance.co.uk), quoted £290 for the car you see here, based on a 48-year old driver living in London and limited to 3,000 miles per annum. However, that policy requires that the car is stored in a garage.

    Finding that low mileage SEC backed by a full service history is the Holy Grail, but this inevitably pushes up the price. Be patient in your search though, and you will be rewarded with a youngtimer that still has grin inducing performance, and a value that may well increase during your ownership of the car.

    The SEC’s rear quarters offer more room than the SLC’s.
    A big boot earns the SEC another big tick - it’s a real GT.
    Detailed door cards paved the way for the new S-Class coupe’s.
    The cabin carries an air of grace with added safety and space.
    Newer Mercedes could learn a lot from the comfort of these seats.

    An auto was the only way to go; electric windows are a boon.
    Like a big, grizzly bear, the M117 V8 really shows its teeth once wound up.
    This is arguably the C126 SEC's best angle as it flashes by you at effortless speed.

    TECH DATA
    Mercedes-Benz 500SEC C126
    Engine #M117 4,973cc V8
    Power 261bhp @ 5.200rpm
    Torque 299lb ft @ 4.000rpm
    Transmission 4-speed auto, RWD
    Weight 1,650kg
    0-62mph 7.2sec
    Top speed 146mph
    Fuel consumption 17.9mpg
    Years produced 1981-1991

    This is one of the best SECs around, and thus you’ll pay handsomely for it - but the rewards are almost priceless.
    Figures tor a 1989 car without a catalyst as pictured; fuel consumption according to EEC urban.
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