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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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    Best Germans. A mild evening in late May - the economy is booming and it will soon be storming around Ebbe Carlsson. Then meet West Germany's most advanced cars for a duel in the middle of Stockholm. We follow the board professional.

    The two cars leave the Grand Hotel for an assessment tour of the quiet early summer evening.

    LYXKRIG BMW v MERCEDES

    BMW 730 against MB 300SE The technical specification is similar. But the cars could not be more different.

    Two sedans pass the Royal Dramatic Theatre. Leading car, Mercedes-Benz 300SE V126 SWB, flashing left and steer towards Blasieholmen. BMW 730iA E32 SWB follow. The duo creep run up the little Arsenalsgatan and passes Society, Mr club where leading businessmen and politicians have met and spent time undisturbed for nearly 200 years.

    It lies a kind of exclusive correctness of the Society, not unlike a sand-colored Mercedes 300SE. The model with the internal code W126 presented at the Motor Show in Frankfurt in 1979 but the first pen features were already in autumn 1971. The aim was that the final product would be absolute Mercedes flagship model for ten years, why was the level of ambition of max. To rein in runaway fuel consumption was high on the priority list right from the beginning and became even more important with the oil crisis of 1973. A tricky equation as security, comfort and luxury accessories rather made the car heavier. You had to compensate with extensive aerodynamic work and weight-saving measures alloy steel and body parts in aluminum.

    The first W126-cars, six-cylinder ones, rolled out the brand new factory in Sindelfingen spring 1979 and got a safe and other Puritans of choking. The chrome bumpers were replaced with practical and US-friendly protective polyurethane where the front was also designed to reduce lift trends in high speed. Even the wheels sticking out through a modern aerodynamic design. Although the car was filled with accessories like ABS brakes and airbags stayed wave of below 1600 kg. And wind tunnel work had paid off, the new S-class could boast the lowest drag coefficient of any size sedans at the time (0.36 Cd).

    Nine years later, in spring #1988 Mercedes-Benz 300SE V126 SWB is perceived as much more traditional than the newly launched rival BMW 730iA. It is more than Café Opera Society. Hipper and loaded with exciting technology that electronically adjustable shocks and innovations that reveal what the 90s will accommodate.

    With the ability to choose the V12 engine marks BMW more Mercedes place at the top is threatened. And the equipment list is as long as the stock market pages of Dagens Industri - accessories such as telephone, fax machine and wine cooler in the back seat cauldrons for extra vague sense decade.

    But being innovative is not necessarily a positive trait. The goal of this German luxury car duo is to give Charlie decision making to choose any of them. It is a man of refined taste and high demands on function and quality. He is traditionally Mercedes-owners although he with respect to shareholders drove the Volvo 760 GLE for some years. He has by virtue of his position could command hit two representatives of BMW and Mercedes. The duo is now swinging left and confronted him outside the Grand Hotel, where he set time ladders from a late meeting with a group of investors.

    Charlie, among friends known as Callis, greets short on brand representatives and go one lap around the cars. Goes one. Nodding approvingly at the L-shaped rear lights on the BMW, he remembers the resurrection, when the model was presented. Opens and closes the door once extra, grunts something before he sits down in the bucket BMW seat. He starts up six cylinders, put in the D position and watching in amazement of the modern instrumentation. He provides gas and Mercedes driver following closely behind. The two cars leave the Grand Hotel for an assessment tour of the quiet early summer evening.

    After training at the School of Colleges School in Stockholm Charlie worked more or less around the clock through the sixties and seventies. Thanks to a series of smart investments (and if truth be told, a huge amount of initial capital) he has in the 80s could wind down and today sits just two boards. A form of comfortable and very deliberate risk diversification as one of the companies operating in the telecom and the other belongs to the backbone of Swedish industry, pulp.

    The mission of the latter includes a lot of traveling by car to the north. Yes, and weekend trips to summer pleasure out of Smadalaro. The experience of these two German spearhead locomotives different large letters Callis quickly. BMW charms with unexpected revving in the sixth grade, the 182 horsepower feels downright a nimble. And the footwork is clearly faster than the Mercedes, yes Callis smiles in front of the small three-spoke steering wheel and go almost to the cord in right on the promenade. Mercedes is not visible in the rear-view mirror - and that BMW offers driving pleasure even in the luxury class is obvious.

    Second generation BMW 7 Series with internal code E32 still feels hyper-modern, it was presented after just over two years earlier, in July, 1986.

    Besides amazing modern and sporty model features stack up with the first German V12 engine in fifty years in the 750i. A daring mark to overtake Mercedes - both mental and on the Autobahn. This jaw got knocked BMW to introduce an electronic speed limiter at 250 kmh in response to the German discussion of, woe and horror, speed limits on the Autobahn. BMW 750i was aiming directly at the recently presented Mercedes-Benz 560SEL W126 with a V8. Daimler-Benz is working on a V12 to the next generation W140 S-Class is not known yet.

    The journey continues through the evening quiet town, there will be car outside the castle. Inside the burgundy interior of the Mercedes 300SE are more passengers than drivers materials and aromas are of another kind. The ride quality is world class realizes Callis over the cobblestones in the Old Town, the back end is completely unaffected even if one sits more than in the big chairs with openwork leather. Callis relaxes behind the big steering wheel. The controls, even anger, feels older but also more substantial than in the BMW. The journey continues through the evening quiet town, there will be car outside the castle. Inside the burgundy interior of the Mercedes 300SE are more passengers than drivers materials and aromas are of another kind.

    Callis notes that Mercedes rolls heavily and feels more stable, throttle response is calmer - properties in line with his habitual Mercedes-driving style.

    When it starts to obscure the test run over. Charlie has decided its next car is nothing he reveals the smallest mine, moreover, he would keep the matter for deliberation with his wife before lifting the handset - to the United Car. For although he felt powerful in the back seat of the Mercedes, he experienced a new feeling behind the wheel of the BMW 730iA. On the verge of forbidden excitement - both when he lapped the BMW sixth grade and soon after got looks from two girls in tight stonewashed jeans that almost caressed BMW nose when they crossed a crosswalk. Callis trips with light rose to its soon replaced Mercedes. Throw a glance at his reflection in a shop window. Feel young and fresh. He is, after all, still only fifty-nine ...

    Power windows were standard - trip computer and cruise control some of the many options in the BMW. Reach for the stars is more aim with the star of Mercedes 300SE.

    BMW destabilize the Mercedes before, given first place. Mercedes rims with low profile tires was one of the updates in the revision to the 1986 model.

    Postmodernist Claes Luthe who in 1976 took on the role of chief designer for BMW Paul Bracq is behind the design of the E32 that would characterize BMW for many years to come.
    Total ten different engines were available to choose 7-Series model cycle - four sixes, four V8s and two V12's.
    Mercedes unloads 375-liters, compared to 475 in the entire BMW. BMW has utility in the door, the Mercedes a warning triangle.

    OWNERS VIEW

    / #BMW-730iA-E32 / #BMW-730iA / #BMW-730i-E32 / #BMW-E32 / #1988 / #BMW / #BMW-7-Series / #BMW-7-Series-SWB / #BMW-7-series-E32 /

    1988 OWNER: FABIAN GRANATH

    "When I saw the ad I did not believe it was true. It was only BMW 730iA 1988 1500 mil, broken board computer ... "This was 2014, and Fabian Granath went and bought the car in the crash. It had been shut down since the first owner passed away in 1996. Since the purchase Fabian has provided it with new oils and tires - and fixed the broken board computer. The car is in an almost painful untouched top condition and has now gone over 1,800 mil.

    "The direction is very stable even at high speeds," says Fabian. "It's a really nice touring car, you sense that it was at least ten years ahead of its time.

    Total sold 770 pieces of the BMW 7 Series cars in Sweden in 1988 (of which 267 pieces 750i), while sales were plummeting to 550 the following year. Generation E32 was produced until 1994, a total of 311,015 copies.

    / #Mercedes-Benz-300SE-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SE / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126 /

    MERCEDES 300SE 1988 OWNER: JONAS SJOGREEN

    "These cars is aging so damn good, I wanted the feeling of quality and elegance rather than horsepower - 300's the sensible choice economically compared with 500 and 560 versions. This has all the equipment and is well on price - I am convinced that fine specimens are a good investment says Jonas who does not have any plans to sell.

    On the contrary, Jonas had marinated Mercedes dream long and well, and recently bought the car story of a childhood friend who owned it for 15 years.

    Mercedes S-Class was considerably more expensive than the BMW 7 Series but that did not stop 292 Swedes from hitting to 1988. The model was originally launched in three versions, 280SE, 380SE and 500SE - but overall was twenty versions offered for twelve years until 1991 . From plush 280S with four-speed manual transmission to the armored 560SEL W126 - production figure stayed at 818,105 cars.
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    MERCEDES 1001 SEL THE GOLD STANDARD / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #V8 / #M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117

    Never heard of a 1001SEL before? Well read on to find out what the utimate pimp-Mercedes-Benz is all about. Captains of industry, despots, drug dealers – that’s who you expect to see behind the wheel of an AMG SEL, right? So what’s a Birmingham pharmacist doing in this gold-plated retrobarge? Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Dan Sherwood.


    I’m not your typical pharmacist,” grins Arfan Talib. “I guess you could call this a legal drug dealer’s car.” And that’s about as bold an intro as you’re likely to find in the retro car sphere.

    You need to be bold to drive a car like this, of course, it very much goes with the territory. The W126-generation S-Class was the brashest statement of 1980s CEO drama and dictator chic it was possible to buy in the 1980s, and its impact hasn’t diminished a micron in the decades that have since passed. The imposing flagship, particularly in #LWB form as we see here, is a brutal, girthsome thing that will have no truck with words like ‘frugal’, ‘sensible’ or ‘value’. It’s a big car for big personalities.

    Interestingly, however, a guiding principle of W126 development was to integrate Mercedes-Benz’s new ‘Energy Program’: lightweight materials and countless hours in the wind tunnel made the car as frugal as it could possibly be. An improved ride and superior handling were also key elements, and a bafflingly broad array of engine options helped in Mercedes’ aim to retain the ‘world’s best-selling prestige luxury sedan’ title whilst also appealing to a more diverse audience.

    But enough of that tommyrot. This is a 1001SEL, the top of the tree, and the Energy Program can go hang. You see, the 560 (which is hidden underneath) was the big dog, the 5.5-litre V8 model, but in an era when money shouted, too much was never enough. A ‘1000’ badge or something of that nature was a sort of in-joke for Mercedes-Benz aficionados; companies such as Trasco, Chameleon and Robert Jankel Design would modify W126s for discerning customers, basing the nomenclature on the principle that ‘a 1000SEL is twice as good as a 500SEL’. There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding what a 1000 or 1001 is because it’s an ethereal concept; if it’s modified and opulent, you can call it a 1000 if you so wish… and if you want to go further beyond that, why not spec yourself a 1001, or a 5000, or even a 10000? The width of the bootlid is the limit, really.

    “I’m a serial petrolhead and a massive fan of eighties cars,” Arfan explains. “I’ve owned this car for a couple of years now, and I had to recommission it as it had been sitting unused for quite a while before I bought it. I had it trailered up to The SL Shop in Redditch, who had worked on my old AMG 560SEC, and set them loose on it. All the fluids, filters, plugs, leads, sensors and gaskets were changed, drain holes unblocked, brakes unseized, and the delaminated windscreen replaced, with any body corrosion found along the way being eliminated and Waxoyled.” As is so often the way with cars of this vintage, the thing still refused to start after the engine had been refreshed, but Arfan’s speculative punt on a second-hand £500 ignition module paid off, and the thunderous 5.5-litre motor rumbled into life.


    Its AMG heads and cams give it a fair lick of urgency, and that leads us to an interesting chapter in the M-B/AMG relationship… The development of the W126 all occurred some time before Mercedes-Benz (or rather, DaimlerChrysler) took a controlling interest in AMG in 1990; before that, AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH had operated as its own independent entity – an engineering firm specialising in tuning primarily Mercedes-Benz products. So unlike today, when it’s possible to walk into a Mercedes-Benz showroom and choose from a variety of official AMG models, it was more the case that an AMG W126 was a bespoke affair, looked on kindly by M-B but by no means officially sanctioned. They were hugely popular though, with AMG offering tuning options and body kits for all W126s – saloons, coupés, even limousines – as well as an ostentatious wide-body kit for the coupé.


    The AMG catalogue offers a rather boisterous look for the exterior of Arfan’s SEL, the skirts and spoilers making an already imposing car seem more than a little intimidating. “The body was treated to a full two-stage machine polish, and detailed over the course of two days to bring the original paint back to life,” he says. “The leather trim was all washed and refreshed too, and the engine bay was detailed by hand.” The level of fastidiousness really is quite phenomenal, and the interior is just about as plush as Richard Branson or classic-era Alan Sugar could have hoped for: heated seats all round with reclining rears, electric window blinds and curtains, a Motorola carphone for barking at minions with, and a Nakamichi stereo to drown out the tedium of the paupers outside.

    If there’s one thing that characterises this car above all else, it’s the stance. And we’re not talking ‘stance’ in the modern sense of millimetrically-precise fitment of arch-busting rims, but rather the timeless menace of a car sitting aggressively over beautifully finished wheels. It may seem like a contradiction in terms to talk about hunkering down a luxobarge limo into a more sporting gait, but it’s been pulled off to perfection here.

    The SEL came with the option of hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, and Arfan’s modified his system to allow the car to sit lower on its Bilstein dampers and AMG springs – a neat and subtle touch, one for the Benz nerds to enjoy. And the crowning glory of the setup is the rolling stock. “I had the AMG wheels split open and refurbed, with the lips polished,” says Arfan. “The centres are colour-coded to the body, and the OZ fasteners have been gold-plated to match the badges.” And what would a car like this be without gold badges? What’s the point of rocking a row of zeroes on the bootlid if they don’t glint offensively in the sunlight?

    “This project has also provided a great outlet for me to bond with my father, and a lot of it is thanks to him,” Arfan enthuses. “It’s something we both enjoy, and also a chance for me to give something back to him and let him enjoy a car he had missed out on in his day, as they were too expensive while he was bringing up a young family and putting me through my education.


    It means a lot as it’s the sort of car he’d have dreamed of back in the eighties, but could never afford as they cost more than a house. It was a car he always admired, and it was actually one of his old bosses who got us acquainted with the owner of this SEL. You see, the car was originally unearthed by one of its previous owners who I managed to track down via forums; he’d found the car on a caravan site in Derbyshire looking sorry for itself and unloved, but studded with AMG goodies. When he trailered it home and started tearing into it, he discovered that it was no ordinary 560SEL, but in fact bore all the hallmarks of being a genuine AMG car; everything’s stamped with the correct markings, the V8’s a lot more potent than stock, it all seems to be legit.” This is where we came in, of course, with the car rescued by Arfan from another prolonged slumber, his old man’s contact greasing the wheels.

    “My initial plans for it were just to get the thing roadworthy, but I’m a bit obsessive about detailing and I can get carried away,” Arfan laughs. “I love having gleaming bodywork on all my cars, regardless of conditions; when I start cleaning my car in the morning, it can take all day.” You can see how that would be a particular problem with the SEL as it’s such a vast machine – surely the sheer acreage of steel would be enough to make him hanker for something more modest instead, like perhaps an SEC coupé? “Ah, well I’ve got a 560SEC already,” he says. “I wanted to have the key W126 models of the era, a matching set if you will, so there needed to be an SEL on the driveway. I love it too – it’s luxurious, it has a lot of presence, and it has real gangster appeal!” Well yes, you can’t really argue with that, can you?


    This all represents the latest in a long line of retro aspirations for Arfan, which makes the build all the more meaningful. Starting out with Japanese cars, from a kaleidoscope of Hondas to some extremely lairy Mitsubishi Evos, his overriding admiration for the three-pointed star has seen these affections coalesce into something more old-school as well as a hobby to act as a strong family bond. “It was always my plan to get into classic cars, as I preferred the way they look and drive, and they feel less plastic than modern cars, with less complications of sensors and electronics,” he asserts. “This car is more of a garage queen at present, only coming out in good weather and for weekend drives – and for special occasions, like shows or weddings.” And this makes perfect sense.


    With a collection of cool cars, why not keep the chairman of the board on its pedestal? Its specialness is what makes it what it is, so that’s a thing that needs to be maintained. Particularly if it takes all day to clean it. “I love seeing people’s reactions when I’m out and about in the SEL,” Arfan continues. “I guess most people are confused about what type of Mercedes this is due to the 1001SEL badge, and I get questions like ‘Is this a 10-litre?’. And this sheer curiosity it creates is what makes the car stand out more - oh yeah, and the V8 noise through the Remus pipes is pretty disruptive!”


    One thing’s for sure – there’s aggression simmering away behind that brash exterior that more than cashes the cheques written by the golden badges and broad, squat footprint. Just remember, Arfan isn’t a gangster, he’s a pharmacist. If he’s rolling through your neighbourhood, he’s not there to create mischief; he’s probably just got his dad reclining in the back, fielding business calls on the carphone. This thick slice of no-nonsense muscle is shrouded in a wellcut suit and, like a footballer who’s been to Ozwald Boateng, there’s nothing particularly subtle about it – but at the same time, it’s like a millpond: all seems serene from outside, but there are dangerous currents beneath. Just as an AMG SEL should be.

    “I love seeing people’s reactions… I guess most people are confused about what type of Mercedes this is due to the 1001SEL badge”

    Tables and curtains? Now that’s just showing off!

    There’s no denying that this SEL V126 is properly pimp.

    Specification #Mercedes-Benz-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG55-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-1001SEL / #Mercedes-Benz-500SEL /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 5.5-litre V8, AMG cams, AMG heads, #Remus stainless steel exhaust system, fourspeed automatic transmission.

    CHASSIS: 17in #AMG 3-piece split rims with body-coloured centres, gold-plated #OZ fasteners and polished lips, 245/45 (front) Dunlop SP Sports and 265/45 (rear) Falkens, lowered AMG self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension with AMG springs and #Bilstein shocks, stock SEL brakes.

    EXTERIOR: AMG Series bodykit with SEC bumper modified to fit, colourcoded bumpers and chrome strips, gold-plated badges.

    INTERIOR: Cream leather heated seats with integrated walnut picnic tables, AMG leather steering wheel, AMG MPH dials, AMG wood trim option, reclining rear bench, electric window blinds, blue curtains, retro Motorola car phone, Nakamichi stereo system.

    THANKS: “I would like to thank my father for helping me source the car, and also the continued support he has given me in my crazy car projects since my days as a student”

    Stonking 5.5 V8 is an absolute beast.

    The ‘1001 badge is a kind of ‘in joke’ for Mercedes aficionados.

    “The body was treated to a full two-stage machine polish, and detailed over the course of two days”
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    50 years #Mercedes-Benz S-Class, model series #Mercedes-Benz-W108 , #Mercedes-Benz-W116 , #Mercedes-Benz-W126 , #Mercedes-Benz-W140 . Connoisseurs know what we write: it's all about the automobile Oberhaus. We compare four generations of the S-Class. Which series has the most comfort, which is for everyday use at which the best investment? Me(h)rcedes 50 years #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class .

    Experts know what we are writing - W108, W116, W126, W140: Click here around mobile Oberhaus. Four generations of the S-Class, four luxury. Who is the best sedan from the home team? And what can and should be (yet) afford? it Does not work.

    At the top of automotive heaven shines for over 100 years a particularly bright star: Mercedes-Benz. The skill of the Swabian brand has always represented the S-Class: more Mercedes does not go. In her first drove respectable businessmen later less reputable half Welter and nowadays many trendy hipsters who succumbs to the charm of the old bourgeois art technology. 108, 116, 126, 140 - with these numbers we drove always anticipate. True to the back current Mercedes slogan: the best or nothing. And who is today among the south-classics of the best?

    W108 - the vertical as a design element, the predecessor of the W108 is divided the body of the produced since 1959 "tailfin" - series. However, the unit body no longer met the increased demands of the Mercedes-clientele soon. Therefore, there was the end of 1965 a new upper class that was indeed almost the same size as its predecessor, but not equal to lean worked. Primarily this was due to the lower by six centimetre’s (2 ½ in) roofline and the disappearance of Peilkanten at the stern. The W108/ #Mercedes-Benz-W109 was released, the extended version V108 came six months later and offered the guests Fond ten centimetre’s more legroom. First, the W108 offered only with the reamed to 2.5 and 2.8-liter displacement six-cylinder engine from the 220. That was enough for 130 to 170 hp at the rear wheels of the single-joint swing axle, which is also inherited from its predecessor. Especially the 250S proved initially but as vulnerable: He was too hot and sometimes ate the piston. As a replacement more often or 2.8-liter fuel-efficient diesel engines were installed. Only new piston rings made of molybdenum extended the life expectancy of the small first molar. Those who wanted more power, had to wait #1968 to summer.

    Then the exception model of the series appeared: the 300 SEL 6.3 with the V8 from the 600th Affordable were later the 280 SE 3.5 and 300 SEL 3.5 (200hp DIN / 218hp SAE), which were known internally as W109. Gearbox side there were four courses, which are operated on the steering wheel or via joystick lever, and if desired an automatic. Until the end of 1972 almost 250,000 copies were built. Then it was time for a worthy successor. The term S-Class was the W108 the way after the fact, in the advertisement for the Mercedes W220 series #1998 levels.

    Mercedes-Benz W116 - earlier was more tinsel As early as the autumn of #1966 , shortly after the publication of the W108, the development work began on its successor. A first case: In development and design computers were used. In August 1972, the production of the W116 was on, but the official presentation in Paris took place at the motor show in September. On display were the first models 280S and SE and the 350SE. The engines were known, but new was the design of the W116. In the flat front, the broadband headlights touched the radiator grille. The car is 5.5 centimeters wide and as much longer, but lower by 1.5 centimeters. Total citations of predecessor are recognizable, but the W116 is an optically completely new automobile. Concession to the traditionalists were the twin chrome bumpers. Priorities of the developers at the time were the driving behavior and safety. For the former, there was a new front axle from the experimental C111 Wankel car and a modern rack and pinion steering.

    The diagonal swing axle rear came principle the Roadster R107, which was developed in parallel. Due to the accident prevention are abundant PVC in the interior and oversized roof pillars, sills and reinforced doors. Ever seemed the complex structure with its deformable ends and the stable cell solely dedicated to one purpose: the accident protection. Headrests and seat belts were initially although only at an additional cost, although the W116 in two disciplines is far classified over the then average. Expensive it was for customers from spring 1973, when the #Mercedes-Benz-450SEL (V116) with 225hp (DIN) and standard three-speed automatic was published. The top model in the series was handed in from the autumn of 1975 the 6.9 was, the legendary 286hp. Top 230 km/h made it the fastest production saloon of its time for the W116 in W126 - was elegant as a gentleman with a hat The W126 series from December 1979, of course, at the Sindelfingen plant, produces. But because the development already began eight years earlier, the Swabians could adequately respond to the oil crisis of 1973. The new S-Class was indeed more economical, but not a piggy bank. A lot of money has been invested in the design of lightweight, economical engines and low air resistance.

    With success: Depending on the model and features of the new up to 280 kg was easier. The mostly just updated drives were relieved, because they, in the case of the eight-cylinder engine for this series were even new designs made of light alloy and. Plenty of work in the wind tunnel brought an improvement in the cw value of 0.41 to 0.36 compared to its predecessor - the 1979 was a top value for a four-door sedan of this size. The chassis has been slightly revised, adopted in principle by the ancestors W116.

    From June 1980 it again gave a long-wheelbase version, the SEL, and called the end of 1991 a chic coupé, SEC. The top version was the 560SEL with initially 272 hp (with Kat 242, at the end of 300 hp), which was published in autumn 1985. At the same time a facelift took place. Now it was in the base models 280S, a five-speed gearbox and series except the 560 SEL models for all the catalyst operation were prepared. Optical lost the plastic side strips their flutes and the known from the options list Baroque Alus evaded alloy wheels Gullydeckel-style. About 810,000 sedans in the W126 series were produced, the last drove in early 1992 from the home team in the world. Mercedes-Benz W140 - Big-Benz not only for bosses We do not want here to intone prejudice canon. No, we want to praise: For more comfortable you can eigentac Lich not traveling with a car. The interior is as big as a zeppelin hangar - only much more convenient. The lush seats one likes to call club chairs. Nonsense!

    Club chairs are not electrically heated verstellwie or even massaging the back of the pilot. And they are seldom so pleasant kommod as the armchairs of the Big-Benz. The many electrical helpers culminate in a click of a button from the inside adjustable interior mirror, which is not really needed, because the rear-view mirrors anyway remembers the stored seat position of the chauffeur and automatically brings in position. And there's more on the miracle-Benz marvel: tempo-dependent parameter steering, electronic five-speed automatic, engines with four-valve technology and adjustable camshaft, ESP, voice control system, Parktronic and, and, and. 1981 began the development of the W140.


    Ten years later the Swabians then showed their masterpiece at the Geneva show. 1992 was followed by the 140V and a fairly massive geratenes Coupé. That same year also saw the first facelift. Thus, the Board responded to the early criticism of clientele. From the summer of 1993 it was then on 500 S on the trunk lid and the spring on the Schwaben presented finally the 140s-Mopf. After slimming optical thickness looked pleasing. But his end was already decided. Although happened to him in 1996 a small facelift ( #ASR , Sidebags, rain sensor series, Xenon headlights surcharge), but two years later ended after about 432,000 copies, the era of the first controversial Big-Benz.

    Comparison
    It has always been so: people rarely buy just one car. You acquire an image. Because they should be seen by neighbors, colleagues and friends as they want it. Like no other car was and is an S-class prosperity, prestige, charisma. But of course for innovation and technology leadership. Who pays three times a normal car, expect top performance. And rightly so. And was not disappointed at #Mercedes : Whether 108, 116, 126 or 140: Each car is in his time - and beyond - the automobile standard meter on which had work off the competition.

    So it is not about simple A-to-B-driving, but a way of life. The is still impressively fulfilled also at the present time. Even a W108 is good for your daily commute to the office. But only in the summer. Not that he would not move forward in the winter - but he is too good for salt attacks on the stylish sheet. His appearance is impressive, the space herrschaftlich. Huge luggage compartment, the interior is reminiscent of a saloon compartment of the Southern Railway Company in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. And almost as much space is also offered. If in the middle tray, the optional seat cushion is inserted, fit the front and rear pure three passengers.

    The driver can see through clearly drawn round instruments for long hood, a chrome star stands proudly at the end of the driving wind. Turn the key, immediately whispers of straight-six meek as a novice behind monastery walls. Loosen the long lever right laid down in the dry Bakelitvolant, brake, do gently Gas ... already floating the W108 from there. Of course, not to hunt through a quick slalom course, but as good as comfortable straight drove no end of the sixties.

    That should remain so until the appearance of the successor. But the W116 expands the comfort zone. Mass is to be replaced in the car set-up by nothing. And heavy is the first time in the house Daimler-Benz also so-called S-class. This is the baroque Chromzierrat as the double bumpers, but also the security owed. The in-house safety Pope, Béla Barényi had expended all his art. For passive safety include controlled deformable body ends, stable passenger cell, thick umschäumte fittings. For active safety ensure, among other things four disc brakes and at the end of his career, for the first time in Großserienbau, antilock brakes ABS. The W116 is like carved out of the proverbial Vollen. And so it goes also. Not that he would be cumbersome (perhaps as little 280 S). No, it's this rich road, the secure feeling of inmates to make almost all the bumps downright dull. From the engine compartment is a deep rumble is heard in most fierce sprint at the V8ern. Otherwise one hears little. From today's perspective a 116er is perhaps the most lavish and least timeless cars of this comparison. Completely indisputable, however: the classic Bruno Sacco-elegance of W126.

    Also it was a bit controversial. For bumpers made of recyclable plastic did not want to give up traditional values all customers. The S-Class of 80 is a child of the oil crisis. Streamlined, light-footed, efficient. That the Steering basically worked so imprecise as its predecessor, did not fall to continue. But the mixture of lightness and solidity made of the success. The W126 is from the rider quasi the most of W108 and W116. A real development so. Agile, better comfort, solid processed. At the same time of these understated elegance, as they can emit only old money really. This works even today. Featuring a landscaped W126 in muted blue Hanseaten you can still casually go to the Alster pre Atlantic Hotel.

    However, the grand entrance is who pulls up with a V140. He would be the ideal company car for scandal-priest Tebartz-van Elst. The picture also therefore fits so well because of the large car like a moving bishopric. This S-Class can really no question unanswered.

    Anyone starting out, boss. And cares little about what others think. On the route you realize: For a two-ton ship of the W140 is handy. Only when braking turns out moving masses which the pilot. His true role in the car history, the 140 not yet found. By "too fat" it is certainly adequately described in any way. Which is the best S-Class?

    It is impossible to make a fair choice here. All are technologically feasible for their time. All are popular as design icons of their era classics. Okay, maybe the W140 takes it a little more time. But he deserved it. Therefore, we would still have a good back up and put away him for now. When the W126 choice would be clear: once Please 500SE. We love the harmonious proportions of the "short". In a little more budget, we would choose a SEC with the sophisticated seat-belt, but that's another story. When W116, the ultimate decision may lead to properly bang only to over-Benz: a dramatic 450 SEL 6.9.

    Pragmatically, of course, a 350 or 450SE in terms of performance is more than enough. Only the W108 we took a meager 250S. Because he so beautifully plain and in the accountant equipment is a real value for bargains.
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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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