Pampered Panzer: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL

How’s this for the lap of luxury: purchased new at Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills (at an original MSRP of over $56,000, thank you very much), kept in the garage of a high-rise apartment building, and driven only 38,013 miles in 27 years! It may be priced a bit on the high side at $7,800, but this 1990 Mercedes 300SEL—yes, that’s L for lang, the stretched-wheelbase version—is a looker with a neat story. If you think you can support it in the fashion to which it has become accustomed, check it out here on craigslist in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, with thanks to Dirty Harry for the find (archived ad).

Sadly for this lovely Mercedes, when I see this car and know that it was owned by a lady living in a penthouse apartment, all I can think of is Lucille Bluth (as played by Jessica Walter) on the modern comedy classic Arrested Development. Fortunately, this car seems to have been in the hands of a more careful driver; the only flaws reported are “a couple bumper scratch marks” and an inoperable left rear window. My eyes may deceive me, but it also looks like one of the cross bars on the grille might be missing in that top photo.

The original owner has given up driving, so this near-new leather is ready to cosset the backside of a new driver. According to the ad, this “is like a two year old 1990 Mercedes,” and the condition of the interior supports this claim, with glossy, crack-free wood and supple hides all around. With just 177 horses’ worth of inline six lugging 3,640 pounds around, the 300SEL isn’t the fastest ‘Bahn stormer in the S-class family, but no matter—this pampered, low-mile car is perfect for cruising in comfort and high style!

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Comments

  1. Sparkster

    Wow that Sold fast, nice car

  2. Frank

    These are soooo good. I’ve driven many of these late W126 cruisers and they are really great cars. The styling is understated and still looks good today.
    The six is a good engine and just strong enough to lug this around. The 420SEL was good also, but the 560SEL is the daddy. With the 560, you can drive well into 3 figure speeds all day from LA to NYC in comfort. The transmissions in these late W126 cars are stout and were built for speed with long gearing. These tanks were the last good Mercedes built in my opinion.

    Like 1
    • TriPowerVette

      @Frank – You are so correct about the 560. I owned a 560SEL for more than 10 years. It was one of the best cars I ever had. It was surprisingly powerful.

      It could motor away from a light in a leisurely manner, because they start up in 2nd gear in normal operation. That’s right… so much torque that they leave the light in 2nd by design! But, if you need the extra get-moving, a firm press on the go pedal (or pull it down manually using the console-mounted shifter) and it will make 0-60 in 6 seconds flat!

      Not supercar territory, but dead even with a 1965 GTO. It’s a strong, stately Autobahn automaton. I have no idea what the author was writing about when he stated that these things weigh 3600 LBS! The left front fender weighs 3600 LBS.

      Everyone remembers the scene in Beverly Hills Cop, where Axel is waiting for the bad guy, Maitlan, outside Maitlan’s mansion. He has a comedic encounter with the two replacement police officers, assigned to keep an eye on him. Suddenly, the gates open, and Maitlan’s Menacing Black Mercedes (MMBM) comes out and enters the road stage left (makes a right turn). As the car pulls away, you can clearly see the ‘500SEL’ script on the trunk lid.

      I used to tell everyone that the show wanted to use the top end Mercedes for the scene, but just couldn’t afford a 560, so they had to settle for a 500! (In reality, the 560 didn’t make its appearance until 1985, but the movie was released in 1984.)

      At the time, (1988 in my case), the 560SEL was the most expensive Mercedes you could buy, except for the limo (OK, and special vehicles). Mine went out the door for a little over $72,000 in 1988 Dollars! (That would be more than $150,633.48, today.)

      I sold it to buy the car I currently have; a 1995 Jaguar XJ-6. It is my 5th Jaguar, and it really is lovely.

      In a lot of ways, I miss that Mercedes, though.

      Good memories. Thanks.

      Like 1
      • Harold Wood

        Is that thing the V-8 Gas Mercedes, if so I have one sitting out in my Pasture with the timing chain guides wore out on it that I bought to fix but never got around to it. I was so clean it looked like it just came off the showroom when I parked it but now the sun took its toll on the paint job and the new tires dry rotted off it. I drive a Jaguar too. but mine is a 2002 X-type, that little 2.5 V-6 in it will surprise you the power it has for such a small ford motor.

    • Dennis in Nevada

      The 123 and 126 Series of Mercedes Benz, is definitely ‘The Best of The Best’ in high quality, Built to outlast the original owner, and his great grandchildren, excellence in all areas.
      Bruno Sacco was the last great designer, a true Car guy, with passion. This is an excellent opportunity to get yourself into, the
      Last of the Great German automobiles. I’m holding out for a 1991 560 SEC myself.

      Like 1
  3. Fred w.

    Had an ’87 420SEL, a fine automobile that my wife still resents me for selling.When you consider what it would cost to take a $5000 average car and bring to this condition, if documented, this car was a steal.

  4. grant

    Gone already. No surprise, this is a text book example both of how to keep a car, and how to write an ad.

    Like 1
  5. Karguy James

    Drove one of these for years. Great car. Even with the 6 it was plenty peppy because of the gearing in the trans. But that was it’s weak spot on the 300. Trans would give up about 120k. A lot of car for the money this one. No wonder it is gone already.

  6. jdjonesdr

    At twice the price it would still have been gone in no time. You don’t find many like that any more.

    Like 1
  7. Gregwnc

    Yeah, this was a steal. Dad once owned a 420, vault of a car, but nothing this nice.

  8. Mark R

    Love the W126’s. I had a black ’91 560SEL and loved it. Got it second hand, with all documentation. List sticker price was 86K. When you cruise in these you just know you are in the safest car on the road, you can feel it. Princess Di hit a concrete pillar at nearly 100 and could have survived had she worn a seat belt, albeit that was in an S class. They are kinda hard on maintenance though, had several switch problems, ie windows, rear shade and others. Many visits to the Merc shop to keep it tip top but it was worth it. This car was worth all of the asking price IMHO.

  9. John C Cargill

    Beautiful car. And one of the best quality reputations of any Mercedes. Still see a lot of them around.

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