Steve Jobs’ Merc? 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC

It is the eternal question that will always spark spirited debate. If a classic car counts a famous person in its ownership history, does that increase its overall value? That is the one facing us with this 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500 SEC. Evidence indicates that it was once the daily driver of Steve Jobs of Apple fame. It presents well but does need some work. The owner places great store in its ownership history and believes that he could make it a valuable car once returned to our roads. If you feel the same, you will find the Mercedes located in Yucaipa, California, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The seller has set a price of $20,000 OBO for this German classic.

Finished in Astral Silver, this Mercedes presents nicely. The paint shines impressively, although it appears that it is wet from a recent wash, so I’d prefer to see the vehicle once it is dry. The panels are straight, with gaps that are tight and consistent. There are no significant marks or blemishes on either the panels or paint and no evidence of prior accident damage. Mercedes vehicles from this era are not renowned for rust problems, and if this one has spent its life in California, that will undoubtedly help its cause. The exterior trim and original alloy wheels are in generally good condition, while the tinted glass shows no evidence of flaws or scratches. The overall first impression with this 500 SEC is pretty positive.

We now reach the slippery slope of that which constitutes ownership history. The seller holds both the original Owner’s Manual and Warranty Registration Card, and these indicate that the car’s original owner was Steve Jobs from Apple. This evidence looks promising and seems to support the claim. Unfortunately, while he is willing to provide shots of these items, the owner provides no engine photos. This 500 SEC would be powered by a 4,973cc V8 that produced 184hp. The power found its way to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission, allowing the Merc to cover the ¼ mile in 17.1 seconds. While this all looks encouraging, there are a few things for potential buyers to consider. The first is that this is not a low mileage survivor. The odometer shows a reading of 197,000 miles, which would be about average for a vehicle of this type and age. The other is that this Merc doesn’t currently run or drive. It isn’t clear what its issues are, but it is to be hoped that they aren’t complex. Mechanical rebuilds on a 500 SEC are not cheap, and this is something that potential buyers will need to factor into the equation before they hand over their cash. We can hope that the owner is approachable to answer questions on this aspect of the vehicle, although nothing beats an in-person inspection.

The owner supplies no overview photos of this Merc’s interior. That is a shame because it is hard to ascertain its overall condition. It is especially important when you consider the size of the crack that has developed in the top of the dash pad. It isn’t clear whether this is an indication of other deterioration within this classic or an isolated problem due to UV exposure. The seats should be upholstered in supple leather, while the interior also features lashings of faux woodgrain trim. Mercedes leather tends to survive well, so it may need little more than some conditioner to have it presenting nicely. Safety and luxury items include a driver’s airbag, power windows, power locks, power seats, cruise control, but the original radio/cassette player has made way for a CD unit. It isn’t clear whether there have been any other interior modifications, but once again, this could be determined by an in-person inspection.

When a classic car is inextricably linked with a particular famous person, that undoubtedly impacts its potential value. Any Pontiac Trans Am that counts the late Burt Reynolds in its ownership history will certainly command a premium in the market. This has proven the case in recent auction results. However, that raises the question of whether Steve Jobs’ ownership of this 1984 Mercedes-Benz has the same impact. A pristine, low mileage example can command a price beyond $20,000, but it is an exceptional car that achieves that figure. While this one appears tidy and clean, it does not run or drive at present, suggesting that it needs some mechanical work. What do you think? Do you feel that the history of this classic justifies the asking price?

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Imagine what it’d be worth if it was his Bronco.

    Like 10
  2. alphasud Member

    I have a 86 560SEC I’m currently recommissioning and I can attest to the cost to bring these back from a state of disrepair. I’m sure the Astral Silver paint is full of crazing. The clear coats are usually failed by now unless they are garage queens. Both my 87 560SEL and the 86 suffer from this. Hopefully I will have the SEC back from the body shop next week. I also had to repair the A/C, Cruise, fuel injection issues, and high idle problems. Then there were the oil leaks and the broken sunroof which is common on those cars and extremely expensive to put right. With any luck she will be listed on BarnFinds this spring. Beautiful cars though and I consider them to be the last of the true Mercs.

    Like 10
  3. Jake8687 Member

    Reminds me of the Seinfeld episode when George thought he bought a car once owned by Jon Voight.

    Like 14
    • Casey J

      The dentist?

      Like 5
    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      In this case, proving the bite marks in the pencil belong to the original owner may be a daunting task.

      Like 1
  4. Joe Haska

    I think it is only worth something, if the buyer thinks it is and wants it because of that. We probably all have a celebrity crush, that might make us pay more for a certain car.

    Like 1
  5. Mark P

    Just me but who owned it is meaningless. I’m not interested in spending millions on Michael Jordan’s grungy sweaty jersey worn in game 7 either. I don’t get it but it’s a thing. Just not mine. As for the car, 20 large will still buy you a fairly nice running car that an oil filter for it won’t set you back a hundred bucks.

    Like 8
    • alphasud Member

      Basic maintenance won’t break your wallet but the hard to find model specific parts will!

      Like 4
  6. Troy

    Mark P. I agree with you to me ownership history doesn’t change the value with today’s stupid high market he may get the asking price

    Like 4
  7. Oldog4tz Oldog4tz Member

    Mr. Jobs famously never plated his Mercs and switched them every 6 months with near identical models. So there’s plenty of his around.

    Like 11
    • alphasud Member

      Good point. I seem to remember his BMW Z8 coming to market and it was believed it was the only car he ever owned with his name on the title. The others were company lease cars which makes the value of this car solely based on its mechanical and cosmetic condition. Which is about 5-7K running!

      Like 5
  8. waybomb

    A Mann fleece oil filter is about $6.00 even. And you can change it and the oil without even getting under the car.
    Where do you come up with $100.00?.

    Like 5
  9. BlondeUXB Member

    I wonder if sitting on Elvis Presley’s potty offers any halo-effect ?

    Like 4
  10. WayneS

    Looks like it is sold. Paint clear coat was definitely a problem with this era of Benz even with garage queens. A proper restro paint job would cost nearly as much as they are asking for the car.

    Like 2
  11. Jim

    All research I find, says the address on the card was built in 1994, so to me, this sales card from Mercedes is fake,
    “Apple’s corporate headquarters was originally located at Building 1 on 20525 Mariani Ave in Cupertino. The land east of Mariani One across De Anza Boulevard where the campus was built was originally occupied by the company Four-Phase Systems (later acquired by Motorola). It has an area of 850,000 square feet (79,000 m2). Construction began in 1992 and was completed in 1993 by the Sobrato Development Company.[1*

    Like 6
  12. Jack Gross

    If it is truely Steve Jobs car it would tell you what to do and explain why MB are smarter than all the others.

    Like 4
  13. Sam Shive

    it’s gone

    Like 1
  14. Edward

    Steve Jobs also owned Porsche 911 Turbos, always black. Whether the story is true or not, whenever he got a dent or scratch, he would replace the car, rather than getting it repaired.

    Like 1
  15. Dave Peterson

    This thread has amused me for an hour. Thank you. As a former budget SEC owner, I learned my lesson the hard way. I’m betting the first to the driveway with $5000 cash had it trailered home.

    Like 4
  16. Eskimojoe

    Nobody caught the MB warranty registration card with the 2-30-84 date??? Along with the previous message about the address issue…this says somebody bought a high mile used MB, and saw the warranty card was not filled out….

    Like 4
    • Shervin

      The only thing that gives me pause is his name: “Steve Jobs”. Even though he was always called “Steve” by people he knew, his name was almost always written as “Steven P. Jobs” on business cards and whenever he was interviewed on television in those years. My own guess is that he did this in order to be taken more seriously in the business world (along with the suspenders, bowtie, and clean-cut look he donned in those days).

      All that said, the salesperson was presumably the one to fill out that warranty card. Knowing it was for Steve Jobs, he/she probably just wrote down “Steve Jobs”.

      Another crucial detail: the original dealer listed here is Smythe European (4500 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95129), which is the dealership that Jobs maintained a relationship with for quite some time and presumably got all of his Mercedes-Benzes from. His final (and most photographed) car, the Iridium Silver Metallic 2007 SL55 AMG, was purchased there according to the CarFax, which was obtained from the VIN that showed up in photos taken of the car). Only someone with inner knowledge of where Jobs got his cars from would know that, so I’m doubtful that it’s fake.

      On top of that, the metal plate that was given to every original owner by the dealer looks legitimate too. The delivery date stamped on it is 2-29-84, which is one day before the written typo of 2-30-84 (which I admit seems odd). The date of original order (12-22-83) does also match what comes up on the data plate if you look up the VIN in a decoder: WDBCA44BXEA039370

      The license plates also look original (the “2B” prefix of the then-optional “Golden State” California plates was issued in 1984).

      Archived pictures from the listing, since it’s been deleted: https://imgur.com/a/AWQ3ihw

      My takeaway is that this car is a huge project (the author of this article was a bit too optimistic and generous in my opinion), but that it will be worth it to the right person if they got a good deal. A normal US-spec 500SEC is the second-least desirable version of the C126 (beat only by the anemic US-spec 380SEC), but the fact that this one was presumably owned by Steve Jobs does add a bit of value. If it’s faithfully restored with keeping everything original, I can see it bringing back a profit in the future. And while seeing additional documentation (like copies of registration papers with his name on it) would be nice, I have no reason to doubt the provenance given everything that has been pictured so far.

  17. Fred W

    Steve Jobs once owned this Benz…..yeah, that’s the ticket…..

    Like 3
  18. Audifan

    It’s not a Merc(ury)
    It’s a Mercedes.
    These are not the original wheels.
    Not running is most likely caused by a gunked up fuel distributor. CIS systems don’t like old fuel.

    Like 2
  19. Ward William

    Jobs used to change cars every year to avoid having to use rego plates so there are probably 30 cars out there that he once drove. The car is not worth a cent more just because an old vegan butt once sat in it.

  20. Mike Brown

    Previously owned by someone famous means absolutely nothing to me.

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