﹒Super-smooth V8 engine and automatic transmission
The S-class (for Sonderklasse, or ‘special’ class) was, and remains to this day, Mercedes’ flagship model, embodying the very highest levels of both technology and luxury from the German brand and is used as the transport of choice for VIPs and the well-heeled.
The S-Class can trace its lineage back to the 1954 Ponton model but the first vehicle to officially use the designation was the W116 model introduced in 1972. It brought with it a host of new, passive safety systems, including extensive interior padding and new bumpers to help reduce injuries in the event of pedestrian accidents.
The second generation of the S-Class, designed the W126, was introduced in 1980 and ran for 11 years, adding even more technology. For example, it introduced traction control, airbags and seat-belt pre-tensioners and featured a more aerodynamic exterior and engines with improved fuel efficiency; a direct result of the 1970s fuel crisis.
The range of available engines was expanded over the predecessor, to include diesel and petrol inline six cylinder power plants and the several capacities of V8, from 3.8-litres to 5.5 litres. All were mated to a four-speed automatic transmission with ‘Winter’ mode to pull away easily in slippery conditions.
The W126 was face-lifted part-way through its life and the second series featured ABS as standard with a host of cost options, including driver and passenger airbags, heated front seats and automatic climate control. Power-operated seats were also offered and cruise control was also available.
In addition to the standard S-Class models, there was also an SEL model, for ‘Limousine’ with a longer floor plan and hence, greater legroom in the rear and this model was also available with self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension.
As befitting its status and importance among clients requiring the highest levels of sophistication and luxury, the S-Class was a large car – some 16ft/5m long and weighing around 1600kg. However, it was a delightful way to travel; the engines, in particular the V8s, had huge reserves of torque for effortless acceleration and cruising; the transmission was smooth and well-matched to the engines and the suspension, even when using conventional coil springs and dampers, was cosseting and comfortable.
The S-Class was the choice of transport for people who wanted to travel in style and comfort and it did its job perfectly.
This particular vehicle came to the owner via a close friend. It was owned by the father of the friend, a successful businessman who clearly had impeccable taste in cars, having owned the Mercedes for 15 years alongside Bentleys and Rolls Royces.
However, the father sadly passed away and the son had the S-class in storage, as he could not bring himself to pass it on. Indeed, its MoT history shows it appeared to be off the road between 2011 and 2017. However, the son eventually decided to part company with the car to make way for another and it was then that the current owner took it on.
The owner has serviced and MoT’d the car ready for it to carry its next owner in the opulence and luxury it was made for.
This 500 SE comes with a significant amount of paperwork. There is the V5 registration document, in the name of the current owner, as well as the original owner’s manual and the inspection sheet when the vehicle left the factory – this has suffered extensive age-related marking though. There is also the vehicle’s maintenance record, which contains some 14 main dealer service stamps to attest to its history. There is also a series of previous MoT certificates that confirm the vehicle’s low mileage as well as various receipts for service and maintenance work.
The interior is in very nice condition, the grey leather trim showing signs of use but no wear or damage. The storage pockets on the back of the front seats show signs of wear and are stretched and sagging but they do not show signs of damage. Similarly, the carpet is also in nice condition, with no rips, tears or heel-wear marks apparent.
The owner suggests that it would appear the car has been smoked-in in its past, judging by discolouration of the ashtrays, but he also confirms that it does not smell of smoke at all.
The driver’s door trim panel has suffered damage in the past, presumably by heavy-handed use and this has resulted in the plastic panel holding the top of the arm-rest and the door handle breaking. The owner has repaired this temporarily with glue but suggests that the new owner should obtain a replacement to affect a satisfactory repair. The walnut trim panel also appears to have suffered damage for the same reason and at the same time.
The wood trim around the rest of the car shows slight signs of wear and/or damage having occurred over the years but nothing significant. The headlining is in good condition but one of the clips holding the driver’s side sun visor is broken – an easy fix once a replacement has been sourced.
The dashboard area appears to be in good shape. The vehicle is not fitted with airbags but the steering wheel and gear selector show no signs of damage and only minimal wear. The car is fitted with a traditional radio/cassette player and comes with a selection of period pre-recorded cassettes.
All the electrics generally work correctly; the lights, the all-round electric windows and the sunroof. However, the owner states that the heater fan has recently stopped working. He said he would investigate the cause but cannot confirm at the time of writing that it has been resolved.
The rear parcel shelf has the storage compartment for the original first-aid kit but the kit itself is absent. The trim panel above the rear seats, just ahead of the rear screen, appears to have adopted a double-wave shape which the owner is unsure if it is as intended or if it has suffered some form of damage during the life of the vehicle.
The boot area contains the spare wheel and associated hardware; tool kit and jack. The owner suggests the spare wheel appears to have been used and there is evidence of surface rust in the general boot area, as well as on the inner edge of the spare wheel.
The exterior of the car is in remarkably good condition for a vehicle that is more than 30 years old. The owner admits that it appears some paint repairs have been carried out in the past on the bonnet and that the paint seems to have reacted slightly, with micro-blisters appearing in several locations though these should be relatively straightforward to rectify and are only visible in close proximity. The rest of the paintwork shows a deep shine and an even colour.
The door-shut area – both on the car and the doors themselves – appear unmarked and the electric-sliding sunroof is also neither marked nor scratched – a common issue. It also opens and closes smoothly and correctly.
The brightwork is also in very good condition – it is common for this to start to lift but this is not apparent on this vehicle. The bumper structures, glass surrounds, front grille and badges, including the front-mounted Mercedes star, are all in very nice condition with just some very slight pitting on close inspection in one or two areas.
There doesn't appear to be any evidence of damage repairs – the panel gaps and door shut-lines are all even and straight with virtually no visible rust other than three small areas at the base of the rear windscreen inside the boot lid area. There is a small scuff on the corner of one of the rear bumper plastic inserts.
The wheels appear in excellent condition, the owner suggesting they have been refurbished in the past. There is very slight evidence of corrosion on two of the wheels and all show very slight evidence of kerb contact but they appear to have suffered no damage. The tyres all show good tread depth but the brands are mis-matched and the new owner may wish to replace them with a matching set.
The engine-bay area is in good overall condition; the under-bonnet sound insulation appears to have fallen off and been removed, leaving patches of surface rust on the inside of the bonnet panel.
The owner confirms that the engine starts easily and immediately and settles down into a smooth and even idle with no smoke or untoward noises at all. It pulls cleanly and smoothly and as it would be expected for an engine with its provenance and service history. The transmission changes gear smoothly and virtually imperceptibly and the suspension provides a smooth and extremely comfortable ride with no noises or signs of damage. The brakes work well, bringing the car to rest efficiently and in a straight line.
The underside of the car is in good condition, according to the owner, with some surface rust but nothing that should affect its integrity. It is presented for sale with a new MoT lasting until October 2021 and the owner has also carried out a recent service on the car.
The appeal of a car like this is obvious; it's all about the luxury. It comes from the decade of excess; the 1980s were all about conspicuous consumption and working hard and playing hard. While the shoulder pads and big hair that made it famous were everywhere and achievable for all, a Mercedes S-Class told a different story. It wasn’t flash; it wasn’t gaudy and, despite its vast size, it wasn’t all too obvious either. It was, simply, the best car out there for those with the money to enjoy the finer things in life yet not show off about it. It was understated elegance and anyone who had one was undoubtedly deserving of its pedigree.
Even today, more than 30 years after it was produced, this remains an exceptional car. It is solid and safe; it is smooth and powerful; it will turn every journey into an experience to be enjoyed. And, being a Mercedes, it will carry on doing that for some time to come.
** The pictures in this listing have been provided to us by the seller **
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