Throwback to October 23rd, 1990: The W126 S-Class had been in production for over ten years, as this dark blue beauty leaves production in Stuttgart. It is only a few months until the all-new W140 S-Class will debut in Geneva, but the W126 was still immensely popular so that sales continued well into 1991. In fact, the W126 is the most popular luxury sedan ever: 892,123 automobiles were produced; this is unequaled by any other luxury car until today.
The W126 in this story is not an average S-Class, though: It is nothing less than the power-play top-model 560 SEL. It was introduced in 1987 as the new add-on to the 500 SEL. At the time, the 560 SEL became the most powerful Mercedes-Benz ever in series production.
This specific 560 SEL is already model year 1991 and was produced to Japan specification. It was painted in dark blue (904) with an interior in leather blue (262), a stylish yet timeless configuration. Ordered as special options were four heated seats, automatic air conditioning, the legendary Becker Mexico 2000 RDS, a driver airbag, and footrests in the back, among other items. When the car arrived in Japan, it was the ultimate elegant and powerful luxury car.
It was initially registered in Japan on July 1st, 1991 and spent most of its life in this country. When it was imported back to Europe by a Dutch dealership, it had a mileage of 54,000 kilometers (32,000 miles) – really not a lot for a 24 years old car. It was obviously one of those luxury car that spent their time commuting in the slow moving stop-and-go traffic of large Japanese cities.
It was then bought by my good friend Henning from this Dutch dealer in September 2015. It has become part of his collection of classic Mercedes so it doesn’t have to serve as a daily driver. However, classic cars do need to be driven in order to maintain them in a proper state; as of today, this 560 SEL has a mileage of 85,000 kilometers – this is almost 8,000 km per year, and goes to show how much Henning likes to drive this car even though he has a couple of other cars at his disposal! He preferably uses the car for trips away from home, for the day, for the weekend or for longer.
The special attractiveness of the 560 SEL has multiple facets: For one, it is the top of the line, and the figures promised prestige almost unlike any other car. But this car goes beyond a mere status symbol: The engine is a highly impressive piece of engineering. It’s sound incorporates what a V8 engine stands for, and it has the resources to effortlessly push this car to almost any speed desired. Pushing it on the Autobahn, this is a really fast car even by today’s standards (albeit not a sporty one).
So, all good an no worries? Well, like pretty much all other super cars, this one is not a cheap one to maintain. When the engine started to burn oil, the German Mercedes dealership analyzed things closer. It turned out that the mileage of the cars was low, indeed, but that it seems to have had relatively many operating hours (relative to the mileage) – quite typical for cars that are used in big (Japanese) cities. Therefore, a thorough revision of the engine, especially the valve covers, was conducted. All things considered, an annual maintenance budget between 2,000 and 3,000 Euro doesn’t seem exaggerated. In return, you can be assured that this beauty has no flaws at all – it is maintained in “as-new” condition technically and aesthetically!
But regardless of maintenance cost: This car is a really special one, with the attractive W126 chassis, the really desirable 560 engine, and in such a pristine condition. Cars like this are really getting rarer and rarer – or when was the last time you have seen a beautiful 560 SEL on the road? Feel free to comment below!
It’s time to hurry up or make space when there’s a 560 SEL in the rear mirror…
Tomorrows-Classics.net is all about sharing stories of beautiful cars that will soon be genuine classics. Do you have a special car and a story to share? I look forward to reading from you!