USA Junkyard Visits

I am currently in the USA and had a few hours to spare in Cincinnati Ohio before I headed out to the airport.   When I lived in the USA, I used to go to the self service junkyards to grab bits and pieces.    These junkyards are larger in the USA and they have standard price lists for parts, no matter what car you remove it from.    Most of the cars I own are too old to turn up in self service junkyards, but the two W126’s just fall into the range where they sometimes come up.

I ended up going to two Junkyards, one in Cincinnati near my hotel, and the other in Northern Kentucky, near the airport.   The Kentucky junkyard was by far the best, with 2xW126, a W126, 3×124, 2xW140 and some new C and E Class models.

The main car I grabbed parts from was a 1991 420SEL:

1991 420SEL Junkyard

The 420SEL had been well picked over, but there were still a few good parts for me.   As everything I removed needed to fit in my suitcase, I was looking for smaller pieces.  For example, the interior door handles for the W126 are the same front and rear.   The front handles develop play in the mechanism over time, causing them to ‘sag’.   They can be replaced by the handles from the rear door which are much less frequently used.   This is the case for the Sedan, and I am assuming for the coupe as well.

The other thing this car was able to show was the position of the vacuum actuators for the climate control flaps.   The rubber perishes over time and they need to be replaced.   As the dash had been removed their position was revealed.

W126 Interior

I also managed to grab 16 of the long style lug bolts for the W126 off this car.   They had some surface rust, but will hopefully clean up ok.     I also took some of the trim clips that attach the lower front cladding, which are broken on my 560SEC.   Obviously too big for me, but a couple of the alloy wheels on this car were ok and would have come up well after a repaint.     Surprisingly the little caps on top of the front shock bolts were still present on this car.   They are nearly always missing on the w126.

Next to this W126 was a late 70’s W123 300CD coupe.   being a 70’s car it had the normally aspirated 617 diesel engine.   This was a USA only model because of the CAFE fuel consumption requirements put in place during the Carter administration.  Later models were equipped with turbo diesel motor.   The W123 shows the serious rust that snow belt cars can develop.

W123 300CD The 300CD was a Fred Flinstone car, amazing to think a car as rusty as this was still driving around until recently.

Fred Flinstone

I didn’t take anything from the 300CD, mostly because I don’t own any W123’s or Diesels.   Nearby the W123 was another USA only model, a 300SD.    At first, the car looked better than most in the junkyard, but underneath it was quite rusty.   It did seem that previous owners had spent money on this car, the master cylinder and front calipers looked quite new for example.


Kent Bergsma would have been very happy with the condition of the throttle linkages in this car, with almost no slop to speak of.    There was a lot of good parts on this car for somebody with a nicer 300SD.    The car even had a service history up to 140k miles, with 180k showing on the odometer.   The 300SD is not a bad first generation W126.   The fuel consumption is great and the power is not much lower than the detuned 280SE we got in Australia.  I still prefer to the second generation cars though.    There are a lot of improvements that make them much better cars overall.

300SD Service History

I took the 300SD owners manual – novelty for a model we never got in Australia.    Later the 300SD was replaced by the 300SDL in the second series.   There was a 300SDL in another junkyard I visited.   The SDL has a six cyliner turbo disel, with considerably more power and refinement than the old 617.   This motor doesn’t have quite the reputation for longevity as the 617 though.    The SDL had the electric rear blind and reclining rear seat as options. Unfortunately somebody had destroyed them trying to remove parts.   I forgot to take photos of this car, but I was able grab a few more pieces from here too.

In the end, I finished up with a nice little stash of parts to take back to Australia.   The 560SEC has a big crack in is rear view mirror.   The first mirror I got was from a W124, which is close, but then l found a better one from that 300SD pictured above.


I also grabbed more of the lug bolts I needed and have attempted to use coca-cola to clean them!

Lug Bolts


Having been to a few junkyards, the most common Mercedes to see is the W203 C-Class, followed by the W210 E-Class.   I suspect the days of W126’s turning up in these junkyards will be over in a few years.   The self service junkyard does allow the parts to be harvested cheaply, but it does cause many parts to be destroyed either by ham fisted attempts to remove them, or by the weather.

Update four days later, after 4 nights soaking in Coca Cola, the lug bolts are slightly cleaner.


Clean Lug Bolts

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