My new 1987 560SEL

I am now the second owner of a 1987 560SEL.    I wasn’t looking for a new car, but I could not pass by the chance to get my hands on a one owner 560SEL.  Unfortunately, as much as I like my 1986 300SE, that car will be for sale after things get back to normal.   The 300SE will be a good car for somebody as I have spent a lot of time and money getting it right.

The 560SEL was purchased new by a Sydney business owner and was first registered in September of 1987.   While it was primarily a Sydney car, it was ordered and delivered by the dealer in Orange, NSW.   The first owner had business in Orange, Dubbo and other towns so I imagine many of the 323,000km are highway miles.    The previous owner was also kind enough to deliver the car to me, which was much appreciated.

The car was serviced to about 230,000km by Marhsalls in Parramatta and then since then by a local Mercedes specialist.    I have the original logbooks showing all these services.    The original owner even had the original brochure from the time of purchase.

1987 560SEL

I also have an invoice from 2013 when the timing chain, brake rotors and so on were all done at 300,000km.   This is really good as the timing chains are an Achilles heel for these cars.   The only red flag is that there is nothing on the invoice to show that the plastic guides were done.   I am going to contact that mechanic to see if he remembers if they were done at another time, otherwise a valve cover will be coming off to inspect their condition.

I am also informed that the A/C compressor is not that old and that the front suspension was totally rebuilt about 6,000km ago.  Unfortunately a previous mechanic could not get the rear self leveling suspension to work so it has been disconnected.     I am in two minds about just leaving it as is, or fixing it.

Incredibly, the car was produced one month before my 560SEC, which is also 929 Nautical Blue.   The cars were only about 1550 apart on the production line back in 1987.    While my 560SEC has cream leather, this one has grey.

1987 560SEL

The car is not perfect but it is in exceptional condition for the miles it has.  It was always garaged and the paintwork is excellent.   The leather also has very little wear for the use the car has seen.   It was very hard when I took delivery, so my first step today was to clean and start feeding the leather.   It is already responding well to the Zymol leather conditioner.     I will need to repeat the process a few times over the next couple of months.

As we are only supposed to be taking essential trips due to COVID19, I have only driven the car around my local area.   It drives very well and is in overall great condition.   It is very original down to the coveted Becker CD player.   So far the things I have noticed that I will need to pay attention to are:

  • The passengers side electric mirror is not working.    It is stuck in a bad position for me so will need to be fixed.   I have purchased a good used one for the SEC which I will probably use here.   The SEC is stuck in an OK position.
  • The rear set is stuck in the reclined position.   I will have to remove the seat base to inspect the mechanism.
  • The leather is coming off the top of the steering wheel.   Easiest is probably to find a good used unit.
  • The ride height is too high.
  • Needs shifter bushings.
  • Drivers seat is collapsing on one side.   Pretty typical for a W126.
  • The thermostat has failed open and the car is too cool even at 80km/h.
  • The A/C may need a charge.   It is cool without being cold.

Nothing on this list is major, it is all quite do-able.

In the longer term, the alloy wheels could be refinished.     One of the plastic cladding panels on the lower body is the wrong colour.   Most people don’t realize that there are a few different shades depending on the exterior colour.   I also wouldn’t mind a set of coco mats instead of the rubber ones.    As mentioned above, the rear SLS is disconnected.

I have not yet put the car up on the hoist to check underneath.   The data card indicates the car was originally fitted with undershields.  I hope they are still there.   It is promising the car did not leave oil slicks in the 24 hours it was parked.

Overall I am really happy with this 1987 560SEL and I think it will prove to be a great daily drive for me.

1987 560SEL

3 comments to My new 1987 560SEL

  • David

    Glad to see you are pleased with the 560 SEL. Definitely look after it and fix things up that need doing. I have a 1989 one, purchased almost 8 years ago from the original owner who lived near Richmond on a large property. He used it occasionally for long distance travel to Adelaide and Melbourne. It was a Marshalls of Parramatta car, but was always ridiculously over serviced by Weststar Motors after the warranty period ended.

    I drove it back to Melbourne, where I live, the day it was bought. Any problems along the way? Of course not!

    Mine is in virtually perfect condition (mechanically and cosmetically) with 242,000Km. Look after these properly and they will last forever.

    As you say, with Coronavirus driving it is frowned upon. Mine’s on Club Registration which immediately signals a “recreation” vehicle. I’m really missing the ability to do so.



    • admin

      Thanks for the comments. My car was also serviced by Marshalls until 220,000 and with a local specialist after that.
      They are great long distance cars. I drove a 560SEC 2400 miles after I purchased it and it also had no problems.

      I took my 250SE up to the shops today. At least it got a short run.

  • Dieter Caspari

    Congratulations on your 560. They are great cars. I purchased mine in April last year. I used to have a 1981 380SEL, Hong Kong import. Cheap, but lots of issues and rust. Still, I had it for 7 years. Sold it 2002. But in the back of my mind I always longed to get another W126 SEL. To me they are the most elegant and appealing cars ever built. I started to look a couple of years ago. I wanted nautical blue with beige interior. Whatever I found was either the wrong colour or neglected. I finally found what I was looking for on Facebook Marketplace, just a few kms from here. But with $25k totally overpriced. Cosmetically near perfect, but high mileage and some mechanical issues. Anyway, the seller dropped the price considerably. Still about $3k more than what it’s fair value would have been. But I was sick of running after BS listings. Here is a link to some pics and other info you may find interesting. As soon as the MBNSW Club has some outings again I will be there.


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