December 2020 W126 Price Guide – Australia

When I wrote my W126 buyers guide earlier in the year, I did not include price information.   Pricing is very specific to each location and changes frequently.   This W126 price guide covers my observations about the prices of W126s in Australia.   Its likely to be valid for the next year or so.

There are a few factors that impact the price of a W126.   Some models, years and options are worth more than others.   This is particularly the case for the W126 which had different body styles, engines and even two distinct series.   As an example, the V8 models are worth more than the sixes, the coupes are worth more than the saloons and so on.    Some options can even impact value.

The next is the KMs on the odometer, which must be verified with service history.   Despite the W126 wearing high mileages with ease, this is a huge factor when it comes to price.   Its also a great way of getting a nice car for reasonable money if you don’t mind a high mileage car.   My 560SEL with 330,000km is an example of this.

Obviously condition is also very important too.   This is sometimes correlated with mileage, but can vary widely.   I’ve seen beautiful cars with 450,000kms on them and parts cars with less than 100,000.

I’ve started with a baseline car of a 280SE from the first series.   The car has 250-350,000km on the clock, partial service history and is at a 6/10 when it comes to condition.   I define 6/10 as good driver quality.   I estimate this car is worth $5,000.

The W126 price guide works by adding up the factors to get a total multiplier over that original price.    I assume a minimum value of $1,000

Model Attributes:

  • Series 2: +75%
  • V8 (except 560):  +50%
  • V8 (560): +100%
  • High compression engine: +25%
  • Soft Leather: +25%
  • SEC (series 1): +200%
  • SEC (series 2): +300%
  • Private import: -25%

The first set of attributes concerns the model of the car.   As indicated above, V8s are worth quite a bit more than sixes, and the 560 in particular.   The series 2 cars have a decent price premium over series 1, and that only increases when the soft leather and other interior improvements was done for the 89 model year.    The biggest impact is coupe vs saloon.   SECs are just a lot more valued than saloons.    Interestingly, I can find no real difference between short or long wheelbase cars when comparing the engines where both were easily available.

Assuming the same condition and mileage, the baseline prices by my model are as follows below.  I didn’t include the private imports, but they can be calculated readily.   They are more complex as the high compression series 2 imports are worth more.    For the local cars I have assumed they do not have soft leather.

W126 price guide

Series 1:
  • 280SE: $5,000
  • 380SE: $7,500
  • 380SEL: $7,500
  • 380SEC: $17,500
  • 500SEC:  $16,250
Series 2:
  • 300SE: $8,750
  • 300SEL: $8,750
  • 420SE: $11,250
  • 420SEL: $11,250
  • 560SEL: $13,750
  • 560SEC: $28,750


Mileage seems to have a major impact on the W126 price guide.   In my mind, too big an impact.   The market is pretty clear on this.   Low mileage cars demand a massive price premium, and high mileage cars are hard to sell.   They can be a good buy if you are planning long term ownership though.    The factors assume at least some service history to validate it, and for the very low mileages complete service history.   Obviously cars with an MPH speedometer are converted into KMs for the purpose of this.   e.g. my 167,000 mile 560SEC would be counted in the 250-349 range.

  • <100,000KM:  +300%
  • 100-149,999KM: +200%
  • 150-199,999KM: +75%
  • 200-249,999KM: +25%
  • 250-349,999KM: (baseline)
  • 350-449,999KM: -25%
  • 450-549,999KM+: -50%
  • 550,000KM+: -85%

Adding in mileage, lets consider some examples.   This does not yet include condition, so all cars are assumed to be 6/10 driver quality cars.

  • 280SE with 400,000KM: $3,750
  • 380SEL with 160,000KM: $11,250
  • 300SE with 600,000KM: $4,500
  • 420SEL with 51,000KM: $26,250
  • 560SEC with 300,000KM: $28,750


Obviously condition is a huge factor here.   Cars in excellent condition sell at a massive price premium.   This is what many classic car buyers/sellers fail to understand that 10/10 cars are incredibly rare and sell at a massive premium over everything else.  At the same time there are probably only a handful of 10/10 cars in the world.

  • 10/10:  This is a car that could be invited to the world’s pre-eminent events like Pebble beach: (case by case)
  • 9/10: This is a show winning car at regional and national events:  350%
  • 8/10: This is a car that would be proudly entered for judging, not look out of place at regional events: 150%
  • 7/10: This is a really nice car that could be seen at show and shine events and people who see it comment on how nice it is:  75%
  • 6/10: This is a nice driver car.   No rust, good paint with some minor scratches, minor wear on the interior: (baseline)
  • 5/10: This is a normal driver car.  May have very minor rust, a few scratches, some interior wear.  A/C may not work: -50%
  • 4/10: This is an average driver car.  Has some rust here and there.  Interior a little worn, scratches on the exterior, a few mechanical issues.  -65%
  • 3/10: This is a very scruffy driver car.   -80%
  • 2/10: This car is bordering on being a parts car but runs and drives.  -90%
  • 1/10: This is a non running parts car.   Scrap value only.

Comparing the cars we looked at above, but now adding condition.

  • 280SE with 400,000KM and 5/10:  $1,250
  • 380SEL with 160,000KM and 7/10:  $15,000
  • 300SE with 600,000KM and 2/10:  $1,000
  • 420SEL with 51,000KM and 9/10: $28,750
  • 560SEC with 300,000KM and 5/10: $21,250

Options and customization

There are a few options that can change the value of a car.   For some, there are not enough that sell to really know.   For example a HPF2 car is very rare and worth more, but there are so few in Australia and they quickly change hands via word of mouth.   Anything that is genuine AMG is worth a lot of money, but so few of these cars exist it is more of a case by case basis.

I’m less confident in some of these because the sample sizes

  • Towbar:  -25%
  • No sunroof: -20%
  • Original Becker: 20%
  • ASR: -25%
  • Aftermarket wheels (no AMG, Lorinser etc): -25%
  • Medium modifications that can mostly be reversed (e.g. bagged, LPG): -25%
  • Major modifications (e.g. different engine, bodywork etc): -50%

The final factor is colour.   Colour is highly subjective but there are colours that are popular, colours that are neutral and colours that are negatives.    For example white and gold are not popular W126 colours and harder to sell.   Colours like smoke silver are neutral and colours like Blue/Black, Pearl Grey etc are popular.   I would estimate a +50% for a really popular colour and a -50% for a really unpopular colour but I am not going to go through subjectively giving them ratings.

This W126 price guide is my opinion based on looking at a lot of cars.   It is likely to change over time.   I would also suggest to anyone buying a W126 is to buy the best condition car you can afford, even if it is not the model you wanted.   A poor condition car will never be worth much and will more likely become a money pit.

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