Identifying W126 Brake calipers

I recently attempted to take my 560SEL on a Mercedes Club night drive. On the way there, I experienced a soft brake pedal and a very hot drivers side rear wheel. I had an issue with a soft brake pedal on a mountain road back in 2020. At the time I thought I had solved it as I removed the aftermarket brake dust shields and had all the hoses replaced. It’s pretty clear that I have a sticking rear caliper (or two) that is the root of the issue. It also explains why I always felt the 560SEC had better […]

560SEL refurbished Gullideckel wheels

My 1987 560SEL is in very nice cosmetic condition for its age and mileage. The only thing that really let it down was the condition of the alloy wheels. It was clear that they had been cleaned with harsh wheel cleaners many times over the years. The paint was badly discolored. I had some spare Gullideckel wheels that I could have sent away to be refurbished. However, I also had a lovely set of refurbished alloy wheels on my 450SLC that were correct for the SEL. That got me thinking that it might be better to get a different set […]

The R16 resistor on the Australian W126

The second generation W126 controls ignition timing from the EZL. In most countries, Mercedes-Benz provided a knob to adjust the timing based on the petrol that was available in your area. This knob is present on my UK delivery 560SEC. I immediately turned the knob up to 98 octane petrol, as that is what I use in the car. In markets like Australia and the USA, they did not provide this knob. Instead, they provided a fixed resistor for that market. That allowed them to optimize for the petrol available in that market and focus emissions testing on that. That […]

W126 handsfree solution with original Becker

My one owner 560SEL still has its original Becker CD player. Australian delivered 560SELs and SECs came standard with the CD player, which also has a control box in the boot. Mine is still working well. My goal was to find a good W126 handsfree solution with the original Becker. While a modern radio and speakers would probably sound better, the Becker is a part of the original character of the car and worth keeping.

This era of Becker do not have an aux input like the 60s models do. Therefore, the only solution is to have the unit modified […]

560SEL front suspension rebuild

This week I got my 560SEL back from having a front suspension rebuild. This wasn’t something I really wanted to take on myself. My SEL drove well, but there was some looseness in the front end. As I plan on keeping the car long term, it made sense to rebuild the front suspension to restore an as-new ride.

The front suspension rebuild included new upper control arms and associated bushings, lower control arm bushings and sway bar bushings. I went with genuine for the upper control arms and Lemforder for the lower control arm bushings. The genuine parts are expensive, […]

Reinstalling W126 self-leveling rear suspension

The previous owner of my 560SEL had the self-leveling rear suspension removed. He told me that he was having problems with it, and the suspension shop he took that car to (Pedders) advised him to remove it. This was pretty bad advice, but he wasn’t to know that. A 560SEL should have a supple ride, but my car rode like an old pickup truck. The Pedders springs and shocks were overly firm and caused the rear to bounce around. It may have been better with three heavy adults in the back but my children are six, four and four, so […]

W126 B-Pillar trims

The W126 introduced a lot of new features for Mercedes-Benz. A small convenience feature is the height adjustable seatbelt for the front seat passengers. This feature brought with it a few problem. The W126 B-pillar trims. The MB-TEX on the B-pillar starts to separate from the pillar around the height adjuster. Its an endemic problem and common to the W124 as well. It was already occurring on my old 300E which was 15 years old at the time.

The W126 B-Pillar trims are quite easily removed. I didn’t attempt to fix this job myself. I would have only made it […]

W126 battery hold downs and Auxiliary fan resistor

When I restored the battery tray on my 560SEL, I noticed the W126 battery hold downs were missing. While the battery on the W126 sits quite snugly between the inner and outer firewalls, the hold downs are still important. On a serious bump the battery could short out against the bonnet for example.

These hold downs are the same as on the W123 and other models. I ordered a new one, thinking that at least having one in place would start, and I would look for a cheaper used one later. Turns out I needn’t’ have bothered as I found […]

My 560SEL’s selling dealer

My 560SEL was sold new by West Orange Motors, in Orange NSW. The original owner lived in Western Sydney, but had business in Orange and Dubbo. While it was sold new in Orange, it was serviced at Marshalls in Parramatta until 230,000km. Presumably, the car made a fair few trips up to Orange, Dubbo and the surrounding area over its life. The original stamp from West Orange motors is still in the service book. I can’t imagine that many 560SELs were sold outside the main dealers in Sydney, Sydney Eastern Suburbs, Melbourne City and suburbs like Toorak. The original owner […]

M117 Auxiliary fan cut-in modification

Under normal operation, the auxiliary fan on the M117 engine cuts in at 105C. It can also be triggered by A/C system pressure. These settings work fine to keep the engine at the correct temperature. The challenge is that most of these cars have been converted to R134A refrigerant. R134A is far less efficient than R12. The A/C system in the W126 was designed for R12 so is now under specified. Add in the hot Australian climate and stop/go Sydney traffic and you end up with a hot engine and poor A/C performance.

I’ve noticed that once the coolant temperature […]