Pros

  • Arguably the last truly great Mercedes-Benz.
  • Old school over-engineering.
  • A semi-modern genuine classic.
  • Still offers all the prestige and class required in this class.

Cons

  • Becoming expensive and complex to maintain.
  • Many examples are past their best.
  • Common faults can become nightmares.
  • Very cool but it does all the old car things.

Verdict

While it may seem very tempting as the W140 offers so much care for the asking price, as many of us know, temptation comes at a price.

Best case scenario, if you have a substantial budget and spend a premium buying a mint condition and fastidiously maintained example, it most...

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Often regarded as representing peak period of the brand, the W140 S-Class might possibly be the very last truly great Mercedes-Benz.

To many, it seems that after the W140 series S-Class, Mercedes-Benz shifted its focus from making something of substance and quality, to sales and popularity.

However as you’ll read, just because the W140 was utterly brilliant nearly 30 years ago, does not equate to guaranteed quality today, and like any car with 3 decades under its belt, ownership of this generation of S-Class needs to be approached with caution.

The W140 series was the 3rd generation S-Class, produced from 1992 to 1999 and was available as either a long or short wheelbase sedan, or 2-door coupe while a longer and extremely rare Pullman version was produced and are these days, understandably, very expensive. The Sultan of Brunei custom ordered a handful of estate variants and the Pope managed to get his hands on a one off custom job too.

As for the more available examples, here in Australia, this S-Class was initially available across 10 different models with 4 different petrol engines in 4, 6, 8 and 12-cylinder configurations, however to make things confusing, model designation sometimes did and sometimes did not relate to what engine was powering the car.

For example with the S420 featureing a 4.2-litre V8, you’d possibly assume the 400 SE and 400 SEL would be packing a 4.0-litre. Well no, these also have the 4.2.

Luckily Mercedes-Benz appreciated this mess of models and with

Often regarded as representing peak period of the brand, the W140 S-Class might possibly be the very last truly great Mercedes-Benz.

To many, it seems that after the W140 series S-Class, Mercedes-Benz shifted its focus from making something of substance and quality, to sales and popularity.

However as you’ll read, just because the W140 was utterly brilliant nearly 30 years ago, does not equate to guaranteed quality today, and like any car with 3 decades under its belt, ownership of this generation of S-Class needs to be approached with caution.

The W140 series was the 3rd generation S-Class, produced from 1992 to 1999 and was available as either a long or short wheelbase sedan, or 2-door coupe while a longer and extremely rare Pullman version was produced and are these days, understandably, very expensive. The Sultan of Brunei custom ordered a handful of estate variants and the Pope managed to get his hands on a one off custom job too.

As for the more available examples, here in Australia, this S-Class was initially available across 10 different models with 4 different petrol engines in 4, 6, 8 and 12-cylinder configurations, however to make things confusing, model designation sometimes did and sometimes did not relate to what engine was powering the car.

For example with the S420 featureing a 4.2-litre V8, you’d possibly assume the 400 SE and 400 SEL would be packing a 4.0-litre. Well no, these also have the 4.2.

Luckily Mercedes-Benz appreciated this mess of models and with the first mid-cycle update in 1994, simplified the line-up to 6 different models here in Australia and this time, with 5 different engine capacities, all of which finally related to each other.

For example, the S320 features a 3.2-litre inline 6.

Plus as any good update should, improvements were made to the mechanicals, tech and features and a subtle visual update appeared as well.

Another update occurred in 1995, featuring several mechanical improvements before this generation’s final iteration being released in mid-1996 with changes focussing on cosmetic updates and more improvements to the tech and safety.

Also a fun fact, internationally this generation of S-Class has been available in over 25 different model designations and the 6.0-litre V12 in the S-Class is the very same engine that is found in the incredible Pagani Zonda, obviously with a few modifications.

Often regarded as representing peak period of the brand, the W140 S-Class might possibly be the very last truly great Mercedes-Benz.

To many, it seems that after the W140 series S-Class, Mercedes-Benz shifted its focus from making something of substance and quality, to sales and popularity.

However as you’ll read, just because the W140 was utterly brilliant nearly 30 years ago, does not equate to guaranteed quality today, and like any car with 3 decades under its belt, ownership of this generation of S-Class needs to be approached with caution.

The W140 series was the 3rd generation S-Class, produced from 1992 to 1999 and was available as either a long or short wheelbase sedan, or 2-door coupe while a longer and extremely rare Pullman version was produced and are these days, understandably, very expensive. The Sultan of Brunei custom ordered a handful of estate variants and the Pope managed to get his hands on a one off custom job too.

As for the more available examples, here in Australia, this S-Class was initially available across 10 different models with 4 different petrol engines in 4, 6, 8 and 12-cylinder configurations, however to make things confusing, model designation sometimes did and sometimes did not relate to what engine was powering the car.

For example with the S420 featureing a 4.2-litre V8, you’d possibly assume the 400 SE and 400 SEL would be packing a 4.0-litre. Well no, these also have the 4.2.

Luckily Mercedes-Benz appreciated this mess of models and with the first mid-cycle update in 1994, simplified the line-up to 6 different models here in Australia and this time, with 5 different engine capacities, all of which finally related to each other.

For example, the S320 features a 3.2-litre inline 6.

Plus as any good update should, improvements were made to the mechanicals, tech and features and a subtle visual update appeared as well.

Another update occurred in 1995, featuring several mechanical improvements before this generation’s final iteration being released in mid-1996 with changes focussing on cosmetic updates and more improvements to the tech and safety.

Also a fun fact, internationally this generation of S-Class has been available in over 25 different model designations and the 6.0-litre V12 in the S-Class is the very same engine that is found in the incredible Pagani Zonda, obviously with a few modifications.

Exterior:

It is reported that some of the double glazed electric windows can fail overtime due to the excessive weight putting additional strain on the rails and motors.

The double glazed glass itself is sealed with air in between. Because of this, and leaking moisture can build up inside them which then creates a foggy or mist-like effect in the window. The only solution is to replace the window, this will not be inexpensive.

The clear coat on the paint can suffer from peeling mainly around the sunroof, bonnet or boot. It’s not highly common but it will be more noticeable on examples that have been neglected.

The Pneumatic System Equipment pump which operates things like the door locks and central locking, rear parking sensor antenna guides and boot lid release can suffer from vacuum hose and connection leaks or a failing pump motor which can result in all of the features mentioned becoming faulty.

Also the equipment that controls the soft closing doors and boot lid can also experience problems and failures.

Thanks to the wiring harness being biodegradable, things like the door locks and lights can glitch out and fail.

Both the front and rear windscreens can delaminate. This can usually be diagnosed by either off-white or brown stains or marks around the perimeter of the glass. Again the only real solution to this is to get them replaced.

Electric sunroofs are also prone to a host of different malfunctions, ranging from leaks to faulty switches or just overall failure resulting in the sunroof being stuck open or closed.

They can also suffer from tail light discolouration, this can be identified by the lower plastic cover being exposed to excessive sunlight and UV resulting in them turning a pale shade of pink.

The headlights and taillights themselves can have moisture build up inside them if the lens covers have any leaks or cracks in them. This can lead to a milky or foggy effect which can also affect the overall usability and strength of the headlights.

While the W140 seems to be relatively resistant to rust, poorly maintained examples, or poorly repaired examples can see some rust around the wheel arches and around the boot lock area and on the front quarters where the metal meets the front indicator light, but generally speaking, good ones are rust free.

Interior: 

The HVAC or air conditioning evaporator unit is notorious for failing and to repair it generally requires a labour-intensive dashboard-out procedure, which will be understandably expensive.

The electric seat motors are known to wear out over time, so make sure that the seats are adjustable in every direction because replacing the motors is generally the only solution.

The centre

Exterior:

It is reported that some of the double glazed electric windows can fail overtime due to the excessive weight putting additional strain on the rails and motors.

The double glazed glass itself is sealed with air in between. Because of this, and leaking moisture can build up inside them which then creates a foggy or mist-like effect in the window. The only solution is to replace the window, this will not be inexpensive.

The clear coat on the paint can suffer from peeling mainly around the sunroof, bonnet or boot. It’s not highly common but it will be more noticeable on examples that have been neglected.

The Pneumatic System Equipment pump which operates things like the door locks and central locking, rear parking sensor antenna guides and boot lid release can suffer from vacuum hose and connection leaks or a failing pump motor which can result in all of the features mentioned becoming faulty.

Also the equipment that controls the soft closing doors and boot lid can also experience problems and failures.

Thanks to the wiring harness being biodegradable, things like the door locks and lights can glitch out and fail.

Both the front and rear windscreens can delaminate. This can usually be diagnosed by either off-white or brown stains or marks around the perimeter of the glass. Again the only real solution to this is to get them replaced.

Electric sunroofs are also prone to a host of different malfunctions, ranging from leaks to faulty switches or just overall failure resulting in the sunroof being stuck open or closed.

They can also suffer from tail light discolouration, this can be identified by the lower plastic cover being exposed to excessive sunlight and UV resulting in them turning a pale shade of pink.

The headlights and taillights themselves can have moisture build up inside them if the lens covers have any leaks or cracks in them. This can lead to a milky or foggy effect which can also affect the overall usability and strength of the headlights.

While the W140 seems to be relatively resistant to rust, poorly maintained examples, or poorly repaired examples can see some rust around the wheel arches and around the boot lock area and on the front quarters where the metal meets the front indicator light, but generally speaking, good ones are rust free.

Interior: 

The HVAC or air conditioning evaporator unit is notorious for failing and to repair it generally requires a labour-intensive dashboard-out procedure, which will be understandably expensive.

The electric seat motors are known to wear out over time, so make sure that the seats are adjustable in every direction because replacing the motors is generally the only solution.

The centre console woodgrain trim can be damaged depending on how well kept the car was by its previous owner. If the woodgrain is damaged at all then there’s a good chance it’s been sitting in the sun more often than not, a less common culprit of this damage can also be linked to improper removal/reinstallation of the console.

Although there aren’t many of them, the interior plastics can be particularly brittle, with any exposure to heat or humidity assisting to show their lack of durability as there has been evidence of these plastic components cracking or just coming off with relative ease.

Remember how I mentioned the wiring harness can fail over time, this can result in the interior also suffering from all sorts of electrical gremlins like gauges giving false readings.

Mechanically:

The W140 S-Class is often regarded as being superbly reliable thanks to an immense level of over-engineering. However, there’s a high chance it’s more a case of they are engineered just about right, and that Mercedes-Benz has since been engineering unnecessarily complicated cars, therefore making more recent models less reliable, and in turn, making the W140 appear to be a reliability dream.

Engine wise, in Australia the vast majority of engines will be either an inline 6-cylinder or V8 petrol.

There are a handful of V12 models on the used market and while many are well maintained, it takes a very committed enthusiast to sign up to ageing V12 levels of maintenance.

The V8 petrol, mechanically speaking is overall pretty reliable. They do have some timing chain complications (not actually the chain as it’s a double row chain) but the tensioners and guides can be problematic. They can break and cause a horrible noise.

There are also some valve train issues with oil supply as there is 16 little oil feed lines with o-rings within the head that leak and cause hydraulic lifter issues.

Oil leaks and complicated old school fuel injection and ignition systems can be a bit of a weakness too.

The 6-cylinder petrol engines (also found in the Ssang-Yong Rexton & Musso)., mechanically is also quite reliable with no one big expensive issue that causes catastrophic failures. They all leak oil but otherwise, it’s just mix of every other issue you receive on any car of this age.

The transmissions are also generally ok but there are a few issues.

Valve body and solenoid issues occasionally occur, but more often the electronics within the 5-speed transmission fail, as does the main electrical connector to the transmission.

Also, inside the car, the actual selector can be a bit temperamental- especially if its had coffee spilt on it which is a common problem.

The W140 is ageing so the reliability issues are mostly going to be from old age, the biodegradable insulation used in the wiring harness and electronic complications are going to be a nightmare.

Also, the PSE (pneumatic support equipment) systems (which is basically the air system that operates thing like soft close doors, door locks and seat comfort functions) are extremely problematic.

Overall, mechanically, most W140 S-Class are great as long as you’re an enthusiast that loves fixing small and large problems frequently, or enjoys paying someone else to do that for you.

Exterior:

It is reported that some of the double glazed electric windows can fail overtime due to the excessive weight putting additional strain on the rails and motors.

The double glazed glass itself is sealed with air in between. Because of this, and leaking moisture can build up inside them which then creates a foggy or mist-like effect in the window. The only solution is to replace the window, this will not be inexpensive.

The clear coat on the paint can suffer from peeling mainly around the sunroof, bonnet or boot. It’s not highly common but it will be more noticeable on examples that have been neglected.

The Pneumatic System Equipment pump which operates things like the door locks and central locking, rear parking sensor antenna guides and boot lid release can suffer from vacuum hose and connection leaks or a failing pump motor which can result in all of the features mentioned becoming faulty.

Also the equipment that controls the soft closing doors and boot lid can also experience problems and failures.

Thanks to the wiring harness being biodegradable, things like the door locks and lights can glitch out and fail.

Both the front and rear windscreens can delaminate. This can usually be diagnosed by either off-white or brown stains or marks around the perimeter of the glass. Again the only real solution to this is to get them replaced.

Electric sunroofs are also prone to a host of different malfunctions, ranging from leaks to faulty switches or just overall failure resulting in the sunroof being stuck open or closed.

They can also suffer from tail light discolouration, this can be identified by the lower plastic cover being exposed to excessive sunlight and UV resulting in them turning a pale shade of pink.

The headlights and taillights themselves can have moisture build up inside them if the lens covers have any leaks or cracks in them. This can lead to a milky or foggy effect which can also affect the overall usability and strength of the headlights.

While the W140 seems to be relatively resistant to rust, poorly maintained examples, or poorly repaired examples can see some rust around the wheel arches and around the boot lock area and on the front quarters where the metal meets the front indicator light, but generally speaking, good ones are rust free.

Interior: 

The HVAC or air conditioning evaporator unit is notorious for failing and to repair it generally requires a labour-intensive dashboard-out procedure, which will be understandably expensive.

The electric seat motors are known to wear out over time, so make sure that the seats are adjustable in every direction because replacing the motors is generally the only solution.

The centre console woodgrain trim can be damaged depending on how well kept the car was by its previous owner. If the woodgrain is damaged at all then there’s a good chance it’s been sitting in the sun more often than not, a less common culprit of this damage can also be linked to improper removal/reinstallation of the console.

Although there aren’t many of them, the interior plastics can be particularly brittle, with any exposure to heat or humidity assisting to show their lack of durability as there has been evidence of these plastic components cracking or just coming off with relative ease.

Remember how I mentioned the wiring harness can fail over time, this can result in the interior also suffering from all sorts of electrical gremlins like gauges giving false readings.

Mechanically:

The W140 S-Class is often regarded as being superbly reliable thanks to an immense level of over-engineering. However, there’s a high chance it’s more a case of they are engineered just about right, and that Mercedes-Benz has since been engineering unnecessarily complicated cars, therefore making more recent models less reliable, and in turn, making the W140 appear to be a reliability dream.

Engine wise, in Australia the vast majority of engines will be either an inline 6-cylinder or V8 petrol.

There are a handful of V12 models on the used market and while many are well maintained, it takes a very committed enthusiast to sign up to ageing V12 levels of maintenance.

The V8 petrol, mechanically speaking is overall pretty reliable. They do have some timing chain complications (not actually the chain as it’s a double row chain) but the tensioners and guides can be problematic. They can break and cause a horrible noise.

There are also some valve train issues with oil supply as there is 16 little oil feed lines with o-rings within the head that leak and cause hydraulic lifter issues.

Oil leaks and complicated old school fuel injection and ignition systems can be a bit of a weakness too.

The 6-cylinder petrol engines (also found in the Ssang-Yong Rexton & Musso)., mechanically is also quite reliable with no one big expensive issue that causes catastrophic failures. They all leak oil but otherwise, it’s just mix of every other issue you receive on any car of this age.

The transmissions are also generally ok but there are a few issues.

Valve body and solenoid issues occasionally occur, but more often the electronics within the 5-speed transmission fail, as does the main electrical connector to the transmission.

Also, inside the car, the actual selector can be a bit temperamental- especially if its had coffee spilt on it which is a common problem.

The W140 is ageing so the reliability issues are mostly going to be from old age, the biodegradable insulation used in the wiring harness and electronic complications are going to be a nightmare.

Also, the PSE (pneumatic support equipment) systems (which is basically the air system that operates thing like soft close doors, door locks and seat comfort functions) are extremely problematic.

Overall, mechanically, most W140 S-Class are great as long as you’re an enthusiast that loves fixing small and large problems frequently, or enjoys paying someone else to do that for you.

Body Style:

4-door sedan

Engines:

2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280) – From 1995
3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE, S320)
4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L)
5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL, S500L)
6.0 litre V12 petrol (600 SEL, S600L)

Power:

142kW – 2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280)
170kW – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE, S320)
205kW – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (S420, S420L) – From 1994
210kW – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L)
240kW – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL)
235kW – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (S500L)
300kW – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (600 SEL)
290kW – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (S600L)

Torque:

270Nm – 2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280)
310Nm – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE)
315Nm – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S320)
410Nm – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, 400 SEL)
400Nm – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (S420, S420L)
480Nm – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL)
470Nm – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (S500L)
580Nm – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (600SEL)
570Nm – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (S600L)

Transmission & Drivetrains:

4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – S280, 400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L, 500 SEL, S500L, 600 SEL, S600L
5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – 300SE, S320, S420 (from 1994), S500L (from 1995), S600L (from 1995)

Fuel Consumption:

11.8 – 15.8L/100km

Length:

5065 – 5113mm
5213mm (S420L, S500L, 600L)

Body Style:

4-door sedan

Engines:

2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280) – From 1995
3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE, S320)
4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L)
5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL, S500L)
6.0 litre V12 petrol (600 SEL, S600L)

Power:

142kW – 2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280)
170kW – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE, S320)
205kW – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (S420, S420L) – From 1994
210kW – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L)
240kW – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL)
235kW – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (S500L)
300kW – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (600 SEL)
290kW – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (S600L)

Torque:

270Nm – 2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280)
310Nm – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE)
315Nm – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S320)
410Nm – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, 400 SEL)
400Nm – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (S420, S420L)
480Nm – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL)
470Nm – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (S500L)
580Nm – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (600SEL)
570Nm – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (S600L)

Transmission & Drivetrains:

4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – S280, 400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L, 500 SEL, S500L, 600 SEL, S600L
5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – 300SE, S320, S420 (from 1994), S500L (from 1995), S600L (from 1995)

Fuel Consumption:

11.8 – 15.8L/100km

Length:

5065 – 5113mm
5213mm (S420L, S500L, 600L)

Width:

1886-1912mm

Height:

1455-1500mm

Kerb Weight:

1890-2240kg

Body Style:

4-door sedan

Engines:

2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280) – From 1995
3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE, S320)
4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L)
5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL, S500L)
6.0 litre V12 petrol (600 SEL, S600L)

Power:

142kW – 2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280)
170kW – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE, S320)
205kW – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (S420, S420L) – From 1994
210kW – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L)
240kW – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL)
235kW – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (S500L)
300kW – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (600 SEL)
290kW – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (S600L)

Torque:

270Nm – 2.8 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S280)
310Nm – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (300SE)
315Nm – 3.2 litre 6-cylinder petrol (S320)
410Nm – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (400SE, 400 SEL)
400Nm – 4.2 litre V8 petrol (S420, S420L)
480Nm – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (500 SEL)
470Nm – 5.0 litre V8 petrol (S500L)
580Nm – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (600SEL)
570Nm – 6.0 litre V12 petrol (S600L)

Transmission & Drivetrains:

4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – S280, 400SE, S420, 400 SEL, S420L, 500 SEL, S500L, 600 SEL, S600L
5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive (RWD) – 300SE, S320, S420 (from 1994), S500L (from 1995), S600L (from 1995)

Fuel Consumption:

11.8 – 15.8L/100km

Length:

5065 – 5113mm
5213mm (S420L, S500L, 600L)

Width:

1886-1912mm

Height:

1455-1500mm

Kerb Weight:

1890-2240kg

Warranty:

3 years/unlimited kms

Servicing:

6 months/12,000km

Model range, pricing & features

Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140-17

S280 (1995 - 1999)

Price when new: $157,100 - $157,300

Price used: $300 - $3,950

Standard features:

15-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Driver and front passenger airbags
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Extendable rear parking guide rods
Electrochromatic rear vision mirror
Electric side mirrors
Electrically folding side mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear
Cruise control
Projector headlights
Front fog lights
Interior lights – courtesy lights, interior reading lights, dome lamp
Remote central locking
Alarm
Digital odometer
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Manual handbrake
Memory functions (seat, mirrors)
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Multi-functional leather sterring wheel
Leather gear knob and handbrake
Dual-zone climate control
Zebrano wood interior trim
Leather upholstery
12-Way electrically adjustable driver and front passenger’s seat
Sound system
AM/FM radio
10-stacker CD player
Cassette tape deck
Vanity mirrors

June 1996 update:

Traction control (ASR)
Front side airbags
Front passenger seat occupancy sensor (passenger airbag)
Rain sensing wipers
Luggage nets in front passenger footwell & boot

December 1996 update:

Brake assist
Electronic stability control (ESP)

300SE/S320 (1992 - 1999)

Price when new: $181,538 - $192,414

Price used: $300 - $4,450

Standard features:

15-inch alloy wheels
Body coloured bumper bars
Body coloured side mirrors
Driver and front passenger airbags
Anti-lock braking system (ABS)
Extendable rear parking guide rods (discontinued from 1995)
Electrochromatic rear vision mirror
Electric side mirrors
Electrically folding side mirrors
Electric windows – front and rear
Cruise control
Projector headlights
Front fog lights
Interior lights – courtesy lights, interior reading lights, dome lamp
Central locking (remote central locking in S320)
Alarm
Tachometer
Fuel gauge
Manual handbrake
Memory functions (seat, mirrors)
Steering wheel – tilt (up/down) and telescopic (reach) adjust
Multi-functional leather sterring wheel
Leather gear knob and handbrake
Dual-zone climate control
Zebrano wood interior trim
Leather upholstery
12-Way electrically adjustable driver and front passenger’s seat
Sound system
AM/FM radio
10-stacker CD player
Cassette tape deck
Vanity mirrors
Self-closing boot lid

March 1994 update:

Digital odometer

June 1996 update:

Traction control (ASR)
Front side airbags
Front passenger seat occupancy sensor (passenger airbag)
Rain sensing wipers
Luggage nets in front passenger footwell & boot

December 1996 update:

Brake assist
Electronic stability control (ESP)

400SE/400 SEL/S420/S420L (1992 - 1999)

Price when new: $219,292 - $229,579

Price used: $300 - $5,150

In addition to 300SE/S320:

Air-suspension (400 SEL)
Self-closing doors

March 1994 update:

Digital odometer

June 1996 update:

Traction control (ASR)
Front side airbags
Front passenger seat occupancy sensor (passenger airbag)
Rain sensing wipers
Luggage nets in front passenger footwell & boot

December 1996 update:

Brake assist
Electronic stability control (ESP)

500 SEL/S500L (1992 - 1999)

Price when new: $260,438 - $296,800

Price used: $3,100 - $10,900

In addition to S420/S420L:

Self-levelling air-suspension
Automatic Slip Control (ASR)
Traction control
Heated front and rear seats
Electrically adjustable headrests
Electrically adjustable rear seats
Rear headrests
Heated mirrors
Electrically adjustable steering wheel
Burl walnut interior trim
Charcoal filter
Rear reading lamps
Illuminated vanity mirrors

March 1994 update:

Digital odometer

June 1996 update:

Traction control (ASR)
Front side airbags
Front passenger seat occupancy sensor (passenger airbag)
Rain sensing wipers
Luggage nets in front passenger footwell & boot

December 1996 update:

Brake assist
Electronic stability control (ESP)

600 SEL/S600L (1992 - 1999)

Price when new: $339,339 - $353,600

Price used: $5,700 - $13,000

In addition to 500 SEL/S500L:

Double-glazed windows
Electrically adjustable rear-view mirror (discontinued from 1994)
Integrated mobile phone
Electrically operated rear blinds/shades

March 1994 update:

Digital odometer
Becker sound system
Two-tone Nappa leather upholstery
Combination wood/leather steering wheel

May 1995 update:

Front and rear parking sensors (Parktronic)

September 1995 update:

Electronic stability control (ESC)

June 1996 update:

Traction control (ASR)
Front side airbags
Front passenger seat occupancy sensor (passenger airbag)
Rain sensing wipers
Luggage nets in front passenger footwell & boot

December 1996 update:

Brake assist
Electronic stability control (ESP)

While it may seem very tempting as the W140 offers so much care for the asking price, as many of us know, temptation comes at a price.

Best case scenario, if you have a substantial budget and spend a premium buying a mint condition and fastidiously maintained example, it most likely will be incredible in so many ways, however, it’s important to remember, it is still a 30-year old luxury car, it will require time and money to keep it at its best.

Also, and obviously this is purely speculation but there is a high a chance you could be buying a classic at what could be its lowest price.

But, what about worst case scenario.This means you’re on a very tight budget and therefore you are looking at the lower end of the W140 market. This then equates to potentially buying someone else’s problems and getting an S-Class of this generation back to its best is not for the faint hearted or light of wallet.

However, put the time and money in and again, you could be buying a classic.

Overall, we do recommend buying the right W140 S-Class and we’d actually go as far as saying you should buy a good W140 over really any of the more recent S-Class generations.

This generation of S-Class is potentially more reliable, arguably more special and, objectively just so much cooler.

Just be extremely aware of what you’re getting yourself into, because there’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes-Benz.

While it may seem very tempting as the W140 offers so much care for the asking price, as many of us know, temptation comes at a price.

Best case scenario, if you have a substantial budget and spend a premium buying a mint condition and fastidiously maintained example, it most likely will be incredible in so many ways, however, it’s important to remember, it is still a 30-year old luxury car, it will require time and money to keep it at its best.

Also, and obviously this is purely speculation but there is a high a chance you could be buying a classic at what could be its lowest price.

But, what about worst case scenario.This means you’re on a very tight budget and therefore you are looking at the lower end of the W140 market. This then equates to potentially buying someone else’s problems and getting an S-Class of this generation back to its best is not for the faint hearted or light of wallet.

However, put the time and money in and again, you could be buying a classic.

Overall, we do recommend buying the right W140 S-Class and we’d actually go as far as saying you should buy a good W140 over really any of the more recent S-Class generations.

This generation of S-Class is potentially more reliable, arguably more special and, objectively just so much cooler.

Just be extremely aware of what you’re getting yourself into, because there’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes-Benz.

While it may seem very tempting as the W140 offers so much care for the asking price, as many of us know, temptation comes at a price.

Best case scenario, if you have a substantial budget and spend a premium buying a mint condition and fastidiously maintained example, it most likely will be incredible in so many ways, however, it’s important to remember, it is still a 30-year old luxury car, it will require time and money to keep it at its best.

Also, and obviously this is purely speculation but there is a high a chance you could be buying a classic at what could be its lowest price.

But, what about worst case scenario.This means you’re on a very tight budget and therefore you are looking at the lower end of the W140 market. This then equates to potentially buying someone else’s problems and getting an S-Class of this generation back to its best is not for the faint hearted or light of wallet.

However, put the time and money in and again, you could be buying a classic.

Overall, we do recommend buying the right W140 S-Class and we’d actually go as far as saying you should buy a good W140 over really any of the more recent S-Class generations.

This generation of S-Class is potentially more reliable, arguably more special and, objectively just so much cooler.

Just be extremely aware of what you’re getting yourself into, because there’s nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes-Benz.

Disclaimer

Please note that pricing information is subject to fluctuations in the automotive market.

Information correct as of June 16, 2023.

The advice provided on this website is general advice only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consider the appropriateness of the advice, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.

Read our full terms and conditions here.

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