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Greg's 1988 Mercedes 560SEL (a.k.a. "Gold")

After having only one car between us for about three years, my wife and I decided that we need a second car. I wouldn't use it that much as I take public transportation to work, but she also needed something to drive to her work in the suburbs when her 1990 VW Jetta would break down.

After having a Jetta, she wanted a BIG car, and since this would be a second car, we didn't want to spend a lot of money. So, of course we bought a 1988 Mercedes 560SEL with about 75,000 miles on the odometer. Believe me, it doesn't get any bigger than a 560SEL, but the ride is still good and the handling is surprisingly good for a car that weights something like 4500lbs.

Since then I picked up a car or two, and my wife finally sold her Jetta and bought a 1997 Nissan Maxima. This car is now primarily used in the winter, but I still avoid driving it when there is salt out, and if I do, the car gets washed by hand as soon as possible.

Specs based on actual tests - I just picked up a G-TECH performance meter. I found some empty streets (not easy in the middle of the day in Chicago) and did a couple runs. The results are now part of the Stats page.

Comments From People Like You!
Greg's 1988 Mercedes
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23-Nov-2010 10:03
I have a 560 sec.  I love the car, but it's got 275k on it and now leaves a trail of blue smoke behind me.  Any suggenstions on a new or rebuilt engine?
18-Feb-2010 20:40
i have or had a 1988 560 sel mercedes and because of my lack of attention to thee car i ended up cracking the block and now im parting it of well i dont know if i should say parting it out im selling the computer which i bought bran new from the dealer last year (2009) asking 300 i paid over 1000 you can reaach me at ghetto.rain@gmail.com
mike marchewitz
08-Jun-2009 12:39
1988 560sl - like new
shuts off immediatley after starting; what could be wrong with it?
17-Aug-2008 06:23
hey i am 17 and my mum just gave me our 560sel 1988 which i keep in perfect con. its been worked on engine wise and now is running 440hp. its done 525,000km and the trans is going to ge fixed because it clunks when changing gears. i also got a 1988 gmc sierra which is done up. what should i do sell the work to fully do up the gmc or should i keep both or sell me gmc and than fix every little problem?
im in melbourne its a brown merc and #plate dmn013 so if u see me around say hi
thanks john
25-Apr-2008 21:46
Hi - I have 2 560 SELs. A dark blue 1986 one with 212,000km on it (owned for 12 years) and a silver 1990 one with 74,000km on it (owned for 6 years).  My wife used to drive the blue one which is now the daily transport for my mother in law.  I drive the silver one daily and it is in concurs condition.  Both were originally Austalian delivered.

Having lived with these cars for a long time now I would lke to make a very important point.  While expensive to maintain properly (and they must be) they are exceptionally reliable and well engineered.  My experience with the blue one dictated that I simply had to buy the solver one when it came up in 2001 - with just 14,000km on the clock.  The amazing this is that driven back to back today - they are almost identical notwithstanding the additional 138,000km on the older car - which represents almost 13 years of average biological age for one of these things.

I am in the fortunte situation that I could probably afford a much newer model S class - but despite ribbing from some of my car-snob freinds about the age of the war horse - I have no intention of parting with it as daily transport any time soon.  At the rate I clock up the KMs, it will take me another 12 years to hit 200,000km - and I just can not see the sense in parting with one of the finest examples of automotive engineering until I have gotten by money's worth out of it.

I would really love one of those center consul roll-top oddments boxes they fitted to the twin airbag 1991 model though - anyone know where I could get one - Merc deleted the part years ago.
John Francis
24-Feb-2008 12:16
"a high performance version of the 560 engine (330 or 340 hp, not quite sure, but it works ;-) "

Hi Greg , re the quote above , do you have any info on this version of the 560 engine?

I own a 560 SL  that I broght over fron Canada to France and I ame interested in any info on inproving performance

04-Jan-2008 14:53
I need to replace the mirror glass only on my 86 560sel passenger side mirror assembly. This is the heated mirror with electronic adjustment.
Does anyone know the correct procedure on how to do this and if there is a"special" tool required? It is an expensive assembly to screw up.

03-Jan-2008 07:01
I have a 1989 Mercedes 560SEL in excellent condition, with 220k miles on it, the transmission started recently taking a few seconds to go into reverse when it's cold, and it's better when it warms up. I don't remember when the last transmission fluid/filter was changed but was told that it could be that, but i think worst case scenario and assume transmission failure.  does anyone have any adivce before i take it to a transmission mechanic? thanks Mark
14-Dec-2007 10:22
What is the value of a 1989 560 SEL with 300k miles, excellent condition?
chris smith
20-Nov-2007 03:16
I recently bought a 560sel with 124,000 miles. It runs beautifully BUT the aircon does not work nor does the sunroof. Having owned it for only 3 days i am still working out what is what. anyone know where i could get a manual? This car was imported into australia some time ago and appears to have a 3 speed auto.
20-Aug-2007 06:13
hi i recently purchased a 1985 500sel with 80000 miles on the clock.
the problem i am facing is that the car on its own accord shuts down while running.
the ignition coil is new...the plug wires ..battery etc have been checked....
all electrical appliances work when it shuts down without warning
initially it was shutting down after an exact 10 seconds
the electrician dryed some moisture which was gathered in the relay box
it ran fine for 2 days before shutting down whenever it feels like
please advise
John Amstadter
03-Jul-2007 16:31
I am the proud owner of a 1987 560SEL. It now has 250,000 miles  on it.
The trouble is it becoming quite expensive to maintain, what are my options?
Purchase price -$1834
Rebuilt engine-timing chain, new exhaust, new power steering parts, new
rotors and pads, new belts, pulleys, new suspension total costs $11,000.
19-Apr-2007 19:35
Hi there,
   I got the 88 500 se which i think are around 4000 ever built during production, but anyway i can get it start after leaving for 3 months i just change the fuel pump and still the same.any suggestion out there among our fellow brothers. let me know and best regards to all of you.
19-Apr-2007 19:34
Hi there,
   I got the 88 500 se which i think are around 4000 ever built during production, but anyway i can get it start after leaving for 3 months i just change the fuel pump and still the same.any suggestion out there among our fellow brothers. let me know and best regards to all of you.
15-Oct-2006 19:05
I am the original owner of a 560 SEL 1988 Mercedes, with 150,000 miles on it.  I have it serviced religiously.
Since May 2005 I have had an unresolved and undiagnosed problem with the car stalling shortly after starting, or stalling when started after just turning it off.  The car has only been serviced by the local Mercedes Dealer - who after I took it in on my own becasue I finally realized I was only getting around 130 miles on a tank of gas - which I noticed around August 2006 - now says that the Fuel Distributor is faulty.  They want $ 1,600 to install a re-built one (Canada).  

I am appalled that after paying for 2 new fuel pumps, a relay pump, etc. over the last year and costing over $ 1,600 they now say that it really was something else.  I think the Mercedes dealerhsip is at fault and didn't diagnose the problem correctly over one year ago.  On top of that they now say (after I brought the car in on my own, and they had just done a major service on it in May 2006) that the car is not safe to drive, because the fuel is collecting under the Distributor and could explode - which is what I told them when I heard about the new diagnosed problem, and the pooh poohed me.

What do you people think?

What is this car worth on the market?

You can email me directly if you like - HELP! gmburima@shaw.ca

23-Aug-2006 18:51
Hi. I have one advice for all of you benz lovers out there...
Use Oil extreme on your car. It`s the best oil i have ever used.
I promise you, the car will go better....
08-Aug-2006 03:03
Hi guys,

I recently bought a Mercedes 560 Sel
I guess the year is 1989, the color is silver, inside blue leather, fully loaded, with sunroof and becker cd player.
I paid for like 10.000 swiss francs. The car is shining like flash gordon driving on the freeway at lightspeed.
Well people are looking at me with big eyes.
Well tonight the car is sleeping.
I will tell you more next time.
04-Aug-2006 16:50
I have a 1989 560SEL I have owned it since 2001 and it has almost 300K miles and drives like it is new.  The car is a tank and if well maintained it will reward you many folds over.  Here is a website that you will find very helpful to get help or suggestions.  I have been a member there since 2002.
Scroll down to thw W126 chassis and enjoy.

The only problem that has been persistant with my car is failing emissions test for the state of Maryland.  I always fail by a small marging.  Given the mileage I have, my cat converter is probably the main culprit.  That's my next investment.  I would hate to see this car off the road.
jeremy burdett
21-Jun-2006 15:10
I have a 560 sel in black with grey leather it has everything twin horns (town and country) rear heated seats ect ect 12 months mot I bam looking for ??2500 its done 99987 miles
14-May-2006 17:07
Hello, I have an 86 560SEL and have loved the car since I bought it. Recently I was taking a friend home and he told me a "shortcut" but we had to cross a small ford which was supposed to be 2ft. deep. The ford was washed out and turned out to be 4 1/2 feet deep and my car had to be towed out. I've wetvaced the interior and dried it out but my drivers side seat switch and window switches are not working as well as my front speakers. The MAIN problem is after I changed the engine oil 2 times (to get the milky water out) and changed the transmission fluid 3 times and replaced the filter and seal the TRANSMISSION won't go into ANY gear!!! At soon as the fluids were changed and i thought everything was ready to go the engine fired right up but the transmission went into reverse for about 8 feet until is gently went out of gear, its been stuck there ever since and wont go into anything. Any advice???
Erik Elmgren
23-Apr-2006 02:01
I have created a site for 560 sel owners , where we can exchange experiences, parts and well talk about the car, url is http://www.560sel.eu .......... Welcome
26-Mar-2006 17:04
I am thinking about purchasing a 1988 560SEL. My husband spoke withthe previous owner and he said that it needs a new waterpump, and the Timing chain needs to be replaced. Is it worth the 4000. that is being asked for the car?

It looks great on the outside and inside. It has 150,000. miles on it. I will be the third owner. What are your thoughts?
12-Mar-2006 12:37
Hi all!
I am contemplating the purchase of a 1988 ck on black 560sel. It is truly a beauty-inside and out. However, it has 283K miles on it. Its a one owner, says has all the records, and is proud of it. It will not be my main driver-I just like the 'bently' look about it! He has dropped the price to $5000 US, so its very nicely priced. I have never owned a MB before and live in the Denver, CO area (snow periodically). What should I watch out or look for?!? Thanks.
560SEL is a GREAT CAR!
15-Feb-2006 00:31
Hey Guys, I have an 86 560SEL. I live in California, and I had to get it smogged. I have a GREAT mechanic, he's in Huntington Beach. When I took the car for a smog, it failed, and the fools at the Smog Pros where I took it said they'd have to open it up and for 85 bucks tell me where the problem was. I took it to Mike, the mechanic, who looked at the numbers from the smog check and said, "I'll handle this."
He cleaned out the lines where the EGR valve was, it was full of carbon. BLAM! The car passed smog wonderfully. This goes to show you that you MUST burn high test (high octane) fuel in your S Class Benz. You'll have BETTER performance and BETTER Mileage. I drove it from Huntington Beach to Lake Perris, and was driving down the 15 fwy doing 120 .. NO PROBLEM. The car cruises so awesome now!
Lars - Southern Spain
23-Dec-2005 11:10
I'm in love; I just took over a 88 560 SEL from a friend of mine, a Mercedes professional having the car for 12 years or so. Even belongs to a small series (a handfull or so) of cars produced for internal use and testing by Mercedes, having really every single extra installed, and, most important; a high performance version of the 560 engine (330 or 340 hp, not quite sure, but it works ;-)
Having just one problem, maybe someone here has an idea;  ignition is having an issue, like sometimes forgetting to fire on one cylinder, not enough to trigger the computer (would have been easy then :-), but enough to trigger me... I am sure the ignition is identical to the "standard" 560, any ideas anybody? Thanx and regards, Lars
windy miller
17-Nov-2005 13:13
Hi, nice to find a genuine enthusiast. Could I be so bold as to ask you for help ?. My 1987 560sel has developed a fault with the fuel pump. Is it difficult to work on and where exactly is it situated. Thanks for your help, in advance,
Windy Miller. Dorset.UK.
11-Nov-2005 09:08
I bought an 89 560 sel. Always liked the body style,but paid too much for it and have put another 2000.oo into it. I love the car but can't find a reasonably priced owners manual. Any tips? Also car seems to burn a quart of oil every 2 weeks. Is this mormal for a car this old. Any info would be greatly appreciated. 623.910.1160 Thanks, john.
Steve Hall
21-Oct-2005 19:08
I own a 500SE just converted to LPG what a car beleive me I am 46 and this is the best car I have ever owned or driven and I have owned a lot of cars in the last 25 years (MG, TR6, Audi, BMW, Citroen, Toyota, Datsun, VW)
New Zealand
26-Sep-2005 03:27
Just got a AMG kitted 560sel from Japan 78,000 kilometers = 48,700 miles i think it was ex Yakusa has a very clean boot ;). Whole car is black incl mags. Cost 9000 NZ$ = 4700USD, reason for price is its LHD and u cant register them here i swapped the vin numbers and plates and badges with a 500se
11-Sep-2005 11:37
Greg offers an excellent service by responding to your
questions. I own a 87 560sel which i bought at auction for
$1835. I think that with gas at an all time high that Mercedes 500 Series will be available at extremely  reasonable prices
through the balance of 2005.

A few comments for people looking; please inspect your purchase, is the car sound ? Your main concerns are the engine, trans, brakes, exhaust system, powered sunroof.
tires. repair history, and timing chain.

i bought a high mileage 560SEL  to which we did the following;

major engine work - replaced timing chain and head gaskets
recharged the ac
installed new interior switch parts
replaced muffler
repaced antennae
replaced brake calipers and pads

The finished project cost $7735. I ask you what other vehicle
coud you buy for less than $8000 that would this much joy ?

05-Jun-2005 22:04
Hey Sean Bakley, I have a 1986 560-sel and had the same thing happen with the fuel smell. I found the supply hose and the return hose on the fuel pump seping around the cremps its just above the diffy its hard to get to. I had a hose place in okc fix them for 18$ benz wanted 180$ good luck.
10-Feb-2005 19:40
I just purchased a 1988 Gold 560SEL, almost a mirror to yours with the solid Chrome Wheels. This is my 4th Benz, the others were (2) 300D's and a 1983 380SEC. Of the Benz's that I have owned, I think the SEC was my most favorite as for comfort in the seats. I would like to have the 1990 seats in my '88 and I would be a very happy man. The only other thing I am concerned about is I smell gas when I am accelerating above 45mph. I have checked everywhere I can think of, but can't seem to find where it could be coming from. I know it has to have a very small leak somewhere becase upon start up it seems to shake briefly untill the fuel seems to build pressure. Other than that I like my big Benz.
sean bakley
31-Dec-2004 09:46
I've got a '89 about a month ago. Ilove the bigbody design and the ride. I'm turning it into a jdm vip car with a WALD full bodykit, 19" mae rims, inteior makeover with new wood, front seats, leather and a secret motor swap.
17-Dec-2004 03:20
Great choice of car - have one myself that I really enjoy
Greetings from New Zealand..

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