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Just bought a W140

Started by beagle2022, 08 March 2017, 01:53 AM


My responses are based on my experiences with a 1992 300SE which I bought cheap, dumped a bank vault of money into and sold cheap, but wouldn't mind owning one again.
Quote from: beagle2022 on 04 April 2017, 07:53 PM
* It is full of gadgets.  Why anyone needs a power operated rear view mirror is beyond me. So there are lots of fiddly things to go wrong in the future.
The power operated rear view mirror disappeared after just a few years - I think 94 was the last model to have them. On my car, the mirror position was sync'd to the memory seat controls, just like the left and right-hand outside mirrors. That's a nifty benefit - until someone borrows the car and tries to move the mirror manually... :(
Quote from: beagle2022 on 04 April 2017, 07:53 PM
* It is insanely quiet.  Really. At any speed.
I owned an '02 S55 after the 92' 300SE. The '92 was a quieter car.
Quote from: beagle2022 on 04 April 2017, 07:53 PM
* More power than I expected from a 3.2 hauling over 2 tons.
Biggest problem for these cars was the 5-speed automatic that started in 2nd gear, just like the V8 4-speed units. My car was a complete dog off the line unless you put your foot all the way to the floor. Difference between the 5-speed and 4-speed units was it was easy to wire up a switch to cause the 4-speed unit to start in 1st always. The 5-speed 1st gear start was triggered by the transmission control module - no tinkering possible. Other thing that was an issue with the 3.2L engine is head gasket failures. I bought mine cheap from someone that got it from someone who wouldn't pay the price for a new head gasket. They did the work (poorly) and I wound up having it redone after about 30k miles. Worse, when they reattached the head, they left off the spacer washers under the head bolts, which ruined the head (and probably led to the premature gasket failure - many of the bolts were bottomed-out in the block) which added many dollars to the repair cost - I think the shop doing the work paid $750 for a used head.
Quote from: beagle2022 on 04 April 2017, 07:53 PM
* Central locking etc is all vacuum operated.  (You can run but you can't hide!)
Unless your car is different than mine, the system pneumatic, with a pump under the right-side rear seat doing all the work. It "blows" to unlock the doors and "sucks" to lock them. It also provides the pressure for the lumbar supports in the front seats and the myriad of servo pods on the HVAC system. There's was even a pneumatic actuated handle that would extend out from the boot lid above the license plate when you triggered the trunk release button. My car also had the rear "reversing guides" (stubby antennae) at the outside corners of the rear quarter panels, at the edges of the boot lid. This system extended the guides when the car was reversed and retracted them when the car was put back into park or a forward gear was selected. Funny story - when I bought the car, it had an aftermarket security system installed, which didn't work, so I removed it. Everything that was controlled by the pneumatic system was backwards - when you put the car in reverse, the reversing guides would retract - drive, they would extend. Close the trunk, the lift handle would extend - open it, the handle would retract. No longer had the factory remote, so using the key was the only way to lock the car. The backwards behavior also extended to the door locks - when you locked the car with the key, the lock knob would descend as you turned the key and as soon as you released the key back to the vertical position, all of the doors would unlock, but the security system would remain armed. I fought and fought with this for days until I decided to pull the pneumatic control unit out from under the rear seat. Opened the case up and found the power wires to the motor had been cut and reversed. I guess that the alarm installer did this for some reason. Put the wires back where they belonged and everything was fine after that...
One note - the pneumatic system has some "smarts" to it. If one zone, say the lumbar supports demands air for longer than a certain timeframe, the system will take that zone offline. To fix the problem, you have to first fix the leak, then pull the fuse to the pump system to reset it.

Enjoy the last of the Mercedes built "where cost was no object"...
W. Brian Fogarty

'12 S550 (W221)
'76 450SEL 6.9 Euro #521
'02 S55 AMG (W220) - sold
'76 450SEL 6.9 Euro #1164 - parted out

"Bond reflected that good Americans were fine people, and most of them seemed to come from Texas..." Casino Royale, Chapter V


Seems like these can be had super cheap now, pretty much the lowest it will go on the depreciation curve methinks.  Obviously one can get badly burnt here with all the gizmo's, but sounds like the M119 motor in the S500 is bulletproof for the most part.  Now to convince the missus that I "need" another Benz ::)...
1977 450 SEL 6.9 - Astralsilber



But the AC Evaporator issues seem to be plentiful online.  Kind of not if but when, and then the whole dash must come out :o  would have to make sure I can see documented proof that this has been done.  I do like rolling in ice cold comfort!
1977 450 SEL 6.9 - Astralsilber


OK, six months on and I thought I'd give you a more informed user update.

Things I love:
* It is incredibly quiet.
* The seats are very comfortable.
* It has a lot more power than my 280sel.  A lot.
* The stereo.  Fantastic.
* Handling and road feel.
* No rust.  Zip.
* Incredibly well thought-out engineering with ease of access to serviceable components.

Things that have gone wrong:
* The vacuum pump died.  Water got in somewhere.  That killed the central locking, seat firmness adjustment, headlight adjustment et al.
* The soft-closing door locks are intermittent.
* The residual heat function in the climate control is demon possessed.  It has turned itself on a few times and refuses to turn off.  I need to remove the fuse to stop it. Then it resets normally.
* The worm gear in the CD stacker died.

Things I don't like:
* Visibility of all four corners is awful, especially the rear. I've had a few "braille" moments.
* The fuel consumption around town.
* Complex electrics.  Front and rear fuse boxes. Stereo has headset in the dash and then separate tuner, amp and CD in the boot.

Overall reflections:
* This is a great car.  Great design and high quality materials. It feels like the W116's big brother. Not a cousin or in-law, which is what more modern Mercs feel like.
* It is a pleasure to drive, especially on the highway.
* The M104 is a fantastic engine.  Surprisingly powerful with good low-end torque. Mine has the early KE jet injection, so you can fix it with a hammer and chisel. Likewise the analogue auto transmission.
* For $4.5k it is a complete bargain and cannot possibly depreciate.
* Parts are easy to get and cheap: oil filter $8, rotor arm $55, distributor cap $135 (it's enormous), two rear discs $80, front indicator $25. I found a specialist in the USA who fixed the vacuum pump for $145USD.

So don't be scared. Any car that has made is this far in good condition will last forever with sensible maintenance.
Sydney, Australia

TJ 450

Sounds good,

Yes, if the W124 is anything to go by, the 140 should be fantastic, even if there are a few issues to fix.

Happy motoring..

1976 450SEL 6.9 1432
1969 300SEL 6.3 1394
2003 ML500


OK.  Another year on.
Still in love with this car.  Nothing major has gone wrong. I'm now 15,000 kms and two years into ownership.
Just did a 2,500km road trip.  Not a problem.  Minimal oil use. Coolant fine. Auto trans perfect. Climate control works fine. Average of 10 litres per 100 kms.  I think that is 30 mpg in the old money.
I miss the character of my 116, but the sophistication and engineering of the 140's is amazing.  And no rust issues.
I also miss this forum.  There is no W140 equivalent.  Mainly Russians with black window tint doing burnouts.  As Donald would say, "Sad".
Sydney, Australia


Always wanted a w140 in Black. Defo on the must have list.