Pick of the Day: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL, ‘built like a vault’

The big luxury sedan has a Rockefeller connection

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The 300SEl was Mercedes' flagship sedan

In the 1980s, Mercedes-Benz built what might be the finest sedan ever constructed, the W126 Mercedes S Class.

The Pick of the Day is a 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL in Anthracite Grey Metallic (172U) with a Palomino leather interior, and described as being in excellent condition with a thick folder of receipts and records. Plus, its original owner was a prominent figure in US financial history.

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The private seller in Essex, Vermont, advertising this grand Mercedes on ClassicCars.com, says the sedan is completely rust free, and it runs and drives well. The underside of the car is said to be just as clean as the top.

The interior is in very nice shape overall, the seller says, and the photos with the ad support that. The AC blows ice cold, the seller adds, and the power windows, door locks, power antenna and other features from gauges to cruise control all function flawlessly. 

Somehow, this Mercedes was not subjected to a badly installed radio “upgrade” but retains its original Becker Grand Prix 2000 sound system, which the owner says is working correctly.

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The car includes all original manuals and data card, as well as a number of interesting papers and mementos of the car’s famous first owner. That owner was a son of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller, Laurance Rockefeller, a well-known financier, philanthropist and conservationist.

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The mileage shown is 81,000, although the speedometer has been replaced. The seller notes that the records show this mileage to be “very close to what’s indicated.” 

The W126 S class Mercedes-Benz cars were built in a period when engineers at the German company ran the product-development department. Introduced in 1979, this series of S-Class was in production thru 1991, making this the end of the run for this legendary model.

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Though powered by the 3-liter SOHC inline-6, the plus-size car covers the sprint to 60 mph in 9 seconds, has a respectable top speed of 127 mph. And it delivers 22-26 mpg, something the V8 cars, while faster, could never accomplish.

The W126 S-Class cars were basically built to last forever, and the routine statement that these cars are “built like a vault” is an accurate description of how they feel to drive, even decades after they were built. When this car was launched, it literally redefined the idea of how well-constructed a car could be.

This might sound a bit over the top but if you have ever driven one of these cars, you would likely agree. They really are that good. The Mercedes advertising slogan, “The best or nothing,” is not just a catchy tag line with the W126.

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In addition, these S Class cars from three decades ago have modern AC systems and safety airbags, and they are perhaps the easiest classic Mercedes sedans to use as daily drivers, with no compromises necessary, something rare in any classic car. They epitomize the idea of a modern usable classic.

This 300SEL, which sounds from the description as if it checks all the boxes for one to consider, is being offered for a reasonable price of $10,500.

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Andy Reid's first car, purchased at age 15, was a 1968 Fiat 124 coupe. His second, obtained by spending his college savings fund, was a 1966 Ferrari 330 GT 2+2. Since then, he has owned more than 150 cars—none of them normal or reasonable—as well as numerous classic motorcycles and scooters. A veteran of film, television, advertising and helping to launch a few Internet-based companies, Reid was a columnist for Classic Motorsports magazine for 12 years and has written for several other publications. He is considered an expert in European sports and luxury cars and is a respected concours judge. He lives in Canton, Connecticut.

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