My New CC: 1996 Mercedes S600 V12 Coupe (W140) – Massive Depreciation Is My Friend

Mercedes 1996 S600 fr

(CC reader Steve E. wants to share his new ride with us)  I cannot afford to be an automotive polygamist, so I am a serial monogamist (with occasional spells of a bigamy). Right now my regular ride a 2000 VW Cabrio. Simple, great car that gets the daily bread as well as over 30 mpg on regular.   But then craigslist got the better of me: a 1996 MB S600 Coupe for well less than 5% of its initial cost (its price new was $135,000!). A bargain or folly?

Mercedes 1996 S600 eng

These cars have an amazing development history:  over a billion dollars spent in development,  the “most over engineered car ever built”,  the first modern V12 muscle car,  skid control,  traction control, suspension control,  incredible top speed and acceleration, etc.   It’s interesting that this series is  considered the apex of Mercedes Benz modern car engineering and is highly acclaimed,  yet enthusiasts are frightened of  buying them.  Lots of sedans,  but few coupes– a future classic?

I did some research– there were in total 221 imported into US and Canada in 1996. It’s got 114k miles, been sitting for a couple of years but still lookin’ very good. Reported to run and drive strong, but with some “small problems”. Hey, this is a car made to be driven, and the ‘bells and whistles’ aren’t that important to me!

Mercedes 1996 S600 int

So I bought it–and it drove home actually pretty well. Tires and wheels were awful, so found a set of excellent Mandrus wheels and studless snow tires also on cl, and spent a week cleaning up the exterior. Interior is now near perfect! I think the biggest stopper for previous owner(s) was the fact that the climate controls wouldn’t work and blew fuses. Opinions about climate control problems are terrifying– thousands of dollars to tear out the inside of the car. This is apparently correct for the a/c evaporator. But, the heater circulation fan is easily accessible and costs about $100 to restore. IF that’s the problem, and it looks like it may be. Received the motor/ resistor etc yesterday, and will install shortly. We will find out!

Update: Got the climate control blower motor installed today–easy task– and it works!   Less than an hour and under $100.

In the meantime, have been driving the car ’round the west side of Portland without issues. Jeez, is that car fun to drive! Lots written about it– and the driving part is all true.  It seems a shame that Mercedes engineers would build such a fantastic car that would demand so much attention that only the very rich could afford to own and keep them, and suffer such severe depreciation. Many of us enthusiasts are the ‘later’ owners, that keep the cars alive and buy parts and get them serviced etc, and keep them running.

Mercedes 1996 S600 side

So far I’m into it for less than $5,000.  (That covers wheels and tires and tags and blower motor, etc.)  Or about the same amount as the gas guzzler tax paid on it when bought new.  I will keep you all posted– let’s see how the story develops…..