I've owned several of the w126 body style Mercedes. I started off with a 1986 560SEL when I was just 19 years old. After that I went to a 1987 420SEL, 1988 420SEL, 1989 560SEL and finally at 1990 560SEL. All of these vehicles were the best I've ever owned. Nothing compares. Not even my 2011 S550 4Matic could touch the w126 body style. The way they look, the way the hood stretches out in front of you, with the Mercedes star shining at you. I'll forever have a huge love for the big bodied SEL lineup. Such power, comfort, and reliability. I've never had anywhere near the amount of issues on my newer Mercedes that I had on my old SEL's. They were so reliable!!! I'd recommend this car to anyone. If you like comfort and grace, this is still a great head-turner. I always get a joy when I see them still on the road today, because it's a timeless luxury vehicle.
Besides being the best MB ever made, this car is BIG on safety. I got T-boned right in the driver's door while standing still at a red light. The other driver had to be going 35 mph. The interior door card didn't even move. The outside of the door caved in but the 1 1/2 " steel bar inside that door did its job. It pushed on the A and B pillars and did not give. No injuries. So I bought another one. This time a 1990 560 SEL.
Driving this car makes you feel like no one can touch you. The car has great power for the day and can handle pretty well too. The fact that mine is black over black just adds to its presence. For being so heavy, its massive 5.6 liter has enough torque to move this beast faster than you could think was possible. The interior is classic Mercedes; wood throughout, nice leather seats with all the electric options, and easy to understand buttons, make it a great place to sit. This being a 1990, it has a more advanced sound system than years prior, and it sounds quite good considering its now 24 years old. The biggest aspect of the car that lets it down, is of course the gas mileage.
One of the best features is the rear seats reclining and being heated. Its got that classic V8 sound, but this being a S-class, it is muffled.
The gas mileage is really poor. You'll be lucky to get more than 12 mpg with mixed driving, and having to fill an almost 25 gallon tank with premium can really hurt if you drive this everyday.
This is the 4th SEL I've owned, unfortunately the first three have had tragic deaths, 1 stolen, 1 totaled while parked and 1 caught fire after AC maintenance. I will always go back to these cars, amazing handling for the size, power to spare and has a classic style that will never look old. I've tried to replace this car with other new cars only to be disappointed. Out of the 4 I've spent a total of $20k to purchase and maintain but have driven over 300k miles with never a problem. Here I am 8 years later and still can't believe how amazing these cars are.
When the 560SEL was built, it was the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. This was before Lexus. MB engineers were given a blank slate (literally) to create the 560SEL. All costs were passed to the buyers, who in 1990 were throwing down about $80k. But that was 1990. What's it like today? I'm a car nut and I love this car. It has character and it gives meaning to the word 'quality'. If you take care of this car as you're supposed to, it can last forever and actually be a good investment (really). If you're in the market for this car, the gas mileage should be no surprise. It's really bad.