I purchased this car a month ago used with 162000 miles on it. The price was right, and I thought it to be a "disposable" car. NOT SO!!!! I have driven much newer mercedes, and this 14 yr old car has not lost a step in performance or comfort. Beware of a "weeping" oil drip of this car. I was stunned and horrified when I discovered it. A little research on the internet told me that the oil should not be at the "max" of the dipstick. it should be in the middle. The key comes down to maintainance records. If you had an anal previous owner, you are in luck. If you had an owner who saved his pennies to get it (and did not want to spend his pennies to maintain it) you will have a bad experience.
The most overengineered MBZ ever built. Love the Black leather, don't get the beige or gray. Even has a parking assist in 1997 ! I love this car. Best driving car I have ever driven. Parts are very $$$ if you buy this used. You can get one for 7K, but make sure it has been taken care of. Mileage is meaningless on this car. Maintenance is most important, and a good mechanic. These cars can go to 1,000,000 miles actually. I think it's in the world record book. The car drives like a sports car. The car is very heavy, so get the S500, not the weaker S430 or S300, there too weak to pull this much weight. And get black interior.
So long as you use full synthetic every 5000 miles and premium fuel, the 1997 s500 will be a loyal trusty steed. I love the black on black color combo, 11 Bose speakers and HID headlamps. Also the auto sensing wipers are great. 1997+ have these features stock.. The car is a tank.
I have owned a few MBZ in my life. I had admired the W140 chasis on the road for many years. The square bold looks, & rock-solid build looked indestructable. New price: $ 100,000 A few points: Steering Wheel: If you can get a wood steering wheel. Hard to find. Interior: Black is the only way to go. Grey / beige don't age as well. Engine: This is a super heavy car. Don't waste your time with a V6. It's like using a wheel barrel to pull the Queen mary. Stick with 97-99. This cars can be had for 7K-8k used, but buyer be aware. Most of the lower priced ones need work of easily 10K - 15K. Get one with service records & an anal owner, that had the work done for you. 10K-15K
I have owned about 10 mercedes, this 1992-1999 S Class is among the last of the truly good ones. Bought my 1997 used in 2000, pure joy. Love driving it, 23 mpg in mixed driving, gets lots of compliments at 8 years and 105000 miles. Strangers ask if I want to sell it. Black/black leather, Looks positively new, very reliable overall. These are very complex cars, buy one from a dealer with all records and the "Starmark" extended warranty, buy extra coverage to 36 months/100000 total miles. 1997-1999 are the best years, 5 speed auto, updated wheels/climate control/stereo, 1992- 1996 wiring harness and head gasket problems corrected.