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 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.
I have owned this car for 11 years. Bought it used with 90K mileage - had been in love with the look of the vehicle since I first saw it at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1997. When I found a nice used one, I bought it. Needed some work to restore it and I did that. It is a very fun and comfortable car to drive. Costs more than the norm to repair it, but it is an experience you just cannot find in a normal car. I use it for highway driving and know that I will have the performance and safety that I need. This car is vastly undervalued in the marketplace. It would be very difficult to find a similar car with the same features and comfort. Hard to find a good used one (like mine) but if you do, it is well worth the investment ... provided you are committed to paying more than normal maintenance costs. It is an elegant looking vehicle that attracts attention and most people cannot possibly guess its age because the design is so timeless. Someday I will sell it, but it will be hard to part with. Only one drawback. It can be difficult to find a qualified mechanic to work on the car since it is not a "regular" Mercedes. It was the most expense car that Mercedes produced in 1997 and is, therefore, not commonly found. Very unusual.