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Old 18th February 2011, 17:11   #1
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Default Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

MERCEDES BENZ S 320

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Key tech specs:
  • Code: W 140
  • Model year: 1994
  • 6th owner, name not known
  • Delhi registered
  • engine: 3.2 L M104 straight six gasoline with electronic fuel injection
  • 24 valves, 4 per cylinder DOHC
  • 231 PS power, 310 NM torque
  • 4 speed AT transmission
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What I liked:
  • Majestic, timeless clean proportionate design
  • Superlative build quality with utmost precision
  • solid and durable body
  • sonorous and smooth straight six motor
  • technically simple without unnecessary gizmos
  • road presence despite being 17 years old
  • comfortable interior with decent build
What I didn't:
  • badly maintained interior with worn out black leather, needs restoration
  • tacky looking accessories, esp the radio, spoil the originality
  • jerky transmission
The experiance:

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Unlike any other.
Some cars are just priceless and timeless. Count the W140 series of Mercedes Benz S class flagship sedans, built between 1991 and 1999, widely regarded by as the "last real merc" ever built. That was a time when Mercedes Benz used to built cars that were designed to last...well almost forever. Overengineered and triple checked by MB quality department in Germany, these cars keep going on, and on, and...well, on. Perhaps, time to say:

The best. Or nothing.
Nothing even comes close to the real charm of owing and driving this leviathan. Not even the W220 or the W221, which lack styling flair and that quality which once made Mercedes Benz a legend. Really, nothing. Well, that first glance is more than enough to dial in the aspiration with the car.

Today I got a pleasant surprise when this large barge arrived in front of my house and was neatly parallel parked next to my MCD colony parking lot. To be frank, first I was shocked at to in my colony, where el jappos and kim cars rule the roost, spotting a W 140 is nothing short of an experience of a lifetime. A driver was roaming around it as the two passengers just were visiting my neighbor's dental clinic and I requested the driver for a short drive to which he wholehearted agreed after I had a word with the owner.

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Due to privacy reasons, the owners identity cannot be disclosed, but according to records, this car is now in its 6th ownership an so far has clocked 32,000 odd genuine MILES (odo was in miles) in its 17 year lifespan. Despite being so old, the car's in as pristine condition as it gets. Barring the repainted bumpers, the paint and exterior trim fittings was claimed to be original, and so was the most interior bits and pieces, save for an aftermarket tacky looking JV audio and delphi screen (didn't bother to see what it was).

Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-photo2232.jpg

Its easy to fall in love with this leviathan and why not? This car is a perfect example of restrained elegance. The square design looks majestic and timeless, and the car has an imposing presence, unlike the quirky designs of today's mercs. It looks best when it sits lower, and that timeless monocoque frame can withstand years of abuse. Mark my words, this car is solid with a capital S. every door shuts with a precision thunk, the bonnet is heavy to open and close and even the car feels like its carved out of rock solid steel. Whatever angle you look it, it doesnt dissappoint you. but my favourite angle is undoubtedly the side. The presidential design and lowered stance work perfectly, a design worthy of a connoisseur. Not surprisingly, we, at team bhp, are huge fans of this car.

Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-photo2233.jpg

Climb inside and the interior is more workman like, functional rather than luxurious. Looks solidly built like those good old days. Charcoal black looks pretty austere and the car had badly worn out leather seats and trims, yet the seats were comfortable. I didnt bother to photograph the entire interior as the owner's paraphernalia was inside it, spread everywhere. nevertheless, the driver's seat felt cozy and comfortable..just like those good old days of cradling you in a world of comfort and ease.

Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-photo2234.jpg

Somehow I beleive in factory originality and even if I had resources to buy ad maintain this beast, I wouldn't have bothered to uninstall the original cassette player and replace it. The aftermarket JVC CD player, and that too in silver, looked like a sore thumb and surprisingly, "local".

Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-photo2235.jpg

Open the bonnet and you are greeted by a robust engineered engine, the M 104 straight six gasoline displacing 3.2 litres with 231 horsepower and 310 nm torque mated to a convectional 4 speed auto transmission. Due to limited time constraints, I didn't get to have a close look a the gearbox driving modes closely so just started the engine, slotted into D and went for that drive.

Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-photo2230.jpg


Priceless. The best way to describe it. Took on NH 24 and you can't imagine how many heads it turned and many people driving were actually giving a second look to this barge. After all, size does matter. Perhaps, that was one of those rare occasions where yo get respect and you feel like a real king of the road driving a connoisseur's automobile. Call it a real work of art. No idea about 0-100 timings but its shockingly quick, despite the jerky transmission with somehow abrupt shifts.
Smooth, sonorous and free revving with quite a sporty growl, inside the sound is all but present. Pretty refined and quiet, even at 120 kmph (maximum I managed on the return back to my home), it stays calm, composed and rock solid stability is its forte.

Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-photo2231.jpg

Ride was quite good and our area does have some potholed roads, but it rides without any fuss. No, luxo barges aren't made to handle like a sportscar so not surprisingly, the recirculating ball steering is not exactly precise so agility compared to today's cars would be like comparing chalk to cheese. Yet, the car drives smoothly despite the huge turning radius and you are always aware of the palatial-hall like interior dimensions, so, its best driven sedately.
Respect required.

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After about 15 minutes, we head back and I thank the driver and the owner for letting me drive the S 320, which, could be best be described as, an experiance of a lifetime.

Its often said that, cars come and cars go, but some legends remain.
There is some emotional quotient attached with being old school and unlike today's cars which often prove to be unreliable due to excess electronic gadgets stuffed into them, the W140 is ne of those few nameplates which perhaps, if kept properly, may even outlast its owners. These cars still command a robust value in the pre owned market. And its not difficult to know, why.

Perhaps, today what I drove was an engineering masterpiece.

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Some cars are timeless.
And driving them is priceless.
Perhaps, an experience, unlike any other of driving the best.

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Or nothing.


Last edited by sidindica : 18th February 2011 at 17:19.
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Old 18th February 2011, 17:30   #2
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Maa, just loved it.
Thank ya @sidindica for TDing the beast.
May i see a good trend to test driving classics and maybe even starting a new thread like some "Official old car test drives"? Maybe.
BTW, the rear suspension sagging down? My uncle's W126 also had that problem.
Anyway a big surprise from you.
And good work
sidindica rulllllzzzz
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Old 18th February 2011, 17:38   #3
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Good job Sidindica!

I always used to wonder how it would be to drive a 15-20 year old super luxary car!

great coverage! Thanks!
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Old 18th February 2011, 17:49   #4
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Thanks for the compliments! The car was parked at an unlevelled road, so the suspension appears to be sagged but it was almost fine.
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Old 18th February 2011, 19:00   #5
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

How much would this be worth today? An old Merc is a dream to have in one's garage! I love all Mercs with squarish headlamps! That opening scene in the movie AKS, where Mr Bachchan steps out of a similar black Merc to take a look outside.. WOW!
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Old 18th February 2011, 22:52   #6
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

SID! You lucky guy, you!!! Mindblowing review, written like a true enthusiast. I read it all of three times. Rating your write up a well-deserved 5 stars.

If the W140 was on sale today, I'd beg, borrow or steal, but make sure a brand new S500 was parked down my house. Pity the W221 doesn't evoke such emotion. And how could it? When the W140 was introduced, it was miles ahead of its competitors....an extremist, the German bad boy. The tame W221, on the other hand, is "just as good" as its counterparts from BMW & Audi. This car was so excessive in every way that it actually attracted a lot of bad press (from tree huggers and the like) and the mid-life facelift made it "less imposing". Equally, every President & gangster (not kidding) worth his salt had to have one. The 140 had a long list of innovations including ESP, double-glazed windows (for superior insulation) and motored doors that shut automatically from the 90% level onward. Mercedes cut no corners at all in this car's development, result of which was the car never made Mercedes a single $ through its lifetime.

The example you drove actually has a lot of potential, considering the state of the cluster, buttons, gear lever etc. About 1 - 1.5 lakh rupees can make it pristine inside out. Atleast aesthetically. This car is the best mistress you can have today, but a terrible wife (if you know what I mean). The engineering is way too complex; indeed, most of them spend more time in the garage than on the road. If you own one, you better have a lot of time & $$$ on your hands. The simpler W126 is a more compatible life-partner.

@ Sid : This car (link to our classifieds listing) should be next on your agenda. It will blow your mind.
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Old 19th February 2011, 13:47   #7
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

sidindica,
that is a fantastic write up,i have been a fan of this majestic machine ever since i got my senses,i like the car in white color,all it needs a little bit of care,
as i look at the engine i understand that it is a S280 & not a S320,
1 of the owners have re badged it,the good think about the interior is that the centre console has not been opened yet,as i mentioned in the other thread 1 of the owner has good taste & has right fully upgraded the grill to the S600 1,
i am loving my 140 experience,there cannot be a better car than this to pamper an owner,not because i own it but because it is history
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Old 19th February 2011, 14:38   #8
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
SID! You lucky guy, you!!! Mindblowing review, written like a true enthusiast. I read it all of three times. Rating your write up a well-deserved 5 stars.

If the W140 was on sale today, I'd beg, borrow or steal, but make sure a brand new S500 was parked down my house. Pity the W221 doesn't evoke such emotion. And how could it? When the W140 was introduced, it was miles ahead of its competitors....an extremist, the German bad boy. The tame W221, on the other hand, is "just as good" as its counterparts from BMW & Audi. This car was so excessive in every way that it actually attracted a lot of bad press (from tree huggers and the like) and the mid-life facelift made it "less imposing". Equally, every President & gangster (not kidding) worth his salt had to have one. The 140 had a long list of innovations including ESP, double-glazed windows (for superior insulation) and motored doors that shut automatically from the 90% level onward. Mercedes cut no corners at all in this car's development, result of which was the car never made Mercedes a single $ through its lifetime.

The example you drove actually has a lot of potential, considering the state of the cluster, buttons, gear lever etc. About 1 - 1.5 lakh rupees can make it pristine inside out. Atleast aesthetically. This car is the best mistress you can have today, but a terrible wife (if you know what I mean). The engineering is way too complex; indeed, most of them spend more time in the garage than on the road. If you own one, you better have a lot of time & $$$ on your hands. The simpler W126 is a more compatible life-partner.

@ Sid : This car (link to our classifieds listing) should be next on your agenda. It will blow your mind.
GTO,last weekend,this very car was the chief guest at the team-bhp meet.
And yeah,it blew everyone's mind.
we went for a short spin in it,and everything,from the growl from the 12 cylinders,to the ride quality,and the attention it got,it was something,that cant be explained.
Thanks to Kanish for joining us at the meet,with his prized possesion.
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Old 19th February 2011, 15:18   #9
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

akshay please upload the pics of kanish's car if you have them,i must say his car is very clean,very rare v12
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Old 19th February 2011, 15:54   #10
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Quote:
Originally Posted by akshay4587 View Post
GTO,last weekend,this very car was the chief guest at the team-bhp meet.
And yeah,it blew everyone's mind.
we went for a short spin in it,and everything,from the growl from the 12 cylinders,to the ride quality,and the attention it got,it was something,that cant be explained.
Thanks to Kanish for joining us at the meet,with his prized possesion.
My pleasure Akshay. Nandish sir actually told me about the thread a few minutes ago. It was a lot of fun meeting everyone. Hope we do it again soon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nandishpal View Post
akshay please upload the pics of kanish's car if you have them,i must say his car is very clean,very rare v12
Thank you sir. You're way too kind.
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Old 19th February 2011, 16:04   #11
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Quote:
Originally Posted by nandishpal View Post
akshay please upload the pics of kanish's car if you have them,i must say his car is very clean,very rare v12
Nandish,we were so busy oogling at his car,that none of us clicked any pics,i just clicked one of the V12 badge,thats it.
And yeah,his car is very rare,and a clean one at that.
I might catch up with him soon,il try and click pics of his beauty.
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Old 19th February 2011, 17:25   #12
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Well, not many new pictures at the moment. But i'll try uploading a few that I did click recently.

To start with here's a picture of what a perfect stock example would look like Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-mb_600_sel_w140-large.jpg and another one of what I would want mine to look like someday. Name:  CIMG0191.jpg
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(sigh!)

And here's a few of my own car.
Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-dsc01882.jpgDriven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-dsc01884-large.jpgDriven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-dsc01886-large.jpg
The rear still needs some work. Getting new lights and boot-lid.
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The owner did not want to reveal his identity .

The heart of it all - Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-dsc01891-large.jpg

This has to be the shabbiest attempt at a bottle holder in a luxury sedan ever.Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-dsc01897-large.jpg

Looking in from the sunroof. No moonroof on the pre-facelift ones sadly. Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-dsc01899-large.jpg

Hope to put up some more soon.
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Old 19th February 2011, 18:34   #13
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Launch pic from a German MB 140 site.
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Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320-genf_1991.jpg  

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Old 19th February 2011, 20:29   #14
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Default Re: Driven: W 140 Mercedes Benz S 320

Fantastic report Sid. Very few cars from the 90s make me go weak in the knees and this is one of them. I hope you experienced the back seat which is fit for a king. Considering the state of the transmission, I wonder if the miles on the odo is genuine. Must be a UK car.

@kmircha. your benz is a beauty. How about a full review and report on maintenance and performance. Also looks like your car has the smaller alloys from the 6 cyl cars.

Last edited by Mpower : 19th February 2011 at 20:33.
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Old 20th February 2011, 01:03   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mpower View Post
Fantastic report Sid. Very few cars from the 90s make me go weak in the knees and this is one of them. I hope you experienced the back seat which is fit for a king. Considering the state of the transmission, I wonder if the miles on the odo is genuine. Must be a UK car.

@kmircha. your benz is a beauty. How about a full review and report on maintenance and performance. Also looks like your car has the smaller alloys from the 6 cyl cars.
Well sir, no actually. These are the OEM 16" alloys from the 600 itself. If you look at the 1st picture in my post and the one by sidindica you can see these are the same alloys. The grille on the other hand is the one that came on the 600's in the year 94 onwards which was changed later on.
I would love to do a full review and report. It's just that I'm a bit too lazy. I'd love to clear the misconceptions about maintaining this beautiful car and hope I'll be able to do one soon.
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