Review of “Flagship” Mercedes Benz S600 W140

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The kind Yakuza from Japan

I have been driving the S600 for some days now, in the city, on the highway and more curvy roads in the country side. It is what you can expect from this kind of car: Comfortable, powerful, luxurious, spacious and surprisingly anonymous. It is all what CEOs, diplomats, kings, (or drug lords) can wish for. This is truly an impressive car of by any standards. What surprised me the most is the way it makes you relaxed and do not eager you to drive fast like in a smaller more sporty car, still even when this can reach 288km/h if you remove the electronic speed limiter which is electronically set at 250km/h. What makes this car special are all the perks, accessories and massive comfort, not the ridiculous huge engine which is just a bonus.

Mercedes Benz s600 W140 rear
Rear end of the huge S600, looks even big from this angle. Still anonymous though, only the S600 badge reveals true nature, should be removed for cloaking.

As you turn on the ignition it makes a muted roar and then idles quiet, you can’t even tell the V12 M120 engine is there. It’s actually the most disappointing thing with the car, the engine noise, because it is non existent most of times. Makes sense for keeping the car quiet, but also removes all the fun with having such a powerful car with 400hp. When first driving it you really get surprised just how long and wide the car is, it takes some time to get used to. Driving it along it is like it can drive it self, braking is done by your big toe and steering by your little finger, although I do not recommend this of course. This S600 specimen is from 1996 and is 20 years this very year, but it feels like any modern German luxury car, in fact it feels years ahead of 15 year old newer Range Rovers. With only 58.000km on the odometer it is basically unused and from its Japanese background it makes it more interesting. Still even if it was ordered new in Japan it has the steering wheel on the left side for making it more special when used in Japan. Some buttons and menus in the navigation/radio screen are in Japanese though.

Interior Console Mercedes Benz W140 S600
Interior Console with the V12 badge clearly marked on the gear lever. Why so many buttons though?!

What put me off the most was the acceleration when pushing the throttle just to get up to normal speed. Not a slow one in the traffic!! With that in mind you can drive this like any other car just easing off the pedal more and especially if you have a cake in the back seat unsecured. Driving in the city the car is very comfortable and fast out of intersections, the only problem is narrow roads and parallel parking, but there are parking sensors to help out.

Everything with this car is electric, all the seats including the back seats, electric mirrors, electric windows, electric headrests front and back, electric curtains for the back window, electric servos for closing the doors (yeah you never have to slam the doors, just push the door to the end and they will close the last inch automatically), electric adjustable steering wheel, electric sunroof, electric etc…. and the list goes on.

The S600 has every accessory as standard equipment which is cool and why it was so damned expensive when it came out. The W140 is the biggest and most expensive S-Class model ever made and it didn’t sell well after the legendary W126. It was over-engineered, too pricey compared to the competitors, somewhat dull design and maybe just a little too big even for these kind of cars. After the W140 Mercedes went on a more safe approach with the next model with more success.

So how is the M120 engine? Well it is the most quiet beast of all time. Not sounding like a V12 as you might expect, only a slight orchestral V12 rumble when provoked. Oh God it is willing to drag you along, and the fun does not even stop, it just pulls more and more, I felt the most violent acceleration was when you pass 140km/h. This is truly an engine for high Autobahn speeds, which has very comfortable low RPM when cruising in the mid 100s. It is very easy to loose the license in this car since speed is this car can only be percieved when looking at the speedometer. Speed is unnoticeable, you really have to look twice at the speedometer and double check every time.

Mercedes Benz S600 W140 Engine
The beast of an engine, the M120 with only 48 valves!

Even though this might seem like a sports car, it is not. It’s huge and heavy, even with adaptive damping system and stability things like electronic ESPs of all sorts it feels big. My mind keeps me from going crazy fast since I know this car is big, I don’t even want to go fast, just cruise along at a comfortable pace, arriving in style and not exhausted from overtaking a million times. Even though overtaking cars in this thing is so easy it’s not even fun in the end. Saying this, the handling of the car is amazing and it can be used as a sports car down curvy roads, but it just feels wrong. Keep an eye on that fuel consumption though, it is not insignificant and the 100L tank is for sure needed.

Could I live with this car? Sure! Could I live with the fuel consumption on a daily basis? No. Could I parallel park this every day in the city? Maybe if I had the patience. Could I take all my family and my house for an epic vacation/road trip with this car? Definitely!

I took some family members on a ride with this thing, they were quite impressed. Especially the back seat with the champagne fridge and so many electric play buttons and all sorts of fun stuff are amusing. Not often a car is more fun in the back seat, that really sums it up for the S600, even though it is so cool and drives like a charm, the backseat is in face a better place to hang out. Being in this car is like sitting in a cloud drinking champagne with your legs stretched fully with the AC blowing chilly on a hot summers day while you raise the rear blinds by the flick of a button to conceal your luxury from the dreadful world outside.

I would recommend this car for comfort seekers and for presidents that don’t mind sitting in the back seat. Driving can be done by more professionals that knows how to drive economically so they don’t use up all the petrol in one night. And that means driving efficiently, comfortable for the passengers and utterly boring.

Mercedes Benz S600 W1400 Front

Cheers, Robs out

Finishing the “Restoration”

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The restoration battle has been won
Me 1 – Car 0

The car is welded, put together again and finished! Who would believe that? I am super proud of my own work. I managed to strip downm weld and then assemble the car on a tight schedule. In the process I learned how to weld body panels. I in fact learned so much through this project that I know tons of new stuff about W123s.  This job was the inspiration to create this very site.

The project included the tricky disassembly of the whole rear sub frame and drive train with following refurbish. This has been almost two years of work, although with large gaps between quite intensive working periods.

Which areas did I end up welding? I couldn’t cover all of them in the blog.

Sounds like a lot, the issue was that it had many places with small holes, and with welding the job is just as long when it involves small or large areas. You still have to remove old metal, remove paint and body protector coating, maybe interior parts, cut out new metal piece and shape it, weld it in place, grind it, polish it and paint it. Same process over and over again.

What mechanical areas did I fix? The car was from before very mechanical sound and basically I just replaced rubber wearing parts.

  • New flex disks for drive-shaft
  • New center bearing and hanger for drive-shaft
  • New upper control arms and sway bar bushings at the front suspension
  • New shock absorbers, Bilstein original extra stiff for flatter cornering
  • New fuel hard lines and rubber hoses
  • New sway bar bushings and links rear
  • New subframe rubber mounts
  • New brake rotors and pads
mercedes benz 280ce front without bumpers
Without bumpers and needing some paint
mercedes benz 280ce rear without bimpers
Rear Facing

Basically all the lower sides and front needs repaint, these are areas not so visible, none the less I got some paint with the right color code (172).

right front corner before respray
Right front corner
left front corner before respray
Left front corner – red base paint
Respraying lower front and sides
Respraying with second base paint layer
Respraying side
Painting continues
leather interior w123 280CE
Assembling the leather interior again

So what is the result? Well a car that looks really good and drives like like a new Mercedes. Super smooth and fast!

It went from looking like this in (2012):

Stripped 280CE front
Stripped car

And one year after (2013):

Mercedes 280Ce and 300TD
The product of lots of work and dedication

Replacing the right side Mirror

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There is nothing like a new mirror smell in the mornings

The right mirror has been fucked, it was broken while parked in the street and is just hanging on with some tape. It is actually not that obvious, however when traveling at highway speeds the mirror is vibrating by the wind. The angle of the mirror is not right when closely inspected either.

Used electrical right mirrors for coupes are quite hard to find actually, and new ones are very expensive at a Mercedes Benz dealer. So with this in mind I have tried to find a good used one. It is nearly impossible to find those kind of used coupe parts in Norway, too small market I guess, much easier too find used parts for sedans and wagons. Anyway I have been trawling the Internet for a used right side electrically operated mirrors for my coupe, all it took was some great patience and a will for not throwing in the towel and go directly to a Mercedes dealer.

Who would have thought that I found it on ebay in Germany while I studied in Thüringen? Only 130€, or anyway a lot cheaper than new of the shelf by an amount of 300€.

Old mirror hold togehter by tape
Old mirror hold in place by tape
plastic trim for mirror
Just flipping off the plastic trim to get to the mount
W123 mirror mount
Mirror is mounted by a couple of scres and the electric wire
Old and new mirror compared
Comparing the broken mirror, mechanism hold together with copper wire
Mirror 280CE
New mirror, good as new!

This was by far the easiest fix on this car so far, it took me only 5 minutes!

Overhauling the bumpers

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You can get w123 bumper parts from Argentina too

Always some parts that needs to be replaced on these old things, this as with the case of the side mirror, the left rear bumper corner needs to be replaced. It is so through-rusted that I will just throw it. Getting hold of chrome parts for the coupe specific version of W123s are in fact quite difficult, especially those bumper parts. These are all chrome that were just for the coupe and the 280E versions on the sedan and wagons. They look so good that people are crazy about them.

I had the task of finding a replacement part with nice chrome. I’m not even sure if this can be obtained from a Mercedes dealer since it is not a wear part.

I found a private Mercedes older car parts dealer in Argentina… across the other side of the world of course. Bought it through eBay and got it the week after! It was not cheap though, was around 230$ for the bumper corner. However the part is in mint condition, not even a scratch in the chrome and the original paint inside in pristine condition. Very happy with the deal and the seller was very professional.

I have to do some rust removal of the other bumper parts, and then I will remove surface rust respray the inner sides for better rust protection.

New and old bumper corner for the 280CE
New and old bumper corner for the 280CE, the left one was brought here all the way from Argentina.
inside new bumper corner W123 280CE
Original paint inside the new bumper corner From Argentina
inside bumper w123
Needs some rust removal and respray.
rust removal bumper w123
Using a drill to remove the rust
respray bumper w123
Respraying inner with base coat
second spray layer bumber w123
Second spray layer inner side on bumper