Overall condition: Fair
Number of owners: 3
When it made it’s debut in 1991, the Mercedes-Benz ‘W140’ generation of S-Class was arguably the best car in the world.
The German manufacturer had invested US $3bn into its development with the sole aim of creating the world’s best luxury car, something it unashamedly boasted about at the 1991 Frankfurt Motor Show when it pulled the wraps off the double-glazed gargantuan super saloon.
Developed during the economic boom of the late 1980s, the S-Class was packed with incredible new technology covering everything from safety to the ultimate in luxury. The double glazing, self-closing doors, air-conditioned seats, and even little electronic poles that popped out of the rear wings to show you where the back end was when reversing – if you could think of it, chances are the W140 had it.
Yet at the same time, the luxury Merc was a decent driver’s car. It may have been designed with the idea of cossetting wealthy rear quarters in its rear quarters, but the Big S was also surprisingly good fun from behind the wheel, with superb handling and the best ride quality this side of a Jaguar XJ.
It was a fine car, beloved of diplomats, celebrities, royalty and business leaders, and it set the bar for other luxury makers to follow suit.
Today, the W140 is now finally attaining the classic status it deserves, even though when new it was a difficult sell. Great as it was, the economic boom that had led to its development was well and truly over by the time it went on sale, Western economies were mired in recession, incomes were cut, interest rates were spiralling and the luxury car market was taking a hammering. And doesn’t that sound familiar?
This one is a 400SE dating from 1992, which was used by the vendor as his daily transport for several years until he retired it and rebuilt the entire suspension. It is sold in running order but with no MOT, though a test should not be difficult to achieve.
Finished in smart Nautic Blue metallic, the S-Class wears all its original paint and is in presentable order, with a solid undercarriage and mostly good panels.
There is some corrosion on both front wings, for which replacements are available easily, and a various age related scuffs and marks, while the rear reversing guides aerials have been taped over. There is also treatment wax on both rear wheel arches, applied to prevent surface rust from developing.
One of the alloy wheels has been refurbished, the other three would benefit from similar treatment. The tyres are also quite old but new ones are available by separate negotiation.
Under the bonnet you’ll find a 4.2-litre V8 with 282bhp – a usefully quick and responsive unit that transmits its power to the rear wheels via a a four-peed automatic transmission.
It shows a recorded 93,460 miles, which is unwarranted. However, the car comes with over 30 years of receipts, invoices and additional documentation.
At the time of our photoshoot a distributor issue prevented the car from working properly, but the vendor says this will be addressed. He used the car has his daily transport from 2016 to 2021 without problem and reports that it drives extremely well under normal circumstances.
The 400SE has an opulent interior, as you’d expect from such a car, with rich tan leather upholstery and matching door cards and carpets. It’s in good overall order but the supplied Becker radio requires reinstalling and the carpets and interior fabrics would benefit from a deep clean.
Overall it presents well and the seats exhibit very little wear. It’s a luxurious car, well-equipped and stacked with extras, and everything appears to work.
This particular car doesn’t have air-conditioning from the factory, which is unusual in this model.
Early W140s are rare cars these days and the V8 models are rarer than most, but good ones are rapidly becoming more and more collectable.
This one, while not perfect, is fundamentally sound and is a great, solid basis for further improvement and to make great again. You’ll need to budget for some cosmetic repairs, an MOT and a full mechanical going over, but once you’re past that you’ll have one of the best luxury cars of the 1990s, a real bargain of a car and a proper luxury cruiser.
Please note whilst Bidding Classics offer the most descriptive auction listings and in-depth photos and videos, we cannot claim they are totally accurate reflections of the condition of each vehicle listed for sale. Therefore, we encourage all bidders to do their own due diligence and arrange a viewing of each vehicle for sale. Viewings can be arranged by posting in the comments section below, this will trigger an email to the seller, who will get in contact to arrange a time of mutual convenience.
Also, it is likely that many of the classic cars sold through our platform will have had repair work in the past that we cannot verify. As such we do not warrant (and no warranty shall be implied) that the repairs have been carried out to a high standard or that any replacement parts are genuine.
Please do ask any questions by filling in the ‘Ask a question’ form and one of our team will be in touch, or visit our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section if you have questions about the buying process. If you require any additional photos or videos let the seller know, and we’ll ensure they are captured and sent over as soon as possible.