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Big Body Buy: 1997 Mercedes-Benz S500 Coupe

As everything in the W140 realm continues to climb skyward - especially recent sales of the 1999 Grand Edition Sedans - so too do the more pedestrian examples. Even the formerly less-desirable W140 coupes are starting to bring strong numbers in the collectible Mercedes marketplace. While the bloom was off the rose for these coupes - and the W140 in general - for a good 10 years, that trend is over and the W140 is no longer fodder for "street beater" status.

Offered for sale on craigslist out of Costa Mesa, CA, this face-lifted W140 from 1997 benefits from a non-biodegradable wiring harness, a 5-speed gearbox and the color-matched body cladding. These face-lifted versions of the W140 are currently the most desirable of the model line due to the aesthetic and mechanical upgrades over the earlier models.

Showing only 61,000 miles on the odometer, this extremely reliable M119 and aforementioned 5-speed gearbox; Smooth as silk with plenty of power on board to cruise this extremely heavy big-body coupe at highway speeds with ease and style.

While some might dub this an "old man tan" combo, the Smoke Silver metallic (702) paintwork is actually quite a rare and attractive choice for the W140 coupe; even over beige nappa leather interior. The condition looks very presentable in the photos but closer inspection shows this is a less than perfect example with an extremely good detail job prior to being photographed. Our associate on the ground in California gave this car a proper inspection and wasn't quite prepared to take the plunge based on some common wear and tear items that, while not major, are troublesome and effort intensive to correct.

Looking more closely at the leather bolsters and stitched seams on the seats tells the tale somewhat in the photos. The overall color of the beige nappa leather seems heavily blanched as compared to a pristine example where the tone of the leather is richer and more dark. When combined with the clouded headlights and sagging leather strap on the rear armrest its not hard to deduce that this car spent a lot of years outside in the sun without protection or window tint to save it from UV exposure.

Obviously, the rear end suspension of this example needs work on the SLS system because its sticking up higher than a housecat in heat. While SLS spheres and other components aren't bank-breaking fixes, this issue going unresolved prior to sale is likely indicative of other preventative maintenance items being left undone in the past 23 years. These issues, as separate from the cosmetic issues, are ones that can become extremely expensive quite fast on an aging W140 platform; even one with low miles such as this one.

The carfax shows no accidents or damage and verifies the mileage to be approximately accurate; but only 2 service records over almost two-and-a-half decades does not inspire confidence in the mechanical condition overall.

Those issues notwithstanding, this car is still a very strong value at only an $8,900 asking price. Good luck finding this price point on a similar example next year but, if you do, be sure to send us the link for the listing so we can feature it!


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