The instrument clusters in these cars are worth decent money on eBay, so it’s unusual for me to get an odometer reading from a junkyard example. 187,478 miles is a low figure for a W126; when I do find an odometer in one, it’s more likely to read something like 535,971 miles (if it’s a diesel) or 262,895 miles (if it’s a V8).
This one was in good shape when it took its final tow-truck ride, with a clean interior, rust-free sheet metal, and relatively straight body. These cars seemed modern for decades after they were new, so only the most knowledgeable Mercedes-Benz fanatics think of them as classics; for the average W126 driver who bought the car for $1,400 from its sixth owner, the prospect of a $2,200 repair— they don’t break often, but what does break costs real money to fix— most often means a quick sale to the nearest wrecking yard.
This one suffered some undignified colored-tape repairs to the lights before the end.
The biggest engine that Mercedes-Benz put into the W126 was the 5.5-liter single-overhead-cam M117 V8, which was available for the 1985 through 1991 model years. The one in this car was rated at 238 horsepower.
Driver- and passenger-side airbags came standard in U.S.-market V8 W126s in 1989. How much did all this luxury, power, and safety cost back then? $79,840, or just over $160,000 in inflation-adjusted 2018 dollars. The 1989 BMW 750i, V12 engine and all, started at a mere $70,000. The 1990 model year brought a nasty shock for Mercedes-Benz dealers, with the brand-new Lexus LS 400 and its MSRP of just $35,000, but at least there was no LS coupe.