5k: Old Faithful: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL W116

The W116 generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class is one of those old stalwarts of the industry that won’t let the public down.  The W116 is tough and reliable icon in the same vein as Gotham City’s Batman, Red Meat’s Milkman Dan or Toronto’s Rob Ford.  Like an old high school football buddy, it’ll be there when you need it, to fight crime, scare your neighbors with a pig mask/cattle prod or help you dispose of a body.  Find this 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL offered for $3,500 in Auburn, CA via craigslist.

This 1980 model comes from the last year of W116 production and aside from the bumpers (and smog state issues) it is probably the most desirable of all W116 cars.  The latest model year of a particular generation means that it has been given a series of continuous improvement changes from the factory based on previous experience.  If the old advice of never buying the first model year (or two – some changes take at one or two years to get from diagnosis to final factory fix in many OEMs) of a new generation is good, then it makes sense to buy the last model year whenever possible…unless the factory is going out of business and then you might worry about lackluster quality, but that wasn’t at all the case with the W116.

Power in the 450SEL version comes from a 4.5 liter SOHC M117 V8, good for 221 horsepower when equipped with Bosch K-jetronic fuel injection.  The only transmission available was a 3-speed automatic gearbox and the engine/trans combo will be acceptable for pushing around the 3900 lb sedan, but not particularly thrilling. 

See a better classic family sedan to match with a simple sports car in your driveway? tips@dailyturismo.com