1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC

1987 Mercedes Benz 560 SEC

Purchased 3 years ago from an elderly gentleman that have several nice cars and was not driving this one much anymore. He claimed he bought it in 1989 and was the second owner.

The odometer showed approx. 177k miles but was non-functional. He estimated maybe 10-12k undocumented miles. Onto the documentation, there is none. No owner's manual, no service, manual no records. Had this exact vehicle been fully documented, it would have been worth 2.5 to 3 times as much.

The car was kept in an air conditioned / heated garage near Dallas Texas and the interior and exteriors were both in good shape. He claimed that the air conditioning was rebuilt 3 year previous but was having an issue with the internal cabin fan. He showed and explained to me some of issues with the car and after a comprehensive inspection and short test drive I made him an offer good for 14 days. Near the expiration of the offer he called and asked if I was still interested. I told him yes but only for the amount of my original offer. He said yes. We made agreement I would pick it up Saturday.

Saturday morning I drove my newly acquired 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC for the second time from south of DFW to near Waco.

This is Texas and summer was about to be upon us so I started on the air conditioning first. During my initial inspection, I discovered a rodent had chewed through the A/C motor ballast wiring. A few special purpose tools and a new wiring segment installed I thought I had fixed the problem however, when I would turn the A/C on, the fuse would blow.

After some research I found out the smog pump and the A/C motor are on the same circuit. After finding and fixing a wire causing a short, the A/C motor circuit started working properly.

The car has a POD issue so the air only blows at the feet and on the windshield. For most MB's this is the default setting because it's safer for winter driving defogging the windscreen and keeping the feet warm. The POD issue is still present as I'm not keen into removing the dash completely which is almost required for complete POD diagnosis and replacement.

Once the A/C system was operating I charged the system myself. Although I don't drive the car that much, the charge holds pretty well. It's never gone completely out again sometimes it does not seem to be as cool so I top it off. The cause is most likely the result of a small leak somewhere.

Onto the broker odometer.

I ordered new gears from an internet shop to "fix" the odometer. This was a project and kind of intimidating but I accomplished it. It requires removal of the entire gauge package, and disassembly down to the odometer level. And then the real fun begins. The old plastic broken gear pieces were replaced with an updated plastic gear kit that is supposed to last longer. The odometer works now but there will always be a discrepancy on a car report Carfax as it was not functioning for about 2 years.

A lot of issues with euro import into Texas is dealing with the extreme heat during the summer. It lays waste to interiors, plastic parts, rubber, etc.

I change the oil myself using dino oil instead of synthetic because the engine is pretty clean and I've heard stories about synthetic oil being easier to leak in older engines.

It has new Michelin tires from discount tire. The previous tires had plenty tread left but were almost 8 years old.

I did not want to risk a blowout causing body panel damage because of the repair cost associated with SEC's can send one to the scrap yard if you are not made of money.

The original radio was crudely replaced by the PO and the factory radio wiring was cut in the process. Yuck. The original "Becker" was provided but display the dreaded security flashing upon power up. Without documentation no code could be found. One on the issues with the "new" radio was I drew too much power for the factory wiring to handle and if it was turned up too loud the amplifier would do a shutdown to protect itself.

So I pulled the "kenwood" and replaced it with a USB/SC Card AM/FM receiver. It's connected into the factory 2ohm speaker system so the fader in the center console works. The factory antenna was in BAD shape so I replaced it with a manual antenna that I keep retracted because most of the time I'm listening to music off the USB key or SD card.

The interior is in good shape considering the age of the car but there are some issues. The seat back netting was removed by me. It was sagging and it's always been for me a poor design. The drivers door grip (closing) has some wear as does the driver step plate. I've cleaned it up as much as I can but it's noticeable.

The seat belt presenters do not extend. Upon starting the car the motor of the driver's side is operating but not extending. The problem is most likely it one of those plastic gears eaten alive by age and heat. Once you reach back and fasten the seat belt, the motor stops so all the circuitry is still in place and working.

The seat adjustments work well. The windows roll up and down. They do however need service which will require the door panels to be removed. Another task I'm not looking forward to. The sunroof work well and the one time I've driven in the rain, it did not leak. I do clean the tracks and lubricate the tracks and all pivot point once a year, usually in the springtime.

The PO said he could count the times he had driven it in the rain on one hand. The exterior was in good shape as you can expect from a car stored in a nice garage. I did notice the under hood insulation was deteriorating and some large chunks were not there anymore. This in turn caused the massive heat created by the 560 SEC engine to cook the clean coat on the aluminum hood. It was in great shape when I bought it but one little nick and it started flaking in small chunks. Had to PO ordered a $140 hood mat and had it installed the paint would still be there. But it's not. It needs the hood paint and clear coat redone and it would look the part again. It's not so bad that I won't drive it but it need done.

The car starts well but once warmed up it has a "lumpy" idle. Although this is my first gas Mercedes I've heard the idle is supposed to be smooth as silk. Approaching 200k miles I'm sure the "near tank" fuel assembly needs complete replacement. There are two pumps, a pressure check and new connection lines. I'm not driving it right now due to a dragging rear brake issue I'm having a hard time fixing. It's apparent the emergency brake has been dragging for some time and removal of the (emergency brake) drum was a long drawn out process.

To my surprise there was still plenty material there it's such seemed to be a little too tight. Adjusting it only works until you apply the E brake then it's too tight again. So there is a friction point, pully, cable issue somewhere in the emergency brake setup. Once the weather cools a bit, that's my first task at hand so I can get more miles in on the weekends.

The car drives rather well, acceleration is brisk and smooth throughout the gear changes. The tie rods on both sides have some play in them and I'm got new ones ready to be installed.

The one thing that bothers me is the SEC thunk over sharp changes in the road. Generally it takes the dips and bump fine and without notice. But a bridge joint or similar change in the driving surface results in a trunk "thunk".

I purchased this car with the intention of it being a weekend nice weather driver and generally has served that purpose well. No one can argue with the looks and design of the 560 SEC. It's just beautiful considering the market today where all the cars are unique but somehow that all end up looking the same. It's the ones that stand out that are really popular.