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    1. Member gtivr4's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 10:40 AM #1
      So I was at the auto auction the other day and there was a pristine condition 1994 Mercedes S600. It got my heart racing, and I had to leave before I bought it (went for $3400 BTW). It got me thinking about owning a V12 big German sedan.

      Obviously the BMW is a more driver oriented car, but ultimately both are fast and capable and very luxurious. Which is better in terms of reliability (obviously they are both going to be expensive to maintain), part prices/availability and ease of working on for an advanced home mechanic. This would be a second car to take long trips, shuttle the (future) kids to school and a chance to experience some V12 music. I don't mind a few things not working once in a while, so long as the car can get down the road more often than not.
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    2. Senior Member JustinCSVT's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 10:44 AM #2
      Breathe on the W140 V12 and it'll set a CEL. You can watch the gas gauge move in traffic. And you aren't going to hear anything resembling engine noise.

      Ridiculous highway cruiser though and still the smoothest engine I've used.

    3. Member Internal Combustion's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 10:46 AM #3
      Quote Originally Posted by JustinCSVT View Post
      Breathe on the W140 V12 and it'll set a CEL. You can watch the gas gauge move in traffic. And you aren't going to hear anything resembling engine noise.

      Ridiculous highway cruiser though and still the smoothest engine I've used.
      This mirrors what I've heard. The E38 isn't much better, although there's a few TCL'ers with E38 50's with good success.

      My choice would be a W220 S600. They go for pretty cheap.
      Quote Originally Posted by Internal Combustion View Post
      I do believe I've won TCL.
      I quote myself.

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    4. Member gtivr4's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 10:48 AM #4
      Quote Originally Posted by JustinCSVT View Post
      Breathe on the W140 V12 and it'll set a CEL.
      What does it commonly throw CELs for? Does it eat through O2 sensors or something?
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    5. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 10:52 AM #5
      I have an '88 750iL that I've owned since new. It currently has 77,000 miles on it. It tends to run the battery down just sitting, but that's about the only problem I have with the car.

      It is the ultimate sleeper.
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      05-17-2011 10:58 AM #6
      I'd go for a W140 V8, either the 500 or 400/420. The little bit you give up in smoothness and acceleration (which is very little) is more than offset in reduced cost of ownership.

    7. Member VWturbonium's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 11:49 AM #7
      Haven't really heard anything bad about the E38 750iL's , they aren't really that much faster then the V8 cars but are pretty much electric motor silent and smooth. The M70/M73 is a fairly bulletproof motor, only thing I would be careful of in any used E38 is the transmission with its "lifetime" fluid.

    8. Member DerSpiegel's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 12:17 PM #8
      Quote Originally Posted by BagelConsultant View Post
      I'd go for a W140 V8, either the 500 or 400/420. The little bit you give up in smoothness and acceleration (which is very little) is more than offset in reduced cost of ownership.
      This. The W140 V12s are thrice in maintenance/labor cost vs. the V8 versions. One look at the engine bay illustrates why:


      Last edited by DerSpiegel; 08-05-2011 at 11:23 AM.

    9. 05-17-2011 12:24 PM #9
      e38. way more nimble, and i dare say easier to repair. the early w140s a lot of private benz garages dont even like working on, as they are very complex and predate bus diagnostics, so a lot of repairs wind up being of the shotgun variety.

    10. Member Chris_V's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 12:25 PM #10
      E38 all day, every day. The 750s have fewer issues than the 740s, and yet have way more bells and whistles. Stick with the '99-up versions for best results (an '01 is the ultimate). They are faster than the regular 740 by quite a bit and smoother, but only barely faster than the SWB 740i Sport (but still smoother and with way more luxury features).

      http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/2001-...-/280675796692

      Good example, though it's an early '01 with the small screen nav. The later widescreen nav in '01 means even better option list. As it is, it has speed, handling AND things like massage seats, reclining heated rear seats, etc. You can get all sorts of cool accessories in the Individual ones, as well:

      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    11. Member Chris_V's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 12:27 PM #11
      Quote Originally Posted by VWturbonium View Post
      The M70/M73 is a fairly bulletproof motor, only thing I would be careful of in any used E38 is the transmission with its "lifetime" fluid.
      If you're worried about trans fluid, just get a BG flush done every hundred K miles or so. My own 740iL has 185k miles on it's original trans and original fluid, however....
      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    12. Senior Member JustinCSVT's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 12:42 PM #12
      To add, if I could deal with the maintenance costs, I'd take the W140.

    13. Member chrisj428's Avatar
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      05-17-2011 09:47 PM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by JustinCSVT View Post
      To add, if I could deal with the maintenance costs, I'd take the W140.
      This. Love me some slab-sides!
      --Chris

    14. 05-18-2011 12:34 AM #14
      The W140 has more power and is more luxurious. Early models (pre-95/6) suffer from some pretty well known issues (**** wiring, A/C, etc.), but I would love one. Had a refresh in the mid 90s, but some believe it got cheaper materials.

      If you're gonna get a V12, get the W140. The W220 has an active suspension that is a nightmare to get right and is much cheaper feeling in comparison.

    15. Member 71DubBugBug's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 01:27 AM #15
      Quote Originally Posted by 280CEEEEE View Post
      The W140 has more power and is more luxurious. Early models (pre-95/6) suffer from some pretty well known issues (**** wiring, A/C, etc.), but I would love one. Had a refresh in the mid 90s, but some believe it got cheaper materials.

      If you're gonna get a V12, get the W140. The W220 has an active suspension that is a nightmare to get right and is much cheaper feeling in comparison.
      Yes I agree. Also, Internal Combustion mentioned rather having a w220 s600.
      The price difference is still very large, and there is no way that it would be cheaper to own and maintain a w220 than a w140.


      I also heard that these two cars were produced in an era when BMW and Mercedes went at it and all out to see who was better, and my understanding mercedes won.
      Please dont quote me, but this has been my understanding.

      Also, the e38 came with that "sealed for life" trans.

    16. Member BadBeetle's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 02:34 AM #16
      Both are great cars,

      If you want to drive it, get an E38
      If you want to spend a few thousand every year in maintenance, get a W140.

      My E38 had seen an absolutely horrible life before I bought it. (Shorty, Non-Sporty 740i)
      I have put 1000 miles on it since I bought it, totally trouble free. Granted, it looks like crap, has a blown out shock, and the A/C needs a recharge. But its so much car, for so little money.

      Check out www.e38.org tons of DIY's and info.




      Last edited by BadBeetle; 05-18-2011 at 02:38 AM.



      Quote Originally Posted by MRVW00 View Post
      The 6's in a big body cars, were as slow as religions accepting gay marriage...

    17. 05-18-2011 05:25 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by BadBeetle View Post
      Both are great cars,

      If you want to drive it, get an E38
      If you want to spend a few thousand every year in maintenance, get a W140.

      My E38 had seen an absolutely horrible life before I bought it. (Shorty, Non-Sporty 740i)
      I have put 1000 miles on it since I bought it, totally trouble free. Granted, it looks like crap, has a blown out shock, and the A/C needs a recharge. But its so much car, for so little money.

      Check out www.e38.org tons of DIY's and info.




      By your own admission your car hasn't been properly maintained. How does that make the 750il (which is not what the OP is asking) the better car and the S600 the bad choice?

      The E38's interior has NOTHING on the W140, even the low end W140s have superior interior and fit and finish. E38s, especially the early ones, are downright goofy looking inside with cheap plastic everywhere, like most BMWs.

      I will say that the BMW is probably a better driver's car than the Merc in terms of its love for twisties. But for luxury and mindless torque? There is no contest, the W140 has it.

    18. Member Chris_V's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 10:13 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by 280CEEEEE View Post
      The E38's interior has NOTHING on the W140, even the low end W140s have superior interior and fit and finish. E38s, especially the early ones, are downright goofy looking inside with cheap plastic everywhere, like most BMWs.
      Wait, what? I love the interior on my '98 E38. The only difference the "early ones" ('95 model year) had was rotary dials for the HVAC. I pictured a later E38 interior earlier in the thread and it's certainly not "goofy looking..." And the 750iL hasnt' got a plastic dash, it's all hand stitched leather everywhere, with inlay wood. Now, I'll admit, the black and the tan interiors are better than the gray ones, but still...





      I don't find this to be any "better:"




      I will say that the BMW is probably a better driver's car than the Merc in terms of its love for twisties. But for luxury and mindless torque? There is no contest, the W140 has it.
      I still think there's a contest.
      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    19. 05-18-2011 10:31 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris_V View Post
      Wait, what? I love the interior on my '98 E38.

      E38 pic
      I don't find this to be any "better:"

      W140 pic[/img]
      I don't find the e38 interior goofy at all, they are a nice place to be and very similar to the E39 which we had in our family. However, as the pictures may or may not illustrate to you the W140 was on an entirely different level as far as quality and heft. Even today when one gets into a W140 there is a sense of occasion and the feeling of why is everything today glitzier but ultimately less satisfying?

      The W220 is more similar to the E38 in quality of materials, but the W140 was a step above both.

    20. Member Chris_V's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 12:26 PM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by phofpower View Post
      I don't find the e38 interior goofy at all, they are a nice place to be and very similar to the E39 which we had in our family. However, as the pictures may or may not illustrate to you the W140 was on an entirely different level as far as quality and heft. Even today when one gets into a W140 there is a sense of occasion and the feeling of why is everything today glitzier but ultimately less satisfying?
      I don't find the W140 to be really much better, if at all. I find it to be just as plasticky, the wood looks more fake. The instruments and steering wheels are nearly identical (though the E38 has more steering wheel controls). About the only thing that the Mercedes has over the E38 is the shifter itself. The W140 does look heftier/fatter, but i don't find that to be better. And as my neighbor's showed, it cracks and breaks just as easy.

      Now, go back a generation or two and I like the Mercedes interiors more, especially the era of the W126 560 SEC/SEL.
      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    21. 05-18-2011 12:57 PM #21
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris_V View Post
      I don't find the W140 to be really much better, if at all. I find it to be just as plasticky, the wood looks more fake. The instruments and steering wheels are nearly identical (though the E38 has more steering wheel controls). About the only thing that the Mercedes has over the E38 is the shifter itself. The W140 does look heftier/fatter, but i don't find that to be better. And as my neighbor's showed, it cracks and breaks just as easy.

      Now, go back a generation or two and I like the Mercedes interiors more, especially the era of the W126 560 SEC/SEL.
      Pictures don't really tell the whole story though. The design of the e38 is more modern as it should be coming out 3 years later, I'm focusing on the inherent quality and heft of the car. The W140 is just a more robust higher quality piece. You may not notice the superior quality of the W140, but I guarantee the driver of the W140 would notice the lesser quality of the E38. This difference in approach pretty much holds true for all Benz and comparable BMWs, that is why there are fans of each.

      I personally love your E38 and what you have done with it and would rather own it over any W140, but I can still give credit where it is due.

    22. Member eburg_DUB's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 01:17 PM #22
      id love to get s500 grand some day



    23. Member VWturbonium's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 01:25 PM #23
      Last edited by VWturbonium; 05-18-2011 at 01:27 PM.

    24. Member Chris_V's Avatar
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      05-18-2011 03:19 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by phofpower View Post
      Pictures don't really tell the whole story though. The design of the e38 is more modern as it should be coming out 3 years later, I'm focusing on the inherent quality and heft of the car.
      Well, that's also my point. If you either have only looked at pictures of the E38 or sat in/drove a V8 7 series, then the 750 will be a different car. Changing up the interior to hand stitched leather from the vinyl in the lesser E38 changes a lot, as well as the upgraded controls, the larger number of options, and if you get it, the double pane glass. The doors are very solid and vault-like compared to the already solid 740. The 750 is simply a much more luxurious, solid and "heftier" car than the 740 that most people have experience with, which is why I say it's not really that different from teh Mercedes, having been in the W140s a few times.

      Now, if it was W126 vs E38, I'd be swayed to the Mercedes side of the aisle , mostly due to that SEC (which I'm not a huge fan of in W140 form, as nice as it may be). Not saying that the W140 is abad car, just not that superior, if at all. Just a differnt choice. As an enthusaist driver, the E38 will always be on top for me as a large sedan. And not many Mercedes guys are doing this:





      I personally love your E38 and what you have done with it and would rather own it over any W140, but I can still give credit where it is due.
      Thanks. There are times I wish I had started with a 750, though.
      Last edited by Chris_V; 05-18-2011 at 03:22 PM.
      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    25. 08-03-2011 11:11 PM #25
      Ok -- posted this in another thread, but figured I'd ask here as well.

      My brother is willing to sell me his 2000 750il with 67300 mi for $11,500. He's had the car for 5 years, and has replaced some electronic issues (rear headrest motor; elec. pixel display; xenon headlights), but nothing as far as engine or tranny. These headlight and elec. issues were fixed three years ago. I drove the car and it's just AMAZING. There seems to be a mix of opinions and experiences here (as would be with many cars, I'd guess) concerning the 750il...I'm wondering if I should just go for it. I don't drive too much -- maybe 5,500 -- 6,000 miles a year. I don't drive far when I drive either (between 10-75 mi). I'd love to hear some more feedback concerning "what you would do" in this situation. One poster stated "If you couldn't afford it new, you can't afford it used," which sounds like smart advice... but what a car!
      Last edited by jester17; 08-03-2011 at 11:13 PM.

    26. Member barry2952's Avatar
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      08-03-2011 11:15 PM #26
      I have an '88 with 77,000 miles. The advice you got was sound. If you don't do your own work, you probably can't afford one. However, it is cool to drive one of the world's best sleepers.
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    27. Member 302W's Avatar
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      08-03-2011 11:21 PM #27
      I love both of them, but they terrify me. I'd pick the W140 though, it's just perfect.

    28. Member gtivr4's Avatar
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      08-04-2011 08:55 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by jester17 View Post
      Ok -- posted this in another thread, but figured I'd ask here as well.

      My brother is willing to sell me his 2000 750il with 67300 mi for $11,500. He's had the car for 5 years, and has replaced some electronic issues (rear headrest motor; elec. pixel display; xenon headlights), but nothing as far as engine or tranny. These headlight and elec. issues were fixed three years ago. I drove the car and it's just AMAZING. There seems to be a mix of opinions and experiences here (as would be with many cars, I'd guess) concerning the 750il...I'm wondering if I should just go for it. I don't drive too much -- maybe 5,500 -- 6,000 miles a year. I don't drive far when I drive either (between 10-75 mi). I'd love to hear some more feedback concerning "what you would do" in this situation. One poster stated "If you couldn't afford it new, you can't afford it used," which sounds like smart advice... but what a car!
      Isn't that about what they are worth on the market? Doesn't sound like much of a deal to me.
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    29. Member HerrGolf's Avatar
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      08-04-2011 09:24 PM #29
      Were S600 W140s ever offered with active suspension? Seems worth looking for if it had been offered.

      I've ridden in a 740iL with sports suspension and an S500 LWB; the BMW had a better ride and less ungainly proportions.

      But then, the apogee of old Benz engineering plus the best indulgence the '90s had to offer are big draws to the Benz.

      It's heart over mind: I'd choose the Benz. If I could find a '92-'93 600SEL with the motor in higher tune, that'd be my choice.

    30. Senior Member Iroczgirl's Avatar
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      08-04-2011 10:08 PM #30
      I'd go for the BMW.
      Lots of VW stuff|Rare Scirocco parts!
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    31. Member VWturbonium's Avatar
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      08-04-2011 10:42 PM #31
      Back from the dead, still <3 my E38. Both the W140 and the E38 are going to want attention but passengers are always surprised when I plant my foot in my E38 and for a big long car it handles very well even with 235's all around.

    32. Geriatric Member Chapel's Avatar
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      08-04-2011 11:45 PM #32
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris_V View Post
      E38 all day, every day. The 750s have fewer issues than the 740s, and yet have way more bells and whistles.
      really?
      The V12 is more reliable than the V8?

      when does that happen ever?

      all 750s are LWBs, right?

    33. Member Chris_V's Avatar
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      08-05-2011 10:59 AM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by Chapel View Post
      really?
      The V12 is more reliable than the V8?

      when does that happen ever?
      I think that BMW simply spent more time and effort on the 750s.

      all 750s are LWBs, right?
      In the US, that's correct. There are SWB 750s in Europe and the UK.
      I love cars, but the problem is they are like schroedinger's hobby. They're always in a quantum superstate of being both awesome and a huge waste of time and money... until observation momentarily forces them into one state or another.

    34. 08-05-2011 05:13 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by gtivr4 View Post
      Isn't that about what they are worth on the market? Doesn't sound like much of a deal to me.
      Kelly shows the private seller amount for 'Good' condition as $13,360, and dealer retail as $15,650.

    35. Geriatric Member Chapel's Avatar
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      08-05-2011 05:32 PM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by Chris_V View Post
      I think that BMW simply spent more time and effort on the 750s.
      I know a few guys with 740s and they've mentioned to budget a few thousand a year to keep them on the road
      Cats and only oem at $2k work., the front control arms/tension struts, rear ball joints, cooling system, aux ac fan $500 part, valley pan, timing chain guides, water valves, etc. They are an expensive car to maintain.
      what do you think?

      were the E38s still using the 'two-M20-ECU' method of engine management like the M70s or did they finally integrate that **** with the M73s?

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