27-Year Old Mercedes 560 SEL Is Still An Impressively Comfortable Cruiser

Back when the Mercedes S-Class didn’t feature any V12 units, let alone AMG power, the 560 SEL was the top dog in the range.

Underneath its long bonnet was a 5.5-liter V8 producing 300 PS (295 HP) and 456 Nm (336 lb-ft) of torque. It may not sound like much by today’s standards, but at that time it was quite sufficient.

During his time with this 1991 560 SEL, Doug DeMuro noticed quite a few quirks and interesting features, such as the dual notes for the horn or the power headrests.

Speaking of these sorts of things, it’s curious to see that this car also featured an electronically-adjustable passenger side mirror, while the one on the driver’s side was manually-adjustable. Also, the mirrors themselves don’t fold, however they do bend and then snap back into place in the event of an incident.

Inside the car, there is plenty of room both front and rear. Regardless of where you sit, you get heated seats, which was pretty rare for the early 90’s.

On the road, DeMuro enjoyed driving the 560 SEL, saying that acceleration was OK and that he liked how “far removed from the road” he felt, just like in a modern day luxury car. As for downsides, he pointed out the very heavy steering and slow 4-speed automatic transmission – but you can watch the whole review for yourselves in the following video.

VIDEO

  • Merc1

    OMG I loved this car back in the day. It was the very essence of Mercedes-Benz at the time. The 560 SEC was even more stunning. 300E, 300CE, 500E, 500SL, 190E 2.3-16. Mercedes in the 80’s and early 90’s were pure legend/classic.

    M

    • stelvio

      I have to agree. Those were MB’s best years

  • TheBelltower

    Mercedes used to be purposefully classy. The interior of today’s S-class looks like the finest wedding chapel in Paramus New Jersey.

  • DBP

    The first Mercedes model I fell in love with. I still turn my head when I see one! Beautiful cars.

  • Kagan

    Slow 4 speed yes and no because it didn’t have to change so often it probably felt better than many of today’s.

    Heavy steering I don’t know our 250 had ligth steering.

  • Christian Wimmer

    This brings back memories of my 1985 Mercedes 300SE W126. It was fun to drive – believe it or not. Amazingly comfortable, competent handling, an energetic inline-6 and of course that somewhat lazy 4-speed automatic transmission. The best part was that prominent star at the end of the hood – that really made the car fun.

    It was a very reliable car. The only issue I ever had with it was a loose screw in the engine compartment which caused the light generator to wobble. No big deal since you could tighten it yourself! Problem fixed.

    I regret selling that car. 🙁

    Oh, and since this is a Doug DeMor*n video I can’t watch it. He will give the car poor marks for acceleration and handling because it’s not on par with a 2018 Formula One car. Dear Doug, not all cars are about handling and 0-60…. Jesus H. Christ, we have to tell a grown man these things!

    • Six Thousand Times

      He’s not an idiot but his presentation leaves much to be desired. May he could switch to decaf.

      • Christian Wimmer

        I think his DougScore is ok, but when it comes to acceleration he’s got some serious issues. Even cars which do 0-60 in like 5 seconds get relatively “low scores” from him. Weird.

    • brn

      I enjoy Doug’s take on car “reviews”. It’s a more human touch? He’s doing what many of us wish we could.

      I do dislike the Doug Score and stop the videos as soon as it gets to that point.

  • Bo Hanan

    This would be a nice daily/road trip car.

  • B B

    he is right though, crazy hard gas pedal.

    • Christian Wimmer

      The gas pedal was actually designed to allow smooth launches so that rear passengers wouldn’t notice. On my ’85 300SE I remember the gas pedal reacting to my input after it was almost depressed halfway. You get used to it pretty quickly. 😉

  • Craig

    The earlier 560SEL’s transmissions started off in 2nd gear. Does this one? If so… that could explain why it’s so slow off the line. That said… I would love to have this in my garage – oops – WAREHOUSE – full of great cars!

    • That was for fuel economy purposes…there is actually a trick on the transmission to get it to start in first gear…move the transmission selector the lowest gear (2), shift to slight right (B), then back up to D…the transmission is now primed to start in 1st…just gas it and you will get a very fast acceleration…my dad owned a 560 SEL and he let me drive it as a teenager…amazing car for its time and lots of great memories of long-distance road trips…this car really hauled azz…if you judge this car by what other manufacturers were offering at the time, it is a tech and engineering tour-de-force and still is even by today’s standards…built like a tank and totally amazing build quality…the design is classic and still looks fresh today…too bad M-B has lost its way today with their current designs…

      • Craig

        Now THAT’S the kind of reply I like to see!! Thanks Mergatroid69. And I agree. The design is classic.

      • Dave

        My father had a 1985 380 SE that we drove as teens so brings back some good old memories as well. Would love to have a test drive of this one for nostalgia’s sake. One thing that always stood out was the build quality of these old MB’s

  • Six Thousand Times

    Still my fave S. I remember thinking how amazingly sleek this was when I first saw one. It was so much the future in 1979.

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