By on October 31, 2016

00 - 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL in California Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

The Mercedes-Benz W126 S-Class was the king of 1980s sedans and it sold very well in the United States. You’ll still see plenty of them on the street today and it’s rare that a California self-service wrecking yard doesn’t have at least one fully depreciated, high-mile example in stock. I haven’t paid much attention to these cars for this series, but that changed when I saw a 560SEL taxi in a San Francisco Bay Area wrecking yard.

00a - 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL in California Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

At first, I thought the taxi markings were a joke, because what kind of madness could induce a cab company to drive a 30-year-old S-Class with the thirstiest engine option? But no, there really is a Bubba’s Cab — and the Yelp reviews mention the Mercedes-Benz cab.

05 - 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL in California Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

Obviously, a W126 with a mere 250,000 miles on the clock would be a couple orders of magnitude more comfortable than a rattly 700,000-mile P71 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor still reeking of Perpetrator Piss™ from its previous police career. But the cost of maintaining a W126 must have been ten times as high as the cost of maintaining a Crown Vic.

10 - 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL in California Junkyard - Photo by Murilee Martin

In any case, Bubba finally retired this glorious Benz, and now it awaits its date with The Crusher.

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21 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL, Bubba’s Cab Edition...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I can feel the style and class from here.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    What a goof to use the thirstiest Mercedes made at the time .

    Here in Los Angeles there used to be a Taxi Co. named ” TAXI! TAXI! ” that ran an entire fleet of Mercedes Diesels, mostly W126’s but a few W123 Wagons too .

    In the end they gave up and I saw a few in the local Pick A Part yards, still looked good cosmetically .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Hydromatic

    I could see a W124 or even a W123 as a taxi, but a W126? And one with the biggest engine you could get during its heyday?

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    “Run What You Brung”

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Someone should call Bubba and ask him what the final straw was, and how long he used it as a cab.

    The W126 will always say old money to me. Seeing a clean one driving around these days is nice. No flim-flam. Last weekend at a park I saw an absolutely pristine black/black E320 from ~1994. Forgot how nice those look as well.

    Mercedes used to do it right.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      What’s your objection to the current s-class design?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        The droopy coupe-style rear end looks poor. Other than that, I think the model is an improvement over the W220 and W221, of which I liked neither.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_S-Class_(W222)#/media/File:2014_Mercedes-Benz_S_400_(V_222)_sedan_(2015-12-26).jpg

        Not a good look. The W140 is the last stately S-Class option.

        • 0 avatar
          MRF 95 T-Bird

          I always thought the W220 looked like a upmarket Acura Legend, RL or a Korean knockoff. They lost the stateleness and solidness of the W140 which I thought was one of the best looking Benz. The W221 and W222 brought back some elegance.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Funny you made me recall something. I was pretty young when the W220 came out, but I was aware of cars enough to point them out to my family “New S-Class!”

            Their reaction was always “That looks more like a Buick.”

      • 0 avatar
        brenschluss

        It’s probably just me, but most MBs post-2014 look more Korean than actual Korean cars, at least on the outside. The C-class looks particularly cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      whitworth

      When the E Class went to those round headlights, that was the end of an era and Mercedes became a different car company.

      They had to change, but they really were the best luxury cars at any price.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    A friend of mine’s dad decided to sell his 560 SEL with 45,000 miles for $14,500 back around 1991-92. I drove it and man, was I tempted. It truly was an amazing driving machine. I’ve always sorta regretted not having bought it, but the thought of out-of-warranty Mercedes-Benz repairs scared me.

  • avatar
    whitworth

    It’s really not that crazy, I know Mercedes were heavily used as cabs in Europe. Usually though it was the E class.

    And does a Mercedes OHC V8 really get that much worse gas mileage than a Ford V8 in a Crown Vic? I’m guessing the costs savings would be pretty minimal.

    But I would think the repairs would be a nightmare on such an older Mercedes, but that was the last era that was built like a tank. Those doors were closing a bank vault.

    • 0 avatar

      they still are, Sir. if you go to Lisbon (or any of the main Portuguese cities), for example, a fleet of 20-year-old C-Classes and 30-year-old 190s will give you a warm welcome.

      https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Lisboa_t%C3%A1xis_Pra%C3%A7a_da_Figueira.jpg

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Should have yanked that lump and repowered it with a high mile 4.6 and 4R75w and boom good for another 250K.

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    I think Bubba must have cribbed the 4-6-8 line codes from GM and uploaded to the MB OBC. That’s the only way you could mess this up any further.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I would love to have one of these, and they are in my price range. While this saw cab duty, it’s not unusual to find low mileage examples. I understand timing chain and guides are the only critical engine maintenance, maybe this one had its chain skip?

    • 0 avatar
      -Nate

      That was only for a couple – three years in the first of the 380 series V8’s , they foolishly tried a single row timing chain and it was a disaster .

      Getting over 13/14 MPG’s out of these is difficult .

      The Diesels of course get much better fuel economy , upper 20’s to mid 30’s .

      If you take any sort of care of it the repairs are to really bad $ wise unless you use a Dealer .

      Most of the horror stories result from running it forever sans maintenance then being upset when it needs a dozen things repaired all at once .

      -Nate

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        My parents took advantage of the 1970s gas crisis to buy big gas-hog boats for a song, since their “commutes” were nearly walking distance. This landed us a ’73 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL, a wafty ’68 Lincoln Continental, and a Dodge Tradesman 250 conversion van previously owned by a lady of the evening–if the van’s a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’…

        The Benz had a fuel-injected 4.5 liter V8, the Lincoln had a carbureted 460 V8, and the Dodge had a 4-barrel carbureted 440 V8. All three got 10 MPG, rain or shine, city or highway. Silent, waftable torque, though…I think growing up on that is why I like EVs. The torque, not the 10 MPG.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    My mother had a 72 Cadillac Sedan DeVille with a 472 ci V-8 during the 73 Arab Oil Embargo. It got 8 mpg but it was a smooth driving car with a very under stressed engine. It was a very easy car to work on–lots of space under the hood.

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