Junkyard Find: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL, Bubba's Cab Edition

Murilee Martin
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.

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.

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.

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

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Murilee Martin is the pen name of Phil Greden, a writer who has lived in Minnesota, California, Georgia and (now) Colorado. He has toiled at copywriting, technical writing, junkmail writing, fiction writing and now automotive writing. He has owned many terrible vehicles and some good ones. He spends a great deal of time in self-service junkyards. These days, he writes for publications including Autoweek, Autoblog, Hagerty, The Truth About Cars and Capital One.

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  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Oct 31, 2016

    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?

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    • HotPotato HotPotato on Nov 02, 2016

      @-Nate 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.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Nov 03, 2016

    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.

  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.
  • Akear This is similar to what lazy GM and Ford used to do.