Rare Rides: The Mercedes-Benz SEC AMG of 1986

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the mercedes benz sec amg of 1986

What happens when a tuning company takes an already luxurious coupe and adds more of everything? The answer is this Mercedes-Benz SEC AMG from 1986.

The now-legendary W126 sedan debuted in late 1979, a successor to the company’s flagship W116 platform. A year later, the S-Class range expanded to include a hardtop coupe.

Unlike its sedan brother, which utilized inline-six engines in addition to V8s, the SEC was strictly of eight cylinders. Original offerings included 3.8- and 5.0-liter displacements for the model’s initial run from 1980 to 1985.

Late in 1985 for the ’86 model year, Mercedes had a rethink of the S-Class. The lineup was refreshed in styling, with more integrated bumpers and exterior trim. The list of engines on offer expanded with more six- and eight-cylinder power.

The revised SEC for the North American market was available with a single engine option for 1986 and onward: Mercedes’ largest V8, the 5.5-liter M117. Badged as the 560 SEC, Mercedes figured it had provided enough power to satisfy American tastes. But AMG had other ideas.

At the time, AMG was independent of Mercedes, creating the modifications they desired. Founded in 1967, AMG remained independent until the Daimler-Chrysler era, when said company purchased a controlling stake in the tuner in 1999. The automaker subsequently became AMG’s sole owner in 2005. But let’s stay in the Eighties where everything is good and nobody has cocaine.

Though AMG offered body kits across the W126 line, they went out of their way a bit for their edits to the SEC. First up was a wide-body kit to make the luxury cruiser much more aggressive, with color-keyed trim, wheels, and badges for the Fine Colombian look. Also fitted were new Recaro seats covered in rich two-tone black and white leather, and a sporty steering wheel replaced the tame factory fare from Mercedes. Then came the power.

Starting with the 5.5-liter M117.968, AMG bored displacement to a full six liters, then swapped the overhead cams for dual ones. This doubled the number of valves from 16 to 32. Torque from the modified engine was more than double that of the factory one, and an impressive 375 horsepower was available underfoot. The original asking price for all this? Undoubtedly ridiculous.

The SEC remained in production through the 1991 model year, when it was replaced by less dignified 500 and 600 SEC models on the C140 platform. Today’s Rare Ride was listed recently on eBay for an unsurprising $125,000, and didn’t sell.

[Images: seller]

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  • Kendahl Kendahl on Feb 13, 2019

    Living in midwestern fly over country, the closest I ever got to one of these things was watching drug kingpins drive them in episodes of Miami Vice.

  • El scotto El scotto on Feb 13, 2019

    Oh Lordy, when will these start showing up at Barret-Jackson? Me wantee.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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