The Mercedes Benz S-Class is the synonym for luxury and is also the pinnacle of Mercedes Benz luxury engineering. Since the S-Class came out, most luxury sedans were viewed as S-Class competitors because the S-Class always enjoyed a more privileged status, even compared to its two fiercest rivals, the BWM 7-Series and the Audi A8.
The very first S-Class, the W116, was introduced back in the early 1970s when Mercedes decides that the Sonderklasse (Special class) deserved a special place in the Mercedes lineup. Fast forward to 2021, Mercedes released the 6th W223 S-Class which still reigns supreme, but the W116 was the one that started it all.
The W116 is considered a relatively reliable car because it maintains the Mercedes indestructible overengineered design from that era. However, the W116 does suffer from issues associated with rust, oil leaks and increased levels of oil consumption, interior trim deterioration, issues starting up, and numerous electrical issues.
All in all, the W116 is considered a bargain by many classic Mercedes enthusiasts, but you need to keep in mind that a car as old as the W116 requires lots of care and dedication.
Mercedes W116 rust issues
The W116 is a 50-year-old car which means that most W116 models have been around for quite a while. Everyone knows that classic Mercedes models and rust spots are a common affair. Therefore, if you are interested in a W116, be sure to check all the common rust areas such as the door sills, around the headlights, the hood and trunk lid, underneath the car, and the floor.
Rust can be a terrible adversary for most classic cars which means that it sometimes makes little to no sense to buy a car that has severe rust spots. It’s much better to spend some extra dollars on an example with little to no rust spots as this will save you money in the long run.
Mercedes W116 oil leaks and oil consumption issues
The W116 is known to go through oil at an alarming pace, even if the engine is in perfectly great shape. Given the fact that most W116 models have hundreds of thousands of miles on the clock, these issues become even more worrying. Moreover, an oil leak will drastically increase the overall oil consumption.
Therefore, you need to run a thorough test to see if the car suffers from oil leaks, and if it does, you ought to mend that as soon as possible. If you don’t, the car can easily overheat and the engine could fail completely.
Mercedes W116 interior trim deterioration
While 70s Mercedes models offer dependable mechanics, they don’t fare all that well when it comes to dependable interior trim materials. This means that cars like the W116 tend to suffer from interior trim discoloration, cracking, and even rotting.
Be sure to go through the interior of the car and look in every nook and cranny to see if the car suffers from severe interior deterioration. Fixing these typically requires you to go through the restoration route which costs a lot of money.
Mercedes W116 start-up issues
Many Mercedes W116 owners complain about the car either not wanting to fire up or refusing to stay running. Owners have reported the car needing quite a while before reaching a decent engine operating temperature when the engine finally starts idling as intended.
Replacing the fuel pump, fuel lines, and many other hoses does not necessarily solve the issue. Some say that these issues are down to faulty coils, others say that it’s due to a faulty regulator. The valve injectors, fuel distributors, and the pump accumulator are also often being discussed as possible culprits.
Mercedes W116 electrical issues
The W116 is not really a car brimming with technology, but no 1970s car had what the W116 had. The blower motor is a known electrical fault of the W116 while power windows are known to fail from time to time. The W116 is also prone to issues related to exterior lighting, both front and back.
The gauges are known to fail, the A/C is known to fail and the fuel pump is known to experience a lack of power. All in all, these are a reality of owning an old Mercedes and hardly anyone can expect to own a 50-year-old car without running into electrical issues of some sort.
Should I buy the Mercedes W116?
If you want to feel like 1970s royalty and you don’t mind missing out on better S-Class models, the W116 is a decent choice. The reason why the W116 is cheap is that not all that many people are interested in buying one. Luxury cars depreciate like crazy because they rely on technology a lot.
Relying on 1970s technology in a luxury car is redundant. This means that the only reason why one would buy a W116 is that they love the legacy, the design, and the feel of driving a flagship Mercedes from the 1970s.
Can you daily drive a Mercedes W116?
It’s incredibly difficult to daily drive a 50-year-old car for a variety of reasons. First of all, these cars are nowhere near as comfortable as modern-day luxury cars are. Secondly, they lack a bunch of safety features we now take for granted. Therefore, daily driving a W116 is not something people want to do for extended periods of time.
Cars such as the W116 are pleasure cars which means that most people take them on a joyride or to hang out with their classic Mercedes friends. They are weekend cars made for pure enjoyment and not for rush hour traffic.
Is the Mercedes W116 an investment?
Not really. It’s impossible to say if a car is going to go up or down in value with 100% certainty. The classic car market is unpredictable, but the W116 is not a car most people dream about. However, if you manage to find one in mint condition and you keep it that way for a long time, you might see some returns after a while.
All in all, you should not view the W116 as an investment because it makes more sense to enjoy the car for what it is than it is to hope that one day you might earn something from it.