Older cars are vastly different when compared to the cutting-edge cars of today. The W140 S-Class is a completely different type of luxury car when compared to the brand new W223 S-Class, but the roots on which the W223 lies are firmly coined back in the early 1990s when the W140 S-Class first saw the light of day.
The W140 S-Class is today known as one of the best S-Class models because it was a pioneer for so many technologies that are found in even some entry-level cars these days. The W140 was the very first car with Xenon headlights, the very first car with ESP, and the very first car with a power trunk lid and power soft-close doors.
All the engines found in the W140 are graceful, potent, and smooth. The design is stately and sophisticated and it still oozes a premium feel. Practicality-wise, it offers similar space to the current E-Class, while the brand-new S-Class offers a lot more space both for the passengers and the cargo.
The W140 is built to last which means that reliability is more than decent. These cars are known to last hundreds of thousands of miles without needing anything else besides regular maintenance. The W140 is likely going to become a classic soon, so be sure to keep it in good condition.
Mercedes W140 – The powerplant
The W140 can be found with a few different types of engines ranging from the S280 with a 3.0L 6-cylinder and around 200hp. The S400 and the S420 offers a 4.2L V8 with around 280hp which is a lot more appropriate for such as a heavy car.
However, the S500 offers a 5.0L V8 with 320hp and is likely the best engine for the W140. The range-topping S600 comes with a legendary 6.0L V12 and 400hp. All of these engines are incredibly refined, but the best ones to go for are definitely the V8s.
6-cylinder engines are decent, but they seem to be a bit too weak for such a large automobile. The V12 is by far the smoothest and best operating engine out of them all, but it costs a lot more money to maintain and to fuel up. There is nothing quite like a V12 in a large sedan which means that the S600 is the most luxurious and most amazing version of the W140.
6-cylinder engines exclusively come with a 5-speed transmission, while V8s and the V12 come with a 4-speed automatic due to more torque. It’s also worth mentioning that all W140 models come with a rear-wheel-drive setup.
Mercedes W140 – The luxury and innovation
The Mercedes Benz S-Class lineage spans for decades and it’s safe to say that almost all S-Class models were benchmark cars, except for the W220 which is not worthy of its title. However, even the W220 introduced lots of innovations such as adaptive cruise control which means that all S-Class models have moved the whole industry forward.
The W140 was the last S-Class model designed with the “best at all costs” mentality which means that the W140 is the last and possibly even the greatest car from the Golden era of overengineered Mercedes cars. The W140 was the very first S-Class to offer a V12 which virtually started the whole S600 phenomenon.
The W140 is still as comfortable as some 2022 cars which means that the W140 still offers a driving experience that can hardly be matched. The list of innovations is long, but the best ones include ESP, Xenon headlights, soft-close doors, side airbags, automatic wipers, double glazed windows, electric mirrors, self-leveling suspension, and a lot more.
Mercedes W140 – Reliability and common issues
As previously stated, the W140 is truly built like a tank, but that does not mean that it is without fault. Pre 1996 models are known for engine wiring harness issues and leaky A/C controllers while all W140 models are known for pneumatic issues, suspension issues, and potential issues with the transmission because they never came with a specific transmission service schedule.
All in all, the W140 is an incredibly well-built and reliable car, but it does need maintenance just like any other car. The V12 is by far the costliest engine to fix while the 6 and 8-cylinder engines are fairly similar.
Mercedes W140 – Value and practicality
The W140 S-Class can now be bought for as low as $10k, but the best-kept models often cost more than twice as much. At such a price tag, the W140 is a steal if you want a large, comfy, and sophisticated sedan. Practicality-wise, the W140 offers similar space to a newer E-Class which is more than enough for 99% of people. It is also likely that the best W140 examples will appreciate in value over time.
Should I buy the Mercedes W140?
If you are in the market for a modern-classic full-size luxury sedan, the W140 is arguably the best option you can go for. Given the fact that the current values are decent, if you manage to find a well-kept model, you are not likely going to lose any money owning the W140.
Of course, maintaining an almost 30-year-old European luxury car means high costs, especially if you go for the V12 model. This is common for such types of cars so it’s not really a surprise. The W140 is definitely worth your time and money if you want such a car.
Is the Mercedes W140 a safe car?
The Mercedes W140 is indeed a safe car, both because it’s gargantuan and because it comes with all sorts of safety features which even include active safety features which were unheard of back in the 90s. Most crash testing organizations deem the W140 as safe, so that should not be a concern.
What is the worst Mercedes S-Class of all time?
The W220 S-Class is deemed by many as the worst S-Class of all time, and it’s easy to see why. The W220 was the successor of the W140, but the differences between these two models are significant. The W140 was built in an era when Mercedes wanted to make the best car out there, no matter the costs.
The W220 is obviously a corporate-induced decision because it is a lot more problematic, it looks worse, it offers some of the worst suspension issues, it loses value unbelievably bad and there are simply way too many cheap components in the interior.