Mercedes-Benz 420 SEC: Spotted

They used to say that the technology from racing cars used to filter down into road cars but over the last few years I've come to the conclusion that this is now a load of bollox, as road car technology has leapt ahead without seeming to have borrowed particularly from the ideas introduced in racing, especially the stale world of F1. The connections now seems tenuous, to say the least, as I haven't been aware of any family hatchbacks introduced recently that are only 950mm tall and pack a 900hp punch.

People in the olden days also used to be a bit obsessed by the cars that F1 drivers drove, a curious liking considering that most of them were given free cars anyway, and also that the average F1 driver has about as much interest in road cars (and about as much idea of what makes a good one) as my elderly mother has. For example, I remember whenever Schumacher was asked what he drove you could almost hear the frothing mouths of the assembled hacks hit the floor as he told them he drove his family around in a Fiat Multipla or a Croma.

However, years ago the car that most of the F1 drivers seemed to actually drive was an SEC Merc. Senna, Mansell and Rosberg all had one, as did many of the others. Indeed the three-pointed star seemed to be a staple in the paddocks in the 70s and 80s. Of course I refer to my previous paragraph here, and reiterate that the reason for this was probably because they were given a free one, but don't just discount it for that reason: the SEC was a damn fine car. It came from an era when Mercedes seemed to be capable of making a car properly, and the W126 S-Class, on which this is based (the SEC is the C126, technically), shared with the legendary W124 that denseness in engineering technology that was actually a delight to discover and experience. If people worried about all that complexity and over-engineering within, it was at least all so well made back then that there was little chance of anything actually going wrong.

The SEC is now riding a wave of popularity, and whereas you could have picked one up a short while ago for the price of a loaf of bread prices are now very much on the up. Thus this one, found in our classifieds, which looks well maintained and has quite a bit of history to support it and is up for just £8,995, looks a rare treat. It's fully loaded and has an MOT until May 2019, too.

Of course if it does go wrong it'd cost a fortune, but what you'd get for this slight financial uncertainty is a huge and opulent two-door, four-seater coupe with frameless windows and a light alloy 4.2 V8 fit enough to propel this leviathan to a top speed of 136mph. Indeed what you'll get most of all is waftability. No car does waft like a large Merc, even one as old as this, and you can trace the spirit of the SEC in the mighty CL and even in the present S-Class Coupe, which is a very pleasant thing indeed.

Okay, it's not the full-fat 500 SEC, or even the 560 SEC, but once upon a time this car could have quartered Europe in a day and not raised an eyebrow, and, given the simple elegance of its 1980s' interior and the gleam of its repainted coachwork, it looks like it might even be up for a similar caper now.


Engine: 4,196cc, V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 215
Torque (lb ft): 243
CO2: N/K
First registered: 1989
Recorded mileage: 170,000
Price new: N/K
Yours for: £8,995

See the original advert here.

Mark Pearson

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (38) Join the discussion on the forum

  • flatso 09 Sep 2018

    Beautiful cars,...always loved them, since I saw the first magasine ads I have lusted over these. German industrial design at ist best!

  • deltashad 09 Sep 2018

    One of the best looking 4 seat cars ever made, the W124 saloon also. I tried to talk my wife into letting me buy a saloon a few months ago, but she said no.

  • cerb4.5lee 09 Sep 2018

    It makes me smile that a 4.2 V8 engine only musters 215bhp...times have changed massively in that regard. Lovely lovely car though for sure.

  • Helicopter123 09 Sep 2018

    Very nice, a classic that can still be used everyday.

    They take huge mileages.

  • Agent57 09 Sep 2018

    Always wanted one of these in Roadhouse spec.

    It has grace and style. Current MB designers please take note.

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