Now, you hear certain adjectives applied all the time to certain things, to the point where they become superfluous. We know the Queen is ‘dignified’, while Kim Jong Un is a ‘despot’ – or, if you’re North Korean and want to stay alive, ‘glorious’. And when it comes to Mercedes' of old, it’s ‘bulletproof’ that always crops up in the lexicon. So me beginning today’s spotted by telling you that the W126 S-Class is a bulletproof Benz is a bit like walking through Sherwood Forest and shouting excitedly, “Look, tree!” It's all a bit obvious.
Except not this time, though. This time I can talk about a 500 SEL being bulletproof because, well, it is. Literally. It actually resists bullets. And if you don’t believe me, just have a gander at the pictures in the advert. Look at the door glass, for example. It’s thicker than Professor John I.Q Nerdelbaum Frink Jr’s specs – and for those of you who don’t watch the Simpsons, he wears a proper set of coke-bottles in front of his peepers. For this W126 we’re talking a four-slab laminate that, as a guesstimate, must be a silicone sandwich that’s over an inch thick.
What’s fascinating about that is how they could accommodate such huge glass sections in a car without changing the exterior design that dramatically. I mean, take the Presidential Beast. That’s purpose-built. It was designed from the outset with that level of protection in mind, which, by the way, includes even thicker five-inch windows that’ll stop armoured-piercing bullets. But this S-Class is a modified car. Yet, inside and out, it looks pretty much like any other W126. You’d think it would need a completely re-engineered shell to accommodate window frames that thick. The advert doesn’t say what level of protection it offers, but plenty of armoured W126s were made with B6-grade glass, which can arrest bullets from a high-powered rifle like a .380 Winchester.
I once drove an armoured-plated W116 – this car’s predecessor – and the doors were immovable – when they weren't moving to let you in. Solid-billet solid. Made from the sort of gauge material you could hit with a hammer and the only damage would be a broken wrist. That had the 6.9 V8 and it wasn’t that sprightly, I can tell you. But then these cars, by the time they’re fully kitted out, can weigh up to four tonnes. So I can’t imagine this 500 will get anywhere near the 7.3-second 0-60mph time that a regular 500 SEL would've achieved, and don’t expect it to be thrifty to run, either. If you were to break into double figures on the MPG front I’d say that was good going.
As well as the glass and body beefing, there are the tyres and wheels to consider, too. The tyres look pretty puffy, which is presumably because they’ll run when punctured. And I’ve never seen those wheels before on any W126 – have you? They appear to have a double rim, which I assume is something to do with keeping the tyres on if some unsavoury scrotebag decides to take a pop at them because he wants to steal your wallet. Or your head.
I have another question, by the way. If you’re an expert in these things (which clearly I am not) what are the two buttons behind the window switches for? One’s marked ‘Test’ and the other one just has an ‘F’ on it. It’s probably going to be something dead obvious, but I like to think there’s no such thing as a stupid question.
Aside from its modifications, the old girl’s looking damn clean for nearly 40 years’ service – bar some bubbling on the surface here and there. To be fair, that’s not unusual. These cars tend to be waited on by owners who aren’t short of a bob or two. The target customer for an armoured vehicle tends to be a dictator who can dip into the GDP of a country to cover the servicing costs. Whoever ordered this one had good taste, though. He (or maybe she) went for velour instead of leather, which would be my choice for a W126. And the upholstery looks like it’s untouched, but then this car’s travelled just 43,000 miles, which is nothing of course. W126’s are bulletproof, after all.
Specification | Mercedes-Benz 500 SEL (W126)
Engine: 4,973cc, V8, naturally aspirated
Transmission: four-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 252 @ 5,200rpm
Torque (lb ft): 287 @ 3,750rpm
MPG: Not many
First registered: 1985
Recorded mileage: 43,000
Price new: A large fortune
Yours for: £29,995
See original advert here
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