Heat Check: 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL Hot Rod
We’ve never seen a W126 with hot-rod flames. Dude or dud?
We’ve found a great Mercedes-Benz coming up for sale at Barrett-Jackson Northeast in June. No, it’s not a 300SL Gullwing. Nor is it a clean, early R107, or a minty-fresh W110. Instead, we came across this 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SEL wearing a hot-rod style flamejob. We don’t really understand it either, but under the hood lurks a clean 5.0-liter V8 with 221 horsepower. That sounds meager compared with modern Merc V8s, but for its day, some could have considered it a luxurious hot rod.
We suspect the owners added flame to spruce up the otherwise stolid German lines of the big S-Class boat. With the black five-spoke wheels, we have to admit it looks kind of awesome.
Back in 1984, America was awakening from the depths of the Malaise Era. Neither the Camaro nor the Mustang made 200 horsepower from the dealership. Even the Corvette was barely pushing 200. Those paltry American V8 numbers placed this Mercedes near the top of the power pile, albeit with some extra weight. You might stretch to consider it a hot rod today, so the flames still look absurd, but they would have mocked the power offerings from contemporary American performance cars of the era.
CHECK OUT: What Forum Members Are Saying About This Flaming Hot W126
All that said, this looks like a very clean W126. If you put aside the flames, the exterior appears spotless, and the listing calls it free of rust and dents. The interior looks similarly immaculate and ready to put on some Autobahn miles. Under the hood, the 5.0-liter V8 will not score maximum concours points, but very few all-original, 33-year-old engine bays contain less grime.
Generally speaking, W126s and their smaller E-Class contemporaries, the W123 and W124, enjoy a loyal following. We’d hardly call them collector cars, but a clean W126 should bring $8,000 to $10,000 if Hagerty estimates correctly. Of course, Hagerty has no valuation tool for “Killer flamejob,” so it’s hard to know whether someone will vote up or down on the bidding. Regardless, this one comes as Lot 14 at Barrett-Jackson Northeast with No Reserve, so someone will take it home.