The 4.2 V8 found in the S420 is part of the M119 engine family (500E, etc). The M119 carries motorsport pedigree, helping Mercedes win the 1989 24hr LeMans in the Sauber C9
The W140 is one of the biggest S-Class variants ever built. The bulky proportions can be blamed on the desire to accommodate tall drivers. Chief engineer Wolfgang Peter and car line manager Rudolf Hornig (both 6ft 3″) sat in an early prototype during development to gauge interior space. Unfortunately, both of them hit their heads against the ceiling
While it seems a minor inconvenience, raising the roofline required an entire redesign of the car to maintain proper exterior proportions. The entire car had to be wider, which necessitated a suspension redesign, a revised layout, etc. The end result was an S-Class so large that management insisted on making the replacement model smaller (the W220)
The W140’s development was far more extensive than any car in Mercedes history. Over 52 hand-made prototypes were built for testing, plus around 200 sub-assemblies that were constructed for individual testing. The final test phase was rigorous enough to simulate 15 years of usage, and a total of 3.1 million miles were chalked up during testing from all around the world, including Death Valley, Canada, Tokyo rush-hour traffic, Kenya, Namibia, Southern Tyrol, and Sweden
Despite the extensive development, there was one specification that was overlooked: payload. At roughly 1,076 lbs, it was hardly enough for five passengers and all of their luggage. This was likely a miscalculation that went by undetected during the hectic final years of development (which was delayed by 2 years due to spontaneous development changes and production delays)
The doors were so heavy that engineers deployed a soft-close function to ensure owners have an easier time shutting the door, which could easily be left ajar. This was one of the first mass-produced vehicles to utilize such technology
The W140 project exceeded $2 billion Deutschmarks (1990), making it the most expensive production car in Mercedes history to develop. It cost Mercedes so much money that they were forced to mark up the W140’s price by 25% over its predecessor to cover the costs. The company took an even bigger blow when the first-year sales figures came in – they were dismal compared to expectations
The W140 proved to be such a costly headache that Mercedes was forced to re-think their business strategies. These setbacks could not happen again, and this meant a complete overhaul of the company’s policies. Moving forward, model ranges would be simplified and all drivetrains/technology would be shared across the entire lineup where possible – no more bespoke V12s for low production models like the 600 S Class. It was at this point in time that the ambition for the highest possible standards gave way to ambitious accountants, and Mercedes cars would never be the same again
Key Model Year Changes:
First year of the Tele-Aid option (emergency calls and vehicle tracking system
Production of the W140 ended the following year (1998)
Very few changes occurred during the final 2 years of production as Mercedes focused efforts on the W140’s replacement (W220)
Only 16k original miles
Location: Bellevue, Washington – (more photos below)
*SAE rated from factory. May not reflect current output.
*Performance numbers pulled from either the factory brochure or reputable automotive road tests.
*Base price when new does not reflect original MSRP of this particular car, nor does it reflect what the original owner paid for it.
*Advertised price at time of posting. Sellers can raise or lower prices on their original ad at any time. Click on the original ad to view current price/availability.
Mileage Disclaimer: NOC has not confirmed if the mileage stated by the seller is true and accurate. It is up to the buyer to verify these claims. Vehicle history reports, service records stating mileage, and even inspections of odometer tampering are recommended.