You'll Be In My Heart: Norev 1/18 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL (V126)
When destiny calls you, you must be strong. I may not be with you, but you've got to hold on. They'll see in time, I know. We'll show them together.
All rise for the honorable W126. Anything less is an affront to one of the greatest cars ever produced. As much as we may love the W116, W140, and W222, there's only one S-Class that mastered every trade it took on. The W140 might be a better luxury car, but the W126 blends luxury, dependability, reliability, and solidity. I'm personally a shill for its successor, but even I have to give the W126 its merits. Introduced in 1981, it replaced the W116, which in itself was the first true S-Class. If you want to know why the S-Class' full name is Sonderklasse in German (special class), the W126 gave it reason. There's a reason this was the best selling S-Class in its history. Penned by Bruno Sacco, this timeless classic stood the test of time and laughed in its face. You still see these running around everywhere, whether in Key Biscayne or the Khyber Pass. I know it's not exotic or particularly exciting in a performance sense, but it more than makes up for it everywhere else. This isn't a car you buy to tell people you've arrived; this is the car that you buy when you know you've arrived. If old money had wheels, it would be a V126 560 SEL.
I'd been waiting for the right moment to add one to my 1/18 collection, which just happened to be Christmas. I put some money aside for this and the W115 200 I showed the other week. It sits proudly next to that and the V140 S500 that's been with me for almost two years. I spent my childhood pining for my neighbor's W126 1981 300SD Turbodiesel, which is long lost to the sands of time. What better way to honor its memory than with a tangible W126 in my possession? It may not be a real one, but it's one step closer than I was a few weeks ago.
That V in the chassis code and L in the name denotes exactly what the latter stands for: long. This is the extended wheelbase 126, which means this is the king of kings in the lineup. The 560 SEL was the 1991 equivalent of what a Mercedes-Maybach S650 is today. Sit there and bask in its glory. This is an outstanding model of an outstanding car. Norev never disappoints. This one is a 1991 model, which was the last year of production for the W126. The color, although noted as Impala Brown on the dealer edition box, was called Desert Taupe in the US.
If anyone in this world has gone above and beyond in terms of their work, I think it'd definitely be Bruno Sacco. Not only did he fill Bracq's large shoes perfectly, he became a powerhouse of his own. This specific model features Stuttgart plates with 126 in them.
As with most models, this 126 has a few flaws such as a tiny crack at the edge of a window and a trunk that refuses to stay fully open, but I love it nonetheless.
The three-pointed star hood ornament stands tall and proud.
As you'd expect, this one has the headlight washers and wipers. I just love how much love and attention went into this casting.
You can hear this picture. The thunk of the doors shutting is one of the most satisfying and solid noises you'll hear in your life.
The 15-hole alloy wheels are perfect on this model. As much as I love the Bundt wheels, those belong on the diesels and 6-cylinder models. With that ground clearance and those meaty tires, you know this thing can take you from Kintore east to Yuendumu and back.
As much as I do adore this model, I'm sad to report it's just a Euro-spec model. I wish it were US spec with a CHMSL.
I've seen plenty of people complain about being able to see the pins where the lights snap into the body on this, but I really don't care. This is top notch. If you look closely, you see the nub where the power antenna rises from.
It has the underlined 560 SEL badge in case you confused it with the W127 190SL or the V177 A220 Sedan.
Whether in 1991 or today, someone who pulls up in one of these means business. Whether its of the legal variety or not is beside the point.
This 126 has an airbag, which was advanced at the time. This model features a Palomino interior with Burl Walnut wood trim.
The fire extinguisher is ready to go in front of the driver's seat. The 4G-Tronic's shifter is also present as it should be.
The gauges could be nicer, but the pedals make up for it.
The door panels are also beautifully appointed and even feature the wood trim, which is nice in a model.
There's only one view of the 126 anyone should care about. The L models weren't so much drivers cars as they were cars to be driven around in. This is what money drove and was driven in back then. Everyone from financiers to genocidal tyrants rode in the plush rear seats of these in unparalleled comfort.
Norev continues its top notch attention to detail in the back with carpeting and all of the real features present.
It has the cubbies for the first aid kit and the seatbelts, which are a sight for sore eyes.
The rear doors also have the pop-out ashtrays and the buttons for the seat controls in the door panels.
For a sub $100 model, it's easy to see why these Norev Mercedes are so sought after.
The dual front wipers are tucked in nicely under the cowl up front.
Most importantly, here's the 560 in the name: the legendary M117 5.5 V8. This monster of an engine produced 238 hp and helped the car catapult to 60 in a scant 7.4 seconds onto a top speed of 142 mph. You can see it here in all its glory. Also, if you look where the grille is, you'll see the town and country horns.
This is a view you'll only see when servicing a 126.
The trunk is nicely detailed, but the piece de resistance is definitely the warning triangle.
What more can you say about something as beautiful as this? Like the V140 S500 this thing will forever stay in my collection as a reminder of why the S-Class is frequently referred to as the best car in the world. It was no easy feat for the engineers in Stuttgart to create something that's equally beautiful in design, rough and tough in quality, reliability, and dependability, and as luxurious as it is. In the W126, Mercedes engineers found a way. They really did live up to their slogan: the best or nothing.
If you want one of these, they're available through Mercedes-Benz's Lifestyle Collection or eBay. I'll warn everyone they're not cheap, but whatever the going rate for these is nowadays is more than justified for this gem.