I would probably be shot if I were to go out proclaiming that there was no replacement for displacement, especially since we are well into the 2020s. There’s just something about the creaminess of a straight or V6 (or V8 for that matter, if finances allow) that can’t be replicated by a L4.

The predecessor – humbler roots

Having experienced various L6, V6 engines belonging to fellow classic Mercedes Benz club owners, including one of our very own staffers, I just knew I had to get my hands on one.

A variety of (very credible) candidates were on the cards, including one within the Lenspeed garage. Not sure if you’d call it a triumph of common sense but I eventually decided against adopting a newer W211 E230 in favour of an older (and simpler) W126 300SE.

Screen grab from The Straits Times

What made it such a no brainer were both the facts that it was formerly enthusiast owned (with its ownership history traced within an hour) and that it was a rarer short wheelbase spec – for Singapore at least, where most W126s came in the ‘SEL’, long wheelbase variant. Having came from a W124, which was from the exact era – I was felt rather confident in bringing her back to her former glory despite some niggling issues.

Still very majestic looking

On the whole, she idled well – a strong indicator that one of her previous caretakers had paid attention to her complex vacuum system – but was slow to shift (an indication of expired automatic transmission fluid or a need for adjustment?).

Rear windscreen water channel rust – an issue that commonly plagued W126s from the first generation cars of 1979 up till last in 1991 

Her bodywork needed some urgent attention, with prominent rust spots around her rear windscreen water channel and around the battery tray area (a very common issue for street-parked Mercs of the 90s). And so did her interior, with various bits being sun-aged or entirely missing.

Creamy – the ubiquitous M103 3.0 L straight-6

MB Tex still holding up extremely well after more than 30 years

Despite the subpar condition of her exterior, and although I was initially apprehensive about taking on yet another project, I dropped in for a second look with a fellow MB classic club member (whom actually graduated from the W201, W124 and presently owned a W126 300SEL).

Collection day

After a quick test drive to stretch the 3.0 lite M103’s legs and an all-round inspection by our go-to classic MB workshop mechanics, a deal was struck and the old dame was welcomed into the fleet.

It has been about a week since the 300SE has been in ownership and she has found home to the workshop since. The broad plan for this initial round of work, as a start, is to ensure that her bodywork has been rid of all its existing rust, leaks and have basic wear and tear items throughout her undercarriage and engine sorted before bringing her home.

At the local MB stockist

The past few days have been spent liaising with our trusted workshop manager for parts required, examining diagrams, compiling various part numbers (which have totalled up to a list of 50+ items by now) and playing courier by making multiple trips between our local MB stockists to the workshop to deliver parts.

Playing parts courier

Somehow, despite the (dismantled) state the dame is in, confidence of the final result is pretty high.

She’ll be calling this cosy corner of the workshop home… for now

Stay tuned for further updates in the coming days for this little project of ours, and our journey to returning to this W126 to its former, stately glory!

Yikes! All that rust!