Automotive Istana Kuantan W126 Mercedes-Benz 300SE

Published on February 11th, 2022 | by Subhash Nair


Mercedes-Benz 300SE W126 “Istana Kuantan” Goes On Sale For RM30K

Can this ‘Istana Kuantan’ Mercedes-Benz 300SE W126 command an RM30,000 price?

Last week, a local classic Mercedes-Benz fan page on Facebook called ‘Klasik Mercedes Malaysia‘ posted an extremely clean, well taken care of W126 Mercedes-Benz 300SE for sale. They left a Whatsapp link to the seller’s number and enough photos to draw any fan of this old S-Class in.

Three things definitely stood out about the car they posted. The first was just how perfectly preserved it was, with spotless mats and upholstery, completely intact wood trim, and an engine bay you could almost eat off of. The second thing was the implication that this car was once used by the Kuantan Palace in Pahang. This claim comes in the form of the listing title of ‘W126 S-Class “Istana Kuantan” with no supporting documents posted, though we’re sure the people on the other end of the Whatsapp line can provide some evidence of this.

Finally, there’s the classic car status of this car. Accompanying the photos is a copy of the JPJ’s approval of its status as a classic car. This reduces the annual road tax commitment by 80%. Where other 3.0L 300SE owners would have to pay RM2,035 annually in road tax just to legally run the car, this vehicle’s owner would only have to pay RM407 a year. Bear in mind that this only lasts until next year, and a new application may require you to show that you already own 2 other vehicles.

My Take

I think the W126 is probably on the verge of appreciation in Malaysia. Prices reached rock bottom just before the pandemic, with many being swept up by mechanics as donor cars for just a few thousand Ringgit. I have a personal attachment to this model of Benz as my father had one in the 1990s and it was with the family for about a decade while I was growing up.

It’s one of the last ‘simple’ Benzes and it came just before Mercedes-Benz had to respond to the threat of Lexus. It was literally the best car they could produce and it earned its reputation for quality and reliability. If you’re going to buy and occasionally drive a used S-Class or classic Mercedes, this, or a 124 Coupé is probably the sweet spot.

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However, there are a few things you should think about before buying a W126, with the overarching theme being: be realistic about your expectations and have a spare car on hand.

They Are All Aged Cars

Don’t kid yourself about using it daily without a spare car (and spare cash) and being prepared for the occasional break down. As solidly put together as this car is, even the best looked after example is pushing 30-40 years of age, so some components may fail mid-way through a drive. Have another car on hand and don’t use this to drive around your aging parents/grandparents/ or young kids. This is a hobby car for adults with extra time and cash on hand.

Don’t Expect Values To Skyrocket

As handsome and high-quality as the W126 is, it was also a rather ‘common’ car. Yes, the S-Class is exclusive, but this car had a TWELVE YEAR PRODUCTION RUN. Think about that. Imagine the same S-Class from 2010 being sold in showrooms today! Most cars today are produced for 5 or 6 years and then replaced. They made more than 800,000 of these things. The sedans are not going to become rare anytime soon. On the plus side, this means that parts will probably not be a major headache. It’s a but like the Mini – they’re collectable, they’re sought after, and they’ve got a unique drive quality about them, but there are just so many of them that rarity will not be a factor UNLESS you have a special edition. I think this is why many sellers are keen to attach other labels like ‘Istana Kuantan’ or some fact about the previous owner to the value car itself. In my opinion, this shouldn’t be too big a factor in its price, but of course willing buyer, willing seller.

They’re Good At One Thing – Comfortable Cruising

Cars have come to a certain degree of performance parity. You can’t sell a Mercedes today without offering some level of performance because that is simply expected in today’s vehicles. But the W126 was made at a time where brands really stuck to their own values and Mercedes-Benz was making a luxury sedan for people to be chauffeured in with the S-Class. That is what is excelled at in the 1980s and 1990s. Bear that in mind – you’re buying the old gold standard for passengers. It’s not going to drive like a modern car, nor have the kind of amenities, fuel efficiency, manoeuvrability, or practicality that a modern car can give you. Driving it isn’t fun or engaging, and unless you have one in excellent condition, it’s unlikely anyone’s going to give you a second look in 2022.

But if you’re realistic about what it means to own and run an old Benz, we’d say this well taken care of W126 could be worth the asking price.

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About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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