This is an identification guide / buyers guide for those interested in the Mercedes Benz W126 560SEC. This page has been written for the purpose of assisting people who may be looking at purchasing a 560SEC, or intend to restore a car to factory specifications. This guide provides a variety of information on the car such as original paint codes and combinations, features of the vehicle, and accurate chassis and engine number identification.
The 560SEC represented the flagship luxury coupe for Mercedes Benz during the 1980s, and the cars popularity and reputation give it very good potential as a future classic. Correct identification of these cars is therefore very important, as they are expected to demand a premium in the future. Some basic statistics on the 560SEC are outlined below:
- Production Period: 1985 - 1991 (1994 South Africa)
- Production Numbers: 28,929 units
We hope you find this guide useful. Please note, this page has been written as a guide only, and should not be relied upon without additional research and professional advice prior to purchasing a vehicle.
The following external body features should be present on the 560SEC, and are a good starting point in the identification of a genuine car:
Lower Side Mouldings:
- As all 560SEC's were produced from 1985 onward, they received the upgarded / revised lower mouldings (previously ribbed mouldings replaced with smoother mouldings as seen in images).
Headlight Wipers / Washers:
- Headlight wipers / washers were standard on the 560SEC, but remained only an option on other models.
- The 560SEC received slightly wider / flared front mudguards than the 380, 500 & 420 cars. The mudguards were wider by about 2cm per fender, however, we do not have specific width details - please get in contact with us if you have this information.
- 560SEC badging on rear bootlid (sometimes removed).
Wheel / tyre combination:
- 215/65 VR 15 tyres on standard Mercedes 15" x 6.5" (see image).
There are no specific differences between the 560SEC's interior, and the interior of other SEC models. A brief summary of the interior features has been given, but note that these are not unique to the 560SEC. Please refer to the images for examples of the descriptions.
Standard Interior Features:
Optional Interior Features:
The location of the option codes applicable to a specific 560SEC is shown in the images. For a comprehensive list of all option codes for the 560SEC's data card, click here.
Attached in the images is a document detailing all colours available on the 560SEC, including the secondary lower cladding colour available / matched to that particular body colour. Note, some colours have two match options.
The lower cladding colour is not mentioned in the paint code of the SEC cars, and therefore, the best you can do is check that the main car colour is matched with one that it was when factory painted. These are all the codes I retrieved from various brochures, books, forums etc, and there may be more, so please don’t hesitate to contact me with additional details.
Location of Codes:
Code numbers for a particular car can be found in the original delivery book or tag delivered with the car, as well as on the chassis plate. Look for the numbers on the embossed plate located on the front crossmember under the front of the bonnet, directly in front of the radiator. See images attached for reference. Look closely here for the two three digit numbers on the left side of the plate. Note the interior code (3 digits) is usually on top of the paint code (also 3 digits). As noted above, usually only the primary colour, and not the lower cladding colour will be printed.
Vinyl & leather interior colour options available on the 560SEC included those codes and colours listed in the chart (attached as an image).
These codes / numbers can be found in the original delivery book or tag delivered with the car. If that is lost, look for the numbers on the embossed plate located on the front core support under the bonnet/hood (see image). Look closely here for the two three digit numbers on the left side of the plate. Note the interior code is usually on top of the paint code on the plate.
Some examples of these different colours and materials used in the 560SEC can be seen in the images on the left. If anyone has further codes / details regarding the cloth materials in these cars, please get in contact with us.
The VIN / chassis number location for a 560SEC will generally depend on the jurisdiction you live in, but either way, can be relatively easily checked.
For U.S. specification cars, the VIN number is stamped in multiple locations, including the front windshield A pillar / driver's side door post and of course on the secondary firewall. In all markets, the VIN is printed on the secondary firewall, and stamped ID plates are located in front of the radiator (on the front crossmember panel). The VIN number on the plate needs to match the VIN number on the secondary firewall / other locations if applicable. See images for further clarification.
The first 6 numerical digits for a 560SEC VIN are always WDB 126.045, which will then be followed by the unique number for that car. See example in image. Again, this should also be stamped into the body on the secondary firewall, per the location/style in the image.
The aluminum data card (seen on the RHS with small square holes in it) contains all the information to determine the options, paintwork, transmission, engine type etc for the car.
Extra note for Australians: For an Australian looking at purchasing a factory delivered car, look for the Australian compliance plate as shown in the images on the left. This will confirm the car is not an aftermarket import, which are generally less desirable than factory delivered cars.
The below list shows the chassis numbers for the W126 SEC models, which are used as identification of whether car is a 380SEC, 500SEC or 560SEC (will add the code for the 420SEC shortly):
- 126.043 1982-1983 380SEC M116.963 engine
- 126.044 1984-1985 500SEC M117.963 engine
- 126.045 1986-1991 560SEC M117.968 engine
Finding the prefix 126.045 will confirm that the cars body is a genuine 560SEC. The engine number also needs to confirm the same, and should start with M117968. This particular engine number prefix should be stamped on the engine block.
The engine number on a 560SEC is located at the rear of the engine, just above the bell housing. It may be a bit dirty, so might need cleaning to see it. The engine number is on the left side of the block (facing the front of the car), on top at the end of the head. Look down at your left valve / tappet cover and you will see a small step in the metal where it sits. See the images for further details of the location.
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