The big Merc might have once ruled the wealthy ‘burbs of Reagan-era America, but the long-lived W126 S-Class quickly seemed to fade in popularity in the 1990s, becoming just another used car as it was upstaged by its W140 successor. The German plutobarge arguably hit a low point in the mid-2000s, amid surging gas prices, and attrition long took care of neglected examples. The W126 is now inching up, thanks to a resurgence in demand, and tidy examples are bringing north of $10,000. At the same time, it’s still possible to land one of these for a song if you look hard enough, and there are plenty of low-mileage examples in Florida to this day. Of course, there are a few caveats when it comes to this generation of the S-Class. For one thing, everything inside has to be working for an example to achieve top dollar, because sorting the electrics in these things can be tricky. Examples with space probe mileage are a dime a dozen, so there is a big difference between a garaged example in top cosmetic condition and a middling example that’s a 10-footer. Records are also a must for any example that dreams of generating top dollar. Thankfully, all the worst specimens are gone, or have long sailed for Eastern Europe, leaving undiscovered gems in climate-controlled garages outside of the Rust Belt.

How much can a tidy W126 bring? Quite a bit, and it doesn’t even have to be a range-topping V8 model stuffed with options.

The example in this photo is a 1985 300SD, powered by a 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-five paired with a four-speed automatic. Its secret weapon in selling for $20,000 last month on Bring a Trailer was that it had less than 34,000 miles on the clock and was a one-owner example until 2019 when it was acquired by the seller. So buyers will reward very original, untouched examples, especially if they’re from Florida as this one was, with minimal miles on the clock. Low-mileage W126 cars are not exactly the unicorns they can appear to be, because the Southern states were at one point filled with gently used examples that just drove to the country club and back. Examples with under 50,000 miles come up for sale all the time, and they all land around the $20,000 mark, which is why they’re worth seeking out.