My wife's "perfect" 1988 300TE has sustained the first significant body damage of it's 13 year existence. My wife cut a corner too sharp leaving a local bank's drive thru and hit a steel/concrete pole with the right rear passenger door. The damage is localized to the door and a small part of the rear wheelwell. The trim strip is ruined and there is a smooth dent (no creases) the length of the door centered on the trim strip continuing into the wheelwell where the small piece of trim is. Along with the dent there is a good amount of white paint from the pole on the door (car is dark red).
Fortunately, neither of us has been in an accident before, so I have very limited experience dealing with body shops and body work estimates. I have talked with my independent tech. and the local dealer for bodyshop recommendations, but I thought the members on this list could give me some advice on what to look for/questions to ask when getting estimates and dealing with bodyshops. Specifically in reference to work on older Mercedes. Are there any specific techiques a bodyshop should know when working on these vehicles(vs. working on a Jap/Domestic vehicle) ?
I am hoping to return this car to its former glory (as close as possible), preferably without having to re-spray the door. To my untrained eye it looks as if the dent can be popped out (w/a PDR process) and I can not find any spots where the paint has been cut (the trim took the brunt of the force). Will also need to safely remove the white paint from the door.
Any advice from experienced listers or recommendations for shops in the Charleston, SC area would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance