Take the asking price and deduct for what needs to be done or at least use that as negotiating leverage. Some people are more picky than others but if there isn't any frame damage you can forgive a panel or paintwork. You hit the nail right on the head with the screwed up gearing! Mercedes saw fit to geld the 400E with a 2.24:1 rear differential. 50 in first, 85 in second, 135 in third, tops out by drag around 150-155 in 4th. All I can say is thank goodness for the transmission shift gate. Without that bit of control the transmission would really be a pain in the butt.(the transmission and the driver don't always agree upon which gear is appropriate) It is as if Mercedes did all they could to impair the performance of that machine. MB DOC, Benzmac, ANYONE....does anyone really know why they put such a tall diff on it? Only reason that seems logical is to keep market interest far away from the 500E or for fuel economy reasons. Still it is a helluva powerplant hooked to a tight chassis. Given the gearing the car does not do so well off the line but its passing prowess makes up for some of it. Want to pass on the highway? Kick it down into SECOND at 65 and watch as the needle twists into triple digits very quickly. Kickdown at 25 mph is also impressive. It has its quirks but is one of the most stealth sporty sedans out there considering it has nothing to distinguish it from a 177hp 300E except a 1" 4 where the 3 is.
Just my opinion....Lee