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Old 08-21-2015, 09:58 AM
fonzi fonzi is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 588
1973 280se 4.5 seller's remorse w108

All my friends say "take the money and run", but it sold on ebay for $2500 less $150 in ebay fees and probably another $50 in wasted title paperwork. So I'm letting go of what I thought was a good restoration candidate. I really fell in love with the w108, but have two 107s, one a custom 5.0 convertible SLC purchased for its ability to carry the family of five for ice creme and milkshakes. I recently got the brilliant idea that I should sell my w108 and SLC convertible and aim to replace them both with a w111 convertible. I've seen two not too far from the $50,000 ballpark, and thought maybe I wouldn't have to shell out too much on top of the cash I might get from selling the 107.026 convertible and the w108. So a few days ago, I was renovating my kitchen and the w108 was in my way in the driveway. Instead of logically just moving it out of my way and getting on with my project, I had my first inclination ever to even consider selling it. I figured it might be worth $3000. So I listed it on ebay for $3250 OBO (but apparently I didn't select the Best offer option). Within about 1-2 hours of listing, I got a message from someone in California, asking if I would sell for $2400. I responded saying I can't include any of my spare parts at that price, but he is not too far from my bottom line and we could probably work something out. Later that night we talk on the phone and I state that $2400 in my pocket is my lowest number, and that means $2550 if we are going through ebay. This was all after the buyer tried to say he didn't realize it had the smoking issue and tried to start over at $2000. He worked his way up to $2400 in $50-100 increments, clearly a real haggler. We exited the phone call with a "no deal" and I discouraged him from spending probably 50% of the purchase price on shipping to CA from the east coast. He kept saying shipping is no problem. I explained that the heads need rebuilding due to the oil smoke, and he asked me to go buy some STP "stop smoke" and run the car for 20 minutes. I told him fresh thick oil makes more sense than that. He asked me to do touch up paint where the paint has chipped because he is buying this as a project/gift for his son. I told him I'm not going to mask a problem. It needs to be properly sanded down. He said ok, but again asked me to do the stop smoke. We got off the phone with a "no deal". He texted me again and finally offered $2500, and I said, "fine, click best offer in ebay and I will accept." A few seconds later, he clicked "buy it now", and provided a $200 deposit.

This was a total of only about 4-5 hours from when I listed the car, and maybe 8 hours from the time I decided, maybe I will try and sell this car. Many people say I just got lucky and should be thrilled. Maybe they are right, but...

I've been searching recently to find cars that are comparable, and despite this car having some issues, it has some key features that I would want in a model to restore:

Positives for me:

- nearly no rot at all. There is surface rust around the sunroof and in the trunk, but the only rot at all is in the trunk spare tire well and the opposite side where the flat sheet metal has developed about 4 holes in total, no larger than 1-2" in diameter. This looks like an easy welding fix for a notice like me. All the other stuff is wire brush and POR-15. Is this rare for a 108 in the <$3000 price range?

- power windows: I see this as a luxury car, and manual windows in a roadster would be fine as you can reach them all from the drivers seat, but I just don't feel the 2015 "luxury" with manual windows.

- sunroof: this isn't a must, but a huge plus.

Now, as far as the problems this car has, I had plans for how to fix them all, spending far more time planning than my quick "sell-on-whim".


- when I bought it, it needed lots of trans fluid, but simply topping up the trans fluid, it's been fine for several months now with my occasional driving. Not an issue anymore.

- SMOKING: This is the big one. This car smokes SO BADLY UPON ACCELERATION that I roll through stop signs when I'm driving it. It always smokes mildly, and it is definitely oil. I understand it could be valve stem seals, guides could be bad, bad head gasket or stuck rings, but compression seemed ok with the exception of cylinder 8 that wouldn't too 135 psi without some oil at which point I got 150 psi out of it, when all other cylinders hit 150-160 psi on first go round. Cylinder 4 hit 170 psi but the plug looks oily. So I wonder if that's my smoking cylinder and it is always getting higher pressure with the oil sealing the rings. Anyway, I have a spare set of 4.5 d-jet heads from a 1972 350sl 4.5 that I parted out. I also just agreed to buy a 1973 350sl 4-speed manual parts car, with the plans of taking the higher compression heads and putting them in this 4.5 engine, but I would keep a pair of 4.5 heads with the car in case any future owner wants to go back to stock. That's all if the lower end doesn't need a rebuild... At that point I don't know what I would do.

- ripped dark brown seats and cracked door caps: The seats are saggy needing not only recovering, but also new padding. So I bought a 1969 280s parts car and got some pretty nice seats and door caps out of it. The prospective buyer doesn't want to pay a penny for these. I now suspect he owns an auto shipping company and is also a car flipper (aka dealer). So anyway, I had a plan, and now that it looks like I'm selling the w108, now I've not only got the seats, but also a trunk full of w108 parts from the 1969 280s that I will need to box up too. The w108 is a nice mobile storage container for all my w108 spare parts. I lose that with the sale of this car, really creating more work for myself.

- bad paint job: there is paint chipping off all over the place, especially at the panel edges and weather stripping. I would need to use a razor blade to cut the paint off all the rubber around the windows. Then I would have a lot of sanding where there's paint chipping, then prep for at least the touch up.

General good parts of the car:
- d-jet runs well
- all power windows and sunroof work (but passenger front window not attached to the running motor and the sunroof cable needs greasing).
- do dents in any panels, and all seem original except the driver/left front fender
- all the chrome is good except the top left/driver upper rear bumper piece.
- all locks are on the original key except the trunk which I have cylinder from the parts car.
- the brakes look like they were recently done with a new vacuum line and reservoir, and apparently a lot more new stuff.
- originally a Hollywood California car with some documentation.

Anyway, the $2300 money order is on the way, and as much of a jerk-move it would be, I can still refund the buyer and maybe just lose my $150 ebay fees. I couldn't get the buyer to back out nomatter how many flaws I showed him.

There's a nice rust free 1969 280se for $1000 that needs a new lower end. Maybe I could buy that and drop the 3.5 I'm buying into it, maybe even with a manual trans. However, the manual windows and no sunroof are a bummer. However, the paint and interior are REALLY nice. There's a slightly rusty and damaged 1973 280sel 4.5 w sunroof for sale for $1300 too, but it sounds like a basket case with no good interior wood, and body damage to the driver door and fender. I also see a 300sel 4.5 in Arizona on ebay for relatively cheap, but it is also a big project, but has a sunroof and no rust.

Anyway, I feel like maybe I had a good one, and because I didn't even think about just pulling the car out of my driveway for a few hours to do my house work, I undersold my car too quickly. Did I? Is a rust free sunroof w108 hard to come by?

Here is the ebay listing:

I really appreciate any feedback or advice on whether I should be a jerk and refund the buyer before he sends a truck to come get it and ship it back to California.
Past mb: '73 450sl, '81 280slc stick, '71 250, '72 250c, '70 250c, '79 280sl, '73 450sl, parted: '75 240d stick, '69 280s, '73 450slc, '72 450sl,
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