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  #1  
Old 06-24-2007, 07:52 AM
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Smile Am I crazy?

In need of some advice because some of my friends think I"m crazy for doing this but I want to save money for savings and retirement (38 year old) and I think this makes more sense but I want to check with the experts here and hope to get some unbiased opinions.

I currently own a '07 Honda CR-V. Drives nice, easy to maintain, great gas mileage but on the boring side, payments for the next 5 plus years, lots of depreciation, more insurance cost than older car.

I have a deposit on an '85 300D (still haven't picked it up), 130,000 miles, everything works, no rust, excellent condition, new tires, $4500 (nonmechanic here).

If I sell the CR-V, I am going to lose a few thousand dollars but feel that can be made up with all of the money I will save with the '85 as far as cheap insurance (if there is such a thing), no monthly car payment, and I feel that when I go to sell her down the road that I won't lose much by way of depreciation, etc. My friends tell me that I am crazy for buying a 22 year old car and I'll having nothing but problems with things breaking from the age. I drive an average of 1,000 miles a month and have a '98 Nissan Frontier that I can drive when she's in the shop. I have owned MB's before and my '95 E320 was in the shop more than I drove it, kind of a bad experience, but my favorite car that I have owned thus far. I just love the engineering on these things, but I am not a mechanic and have to rely on one.

What do you think I should do? Any advice is appreciated.

Confused in Miami

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  #2  
Old 06-24-2007, 08:49 AM
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Well, if you're only after saving money, the best thing to do is sell the CRV and buy a 2002 Accord or something that has less of a chance of breaking and doesn't cost much either (best of both worlds). The '85 300D will run forever and they are bulletproof, but you still have to contend with non-bulletproof issues - AC failures, axle failures, a thousand rubber items that'll deteriorate, etc.

First decide what you really want:

1) If it's all money driven, then sell the CRV, and either drive the Frontier or buy an Accord over the Mercedes. You'll come out better over the long run.
2) If it's partial money but partial "the Mercedes thing", then sell the CRV, get the 300D and learn to do some work on it - they are built for the mechanically non-inclined. Not everything has to go to a mechanic.
3) If it's not about money at all, then sell the Frontier and use that money to buy the 300D. Drive the 300D when you want to, drive the CRV when you need to enjoy a newer car.

It really is all about what YOU want and what you're willing to pay for what you want. Personally, I keep the SL for "fun days" (so ignore that insanity), but I usually like two daily drivers - an older Mercedes for commuting and "the Mercedes thing", and a Suburban for weekend reliability with the kids. Then again, I can afford to play - I've been fortunate. I like driving the older Benzes a lot, but it's real nice having the modern Suburban every once and a while.
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  #3  
Old 06-24-2007, 08:55 AM
Craig
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I mostly agree with POS, except I would never, ever borrow money to buy any car (new or used). If you have an outstanding car loan, dump it now and take the one-time lose, then never make that mistake again.

The 300D is a great car, but it can be a maintenance hog compared to the ricers, expect to spend several $100 to a couple $1000 per year if you plan on driving it extensively. The cheapest way to go is to buy a used ricer (maybe 75-100K miles) and drive it into the ground.
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  #4  
Old 06-24-2007, 10:55 AM
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IMO If you have the tools, time and inclination, too do your own work on the MB it will be a great deal, The MB will require maintenance that is easy too do and allot of the replacement parts are "fixable" and/or easy and cheap too come by. This is only a benefit if YOU do the work. Its not easy to find someone that you can trust, let alone inexpensive to fix things if you don't.
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  #5  
Old 06-24-2007, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lws1 View Post
I just love the engineering on these things, but I am not a mechanic and have to rely on one.
Don't purchase a 20 year old vehicle if you need to rely on a mechanic to fix the various issues that you will have. Relatively simple repairs such as window regulators, climate control issues, and vacuum door locks will end up costing a fortune because they are labor intensive and "mechanics" don't want to bother with them in most cases.

Furthermore, such a vehicle will require the traditional repairs that a mechanic will typically perform such as front end work, brakes, cooling system repair and maintenance, a/c work, etc. These repairs will also add up significantly if a mechanic must do them.

If you plan to keep the vehicle in perfect operating condition so that all accessories work and all components are in excellent working condition, this vehicle is not for you.

Naturally, if you don't mind anything that does not work and will tolerate the vehicle starting up in the morning and moving under it's own power, such a vehicle will be perfectly OK for you. Once the engine is running, they rarely strand you due to an engine or transmission failure, although one of us has been notably unlucky lately.
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  #6  
Old 06-24-2007, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Carlton View Post
Don't purchase a 20 year old vehicle if you need to rely on a mechanic to fix the various issues that you will have. Relatively simple repairs such as window regulators, climate control issues, and vacuum door locks will end up costing a fortune because they are labor intensive and "mechanics" don't want to bother with them in most cases.

Furthermore, such a vehicle will require the traditional repairs that a mechanic will typically perform such as front end work, brakes, cooling system repair and maintenance, a/c work, etc. These repairs will also add up significantly if a mechanic must do them.

If you plan to keep the vehicle in perfect operating condition so that all accessories work and all components are in excellent working condition, this vehicle is not for you.

Naturally, if you don't mind anything that does not work and will tolerate the vehicle starting up in the morning and moving under it's own power, such a vehicle will be perfectly OK for you. Once the engine is running, they rarely strand you due to an engine or transmission failure, although one of us has been notably unlucky lately.
Well said Brian.

I am somewhat mechanically inclined [or mechanically challenged depending on how you look at it] and it still costs me $1000/ year at the shop to keep my daily driver maintained. I still have issues I need to attend to such as windshield seal, dash lights out, need a radiator flush bad, etc.

Just make sure things like the A/C works, the tranny shifts properly and the oil isn't burnt smelling, look at the axle boots to make sure they're not ripped, the climate control works, etc. These kinds of things do cost a fortune to repair.

To sum it up I don't think you're crazy for thinking about making such a move. Just realize that things will go wrong with it unlike newer cars which will have very few shop type problems but the trade off is no payments. And, if everything goes well, the repair bills will still be less than making a payment every month. Thats how it has worked out for me.

Cheers,

Bill
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  #7  
Old 06-24-2007, 01:10 PM
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As of next month, I'll have no more car payments!
I plan to bank/invest the same amount as my payments in order to bankroll future upkeep or next purchase(s).
So, I'll be driving the '82 240D around town and have the 2000 pickup for hauling or when I need to feel the power. Mom's 03 expedition is soon to be swapped for a CDI if I can talk her out of getting a retractable hardtop roadster...nice dilema, huh?

Back on topic, I would not hesitate to make a decent 80s model W123 into a daily driver. Especially if the maintenance has been well documented and you can decipher what has or has not been done. Although I suppose you could spend hundreds or thousands on repairs per year if you were durned unlucky or exceptionally rough on the vehicle. Yes, there are systems that can break and will cost a chunk to repair but those costs can be offset by the savings of 3 to 6 months worth of car payments alone.
I have spent only $3800 on repairs in the twenty-five years that I have had mine and I felt like that was high and as it turns out very disproportionate when compared with the other Benz owners in my family. That does not include fluid or filter changes (I could look it up but I'll just guess about 6 or 7 each year).

Repairs
4 Batteries
2 Battery cables
3 Water pumps
2 Alternators
1 Clutch
1 clutch Slave cylinder
2 rear Half-axle
1 Drive-line Flex-disc
1 Drive shaft hangar bearing
2 Cruise control Actuator (2x under warranty)
3 Door retainer assemblies
2 Heater control valves
5 sets of Brake pads
1 Potentiometer
2 windshield seals (Front & rear)
4 Struts/Shock absorber
1 Electrical relay
1 set glow-plugs
8 Fuses
3 Air filter housing mounts
1 oil filler cap
Odd, I don't see any hoses or belts listed...I'm sure I have had them replaced sometime . Maybe they were included during the scheduled dealer's service...hmm. I might oughta go out and check em now.

All these repairs are within the scope of an low to mid-skill Ididit (if you elect to do them) except for the driveline stuff, Clutch, axles, flex-disc, and hangar bearing and the windshield seals. Although some of the diehards on the forum insist these are diy material. Not me, I claim I know my limitations and I value my back...

If yours is an automatic tranny, I would have it serviced at the present mileage.

Edit: I forgot that I had the front end linkage repaired two years ago...brings the total up to $4100.
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Last edited by Bama1; 06-24-2007 at 01:24 PM.
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  #8  
Old 06-24-2007, 03:28 PM
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Exclamation If you decide on the 300D

Before you purchase the 300D....if that's your choice.....check under the floor carpet, and remove the rear fender covers inside of the trunk.....and look for rust.....not a bad price tho, seems like the going rate for a 300D with 130,000 miles.....

I went to work on my present 300D.....and was surprised to find a bit of rust in those areas....not much to speak of.....but I was surprised enough to have a post about it somewhere on here.....maybe November of '06......someone, either Brian Carlton or the Hatterasdude said that these cars rust from the inside out....also look inside of the front fenders...kinda sorta under the hood springs....there are water drains there, and if plugged for a length of time....you may find rust there as well.....

SB
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Diesels:
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'84 190D 2.2, "Eva, Brown Benz", 142K, 40.2 MPG
'77 240D (parts car)
'67 Eicher ES 202 Tractor "Otto" (2cyl, Air Cooled, 30HP)
Gassers:
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'85 190E 2.3, 148K....Parts Car
'58 Dodge W300M Powerwagon (Flat Fenders) Less than 10 MPG
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  #9  
Old 06-24-2007, 10:28 PM
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I have checked out the car for the rust, etc. The guy who owns it knows every inch of the car and has done all of the work himself. He is leaving the country for a job and says he wants to find another where he's going. He's even giving me any leftover parts, the car cover, etc.

I guess I am basically trading off no payments, interest, higher insurance, depreciation -- for a car that will have more upkeep and that I should be able to sell and not lose much on in the future, should I die or something else comes up. It's not so much a matter of the $$$. Sounds kind of weird but I have such an appreciation for MB's. The Honda's safe but boring and little maintenance. When I get behind the wheel of a MB, something comes over me that I can't explain. My parents have never had a car payment and it is taking me a little longer but I am starting to realize a lot of things my parents were telling me are really true.

Thanks for your advice. I am going tomorrow to pick her up. I'll post some pics after I get her home so you all can see what I have done. Lance
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  #10  
Old 06-24-2007, 10:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lws1 View Post

When I get behind the wheel of a MB, something comes over me that I can't explain. My parents have never had a car payment and it is taking me a little longer but I am starting to realize a lot of things my parents were telling me are really true.
I think we all have experienced both of the above.....

Cheers,

Bill
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  #11  
Old 06-24-2007, 10:47 PM
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cdplayer

Do you like to tinker? Do you have a curiosity about how things work?
I am not a mechanic either. But I would rather try to fix my car than pay a mechanic.
About twice a month I go to PicNPull. Pay my $2 to get in and dismantle their cars to learn about mine. Sometimes I find parts that would cost me hundreds for just a few bucks.

Just reading this forum has taught me a ton of technical things. Like my most recent repair of installing a new steering box and wheel coupler.
Believe me, the feeling of accomplishment is really great with DIY.
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  #12  
Old 06-24-2007, 10:49 PM
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Welcome to the cult ERRR UHHHH *cough* club!

I know what you mean about driving them, they just drive... differently.
My family owns a Honda Odyssey and my dad works on an 89 BMW, and personally, I consider the Honda boring, and while the BMW is a nice car, I still prefer the Benz. I tend to enjoy the ride more that way. Maybe I'm nuts.
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  #13  
Old 06-24-2007, 11:17 PM
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There are just too many variables to get the absolute right answer. Each of us are different and see things in our own way. I guess you have started to look at your lifestyle etc. One premise you have got right is that new cars do not work financially well. We buy new occasionally still but it never is a good deal. The depreciation alone is murder.
I have a look at our total package about every five years. Then adjust major things if required. Minor adjustments are done as required on an ongoing basis.
Too many people do not calculate the inflationary component of future ongoing existance in a realistic way at all in my opinion. One size shoe does not fit all either. .
Personal debt usually indicates something is not right other than a morgage perhaps. You are fundementally somehow living beyond your means. Either restructure your existance or increase your means. Sounds like you are trying to restructure a little. If a morgage is absolutly required eliminating it as soon as possible usually pays off. Debt should be reserved for buisiness if required where it can be made to pay.
You drive about 12k per year. If you see that as almost a constant then you can possibly calculate your yearly costs. The cheapest should be a ricer as already mentioned with 70-100 k purchased right.
I picked up a clean toyota at a car auction at christmas time for 3500 with a little less than 100k. It is five years old with air etc. It should have about another 100k in low maintenance left in it. That would give us about eight years at 12 k per year. Or 400.00 per year in depreciation if we drive it out. Maybe 500.00 in yearly expenses other than fuel and insurance. Perhaps less as usually I repair things out of habit and enjoyment rather than utilizing garages. I think the older mercedes diesels cannot deliver quite as much fuel efficiency. Nor cost less to maintain. Especially if you farm out the required work.
My problem is in our family that particular car will see a lot more than 12k per year so proportionally our costs are higher and depreciation more rapid than your senario. Then again all life does not or should not rotate around saving money for old age. You have to enjoy life as you go along.
Today there does not seem much difference in 1,000 dollars when I was thirty eight and say 5,000 dollars today. If I had just saved money at prevelant interest rates or held it in marginal investments we would have more than likely lost ground in the last 27 years. Good quality assets have faired much better over time in our experience and in general do not attract very much tax.
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  #14  
Old 06-25-2007, 12:22 AM
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If you want to save money just dump the CRV and drive the Frontier.


If you don't plan on working on it yourself find a good mechanic and be ready to pay a few grand a year.
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  #15  
Old 06-25-2007, 12:50 AM
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Retirement, how sweet it is!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lws1 View Post
In need of some advice because some of my friends think I"m crazy for doing this but I want to save money for savings and retirement (38 year old) and I think this makes more sense but I want to check with the experts here and hope to get some unbiased opinions. Confused in Miami
You are wise to start planning early for retirement. The incentive rarely strikes most of us until much later, when it is almost too late to start. I started thinking about retirement at age 30, started seriously saving for it at age 40, and retired at age 50, ten years ago. I'm having so much fun I wish I'd retired earlier (regretfully not possible). Buying new cars and making payments was not one of my methods (I've never bought a new car).

As others have already said, a 1980s 300D can be a great car so long as you don't have to pay someone to do all of the work, especially the fussy little jobs that take a lot of time. You don't have to be a great mechanic to do much of the work yourself and there are some great people to help you on this forum. Mercedes designed these cars so things can be taken apart and fixed, unlike some cars, especially the newer ones, where you "replace a module" but don't really fix anything.

Additionally, you can still get almost every part for the car from the factory and since so many were made, many of the parts are available new or rebuilt, saving you money over a new part. For example, I just replaced the $450 outside temp display in my wife's '87 with a used one for $30 including shipping. Most 20 year old cars are in the junkyard, in part because you can't get parts for them any more.

Jeremy

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