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  #1  
Old 08-23-2018, 10:52 PM
Home appliance genius
 
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Read this before you buy an old Mercedes

I bought my first old Mercedes a little over 10 years ago. It was an 89 300e with 185k. I paid something like $1200 or something but there was a bit of a trade element so it really only put me out of pocket about $600.

Over the next 5 years I invested something north of $8 grand in parts/ improvements. With these older cars you have to understand that they basically need everything replaced to become a reliable daily driver again.

I sold this car 5 years later for $1,500

I also purchased a few more Mercedes and at one point I owned 4 Mercedes. I parted out one, and sold the other 2.

My next purchase was a 93í Mercedes 300te 4matic wagon. Super cool car and I was already familiar with what needed to be done to get it freshened up. I immediately dumped 10 grand (Iím actually lying, itís more), I replaced the entire suspension system, rebuilt the entire top half of the engine, body work, stereo, etc. Mercedes parts are expensive.

I live in the rust belt so fast forward 5 years to present and I have a leaky, rusty, musty 300te that still has a bunch of issues. Likely I will sell this car for less than 2 grand.

Lessons learned:

Good:

I learned sooooo much working on these cars. From ac repair that I immediately applied to my field in appliance repair, reading wiring diagrams, and just general knowledge/ confidence under the hood. This is priceless

Bad:

You should never buy an old car if you canít deal with something being broken at any given time. I canít stand broken crap on my car so I spent endless amounts of time (and money) repairing things.

Basically the first major repair you do will put you upside down financially with the car. It doesnít matter how perfect the car is mechanically. Buyers who pay top dollar for old Mercedes look for low miles and condition. (Stupidly I might add). Your car (or proposed car) will likely not fit either of these categories. When I sold my first 300e I didnít even get a chance to tell the guy what I did to the car. He test drove it, looked at the freshly waxed paint and bought the car.

These cars, contrary to the majority opinion, are not reliable. Yes, they basically will always run and drive to some extent, but plan on fixing something just about every weekend for your first year or so of ownership. Every ďvintageĒ Mercedes owner most definitely has a spare/backup vehicle (or 3) because the primary car breaks down regularly. You will fall in to this same trap of owning multiple unreliable Mercedes and owning that many cars is more of a burden than you realize.

Owning that many cars means you have a garage full of used parts, and your spare time is basically filled with working on your ďfleetĒ. If that sounds appealing to you then send me a message, I got a great Mercedes for you that just needs a few more things to be fully sorted out. Iíll give you a heck of a deal.

My biggest eye opener was when I purchased a 7 year old (2011) e63 AMG sight unseen on eBay. I had a pre purchase inspection done at the Mercedes dealer in Arizona and I bought the car.

3 years later I have burned through 3 sets of rear tires, from power sliding, power braking, and general wheel spinning madness. I can tell you that my e63 goes 160mph, and very quickly at that.

Aside from oil changes (and tires), the only repair I had done to this car was replacing the thermostat. I had it done at the dealer for $450. The ac still works, heated/ ac seats, it doesnít leak in the cabin, and the car is every bit as comfortable as my old MB. I have my garage back, I have my weekends back, and I still have a reliable Mercedes. Also, newer cars have this fancy plug called an obd2 port, and basically if anything goes wrong with your car you can plug in a scanner and it will tell you almost exactly what is wrong with it. Try doing that on a 300e with mechanical fuel injectors.


Conclusion:

There are lots of posts on this forum touting the reliability and the safety of these older cars. Iím sure there will be several on this thread. I will tell you as a person who has been on both sides of the fence. They are not reliable in the sense that you are likely thinking, and you wonít find any evidence that will prove a 1980ís car with one (25 year old) airbag is safer than a 2011 with a dozen airbags, more sophisticated crumple zones, better brakes, etc.

If you like the car, buy it. Just donít buy it if you think that it will be a good investment or a reliable daily driver. It wonít be either.

I find myself after 10 years of owning old Mercedes that I can no longer deal with the random oil leaking, parasitic draws, ac failure, and worst of all, rain water infiltration in the cabin. Iíve been driving my e63 every day since spring and it been a thrill to drive every day, and super reliable. Itís worth it to me to have a modest car payment, and the fact that I only get 11mpg. If I subtract the cost of all the tires I burned up, owning a 519 horsepower AMG car has been cheaper than my 300te. And that is including car payments.

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10 E63 AMG
93 300te 4matic
07 BMW X3
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  #2  
Old 08-24-2018, 06:25 AM
engatwork's Avatar
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Have you replaced the brake rotor$ on the E63 yet?
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  #3  
Old 08-24-2018, 07:32 AM
t walgamuth's Avatar
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Location: Lafayette Indiana
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Sounds fun, do they come in a wagon?
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..I also have a 427 Cobra replica with an aluminum chassis.
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  #4  
Old 08-24-2018, 08:50 AM
Home appliance genius
 
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Location: cleveland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engatwork View Post
Have you replaced the brake rotor$ on the E63 yet?
No but when they are due I will happily pay

Quote:
Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
Sounds fun, do they come in a wagon?
Yes they do and they are amazing
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Eugene

10 E63 AMG
93 300te 4matic
07 BMW X3
14 Ford F-150 Fx2
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  #5  
Old 08-24-2018, 10:21 AM
t walgamuth's Avatar
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I might be in the market for a wagon once my VW buyout check comes in.
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[SIGPIC] Diesel loving autocrossing grandpa Architect. 08 Dodge 3/4 ton with Cummins & six speed; I have had about 35 benzes. I have a 39 Studebaker Coupe Express pickup in which I have had installed a 617 turbo and a five speed manual.[SIGPIC]

..I also have a 427 Cobra replica with an aluminum chassis.
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  #6  
Old 08-24-2018, 10:27 AM
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Yup. It’s a hobby with diminishing returns. Fixing one part in a system generally means you’re wrenching on that system all the time until you replace everything. And there used to be a lot of old German steel in the junkyards. There odometers never read 500k or more. Actually, from memory, they were invariably less than 200k on the clock. Wrenching and replacing or rebuilding everything will get you a car that’s worth a fraction of what you paid and time investment. My prior Oldsmobile or Buick died with the same mileage on the clock. The only difference I have noticed is that US cars just die and there’s no real hobby to have them reborn versus MB has developed a dedicated cadre of hobbies which keeps the suppliers in business
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  #7  
Old 08-24-2018, 10:35 AM
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I guess some of us got into MB for various reasons. 30 years back I stumbled into a MB dealership. The car salesman took the time to show me a stack of photographs of mercedes that had been involved in HORRIFIC accidents. He knew the stories of the survivors, most of the owners had walked away from the accident with only a few scratches.

Over the years, I've sat in the hospital rooms of many friends and neighbors for various health conditions and witnessed first hand what can happen to you the moment you are admitted to a hospital.

IMHO, if a MB KEEPS YOUR A** OUT OF THE HOSPITAL, THE CAR TURNED OUT TO BE A H*LL OF AN INVESTMENT.
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  #8  
Old 08-24-2018, 10:51 AM
JB3 JB3 is offline
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Well most of the fun is in the tinkering to keep it going. Also in the ability to pretty much keep it going on the side of the road endlessly with basic parts.

Fun of an old car, but i do have a newer DD so i can get to work and choose when i want to enjoy my weekend or not.

They are a fun classic type vehicle to keep around.
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  #9  
Old 08-24-2018, 10:55 AM
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I think most of the OP thread applies to about any car, MB or otherwise. Unless the vehicle is collector status, then you will not recoup your money. I went through this with my '81 240D, a '96 Ford Contour and a '98 Dodge Neon. Don't mention both '98 Jeep Cherokees.
Some will say the MB parts cost a lot. I found some cheaper than the other vehicles. Some more expensive. Other like brakes about the same.
I would say, that the 240D ran OK when I bought it. It could not do over 55 mph. Mainly due to the throttle bushings be gone. A lot of the cost was that it ran so long with out any real maintenance from what I could see. The radiator hoses didn't look much better than the pictures in a Chilton's manual.
I would agree that with used vehicles say 10 years or older, you need a second car. I bought a '15 Volt a month age. I could get a new intermediate shaft for my '00 Ford Contour SVT. You can get them for an Auto, but not a manual. So to say its just MB older cars is not correct.
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  #10  
Old 08-24-2018, 11:06 AM
greazzer's Avatar
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The above is 100% accurate but I think the distinction is that MB has a BS myth that their cars run 100000 miles and they’re superior in all regards. Two of my GM beaters ran slightly over 250k each before they got problems beyond the most basic maintenance issues, oil change tires filters. However not many folks and consequently no real hobby base to restore the old GM beaters. Of course not counting the cars from the 50s 60s and 70s.
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  #11  
Old 08-24-2018, 11:14 AM
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I've stuck to the older Mercedes (1960s-1980s) and haven't really had a problem having them as my only car. I think the trick is to buy one that's simple and doesn't have lots of gadgets and electronics. Get one with a good body and interior and spend whatever needs to be spent to get it in 100% mechanical shape (not just running and driving), then deal with occasional repairs. Keep the car for decades and don't sell it.

I think that buying a car because "it was a good deal" and then getting bored with it and then selling it and buying another one isn't a good strategy. I think that for an old Mercedes to be a good investment, you can't ever sell it, because its value is in its use, not the dollar value. It will usually cost more money than the purchase price of the car to get it in reliable running condition. I think the cost to get an old Mercedes into reliable daily driver status will almost always exceed the amount for which the car can be sold.

I also think that having multiple old cars isn't financially feasible, because it's a game of constantly dividing up time and money between them, and none of them will be much good. Maybe have one new car and one old car, but I find it makes more sense to just have one old car, because all the money that would be going toward the purchase of the new car could be going toward making the old car very nice, and it's going to be a lot more fun than the new car.

The only problems I've had with my plan is that the first $300 Mercedes I had I bought because it was the only car I could afford to buy and knew nothing about working on cars, so all I did was become frustrated and sell it because the power windows and climate control didn't work (gimmicks and electronic accessories, as I mentioned above).

The second Mercedes I got for free and it was a darn good car after a couple hundred dollars in parts. I only got rid of it because it wasn't really the car I wanted, but it was free, and I sold it in an attempt to get the car I wanted.

The next driver Mercedes I had I only purchased because the purchase of the car I wanted didn't work out and the bus system was horrible. I got it because it was cheap and I just needed something right away. I put about $3,000 into it and it was a rock solid, dependable car that made multi-state trips no problem. But, my mistake was buying one that was extremely rusty and had about 600,000 miles on it, so it eventually got parted out and scrapped.

After this one, I have my current 1980 300SD. My mistake was buying one that was in horrible mechanical condition, had a destroyed interior, and crash damage, so I have a lot of sweat equity in it, but I don't really have much money into it for the drivability. It's been a super-reliable car that has been my daily driver for nearly 10 years. The only time it's let me down is when it wouldn't start one time because a previous owner installed a new battery ground cable and the nut on the body had come loose.

If a person can do their own repairs, I don't think having an old diesel Mercedes as a daily driver is a bad idea as long as 1. You don't overpay for the car 2. You buy one that's not rusty or needs any major bodywork or interior 3. You buy one that is as basic as possible, with less parts to have to fix 4. You aren't a cheapskate when it comes to buying parts and doing preventative maintenance. Some of these shoestring repairs I see on these cars cracks me up, and there's no way I'd drive mine like that. I'm poor and even I was able to start out with a total piece of junk and make it into something that I feel I can drive anywhere. In fact, I daily drove mine commuting about an hour each way in stop-and-go Phoenix traffic for nearly two years without doing anything but an oil change.
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1967 W110 Universal Wagon, Euro, Turbo Diesel, Tail Fins, 4 Speed Manual Column Shift, A/C
1980 W116 300SD Turbo Diesel, DB479 Walnut Brown, Sunroof, Highly Optioned, 350,000+ Miles
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  #12  
Old 08-24-2018, 11:29 AM
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Eye of the beholder. If expectations and understanding are used properly. You should have a mentally easier time when buying and owning an older car. Then dealing with it.

At the same time in general if you cannot maintain it yourself it may be very unwise to engage.

We get less members quoting that they are going to give an older car specifically a Mercedes product to their younger offspring. I suspect that is sound thinking simply because it is hard to predict what an older car of this brand will require to keep going. Plus there is every chance they will have to repair it for them on unexpected occasions.


Where putting them into a lower milage Honda or Toyota. Is far more predictable. You will have far less communications with them as well about the car.

The wife started driving later in life. I quickly learnt that the newer cars the better as I felt I had to at least investigate each and every thing she noticed. Reciently she noticed a rattle just after I had done the front brakes. It was metal against metal in the trunk. I just did not install the lug wrench properly. I just feel obligated to verify that there is never a mechanical condition existing. I may have missed after she mentions anything. The radio died last week now as well. The front end was still good so it is the amplifier portion. I told her I will source a replacement from the auto wrecker or ebay.

Last edited by barry12345; 08-24-2018 at 11:41 AM.
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  #13  
Old 08-24-2018, 12:00 PM
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Last I read on the official MB website, MB is built with 10,000 welds. The average car or truck is built with less than 2000 welds.
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  #14  
Old 08-24-2018, 12:55 PM
I miss my MBZ
 
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Location: Cincinnati, OH
Posts: 533
I have often tried to 'monetize' the value of a car - but I find it comes down to this:
How much $/month is it worth for you to have a running car for a month ? and what does that car *need* to have ? How much extra$ are you willing to pay for new-car reliability ?

All of my cars were purchased used, thats a risk. but its also a risk I can take (If I'm late to work, I wont get fired or make less money that week, we have 2 vans so if one breaks, we can still go somewhere as a family, not everyone gets this kinda deal)
If my paycheck was partially dependent on looking professional, arriving on time, responding to callouts, and maybe carrying extra people (I know a lot of industrial salespeople like this) then a used car would simply not be considered. its a new minivan or a new job. In this case, I'd happily pay lease payments on a new van because now my time is worth that.

If you could put a dollar figure on your time, and how much you are willing to spend to mitigate the risk of a broken car: this decision would be much easier.

I cannot. (because among other things - time with my children is very expensive...)

-John
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  #15  
Old 08-24-2018, 01:02 PM
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As far as GM beaters and cars from the mid70s to say 05, there isn't much rebuilding them yet. There are some exceptions, Buick GN( and other platforms), Pontiac Fiero, Jeeps. Also, Nissan had a 240 sedan. The ricers really like them.
I will say my 96 Contour had 214K on it when I sold it. It did not use any oil, even with 8K or more changes. It has 230K when sold next.
Still, the W123 has thick sheet metal. Still, see a bunch of MB W123 around. A lot of Jeep Cherokees (84-01).
I have experiences the to many car to take car of them. The '98 Neon was carted away a few weeks back. Just to many fixes. They might have been easy. I put a bunch of money into it. Body was still good. Trans electrical issue.

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