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  #1  
Old 10-05-2004, 03:44 PM
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Purchase advice needed, AGAIN!!

My first post on this message board had a similar title. I was seeking advice on purchasing an '84 300SD. Everyone recommended that I purchase it and so I did. And I have no regrets at all!

Now, seems like my purchase of the 300SD was just beginning of my love for the 126 chassis. Now every time I see a 126 for sale, I have to stop and have a look at it.

Right now I have to decide on which car to buy from these two:

Car 1:

1985 US 500SEL with 244K miles. The car's interior is in good shape. Everything works, from all heated seats to the power reclining rear seat. The seats have the usual wear from age, but nothing big really. The sunroof works but tends to start sliding off its rails as it opens. Also, the headliner under the sunroof is turning brown, a sign that water may have leaked into it. The paint on the outside is horrible and worn out. It will need a new coat of paint to look presentable. A/C doesn't blow cold. Rear windows are all tinted (look really nice). Brake pads seem worn, "Antilock" light stays on after car is started. Missing a piece of woodgrain from the dash. Dash has a very tiny crack on it. Motor mounts must be worn out or something because entire car shakes when idling, even worse than my diesel.

This car is from a mechanic. He repaired it for a customer in April this year and the customer hasn't come back for it. He also called the customer many times but never had his calls returned. So he obtained the title and is now selling it. The only service record the car has is from what the mechanic did which was extensive: he fixed a blown headgasket, performed a full valve job, replaced both timing chains, changed the coolant (he put the green stuff in there, blah), changed the spark plugs, engine oil, etc. The car was in his garage for two months. I know this because I saw the car there. Being a very honest man (he is a pastor), his asking price is simply the cost of the work he did on the car: $2,500.

Car 2:

1986 US 560SEL with 240K miles: Saw this at a used car dealer's lot. He purchased it from an auction, so naturally, no service records exist. Car's exterior is sharp and excellent. Deep blue in color. Previous owner mounted huge 235/60R15 tires on the car, and they are all good. Everything in the interior works, from sunroof to all seat heaters and window motors. A/C seemed to blow cold, though the temperature outside was just 55F so that wasn't a good test of the A/C. Interior seats just have the usual wear, with the driver's seat having a section that's completely torn out. Otherwise the rest of the interior is great. All the wood was in place, no cracks in dash. Engine bay looked like no one has ever cleaned it!! It also had the dreaded green coolant in the system. While the car's rear end wasn't sagging, I don't know if the hydroneumatic suspension is working. There is a hissing sound coming from the rear end, like something is leaking when the car is running. I tried to test the suspension by standing in the trunk (I weigh 285 lbs) while the dealer revved the engine to 3000rpm... but the rear end didn't rise up, so I guess it doesn't work. Is this a proper test for it?

I didn't get to drive it, as one of the tires is flat. The dealer said I can have my test drive tomorrow. His asking price is $3,000. However, I explained to him that purchasing an MB V8 without service records is a huge risk and he was impressed by my "seemingly detailed" knowledge of the car, so I know I can easily beat the price down to $2,500.

So there, I have two $2,500 MB 126 V8s, both with palomino interiors. The 560SEL is more attractive, however the 500SEL definitely has already undergone a top end overhaul. I am very confused on this. I am seeking your assistance so as to minimize the possibilities of making an illogical move. Thanks.

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1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEL, 89K miles - daily driver
2007 Hyundai Sonata Limited, 31K - daily driver
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  #2  
Old 10-05-2004, 04:41 PM
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To be honest with you, for that kind of money I would not expect to get much more than a " Parts Car " or " Winter Beater ".
The prospect of buying a " moneypit " is there for sure.
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  #3  
Old 10-05-2004, 07:46 PM
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'85 380SE here in DC/VA w/ 79K miles...

Beautiful original Astralsilver with pristine burgundy leather and carpets/mats - car is as new with recent tuneup, brakes and tires. Spare has never been on the ground, toolkit still in sealed plastic bag. Sony indash AM/FM with CD. Belongs to a friend who wants to get it to a MB Club member or someone else who appreciates this car. $8000. Don't let his 16 year old son use this as a learner/beater!
I wish my wife wanted an auto tranny - she could be stylin'!

John in VA
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  #4  
Old 10-05-2004, 07:56 PM
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I'd get the 560, how's that for short and to the point?

Gilly
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  #5  
Old 10-06-2004, 02:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manny
To be honest with you, for that kind of money I would not expect to get much more than a " Parts Car " or " Winter Beater ".
The prospect of buying a " moneypit " is there for sure.
Oh yes I am quite well aware of that. I'd like to get the car for fun. $2,500 doesn't sound too bad for me. If it becomes an absolute money pit I'll just dump it. I'm just wondering which is the better value, and which will seem to be less of a money pit than the other.
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  #6  
Old 10-06-2004, 10:39 AM
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Here, I'll copy and paste your first post and comment in red:

Car 1:

1985 US 500SEL with 244K miles. The car's interior is in good shape. Everything works, from all heated seats to the power reclining rear seat. The seats have the usual wear from age, but nothing big really. The sunroof works but tends to start sliding off its rails as it opens. I wouldn't define the sunroof as "working", you say "everything" works. You'll break it if you continue to use it, does that constitute "working"?Also, the headliner under the sunroof is turning brown, a sign that water may have leaked into it.So the headliner would need to be replaced too, nice. The paint on the outside is horrible and worn out. It will need a new coat of paint to look presentable.undefinedDitto previos comment in regards to the headliner, the 560 you said looks nice. A/C doesn't blow cold. Rear windows are all tinted (look really nice).Personal choice I guess. If I lived further south maybe I could get into tinted windows, although I did this on a few of my cars in my yout (yes i said "yout" on purpose, watch "My Cousin Vinnie) at any rate I wouldn't want it on just the rear windows, looks alot better on all side windows and the rear if you're going to have it. the 126 is BIG, but not a limo! (Unless it's a 126 limo I guess) Brake pads seem worn, "Antilock" light stays on after car is started.So a nice repair bill if you want to get the ABS to work, and plus you're looking at maybe some maintenance work too. Missing a piece of woodgrain from the dash. Dash has a very tiny crack on it.Eh, as long as you know about stuff like this ahead of time, it's up to you as far as putting up with it or repairing, personal choice. Motor mounts must be worn out or something because entire car shakes when idling, even worse than my diesel.The engine has just been repaired, even with lousy motor mounts it should run smooth at idle, not "worse than a Diesel". You may "feel" the engine a little bit in a case like this. Compare it to the 560.

This car is from a mechanic. He repaired it for a customer in April this year and the customer hasn't come back for it. He also called the customer many times but never had his calls returned. So he obtained the title and is now selling it. The only service record the car has is from what the mechanic did which was extensive: he fixed a blown headgasket, performed a full valve job, replaced both timing chains, changed the coolant (he put the green stuff in there, blah), changed the spark plugs, engine oil, etc. I am a little leery about this whole deal. I know the mechanic can go about getting what's called a "mechanics lein" on the vehicle, but still, in a case like this the owner is probably a local person, who probably still has a key or two for the car, so think about how comforting THAT is, unless you know the prior owner is deceased or moved to Canada or something. Plus I don't see where knowing about the work that was just done constitutes "knowing the service history" of the car. Plus the engine isn't idling smoothly, what if the work he just did goes south? Will he give you a warranty on the work he just did? Say 1 year? The car was in his garage for two months. I know this because I saw the car there. Being a very honest man (he is a pastor), his asking price is simply the cost of the work he did on the car: $2,500. Even that sorta rubs me the wrong way, but I don't know why. Maybe a BUSINESSMAN should expect to make a little more profit when he's selling the whole car instead of the work, or at least expect that storing the car at his place for so long is worth "something". Even an honest, pastorial mechanic.

Car 2:

1986 US 560SEL with 240K miles:OK, mileage is a draw Saw this at a used car dealer's lot. He purchased it from an auction, so naturally, no service records exist.In the case of both cars you could at least get some info on them from MB on VMI from a dealer Car's exterior is sharp and excellent. Deep blue in color.Well, that's a good start, at least it looks good! Previous owner mounted huge 235/60R15 tires on the car, and they are all good.I assume on stock rims, I like having the factory-size rubber, but if you like them and they're in good shape, what the heck.... Everything in the interior works, from sunroof to all seat heaters and window motors. A/C seemed to blow cold, though the temperature outside was just 55F so that wasn't a good test of the A/C.It might at least prove the mono-watervalve is shutting off as it should. In honesty, if the 500 didn't seem to cool, it may not be the AC, it may be a water valve problem (letting warm water through). You;d have to pay attention to what the engine coolant temp was when you were testing them, this would make a big difference in trying to determine if the AC and heater systems are working Interior seats just have the usual wear, with the driver's seat having a section that's completely torn out.You could try finding a "normal" wear seat or seat cover on a used one or something like that, new are available but big buck$. especially if it's leather Otherwise the rest of the interior is great. All the wood was in place, no cracks in dash. Engine bay looked like no one has ever cleaned it!!That's unusual for a used car lot. Persoanlly I'd rather see it "as it is" rather than all spiffed up. You can ruin things by cleaning them, especially with a pressure washer or something. I'd look at this "still dirty" engine compartment as a "positive negative" It also had the dreaded green coolant in the system.So does the other one, you can count on spending a bit getting everything back to where it should be on either of these, budget a grand or so for maintenance, just in case you find any surprises. While the car's rear end wasn't sagging, I don't know if the hydroneumatic suspension is working. There is a hissing sound coming from the rear end, like something is leaking when the car is running.I'd bet that's the fuel pump running, hard to tell if it's anything to worry about right away. I tried to test the suspension by standing in the trunk (I weigh 285 lbs) while the dealer revved the engine to 3000rpm... but the rear end didn't rise up, so I guess it doesn't work. Is this a proper test for it?Usually that'll do it, but I'd wait a minute or two before condemning the system, it may take a few minutes in other words. If it's sitting level (not normally sagging in the back) then I don't know if I'd worry too much, 'course it's not MY money's gonna be fixing it either.

I didn't get to drive it, as one of the tires is flat. The dealer said I can have my test drive tomorrow.Pretty lousy they couldn't grab an air tank and get it up on all 4 for ya to drive right away. His asking price is $3,000. However, I explained to him that purchasing an MB V8 without service records is a huge risk and he was impressed by my "seemingly detailed" knowledge of the car, so I know I can easily beat the price down to $2,500. Yeah, I'd try to beat 'em down a grand maybe (to $2000, $2500 would be OK, but aim lower and be willing to come up to 2500). The 500 I'd maybe offer a $1000, too much at risk=engine work w/shaking engine, mechanic lein title are especially what worry me.

So there, I have two $2,500 MB 126 V8s, both with palomino interiors. The 560SEL is more attractive, however the 500SEL definitely has already undergone a top end overhaul. I am very confused on this. I am seeking your assistance so as to minimize the possibilities of making an illogical move. Thanks.
In either case, if can settle on one or the other, get your own PPI done, hopefully at a dealer. Tell them you want a 1 hour inspection done, should be worth it, especially if you can narrow your choice to one of them. On the 560, be sure to ask them about the rear self-levelling feature operation. May be a better deal even if it needs some work done, although the shocks themselves you'd want to find used somewhere, very pricey.

GILLY
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  #7  
Old 10-06-2004, 11:36 PM
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If I really have to make a choice, I will take the 560SEL instead. Seems to me that the 500 still has lots of problems, and we are not sure how much work were done by the mech.

Also i do feel $2500 is too high for both cars, it got over 200,000miles and the condition is uncertain. These cars can be a money pit if you have no idea about its service history.

I have a 560SEL and i can tell you the sound from the rear is the fuel pump. It is normal if you hear some "zzzzzz" sound, if it start crying that mean the fuel pump is going south... also 560 has 2 fuel pumps, one of my fuel pumps died when i was driving and my car cannot go over 80mph(feel lke having a speed limit control)

for the hydroneumatic suspension, i dont need to rev the engine to 3000rpm to make the rear raise, i got 2 big adults plus 3 suitcases at that time, once i start the engine, i saw the rear is raising up instantly. but if that car doesnt sag, also the PO may switch the hydro sus back to the basic one 420SEL has.


just my 0.02
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  #8  
Old 10-07-2004, 08:43 PM
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Thank you all for your very valuable replies. I've been out of town [in a place so rural that in this day and age there were no land phone lines so I had no Internet access] so I wasn't able to post any replies. Well, I'm back home now!!

Gilly, thanks for that long analysis. I can understand your concern on the local owner having a spare key or so, but then again, the same can be the case with the 560SEL. Why? Well, when I traded in my Toyota Camry Solara for my Avalon, I actually forgot to give the third key for the car to the dealer. So that means that I could have gotten away with keeping a spare key to the car if I wanted to do so for fraudulent purposes. I ended up returning the key to the dealer before the car was re-sold, however I just thought I'd state that as an example. Granted, chances that'd be the case with the 560SEL are slim, considering the last owner of the car lives in Nevada (I ran the Vehicle History Report - all clean!!)

jchowe420, thanks for your 2 cents. I really value them. The dealer later told me he didn't let me drive the car that day because the flat tire was actually punctured and he had ordered a replacement for it which hadn't arrived on the day I went there. The next day I was there, the atmospheric temperature was in the 80s F, I ran the A/C and it was freezing cold. However, no air comes out of the center vents on "Auto." The air comes out well when on "high." I am thinking the 560SEL is the better choice too. I've ruled out the 500SEL, engine top-end rebuild or none. In fact, I will offer the 560SEL dealer $2,000 since he said he isn't willing to let me have a PPI on it. He intends to sell it "as is." If he doesn't take $2,000, I'll back out!
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2004, 08:53 PM
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I know what you mean about maybe a weird lingering doubt about buying a used car. Most people don't think about that sort of thing. But the point about the 500 is that since it had a mechanics lein on it and the mechanic basically "claimed the car" because of a non-payment on the bill, etc. one would wonder if the prior owner might take some sort of exception to the proceedings and try to claim back what was once his. That's what I meant. Usually a car on a used car lot there is no potential for hard-feelings by the prior owner, they sold it or traded it in and simply moved on.
You could always re-key the car or at least the ignition switch to a different key. MB will sell a "generic" or non-factory coded lock tumbler.

Gilly
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Old 10-07-2004, 11:32 PM
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He won't let you do a ppi? my car was an "as is" sale to. Be carefull with "as is" W126's. How much blow-by does the 560 have? How does the oil look? Pull a spark plug or two and see how they look.
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Old 10-08-2004, 12:20 AM
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no PPI is that a red flag or what?

it's no skin off the man's nose to let you have a ppi. the fact that he won't has to be the biggest red flag yet. frankly speaking the only thing i've read so far are negatives. there really hasn't be anything positive except items that are "not too bad"

i'd walk and keep looking. unless you are in dire straits for another vehicle there are better vehicles with not much more of an asking price out there to be had.
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  #12  
Old 10-08-2004, 12:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatterasguy
He won't let you do a ppi? my car was an "as is" sale to. Be carefull with "as is" W126's. How much blow-by does the 560 have? How does the oil look? Pull a spark plug or two and see how they look.
I've already inspected that and believe it or not, nothing looks bad in there, though that engine bay is dirty!! I have inspected all the things I am capable of inspecting. In fact, I used your car as an example when explaining how neglected 126s can end up costing too much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by afmcorp
it's no skin off the man's nose to let you have a ppi. the fact that he won't has to be the biggest red flag yet. frankly speaking the only thing i've read so far are negatives. there really hasn't be anything positive except items that are "not too bad"

i'd walk and keep looking. unless you are in dire straits for another vehicle there are better vehicles with not much more of an asking price out there to be had.
Maybe I wasn't specific, but he said that I can bring a mechanic over there, but that he has no provision to let me take the car to a mechanic's shop as he has never had anyone make such a demand on any of the cars he has sold. This guy runs a small used car lot that normally sells cars priced under $2,000. He just came across this one at auction and purchased it. It was traded in at a dealership. I'm not desperate for a car at all, I actually have too many. Thank God my insurance is all free or else I wouldn't be able to keep all these cars with full coverage. Believe me, I will think about it before I buy. However I am glad that this situation has allowed me to educate the man on these cars. He is so ignorant about them that he didn't even know the car had a reclining rear seat! He also couldn't believe the prices I was giving him for the repairs of certain things in the car. Comments such as "I didn't know anything in a car can cost that much to fix" kept on coming out of his mouth during our conversations. I know he will end up selling it even if I pass on it. Some moron who wants the prestige of the three pointed star will probably just buy it and then re-sell it after the repairs drive him/her into bankruptcy! HAHAHA
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  #13  
Old 10-08-2004, 01:03 AM
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They really are not to much to fix you just have to know what your getting into, their isn't a 350 Chevy under the hood. If you want a W126 to save and play with it might be a good buy. Mileage can be a good thing it means at least the oil was changed.
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  #14  
Old 10-08-2004, 01:16 AM
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560SEL is a very good car and there are some good looking 560 for sales in ebay. For the year/mileage/condition of the car i think 1500-2000 is ok.
Good luck!
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  #15  
Old 10-08-2004, 09:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hatterasguy
They really are not to much to fix you just have to know what your getting into, their isn't a 350 Chevy under the hood. If you want a W126 to save and play with it might be a good buy. Mileage can be a good thing it means at least the oil was changed.
Yeah, I was beginning to think that, but then again I already have my '84 Euro 500SEL which I am saving and playing with (replaced battery, tranny, blow motor replacement needed, etc). I'll give this some more thought. Thanks.

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