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  #1  
Old 01-09-2002, 05:08 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Seattle Area
Posts: 373
VIN help

I'm hoping some of you have seen this before. A particular '95 E420 I'm looking at purchasing has a strange VIN.

WDB1240345C109985

Right numer of characters, but this vin has fewer letters than normal (numbers in positions that contain letters in other MB's of the same vintage I've looked at). Funnier still, when running a Consumer Reports auto history report I get 'invalid vin' when entered. CARFAX finds this vin, but gives no details on the car itself (make, model, config. etc), just emissions, salvage, title, etc. Is this a red flag, and I should walk away?

The owner read the VIN number from both the windhshield and the registration so I'm pretty sure its right. Just want to make sure there's no scam out there I haven't heard of.

Regards,
- Ryan
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'95 E420 - 'Shadowfax' 138kmi.
'92 Volvo 740Turbo Bard 193kmi
'74 240D - 'Ol' Green' 4spd Manual 104kmi. (sold )
'77 300D - 'Red' 223kmi (sold)
'75 240D - 'Bianca the Blue Bomber' (sold)

Last edited by dieseldude; 01-09-2002 at 06:33 PM.
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  #2  
Old 01-09-2002, 06:07 PM
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I would use caution. Is it a grey market import? I have a 1980 280se euro edition. I am happy with the car, but you should be aware of the issues of no North American MB support, after all they may not have brought in the car. Funny thing was when I ran a Car Fax on the car it popped up as a 2000 car. Don't I wish. If it is not Grey Market I would contact a Dealer for assistance.
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  #3  
Old 01-09-2002, 06:42 PM
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ALL US version (gasoline) W124 chassis numbers start WDBEA. If that number is correct then I would think it's a EURO car or stolen recovery.
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  #4  
Old 01-10-2002, 12:05 PM
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Thanks guys! I'll try calling MBUSA and see what they can tell me. I had wondered if it was something like a grey-market import - but not on a '95 right?

MBDOC, Do you mean the car was perhaps stolen from another country and purchased/re-titled here?

- Ryan
__________________
'95 E420 - 'Shadowfax' 138kmi.
'92 Volvo 740Turbo Bard 193kmi
'74 240D - 'Ol' Green' 4spd Manual 104kmi. (sold )
'77 300D - 'Red' 223kmi (sold)
'75 240D - 'Bianca the Blue Bomber' (sold)
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  #5  
Old 01-10-2002, 07:08 PM
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Stolen recovery cars AREN'T supposed to use the OE vin. THAT number can be whatever number the state that issues the recovery title wants, could even be 123456789!
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MERCEDES Benz Master Guild Technician (6 TIMES)
ASE Master Technician
Mercedes Benz Star Technician (2 times)
44 years foreign automotive repair
27 Years M.B. Shop foreman (dealer)
MB technical information Specialist (15 years)
190E 2.3 16V ITS SCCA race car (sold)
1986 190E 2.3 16V 2.5 (sold)
Retired Moderator
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  #6  
Old 01-10-2002, 07:51 PM
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Aha!

thanks for the clarification Doc!

I got a hold of Bill Ussery Motors in Coral Gables, FL (MB-dealer nearest the owner) where they discovered that the car had been serviced there, but their records showed a 'S' in place of the first '5' in the number I had.

One of the gentlemen I spoke to said it looked like a German VIN (whatever that means). So were some (non-500E/E500) V8 W124's assembled in Mexico, and issued different vins based on location to be shipped? Seems strange to have a Benz shipped unassembled to Mexico only to be shipped back assembled to Germany for a customer!

Any other thoughts?

Incidently, changing the '5' to a 'S' didn't help anything in the carfax department (No records found). This is strange!

Many thanks,
- Ryan
__________________
'95 E420 - 'Shadowfax' 138kmi.
'92 Volvo 740Turbo Bard 193kmi
'74 240D - 'Ol' Green' 4spd Manual 104kmi. (sold )
'77 300D - 'Red' 223kmi (sold)
'75 240D - 'Bianca the Blue Bomber' (sold)

Last edited by dieseldude; 01-10-2002 at 07:57 PM.
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  #7  
Old 01-11-2002, 02:47 PM
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Ryan,

It sounds like the car was not originally destined for US delivery. Do European delivery cars of that vintage have US VINs (my 81 SD was a Euro delivery and it has a US format VIN)? Do Canadian MBs use the US VIN format?

I'm trying to think of US only items that you can verify by phone.

Is the VIN on a tag on the driver's windshield pillar? Does it have a decal on the driver's sun visor (or wherever a US W124 has it) with the toll free number for MB roadside assistance? Does it have 'unleaded fuel only' tags in the gauge cluster and by the fuel filler? Does the tire pressure decal on the fuel filler door indicate that it's a US spec car?

Sixto
91 300SE
81 300SD
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