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  #1  
Old 12-28-2002, 11:06 AM
JRJ JRJ is offline
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E Class Cabriolet Purchase advice

I am concidering selling my 82 380 SL and getting a four seat drop-top. The 93-95 300E/E320 cabriolets are my first choice versus a 96-current BMW 3 series conv. What are the special areas of concern in the W124 cabriolets? Any advice or personal experiences would be appreciated. Thanks.

JRJ
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82 380SL euro (sold)
93 400E (sold)
99 BMW 328IC (Wife)
2001 GMC Yukon XL
2001 Honda Accord (son #1)
2005 Mazda 6 (son #2)
2006 Honda civic (daughter)
"Always too many cars in the driveway"
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  #2  
Old 12-28-2002, 02:00 PM
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As with any other W124, you have to be sure that the engine wiring harness problem has been solved on your future A124 (Cabriolet version of the W124 series).

Also, be sure to check the A/C and have a professional inspect it for possible evaporator failure.

Check that ALL power accessories work as they should, including the power top. It should operate quick, effortlessly and quietly.

If possible, check for water filtration, the canvas top around the window seals tend to leak under heavy rain.

Some 94/95 had major auto transmission problems. Be sure to drive the car and check for jerky operation or unsually hard upshifts.

The A124 is irrationally expensive in the U.S. Resale values for a 1995 usually wonder around the $45k neighborhood for very high mileage cars. In Germany, an inmaculate 95/96 E320 Cabrio will sell for $20,000.00+/- Another advantage is that you can also buy an E220 or an E200 4-cylinder cabrio (for much less money).

In terms of motoring pleasure, the A124 has no equal. The SL seats to low and is only a 2-seater. The CLK cabrio is cheap looking and too small. Forget about the BMW 3-series, it's just a toy for kids.

A low mileage, well-maintained A124 should make you very happy for many years to come.
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  #3  
Old 12-28-2002, 03:29 PM
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Some of my comments agree and disagree with A. Rosich.

I would look out for only two real areas of concern:

1. The engine wiring harness. They are bad on all 1993 - 1995 300E / E320's.

2. The head gasket - the early head gaskets leak oil at the right rear corner of the head gasket.

I have seen / heard / read of very, very few problems with the automatic transmissions. The transmission with problems was the transmission on the 1997 E320.

Evaporators failures are fairly rare on the late model W124's. The failure rate was common on the early 300E's, i.e. 1989 and earlier.

In southern California, I look at the ads daily, and 1993-1995 300E / E320 convertibles go for between $25k and $35k.

They are also ranked by Frank Barrett in his Illustrated Buyer's Guide to Mercedes Benz as a four star vehicle. There are only 2-3 cars that have 5 stars for collectibility in Mercedes' history, and only about 10 cars in the history of Mercedes Benz that were awarded 4 stars. And in the modern era, only the 500E / E500 and these convertibles were given 4 stars.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
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1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #4  
Old 12-29-2002, 07:59 PM
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I base my comments on the following facts:

1/ The evaporator on my 1995 E320T (last year of production) failed before the car was one year old and with only 6,000 kms. on the odometer. The M.B. dealer tech rep. commented that evaporator failure was common among all W124s as it also was on W140s. The evap in both series suffer from the same design problem.

2/ The 5-speed auto transmission on a E320 Cabriolet from someone I know failed at only 1,500 kms. (that is less than 1,000 miles). Again, the service rep. commented on a serious design fault built into 1993/4/5 5-speed auto transmissions installed to W124s. As it appears, if the transmission is going to fail, it will fail early in its life cycle.
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  #5  
Old 12-29-2002, 09:45 PM
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I sure am sorry that your evaporator went out so soon, but I honestly believe that evaporator failures are much more rare on the later W124's, so i'll just agree to disagree with you .

On the five speed transmission - are you talking about a manual or an automatic?

In the U.S., the 5 speed automatic transmission wasn't released until 1997 in the W210 chassis, and that is the one with the problems in the early models.
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2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #6  
Old 12-29-2002, 10:42 PM
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I have an infatuation with my car. In one year of ownership, I have had to replace the water pump for $700, rather an expensive water pump, but not that bad in the big picture of a 7-8 year old MB. The PO had had my wiring harness replaced under warranty. I have no oil seepage anywhere, including the right rear. I understand this is a problem on many of the 124s.

My car is solid as a rock. No squeaks or rattles after 71,000 miles. The value of this car compared to any other $30,000 new car on the market is immense. My Porsche buddy and I test drove the new E500 at Mercedes "e-motion" event. His comment was that the new car just did not feel as solid as mine. This is comparing a sedan with a fixed roof to a convertible! These cars will be a collector item some day. I'm keeping mine. If you can find one well maintained and relatively low miles, it will be worth over $30k. Don't be wary of the grinch.
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  #7  
Old 12-29-2002, 11:38 PM
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Great comments. In my opinion, they already are a collector item.

I'd pay $35K (if I had the money) for the right car with low mileage, perfect shape, and a Starmark Warranty.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #8  
Old 12-30-2002, 06:20 AM
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The transmission I am referring as having a tendency for early failure is the automatic 5-speed, which was available as an extra cost option in most markets, except the U.S.

This transmission was also available to the sedan and the wagon but ONLY on 6-cyl. gasoline engines (4-cyl. and all diesels only could be ordered with the 4-speed automatic as an extra cost option, -the 6-cyl. version could be ordered with either-).

The 5-speed automatic felt much quicker than the 4-speed automatic since it always started from standstill in first gear instead of second.

As I understand, the 5-speed manual transmission did not give any major problems, beside its long throw between gears and the heavy clutch the owners have to live with.
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  #9  
Old 12-30-2002, 11:49 AM
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RJR-

If you are looking at this model from a collector's standpoint then I would recommend the '93 model year. This is the rarest of the three years as there were a limited number manufactured before the style change in '94. Depending upon the source of data you find, there were only between 258 and 699 of the '93 models brought into the US. Of course, this makes it more difficult to locate one, particularly in exceptional condition. It is possible... we searched for 1 and 1/2 years using the Internet (Autotrader.com, MBUSA.com, Cars.com, etc.) and dealer contacts and actually made trips to 5 different states to look at the '93's that were for sale. Fortunately for you, our searching revealed that the best source for these cars seems to be the southern half of Florida and the time of year with the most available seem to be January and February.

I would agree that it is important to have the head gasket, AC system, and water pump checked during your pre-purchase inspection. In addition, I would suggest you watch how the power roof opens and closes. If the roof isn't adjusted properly there will be excessive wear marks, even possible cuts, in the canvas. Don't just assume that because of Starmark you will find a great car. The warranty doesn't apply to the condition of the body and interior. In fact, some of the worst dealership cars we saw in terms of body and interior wear were Starmarked.

The low $30's should get you a nice car that is truely solid and will give you many years of enjoyment and pleasure.

MB FRAU
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  #10  
Old 12-30-2002, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by A. Rosich
The transmission I am referring as having a tendency for early failure is the automatic 5-speed, which was available as an extra cost option in most markets, except the U.S.

This transmission was also available to the sedan and the wagon but ONLY on 6-cyl. gasoline engines (4-cyl. and all diesels only could be ordered with the 4-speed automatic as an extra cost option, -the 6-cyl. version could be ordered with either-).

The 5-speed automatic felt much quicker than the 4-speed automatic since it always started from standstill in first gear instead of second.

As I understand, the 5-speed manual transmission did not give any major problems, beside its long throw between gears and the heavy clutch the owners have to live with.
Thanks for the good information. I didn't know that the 5-speed automatic was available before 1997 in non-U.S. markets. I'm sure the 5-speed auto is definitely quicker than the 4-speed due to closer spacing of the gears.

Just a note - All 4 speed automatics after 1990 in the U.S. came with first gear start.
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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  #11  
Old 12-30-2002, 02:51 PM
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FWIW, here's a link to the Mercedes Benz USA website which gives info on the 1993-1995 300E / E320 Cabriolets:

http://www.mbusa.com/brand/container.jsp?/overview/overview_engine.jsp?spec=1&subNav=overview&yearModelCode=88_CE300CAB&class=88_E&rnav=024568&menu=2_1
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Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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