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Old 08-21-2003, 07:44 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
Not knowing much about hacking its hard to give an opinion. What I can tell you is that a VIN is the mechanism to begin the identification of parts. In most cases it also links a file called a "data card".

On the data card are all the option codes and pertinant numbers: trans, steering, engine, etc. I am relatively sure there are no engine number lists within the main program. One would need to search the data base of data cards.
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician
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Old 08-21-2003, 08:01 AM
wjm's Avatar
wjm wjm is offline
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Suburban Detroit, MI
Posts: 692
I would call Mercedes Customer Service directly. Try Canada first. They seem to be a bit more helpful at times.
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Old 08-21-2003, 12:06 PM
need2speed's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 1,253
If this guy is a car-curber and selling salvaged/used autos misrepresented as private sales, he may be in violation of local business licensing statutes.

I got taken by a curber when buying my first Porsche (young AND stupid, bad combination). The City had several complaints on file and went after him for operating a business without a license. I went after him in civil court and felt lucky just to get my repair costs back!

Good luck and keep us informed.
Dean Albrecht
"Lead, follow, or better yet, get out of the way!"E500 owners motto
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Old 08-21-2003, 11:03 PM
Posts: n/a
There are federal odometer laws and California has its own odometer laws. I believe the federal law only applies to cars 10 years old or younger. Certainly you have recourse under state law but something like this doesn't warrant lawyers, fees, etc. If I were you, I'd address all the issues you believe were undisclosed and bring a small claims case. You can recover up to $5,000, it's quick and easy. This sounds like enough to address your problems. The only problem is you have to come to LA for the hearing which is probably worth it if you collect the money. Contact me if you want to do this and I'll send you the forms you need.
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Old 08-22-2003, 01:46 AM
Posts: n/a
Got back from LA today


Just to let everybody know, I got back from LA today.
I flew down yesterday and drove the car back.
The mechanic did come through for me and they rebuilt the entire engine and rear suspension without a single charge to me. BTW, what a difference in handling a proper working suspension makes.
( well of cause you may say, but I had never experienced this before)

I have been awful busy at work and I have to catch up on sleep tonight but I will post a full and detailed update this weekend as I really appriciate all the good thoughts and comforting words this thread has offered me (and my wife).

My intent is to take the PO, Benjamin Kim to small claims court as I really do not think he should get away with it. I had him on the phone 2 weeks ago and he point blank said to me, "What do you think you are to me?". The other part is that I paid $13000 in cash, which I think is fair for a 63000 miles original one owner pristine car, and I have had several added expenses with unpaid time off work, additional repairs, flight expenses and lots of headache. Mr Kim needs to be held accountable.

I would like to ask Matt_Clarke for his advise and help in getting the small claims court filing started. My father in law is ready to render his account in court as well. Matt_Clarke, please feel free to email me directly at:
I realize I will have to set time aside to show in person.

For now I will get a good nights sleep as I have a busy day tomorrow.

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Old 08-22-2003, 03:41 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 104

Sad story, but not the first time I hear it. My advice is to let go, never threw good money after bad. The guy is now better known for his behaviour and will have to pay one way or the other anyway.

As it often turns out, you might win in court but the guy canīt pay you anyway since his biz is owned by his wife or some other setup to mess with the law...

Hopefully your car is now fixed and you can start enjoying it instead of spending money and aggravation in court. A-holes remain a-holes...

Enjoy your weekend!
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Old 08-22-2003, 01:16 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Northern Calif. (Fairfield Area)
Posts: 2,225
I'd file a small claims action. There are two important points to remember. First of all you must make a demand for restitution in writing. That will be about the first question the judge will ask you. Secondly if you receive a judgement in your favor, the judgement will show up on his credit report. You may want to bring that to his attention in your demand letter or during a phone conversation. If he fluffs it off you get a writ of execution and you can attach bank accounts, wages,etc. There is a bookstore in Berkeley, Ca. called Nollo Press. The whole store is dedivated to self help legal publications. Their books are usually found in larger city and county libraries. You might want to check it out. Good luck,

Auto Zentral Ltd.
Auto Zentral Ltd.
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Old 08-22-2003, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,508
I'm actually surprised that the shop in LA actually rebuilt the engine and rear suspension for free. He actually stood by his work in a big way.

Can you tell us the name of the shop?
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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Old 08-23-2003, 09:04 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Posts: 71
>>>I'm actually surprised that the shop in LA actually rebuilt the engine and rear suspension for free. He actually stood by his work in a big way.

Can you tell us the name of the shop?

Agreed! I think the LA shop should be also named.

Enjoy the car and hope you can get something from the small claims court.
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Old 08-25-2003, 12:08 AM
Posts: n/a
The update - please read.

So here is the update and more important the full disclosure of people who have been involved in this matter.

First I want to say that I do strongly believe that "what goes around, comes around".

Perhaps not tomorrow but as Tony at MBZ said when taking me to the detail shop to pick up the car, "if you live your life by dishonesty and deceit, there is no way you can live you life to the fullest".

I have gone through the angry and hurt stage and now I just want to have my day in court with Mr Benjamin Kim. I have been approached by Mr Matt Clarke as he has extended his hand to me. For this I am very grateful, Matt and I believe I will have a good chance of recuperating some lost funds, which will allow me to fix the rest of the issues on the car. The engine light came on while driving home and the brakes are trimbling. I believe the rotors are somewhat warped. The radiator light came on as well. I suspect a very small radiator leak.

At this moment I want to extend my deepest gratitude to some great people, who has helped me restore my trusting faith in people.

Before I left for CA, I read postings here saying that the LA mechanic would have no reason to help me.
After the entire engine rebuild and rear suspension has been done with no expense to me, I have no other explanation than that George at MBZ Motors is a very rare business man for whom peoples trust and word ranks higher than the bottom line. I believe George felt taken by the PO just as much as I did. The difference is that George chose to stand by his word and work despite the cost involved.
When I had the car inspected and MBZ Motors prescribed $750 worth of minor repairs, I trusted them completely and paid up. I believe this kind of trust is now coming to my aid.

I thank my lucky star and in order to show gratitude for the great people at MBZ Motors, Winnetka,(818-709-5400)
( George (the owner), Tony and Hilmar, the mechanic who worked on my car and was very helpful and frank when I spoke with him about the repairs done to the car.)
I ask any of you good fellow MB enthusiats in LA to help me in making a difference for George. I realize and so will you if you stop by MBZ motors, that Gorge and his friends are hardly lacking business, but I have little other way to show my gratitude from up here in Seattle than to ask LA members to let George know that his kind of business is very much appriciated.

Good people have to make sure that "what goes around comes around". Especially when honesty and faith is at stake.

This is why I have an even bigger gratitude to extend to my mechanic up here in Seattle. If it wasn't for him I would not have learnt the truth of this car as quick as I did. It took him 20 sec of looking into the engine valve train to question the originality of the engine. He offered to pull the valve covers of for a very nominal labor fee to give me a diagnostic description of the engine condition.
I have used Paul at Centrum Motors, Bellevue (425-454-2680) for the last 4-5 years. He always has a moment for my concerns and questions. I have had 4 MB's now and I will never take my cars to anybody else. I cannot recommend him strong enough. Again I am sure he has enough business but his honesty and skills are highly deserving of Seattle MB members attention.

I realize the length of this posting, but I think it is very important to take time to show gratitude when called for. In this case, at least to me, it is very much called for.

Jari Kristensen.
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Old 08-27-2003, 09:21 PM
Posts: n/a
What's my car worth

I'd like all you knowledgable people to take a moment and tell me what my car would be worth to you. The reason for this is that I am taking Mr Kim to court and I am also wondering how much money I could expect to get for the car now that I am putting money into it.

As you know it's a 560 sel from -89 black on grey leather.
When I have removed 4 door dings and one minor scratch (4 inch long) it's by far the best kept inside out car I have ever seen. The interior is completely free of any cracks in leather and dashboard/wood.

The engine is completely rebuilt. Top is entirely new.
New rear suspension spheres.
New brakes and tires.
New motor mounts.
Cooling system checked out.
Oil level sensor and oil pan and gasket.
P/s hoses + all belts.
Fuel actuactuator.

The only issue is that the engine is not the original and so the miles of currently 67000 means nothing.

What would this car be worth now???

Attached Thumbnails
Buyer beware story - pls read as I need advice-img_0004.jpg  
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Old 08-27-2003, 10:06 PM
ESVIC's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: SF -> Bellevue, WA
Posts: 399

What a nice car. Thanks for the info on a MB mechanic here in WA. I'm still feeling my way around mechanics in the Pacific North West area. We moved from San Francisco area last year and now in the Auburn/Black Diamond area.
Make it a great day!
Jay E.

E55 '00 (Silver)

E500 '94 (Pearl Black) my E500 so much!

Toyota FX-16 GTS '87 (Very Red)
...stored in my garage

Audi 4000CS Quattro '87 (Alpine White)

Mitsubushi Montero '91 (Blue) daily ride
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Old 08-28-2003, 07:52 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Gainesville FL
Posts: 6,844
I once heard of a guy who was taking old 126 body cars and making them back into "new" cars. He was rebuilding the motor, trans, suspension, maybe AC etc. This was a number of years ago and supposedly he was getting 25K for the finished results.

As I thought about the product and how it's price stood up to its value, I came to a number of conclusions. The first was that instantly after such a purchase the car would loose half of its "value". Secondly, the utility value of the purchase could be one of the best deals going with the best "S" car MB ever made starting all over again. Do you think MB would be able to sell a new 560SEL for much less than $50k.

I haven't a clue what your car is worth. I can't imagine paying what you paid, but that is not a legal matter (but what do I know... no lawyer here). It sounds like you now have the car you paid for except for the number thing which means zippo to me. What value is lost to the off chance that one day a numbers right concours car would have special value, is decades away. Those cars will never be number special, atleast not for 30 years.

And BTW, unless you bought the modern equivalent of the 25k car above, you are buying an old car and it will need repairs that are not the sellers problem unless you have some agreement. A 15 year old car with 67k miles is going to have numerous things go wrong if put into daily use. Every rubber seal in the powertrain has had the worse thing happen to it that could happen....nothing. Seals need activity and lubrication to stay subtle. Sitting motionless for great periods does to seals what sitting does to tires.

The cosmetics are what really give value to those cars the mechanicals are infinitely repairable!
Steve Brotherton
Continental Imports
Gainesville FL
Bosch Master, ASE Master, L1
33 years MB technician

Last edited by stevebfl; 08-28-2003 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 08-29-2003, 07:57 PM
Posts: n/a
Thanks steve for the comment

I particular liked to see that you said that numbers means nothing to you and that these cars are all about condition. This means I hope that the 13000 I paid for it is not totally out the window now that all the mechanical repairs has been done.
Latest thing I did was the rotors and brakes all around and what a difference it made for rolling on the highway!!
I totally agree that these 126 bodies are the best MB's for any money. In particular if one finds a well kept one for around 8-10000. They are not to hard on the maintenance and they actually ride very nice even compared to the 140. I would love to have a S600 - 140 but I am not there monetary yet. I am kind of torn between a S600 - 140 or a E55 from 00-02. From a reliability issue which one would not make the 1/2 mill mark given perfect maintenance??
I realize maintenance and running cost are different but that's expected.
I hope to be able to buy some time next year but in the meantime what do I do in terms of deciding???

Jay E. I would love to meet with you sometime to see your two MB's. Which is your favorite, E55 or the 500E, and why??

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Old 08-29-2003, 11:36 PM
Posts: n/a
here is another "buyer beware"

I found this story on another msg board. The fact that the dealer ship fixed the warped wood by putting a machine screw through the wood is amazing to me. The oil consumption would worry the hell out of me. The buyers here should go to the n'th degree to get their money back from the dealer. I know I would....

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