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  #1  
Old 09-05-2003, 04:55 PM
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Exclamation Input-Survey on Types of Mercedes

Hello All.

I hope all is well. Here is something, I keep looking but can't find the collective focused opinion.

I have owned only 2 mercedes, 190D and 98 W210 (e320), however, everytime I bought a mercedes, I love the car, engineering.. and I am totally into the car. when I buy lexus, BMW, It just sits there and I am not into the cars, especially Lexus, ( Boring car) I do like BMW, my second choice.

Anyway, I go thru pain owning mercedes, since it is not as reliable as Toyota and Honda. I also have Honda SUV, and believe me I dont even want to sit in it. I just change oil and let others drive it.

I currently have 98 W210 and I love the car, I have fixed lots of things and fixed things not needing attention such as Crankshaft Balancer. The car runs great.

Now here is my question for the survey, I want to buy old Mercedes, since they go for cheap price, no preference.

This will help me and other potential buyers. 1980 thru 1994

1. Which mercedes do you think is most reliable?
2. Which Mercedes has common problems?
3. Which diesel Mercedes is reliable?
4. What number translates into the USA model.. (eg. W210, 140 etc and what year?)
5. How long the good one's last on average, mileage wise?

I read some mercedes had wiring problems, some are trouble, and some are bullet proof engineering.

ALL COMMENTS ARE GREATLY APPECIATED. I look at some long body style MB and they look so classy, I was thinking buying the long body style, maybe Diesel.

PLEASE give model number such as 300 along with W140, so I can compare the prices on E bay etc..

Thanks again.
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2003, 10:35 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Evansville, Indiana
Posts: 8,150
The all time best car that MB ever made is probably the W126 chassis, known in the US as the 300SD, 300SDL, 350 SDL, 300SE, 380 SE/L, 420 SE/L, 500 SE/L, and 560 SE/L. I'm not sure which variants were available in both long and short bodies, if any. Some may be the long version in some production years and not others.

All are VERY long lived, and can easily see 300,000 miles without much beyond routine maintenance, remembering that MB are HIGH maintenance cars, unlike Honda, Toyota, etc.

The run-forever champion is probably the 300 SD with the 617 turbodiesel. These can run 500,000 without more than a valve job or two. All the rest have aluminum engine parts with higher failure rates. However, I have a 300D with nearly 200,000 miles on it without major engine work (may have a new head though). My brother has an 86 300SDL getting close to 200,000 without any work at all beyond regular maintenance.

For the gas engines, the 300 will be kinda slow, but gets better milage (20-22mpg). The 380 and 420 V8's are known for timing chain failures -- the best value in used MBs is probably a 420 SEL with a new chain the owner wants to dump. The 500 and 560 are bulletproof and fast, but hungry -- can get as low as 12 mpg if you do lots of stop and go driving.

The W124 chassis is nice, don't know all the numbers over the years, but hte 87 300D is a rocket by diesel standards, and the later 300D 2.5L is nice, too. 300E models are common, and can usually be restored to new condition if you want to part with the cash.

The W123 chassis is nice, but finding a rust free one is getting difficult. (80-85 300D, 240D, 280, 300CD, 280C -- I think).

Peter
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1972 220D ?? miles
1988 300E 200,012
1987 300D Turbo killed 9/25/07, 275,000 miles
1985 Volvo 740 GLE Turobodiesel 218,000
1972 280 SE 4.5 165, 000 - It runs!
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  #3  
Old 09-05-2003, 11:09 PM
fahrgewehr2's Avatar
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Location: Wilmington, NC
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Where do you live? Climate plays a role in the decision when purchasing an older Mercedes. Also, is it a daily driver?

Mike
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'90 300SE 298k
-300K and it gets put into retirement.
'80 300D 255k Purchased new by family in 1980.

Had a:
1973 220 (gas)
1980 300SD
1992 400E
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  #4  
Old 09-05-2003, 11:31 PM
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I am here in southwest..Arizona..

By the way what year 300SD is known for problems or Which year is reliable?

What is the difference between 300SD and 300SDL?

Thanks
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  #5  
Old 09-05-2003, 11:35 PM
fahrgewehr2's Avatar
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Merc -

Spend at LEAST 4 hours in archives and then respond.

That said - go for a 116 300sd. 450sel if you dont care about you gas bill.

Mike
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'90 300SE 298k
-300K and it gets put into retirement.
'80 300D 255k Purchased new by family in 1980.

Had a:
1973 220 (gas)
1980 300SD
1992 400E
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  #6  
Old 09-05-2003, 11:40 PM
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Posts: 2,218
5.5 inch length in the rear door, and more legroom in the backseat.

I used to drive a euro spec W126 280SEL. Then I got a 300SD. I fell in love with it, but I sold it later because of rust. Now I have a 300SDL, and a 350SD. The latter I would not recommend because of failure rates in engines. I bought my 350SD with a new updated engine already installed.

I also acquired a 300SE, which is a lot like my euro spec 280SEL was. A real screamer, and a 3.46 rear-axle to boot.
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1987 300SDL (324000)

1986 Porsche 951 (944 Turbo) (166000)

1978 Porsche 924 (99000)

1996 Nissan Pathfinder R50 (201000)
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  #7  
Old 09-06-2003, 08:56 AM
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 766
Merc1, I'll reinforce the comment above: There's enough on this topic in the archives of this site to fill at least one book. Spend a few hours (seriously!) and you'll get a lot more than could possibly appear in just one thread.
That said, two insights, both from old posts: 1)A senior engineer at DB was once asked that question, and said the 108 with metal suspension, hands down. That's the 250/280SE/SEL from the latter 60's and earlier 70's, also available in the early 70's with the 4.5-liter V8 (a remarkably bulletproof engine as long as the timing chain service is kept up).
2)Frank Barrett's book, Illustrated Buyer's Guide to Mercedes-Benz. His conclusion is the 124 300E. His words are, approximately, "This is the best buy in a used Mercedes. Period."
Which brings up a point I'd make to you and anyone else wanting to learn more about these great cars: Not only does this site have enough material to fill a few books--there are actually a number of excellent books out there. Spend a few bucks and educate yourself with them. $100 can build you a nice little MB library, and save you many times more than that. Barrett, cited above, is an excellent place to start.
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Craig Bethune

'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition

'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)


SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)
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  #8  
Old 09-06-2003, 11:54 AM
fahrgewehr2's Avatar
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Location: Wilmington, NC
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Please dont buy barrett's book! As a buyers guide that book is an utter failure - mistakes galore and some models are barely mentioned. At one point Barrett states that 450sel's dont rust....model years are confused and he writes off the 116 300sd in a rather rude way. This clown better keep his day job.

I realize that rant doesn't help you in your search, so here is a search method I would use: search all the forums at the same time, while searching titles only, and start with threads which had the most replies. This should make things go a little quicker.

Tell us what you find. Mike
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'90 300SE 298k
-300K and it gets put into retirement.
'80 300D 255k Purchased new by family in 1980.

Had a:
1973 220 (gas)
1980 300SD
1992 400E
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  #9  
Old 09-06-2003, 03:15 PM
Wes Bender's Avatar
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Location: Alpine, AZ / Green Valley, AZ
Posts: 733
Site Search?

Guys, your advice to do a site search is good, except for one thing. He is going to be overwhelmed by the amount of information that he will find. I know, it's all there, but four hours won't even begin to sort it all out.

IMHO, the W123 and W124 platforms were good. It might be easier to determine which models to stay away from rather than try to pick a "guaranteed" winner, however.

Merc1, my experience with various cars (and this is sure to stir the pot!) is that each new BMW, MB, Ford, etc. that I bought was worse than the preceeding one. With one exception: Toyota. They kept getting better. Having said that, I found that my best solution was to find a car that suited me and stay with it. That's not to say that someone else would feel the same about the cars I own. Everyone has different needs and different likes and dislikes. Find a car that you think might be good for you and then have a reliable mechanic look it over and give you an opinion on condition.

I don't know your exact location, but if you are near Tucson, Marty Hernandez at Dieselmaster knows MBs inside and out and could give you a good report on a potential buy. I spend the summer in Alpine and winter near Green Valley and other than myself, Marty is the only one who can put a wrench on my MBs.

Good luck with your searches (both this site and for the car).

Cheers,
Wes
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  #10  
Old 09-06-2003, 03:34 PM
fahrgewehr2's Avatar
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Location: Wilmington, NC
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That is a good point Wes.

Here is my list of MB all-stars:

'78-'80 300SD - Faster than the 126 300SDs and miles of style. EXCELLENT handling in my opinion - a real road car. Since you live in Arizona, rust is not an issue, which is the only real issue other than the climate control.

'77-'79 450SEL - Gas hog, but if that doesn't matter to you it's a nice choice. What I will drive when i live in a climate with no snow.

81-84 (126 300SD) - Not as fast or fun as the first generation SD's, but a true economy luxury hybrid. more modern than 116 chassis.

Manual 240D - a true cult classic and for a reason.

'82-'85 300D - same chassis as 240, but with more power and a mandatory automatic transmission.

'89 - '90 300SE(L), 420SEL, 560SEL. '91's have no swith to control the power antenna and that irks me. I am picky.

'91- '93 300D 2.5 - 35mpg.


This is my list of winners. Mike
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'90 300SE 298k
-300K and it gets put into retirement.
'80 300D 255k Purchased new by family in 1980.

Had a:
1973 220 (gas)
1980 300SD
1992 400E
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  #11  
Old 09-06-2003, 03:44 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 77
Since I own 2 of them I've got to say the 95 E320 is a great car.

And if you're careful you can find them with all the bad stuff done (harness & leaks) low mileage, and inexpensive for what you get...between $10 & 15K depending upon condition and miles.

Allan
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  #12  
Old 09-06-2003, 04:05 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 766
FWIW, of the references I've read there are none that didn't have a few errors I eventually found as I learned more. John Olson of SL Market Letter fame is certainly one of the serious SL gurus, but even his book has a few internal inconsistencies here and there. As a physician, I'm accustomed to evaluating anything I read critically, and expecting that no single source will be totally comprehensive, totally accurate, or totally unbiased. That said, any of the authors I've found certainly know more than I do, and I still would suggest building a small MB library as a way to educate oneself on these cars.
One of the great physicians of all time, Sir William Osler, addressing a graduating class of physicians: "Gentlemen, I regret to have to tell you that one half of what we have taught you is in error. Furthermore, we cannot tell you which half it is."
__________________
Craig Bethune

'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition

'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)


SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)

Last edited by cbdo; 09-06-2003 at 05:19 PM.
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  #13  
Old 09-06-2003, 04:40 PM
BlackE55
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Ditto on what Peter wrote.

For once we agree on something --- it always comes down to the arguements about particular fuel or oil additives.
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  #14  
Old 09-07-2003, 12:54 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 60
Thanks all,

By the way Mike, I did search the archives. But I didnt know what to look for, after I got some guidance, I did search for those models.

Mike, how come you didnt mention 1985 300SD?

Wes, I am in Phoenix.

I already own a 1998 MB E320, I like it, but I just wanted a 2nd car, just to put miles on, and see how many miles I can put on it.

I have put on 8000 miles, in 2 months on this car.

Anyway, I want to learn about these cars and group of people here are well informed.

KEEP THE OPINIONS COMING.

Last edited by Merc1; 09-07-2003 at 01:07 AM.
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  #15  
Old 09-07-2003, 01:06 AM
mb4ever
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My all time hit list.

Hi all,

Interesting topic as I agree that the most fun is to find used deals on older MB's. The interesting question is which ones?

I have owned the following cars:
-92 300ce.
-96 s500.
-86 300sdl.
-89 560sel.

I believe the best (cheapest) deal overall is the 300sdl from -86/87. They are extremely reliable, cheap to drive and luxurios. Very comfortable drive and the 126 chassis is both safe and handles as well as most modern cars.

If a diesel doesn't suit you but you still seek cheap reliable transportation, it is very hard to beat the 300e from 91/92.
They have the very reliable straight 6 (-93 got the new 24valve head, which I believe tends to have leaking head gaskets) with 177 hp. It is quite modern chassis and is quite agile as well.

If you are ready to trade some reliability with speed but still want the old school MB's I believe a e320 coupe from -93/-94 is a very good buy. The model is quite underrated and can be very good bargains. Of cause the 4 doors counterpart are quite agile as well. A used 400e can be very surprising to most people.

If you really want performance but still want to be thrifty with repairs I believe that either the E500 or a SL500 from the -92 to -94 are great cars, but they still demand good money.

A great alternative are the 560's from -86 to -91. They may not be as fast but they are great rides and do feel quite powerful when they get rolling. I just got a 560sel from -89 and the drive is a thrill. Ofcause you pay at the gas pump but I believe in terms of comfort/speed/reliability/depreciation, these top of the line 126 bodies are quite hard to beat. Whether the 560 sec's are future collectables I am not sure?

The prime collectables are the 500E and the E320 cabriolet.
And ofcause don't forget the 560sl, which holds their value incredible well.

Jari
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