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Old 12-29-2003, 01:38 AM
Posts: n/a
'87 560 Sel

I just looked at an '87 560 SEL that was advertised on Ebay. Click the link to see the ad:

I actually didn't win the bid, but I contacted the guy who did and asked him if he was interested in selling.

He said yes and, coincidentally, was driving out to L.A. with the car. I just looked at it and found it to be impressive, but there are some fairly big things that are wrong with it.

-Aux. Fan does not come on with A/C compressor clutch.
-Center vent on dash does not deliver any air, only side vents and rear passenger vents operate.
-There is a slight tapping sound (like a lifter) on the passenger side that comes and goes
-Two of the front plastic lenses are cracked (side marker and fog lamp)
-Tranny takes up to 3 full seconds to shift into reverse
-Some curb damage on wheels
-left rear window does not work with door switch, only console switch
-Climate control wheel is in Celsius
-Rear seat recline inoperative
-No CD player
-#1 preset button on radio missing
-Oil pressure indicator twitches (stays at BAR 2.5 at idle)

Some good things I noticed were:
-Engine runs very smooth at idle and all the way up to redline
-Tranny seems to shift smoothly and at the proper shift points.
-Braking is very smooth and straight
-Rubber around windows and door sills looks like new
-All leather, including driver's side is a 9 out of 10 with very little wear at all
-Driver's side seat springs feel new and firm
-No body damage
-Engine bay is clean and free of leaks, yet doesn't look freshly pressure-washed.
-Drives nice and feels balanced and happy at 90mph.

As you can see from the ebay ad, the previous owner did sink an awful lot of money into the car. I love Mercedes and don't mind buying the repair CD and digging into the knick nacks that are wrong. Fixing little stuff is sort of like a hobby for me.

-Is the aux fan supposed to come on with the A/C compressor clutch? The OAT was about 50 deg. at the time.
-Is it okay that the tranny takes almost 3 seconds to engage into R? I've read some previous posts, but couldn't find a definitive answer on what this probably means.
-Why is the climate control wheel in degrees Celsius? Does this mean that the car is a Euro-Spec model?

I feel comfortable fixing all of the little stuff, but would love to hear input from anyone who has it. The car shows the following values:

Kelley Blue Book
$3650 trade-in
$5300 private-party

$7425 low retail
$9075 average retail
$10225 high retail

I think the guy who just bought it has a little bit of buyer's remorse. He said he'd take any offers. I told him that if I could get it inspected and could get assurance that the evaporator was okay, I would be willing to give him $5800 for it.

Please tell me if I should walk away, or if this could possibly be a decent deal. Thanks in advance for your time in responding.


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Old 12-29-2003, 01:45 AM
86560SEL's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: east Tennessee (southeast USA)
Posts: 3,015
Hello. Cars may be a little higher out there, but I think $5800 is steep, for a car with unknown engine noise.

I have found a few around here (86-88 560SEL) in the $3500-$5000 range. I am actually considering a 86 560SEL for $3500 that looks as good as the one you car considering, but I am still unsure about the running conditons of it. I missed out on a 122K mile, 86 560SEL in excellent condition for $3900.

I would have that engine noise checked out by a MB mechanic before I would pay $5800 for it. That could be a high $$$ repair.
Otherwise- it looks like a very nice car.

You said KBB private party value is $5300. A good general rule of thumb is to never pay over private party value for a car.

If you like it- offer him $5000 for it.

Good luck.
2004 Toyota Sequoia Limited 4wd
1991 Lincoln Town Car Executive
1991 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1988 Mercedes 300SEL
1972 Chevrolet Caprice Kingswood Estate 9-passenger wagon
1973 Pontiac Grand Ville
(Prior MB's: 1974 240D, 1985 380SE, 1984 190D, 1993 400SEL)
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Old 12-29-2003, 10:35 AM
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Too much $$, esp. in this buyers' market.

If you really want it, offer $3k. Sounds like you're a DIY'er, so it could be an OK car to wrench on.

Shop around some more, as there are many out there. If you really like it, as mentioned before, have a PPI performed. Good luck!
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Old 12-29-2003, 11:53 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: La Quinta, CA
Posts: 271

This car was imported from Germany as stated on the Ebay description. It is a "gray market" car. You better check your California rules about bringing the car into emission compliance for CA licensing. The state is very tough on this. I think you will find that it will be cost prohibitive to bring the car up to code especially considering other repairs that need to be done.
1986 560 SEL (159K miles)
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Old 12-29-2003, 12:00 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Milford, CT
Posts: 19,307
I wounder if it is a true euro. spec. car. The vin should tell you. If it is, it has a euro spec engine under the hood. And no Kalifornia emissions crap. If it looks good offer 3k and go from there. The problems you described don't seem like too big a deal for an older car.
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Old 12-29-2003, 01:21 PM
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Wow. Thanks guys, I really appreciate your help. I have been looking for a 89-91 560 SEL and I'm actually willing to spend a little more for a flawless example of one--from an old lady who only drove it on Sundays).

The thing I liked about the '87 was the price tag on all the work. I forgot to mention that I'm trading down from a '97 E420. This is the link to my Ebay Ad:

I have a deposit and we'll close on it after Christmas. Unfortunately, the check engine light came on, again. I can't wait to see the bill for this one. The previous check engine light cost me $380.00! That included the diagnostic machine, replacing one of my coils, and changing the spark plugs. I am now in the unfortunate situation of having a ready buyer, but I can't deliver the car.

She doesn't want to leave me. She's like a loyal dog to its owner. I love these cars and can't wait to have a 126.

Does anyone on the board know of a cherry car with a perfect paper history, maybe original owner? Thanks so much for your help.

Last edited by EMB145Driver; 12-29-2003 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 12-29-2003, 02:57 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: NW Indiana LaPorte
Posts: 571

well the headlights are us and is the light switch. as for $$ the buyer only spent 4800 i would be discounting from there say 3900 to 4200. just too much wrong. that tapping sound could be a bad ball stud which could have caused damage to the cam. the cam is almost 300 plus everything else now that i think about it maybe 3500 is a better number. likely needs a chain job so you could crack the engine all at once.

good luck
Thanks Much!

1972 350sl Red/Blk 117k
1988 420sel charcoal/Blk 140k
1987 420sel gold/tan 128k
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Pound it to fit then Paint it to match!

There is only First Place and Varying degrees of last!

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Old 12-29-2003, 09:20 PM
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Posts: 305
Take it from me...

Check EVERYTHING you possibly can.. It doesn't take many things wrong to add up to some big bucks just in parts alone..

The tranny thing would make me run like hell...
89 300SEL Money Pit

92 Blown Buick Ultra Pimpmobile 220K and adding 1K per week

88 Wagoneer Slightly modified (Not for soccer moms)

04 Kia Sedona with every option... NICE
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Old 12-30-2003, 01:36 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Miami, FL
Posts: 181
Not Euro

The car is definately not a "Grey Market" the VIN's on Grey Market cars are slightly different, the first number are the model i.e WDB126....... ( I have a Euro).
Looks like a decen't car for a DIY' er, I don't know about the trans taking 3 seconds to shift to R, mine take's long to shift to R but not that long, I'd say half the time.
**A few Hondas etc... etc... Not Worth Mentioning**
83 Euro W126 380 sel Money Pit (Sold)
91 W124 300e 2.6. (Sold) 3.0 Motor is Much better!!
93 BMW E34 Touring Wagon (Sold) Sweet Car!!
91 300e (Just 200k with Ease.)Best car ever ???(Sold)
90 420sel (Black with Tan Interior) Best car ever!!!!!!!
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Old 12-30-2003, 12:02 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: La Quinta, CA
Posts: 271

Why is the climate control wheel in degrees Celsius? Does this mean that the car is a Euro-Spec model?
Doesn't this mean the car was made for Europe.? I'll bet the car does not have the California emission controls. It may not be "gray market" but it won't pass the California smog certification without a lot of expensive modifications.
1986 560 SEL (159K miles)
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Old 12-30-2003, 12:42 PM
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Yeah, I think I'm done with the silver beast. It's good training for me. I needed to learn to walk away.
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Old 12-30-2003, 03:03 PM
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Location: oregon
Posts: 2,013
I have a Euro 500 SE that was broght into CA by an Air Force General ,it has the DOT sticker on the door post.I really like the Euro models and have had no problems getting parts for it from FastLane.I looked on last night for 86 to 88 560 SELs and there were 126(good number) of them from $13.000 to $2.900 ,I use in the any distance mode to get an idea what different models are going for around the country.I bought my 81 SD four years from add on autotrader for $1.650 and has been a great car with a capital G..................

William Rogers........
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Old 12-31-2003, 01:45 AM
Posts: n/a
grey market in California

Reading about this potential grey market MB reminds me how I purchased a BMW recently from someone who brought it into California from Colorado. I tried to register the vehicle and DMV told me I had to get a certificate of compliance from some state agency in Orange County. I called the agency and they said it would take about a month and cost several thousand dollars. Not worth it with this old BMW so I sold it (with full disclosure). So the lesson is be very careful with out of state cars, especially if you intend to register them in California. Vehicle had U.S. VIN, DOT sticker, 5 mph bumpers, Cat converter, passed emissions testing, CHP had confirmed it was a US model, etc. DMV can be a huge hurdle in cases like this.
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Old 12-31-2003, 06:29 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tarzana California
Posts: 111
Re: grey market in California

Originally posted by Matt_Clarke
Reading about this potential grey market MB reminds me how I purchased a BMW recently from someone who brought it into California from Colorado.
I keep reading stories like this, but they're always short on specifics. What year car? How long ago was it imported? Exactly what modifications are involved? How many thousands of dollars?
1982 300SD
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Old 01-01-2004, 01:11 AM
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Mine was a 1981 BMW - but the point is that the vehicle was not imported. It was a US model but DMV did not believe it was a US model. The true facts are irrelevant if you have to fight with DMV, so the risk is having to go through a huge ordeal to register a vehicle. Several thousand dollars means at least 3,000.

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