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Old 04-07-2018, 06:05 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
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Fair price for a "garage find" 1960 190D?

Tomorrow, I am going with a friend to check out a 1960 MB 190D (maybe officially called 190Db and I think a w121 chassis). The car has not run in 20 years. The owner claims that it has no rust and no body damage. For now, I will assume that means that the paint and chrome are in good condition though I suspect covered in a fair bit of dust. It has been in a garage in coastal CA for the last two decades.

The engine hasn't run in 20 years and no doubt the car would have a ton of work to get it road worthy. I honestly don't even know if it is a manual or automatic transmission at this point.

I have not seen the car, and unfortunately cannot provide pictures to help provide info about the vehicle.

The owner of the car has health problems, and the last thing I would want to do is take advantage of someone who is ill. They obviously want to sell the car and I wouldn't mind another project, but I am not in the financial position right now to overspend or take a lot of risk on a project such as this.

So I realize that it is hard to estimate a price based on so little information, but this is all I have. Any thoughts?

I have spent the last few hours checking out CL and the prices are all over the map. There is a somewhat similar car in Tuscon for sale right now for $6K which runs, but needs a new clutch. Non running cars of similar vintage range from $750 to $4K. Nice examples are obviously way more than that.

Sorry if this is one of those impossible requests for info. But maybe someone has a pearl of wisdom that will help me manage my own financial risk while not taking advantage of someone else. Thanks.
1968 220D, W115, /8, OM615, Automatic transmission.
1987 300TD, W124, OM603, Automatic transmission.
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:19 PM
JimFreeh's Avatar
Benz addict
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Posts: 3,306
It's a manual transmission.
The first automatic diesel MB was the 200D finback.

If it's a ponton, and It sounds like it is, then they are delightful cars.
The pontons, along with the 190SLs, were my introduction into the world of Mercedes.

Just be aware that this car is going to be painfully slow.

14 E250 BlueTEC black
94 E320 Cabriolet Emerald green
85 300TD 4 spd manual dark blue
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Old 04-07-2018, 07:38 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Bandon, Oregon
Posts: 951
I think the purchase price is almost not an issue compared to the investment to get it on the road. It just depends what it's worth to you. Hope this helps.
Tony H
1971 280SE 3.5 Coupe(soon to be 5.6)
European Version
Manual transmission
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Old 04-07-2018, 08:55 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 4,226
No pictures, no physical inspection = "lawn art". Scrap value=$350.00.

There's always a reason why something "sat in a barn" for 20 years. Easy $4K of work simply to get the engine to snuff.
“Whatever story you're telling, it will be more interesting if, at the end you add, "and then everything burst into flames.”
― Brian P. Cleary, You Oughta Know By Now
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2018
Posts: 45
Check out the guy’s garage: damp equals rust, especially near the beach.
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:44 PM
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Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I will let you know how things go today.
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Old 04-08-2018, 03:39 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
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I went to see the car today. It was in generally OK shape (not good, not terrible). Black paint with red interior. Exterior paint was decent. Chrome had minimal rust spots, but lots of tiny pitting. Door cards had water damage. Seat vinyl (or leather) was very damaged. Floor of trunk was very rusty. Underside of car had very little rust. Broken windshield and one rear taillight. Dead mouse in the engine compartment and lots of evidence of mouse activity. Fire wall and wiper motor area was quite damaged as a result. Heater boxes were already fiberglassed to deal with cardboard damage. Engine was not siezed. No visible rust looking down in oil filler cap or injection pump oil filler cap. I have every faith that with some loving care, the engine would run again.

Seller wanted $3K, but said he would settle on $2500. All in all, that is probably not far off from a fair price for the car. It would take a HUGE amount of work to get it into even daily driver condition, and I am not ready for such a huge project. I guess if it was a steal, someone would have purchased the car already.

Thanks for all of your help.
1968 220D, W115, /8, OM615, Automatic transmission.
1987 300TD, W124, OM603, Automatic transmission.
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Old 04-08-2018, 05:07 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 6,151
I'd bet the cars owner remembers the cars condition from 20 + years ago. I'd call 2,500 still high. Take a look at what a nice driver is selling for then start deducting what it takes to fix this one. I'm betting you will get into negative sale price numbers.
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Old 04-08-2018, 08:26 PM
Home appliance genius
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: cleveland
Posts: 1,154
I always was attracted to the pontons. I always thought a diesel one would be a good fit. Old style car with a somewhat reliable engine.

When it comes to these old cars, you have to have a goal in mind. What is your endgame? If it is to own / drive a vintage car, then save your money and buy one that is done. I would bet that 80%+ or restored cars the owners are waaaaay upside down financially.

If you are buying for the sake of the project, then just try and find one that suits your level of skill. I personally suck at body work so rust is game over for me.

10 E63 AMG
93 300te 4matic
07 BMW X3
14 Ford F-150 Fx2
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Old 04-09-2018, 07:17 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 6,151
If I was going to do one of these cars, I'd look real hard at dispensing with the original ( $$$ to fix ) engine / trans ( and rear end if straight axle ) and install a 4 cylinder from a Chevy S-10 or 4 cyl from a Ford Ranger. A Ranger narrow angle 3.0 V6 might be a viable option as well. All of these mentioned engines can be had with a manual or auto trans.

It is possible to keep costs under control if one is able to engineer / weld / fabricate / carefully source parts.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:11 AM
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: West Paducah, KY
Posts: 31
Very nice project. You are on a good path in that it is not seized. Good Luck.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:11 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Los Angeles (Altadena)
Posts: 1,606
I would look for a better car and pass on this one.
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