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  #1  
Old 06-27-2003, 08:14 PM
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Question Advice for newbie/potential 111 coupe buyer

Greetings, all.

I've been visiting this forum for the last week or two and been really impressed by everyone's knowledge, interest, and all-around good humor. I'm hoping for a little advice re. a car I'm thinking of buying locally (Dallas TX). Please bear with me--this would be a first hobby car for me, and while I like to think I'm a fairly sharp guy, I've never been more than a casual mechanic. But I'm hoping for some good will and wisdom from those who know old MB's and can tell me what to consider for this model and for a car of this age.

It's a '67 250 SE coupe, automatic, with 115k, offered through a dealer on consignment. Asking price is $10,900. Here's what I know so far, having driven it a couple times and looked at it under a lift:

Two owners, first in Germany, then Southern CA and TX. Body seems very good; minimal rust (none through) in lower bottom sides of trunk, otherwise straight; excellent chrome. The rubber on exhaust hangers, suspension bushings (so far as I could tell) was fairly rotted. Repainted once some years ago with some care. Interior is original--worn, dry leather but with only a few cracks, probably renewable; dry, shrunken carpets; wood peeling but nearly all veneer intact; very good headliner; lousy rear shelf; original Becker Mexico, working but problematic tuner knob; good glass; tired sunroof motor; rubber okay. A/C works, but not too cold--kind of important for North Texas. Needs new tires and battery; possibly alternater.

Exhaust looks solid from manifold back. Engine puts out a little black smoke on starting but starts quickly. Seems to drive pretty well; oil pressure stays up; temperature stays stable. Shifts properly (so far as I can tell), with rpm roughly where it should be acc. to road speed (judging from the data I've found on SIlverstar Restoration's pages for the 111). Some leakage from transmission. A decided thunk from rear end (diff?) about one second before coming to a stop. Records with car state a valve adjustment a couple years ago and work on fuel lines (whatever that means) at same time. Also, as I recall, motor mounts. Last time I drove it, after about 30 minutes around town and on highway, I turned it off and went inside. Then a guy there (not a mechanic but helper) tried to restart a minute later; it took a couple minutes to catch (he said; i'd been inside). But aside from me, I don't think anyone's been driving it much the last year or two, for what that's worth.

The dealer has it on consignment and seems perfectly honest but doesn't know a great deal about it; I gather he's had it there for a while. I talked to the mechanic at the shop that's serviced it for the last few years, and she seemed very knowledgable about 60's MBs but hadn't seen it in a while and couldn't tell me a great deal. Ideally I'd like to take it to someone independent, but she seems quite trustworthy and on her game (does a lot of restoration work)--kept telling me, "It needs to be driven"--and on Tuesday she's going to go over it for a couple hours with me, doing a compression test, among other things.

For that I'm paying her, of course--which is only fair. If I buy the car, I'll have some confidence in what I'm getting into; if I don't, I figure it's a good way to learn more. I'm in love with the 111 coupes, and have been for years; I'm suspicious of eBay and not buying something I've seen myself; and except for being an automatic, it's what I've been looking for--nice blue-green/ cognac. So far as I can judge, it's a reasonable price for a 67 SE in this condition, so maybe worth taking advantage of, since I don't live in CA or somewhere these are more common.

While I can't afford a 111 fully restored, I'm not looking for a pristine car but something that's a good driver and in decent shape, allowing for a certain patina of age. Longer term, I can imagine replacing carpets, possibly the leather, and redoing the wood.

So, any thoughts about (A) what mechanicals to look at carefully and have the mechanic check, (B) a reasonable price for such a car, and (C)what a novice collector should think about more generally? In a city like Dallas that is choking with new MBs, BMWs, etc., I really like the idea of giving life to something old that I won't see everywhere around me.

Be careful what you tell me, or you might hear from me on here a lot in the future....

THanks in advance for any thoughts.

Rick
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  #2  
Old 06-27-2003, 09:28 PM
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I dunno.. if you ask me it sounds like alot for the condition you describe.

From http://www.vmrintl.com

1967 MERCEDES-BENZ 250SE 6cyl 2496cc (170hp SAE) AT

#5 #4 #3 #2 #1
4dr Sedan $825 2250 3875 6100 8025
Cabriolet $4525 12750 20700 31000 38975
Coupe $1800 4200 8175 16550 22500

Add:
4spd manual trans 7%
Sunroof 5%

From your description it sounds like it's :



#4 Fair: runs and drives OK but needs work throughout the vehicle. Body shows signs of wear or previous restoration work. Any rust should be minimal and not in any structural areas. Cosmetics, body, and mechanics all need work to some degree.

and therefore only worth about $4.2k tops IMO and frankly I dunno if you'd want to pay that much for it unless you are going to sink another $6k into restoring it.

So if you are willing to pay that much I think you could find a car that is in much better running and cosmetic condition.

be careful ;-)
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  #3  
Old 06-28-2003, 12:11 AM
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Ditto. Sounds like a decent car, worth maybe $4K if the mechanic's checkout is OK The dealer is asking cabrio prices for a coupe.

The money in the market for these cars goes to the cabrios.
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'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #4  
Old 06-28-2003, 07:30 PM
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Rick,

Here's a really awesome looking 250SE Coupe for $6500..

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=6329&item=2421397992
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  #5  
Old 06-29-2003, 02:58 PM
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thanks for the advice. i'd looked at the price guides and been thinking of this more in the 3 range, but that's probably optimistic. i'm thinking that it's not worth buying unless the owner is willing to come down quite a lot.

i am going to go ahead and have it checked out, if only to become more educated on these models. so aside from pricing advice, i'm still curious about what systems, parts, functions to examine carefully with the mechanic.

any thoughts, for example, on the thunk from the rear end when coming to a stop? would this be differential? i suppose smoke indicates possibly worn rings.

again, thanks.
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  #6  
Old 06-29-2003, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RickInTex
thanks for the advice. i'd looked at the price guides and been thinking of this more in the 3 range, but that's probably optimistic. i'm thinking that it's not worth buying unless the owner is willing to come down quite a lot.

i am going to go ahead and have it checked out, if only to become more educated on these models. so aside from pricing advice, i'm still curious about what systems, parts, functions to examine carefully with the mechanic.

any thoughts, for example, on the thunk from the rear end when coming to a stop? would this be differential? i suppose smoke indicates possibly worn rings.

again, thanks.
The smoke duirng startup is probably a worn valve seal which isn't surprising for a car with 115k on it. Would cost around $150-$300 to get done but the engine topend could probably use a rebuild if you plan to drive it alot..and that will be in the range of $1500-$3000.

So have a compresion test done to see what state the engine is in. Have the camshaft inspected for wear.

Sounds like most of the rubber on this car needs to be replaced. The thunking could simply be worn mounts. You would want to replace all the subframe mounts, differential mounts, drive shaft mounts etc.

Have it checked out if you want to learn more but personally I wouldn't even bother to haggle with the seller.. he is trying to get one over on you. Even if he came down in price this car is a money pit waiting to happen. I'm confident you could get a better car for less... just shop around. If he wanted to sell it for a couple of thousand that would be worth the risk but I doubt he's going to go that low on a consignment.


So things to check for is allways rust.. a car can have a few spots of it but if it has eaten through anything , especially anything structural then it's really badnews.

Engine health, compression check, visual inspection of camshaft
Blue smoke is an oil leak, smoke during a startup is usually valve seals, you might also want to check the dwell as that can indicate other engine health issues. Is the cam on the distributor worn?

White smoke is a blown head gasket

Shocks, if the car has Bilsteins installed and they are in good health you should beable to push the frontend down and it will slowly rise back into place. If the car bounces a few times the shocks are worn out.

Subframe mounts.. If they have black drips coming from them they are cooked and need to replaced.

Enginemounts will be split and have gaps between the rubber and the metal mount in the center if they are worn

Wheels, if you can wobble the wheel top to bottom then the bearings are worn.

Steering, is there play in the steering, are the rubber seals on the balljoints burst

Rear axil : are the axil boots burst?

Does the exhaust system have holes in it? It probably needs to be replaced anyway.. which can cost around $500-$700 for a stainless sytem from timevalve.com

Are the windows seals intact, or the doors seals cracked?

I can't think of anything else..
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Old 06-29-2003, 04:37 PM
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many thanks, gmask, for your time and thoughts. i now have a lot of specifics and feel like i can go in with my eyes open.

rick
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Old 06-29-2003, 07:17 PM
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Black smoke on startup is probably the injection system over-enrichening at start-up. The hard starting when warm could be vapor lock or a leaky injection system allowing pressure loss as the car sits. The clunk could also be a worn differential mount.

No matter what the final price, you need to be sure that you have a trustworthy and EXPERIENCED W111/113 mechanic available before you buy this car. Otherwise you will get eaten alive. You could fix everything wrong with the car and maybe increase its value by $500.
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'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #9  
Old 06-30-2003, 12:40 AM
Gregg Bambo Jr
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Smoke on start up

From personal experience I would like to add another possibility of excessive smoke on start, warm up and idle. My 220 SEb was purchased at a deep discount because the owner thought he had a bad engine due to the excessive smoke and a bad transmission, as it kept needing transmission fluid. What it was, was a bad transmission vacuum modulator diaphram, with a replacement cost of $25. The leaking diaphram was allowing engine intake vacuum to suck transmission fluid out of the transmission and into the intake manifold! Walla! The result? A pool of transmission flluid in the air filter cannister and intake manifold. A huge volume of smoke on start up and high vacuum conditions as the transmission fluid is combined with fuel for combustion. Of course this may not be your situation.
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  #10  
Old 07-01-2003, 11:21 AM
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I checked out Ebay for some interesting W111 coupes and found -

1965 220SE coupe advertised as "non-smoker, drive it anywhere" Euro model with manual shift and 'bubble' headlamps, Incorrect 'bundt cake' wheels and crappy '70s type seats. Sold at $5,049.
(Seems to be in somewhat similar condition to the above-mentioned 250SE.)

1971 280SE 3.5 coupe advertised as "a real gem", allegedly in perfect condition.
Bidding is up to $5,100 with 1 day left and reserve not met. 'Buy it now' for $28,500!
(Didn't someone here comment about "asking Cabrio prices for a Coupe"?)

Happy Motoring, Mark
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Old 07-01-2003, 09:44 PM
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Mark et al., thanks for the advice and suggestions. I saw that '65 too, and boy what ugly seats. Wheels didn't help either. The other is a beauty, but out of my range I feel sure.

I spent time with two mechanics going over the 250 SE auto. I've been considering in Ft Worth. Both seemed pretty knowledgable about these; together probably 60 years' experience, so I feel like I got good advice. Here's what I was told.

Compression even at 110 in all cylinders--this is good, I was told. Recent plugs, dist. cap and rotor without anything worrisome on them. The problem with restarting I encountered the other day was put down to the kid at the dealer, who (they guessed) incorrectly pressed the accelerator; they said these FI engines can be temperamental that way. Did not seem concerned by minor oil leakage around fitting on valve cover because the "breather tube" is designed to breath--ergo, oil. Brake lines have been replaced recently, as well as motor mounts and subframe mounts. Exhaust is shiny and pretty new from muffler on back; rusty surface but solid in front. The "bump" I felt from the rear when coming to a stop, I was told, is normal for automatic transmissions of that era, which (they both said separately) shifted much more roughly than those of today. Front and rear window seals pretty new; windshield so good it's probably been replaced; door and side window seals not so hot. No sign of wheel bearing problems. Shifts properly; engine speed is what it should be. When I drove it earlier, I noticed the idle speed was very high (2200), which made me wonder if roughness was being disguised; when lowered to 800 today, it felt fine.

Body has virtually no rust except about two sq. inches at bottom lip behind left rear wheel, and thinness in bottom panel in the trunk well just behind. The trunk lid doesn't quite line up on one inner corner, but there was no evidence of welding or other body work (can these be adjusted?). Sunroof motor in trunk (as I learned what that gizmo was) is very tired; end of manual "key" is broken off in slot by someone trying to crank it back by hand. Old michelin tires (XZX 185 HR 14). Brakes well, feels quite solid over bumps--better than my 96 Jetta, for that matter.

I feel fairly confident that mechanically this is a solid car, and with a very good body considering what it might be, courtesy of Texas and Calif climates. I can't afford a nice restored version, and I am really, really reluctant to buy off eBay, sight unseen. So, I'm inferring, basically, an original in good driving shape with cosmetic issues: with a good polish and wax, it'd be a beauty on the outside, and the interior could be probably be improved a good bit with leatherique, some new horsehair for the driver seat, and a new carpet set. (Wood is another matter--it's all pretty much there, but needs refinishing.)

So.... I'm feeling like my sense of the car before now has been confirmed, leaving it somewhere in the nebulous area of 3 ($8175) to 4 ($4200) on the condition guide. I dunno. $10,900 asking price is clearly too high and I won't pay that. But I'm willing to pay some sort of premium for a car that's in my area, since I'm unwilling to spring for an eBay mystery at an attractive price, and these don't appear everyday in DFW. So the question is how much of a premium I'm willing to pay--not a question, I realize, that anyone else can answer for me. But, in calculating an offer, how much to factor on for some comparatively minor things that DO need fixing:

1. both mirrors--new glass on interior, but driver's side is broken and on verge of falling off.
2. a/c works only on low speed--not good enough for TX summer.
3. rear shelf is a disaster from sun, some adjacent cracking in top of back seats.
4. needs new tires: 1 is obviously unsafe; others are so old i wouldn't want to keep them long.
5. turn signals don't self-cancel.
6. sunroof motor barely working.

I'd welcome any thoughts on how much to calculate for these things, negotiation tactics, my reading of condition above, etc. Again, thank you all for your input, and don't hesitate to tell me if you think I'm off base.

Rick
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Old 07-01-2003, 09:53 PM
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>>I'd welcome any thoughts on how much to calculate for these things, negotiation tactics, my reading of condition above, etc. Again, thank you all for your input, and don't hesitate to tell me if you think I'm off base.


Well it certainly sounds alot better than when you first described.. I just wanted err and the pesimistic side of things.

I have bought a car off ebay but I was able to check it out in person.. I know that a few people from here I think have had other shopforum users inspect cars for them if it was in their area.

I'd say that the biggest concern for you and this car will be getting that AC running good again and that alone could cost a couple thousand but it may be impossible or really expensive to buy one where it works well. If you can talk them down to 6-8 it sounds alot more reasonable.

I owul duse the projected cost of fixing any of these problems as deductions to the asking price and explain that the interior cosmetic condition grades it as being a 3 etc...
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:12 PM
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thanks for the quick response, gmask. that's kind of the direction i was thinking--basically, starting around a "4" price and deducting for the items i listed.

in case anyone's interested in eye candy, you can see the car at:

http://www.dfwmetrousedcars.com/european.asp

hope this link works; once there, scroll almost to bottom.
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Old 07-01-2003, 10:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RickInTex
thanks for the quick response, gmask. that's kind of the direction i was thinking--basically, starting around a "4" price and deducting for the items i listed.

in case anyone's interested in eye candy, you can see the car at:

http://www.dfwmetrousedcars.com/european.asp

hope this link works; once there, scroll almost to bottom.
It looks pretty good from the picture.. definately a 3 or higher from outward appearances..
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Old 07-01-2003, 11:40 PM
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The inspection is about as good as you can hope for, and you are right about it being local. You can afford to pay a bit more because you don't have to haul it or drive it home. I think it is a 3- or 4+ car and I would go in with a $4k offer and not feel too badly about settling at $5K or maybe a little more.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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