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  #1  
Old 04-06-2017, 06:33 PM
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Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?

Hi everyone. This is my first post to this particular forum, but I was a long-time member to the Porsche forums until I sold my '72 914 when the kids came. Five years have passed, and I'm looking for a new project, and have the full support of my wife.

The other day, it came to my attention that a nearby neighbor had an "old Benz" in her garage, and she was moving. I got in touch, and checked it out; it's a '78 280ce. It was last driven in 2015, passed smog at that time, and I returned today with some jumper cables to see if it would fire up.

Cranked it four times, and the engine came to life. Here's what I know of the car:

It needs a center muffler, it misses on one cylinder when increasing in RPMS, but smoothes out. The automatic goes in to each gear (I was limited to a 30' long driveway), all lights work, the sunroof opens and closes, even the antenna works. A/C blows cold, and there's heat, too. The climate control buttons all seem to do as they are intended. Passenger side windows don't function, but that might be a fuse or some switch/wiring related issue. The trunk won't open.

The car has its original gray paint, a bit faded on the roof and trunk lid, but otherwise looks good. There are three small dings that I could find, and a comprehensive magnet test of the wheel wells, jack points, and rocker panels passed with flying colors. Pulling up the floor mats, everything is clean. There is an oil leak, but considering the car hadn't been moved in nearly two years, I wasn't particularly concerned. It didn't smoke upon start-up or revving.

Now, for the bad: it needs a lot of interior attention. Seats are going to need a full restoration, carpets are iffy in places, wood panels and trim are a bit war-torn (this is a Southern California car and it shows 170k on the clock). The dash cap looks like Iggy Pop's cheeks, and the switchgear is functional but worn.

I'm thinking the car will need some vacuum gremlins worked out, given how brittle the hoses are. It probably needs either an alternator or voltage regulator (the reason it was parked in the first place, I guess).

I've never owned a Mercedes, but have owned many air-cooled VW's and a few Porsches, too. I'm very comfortable under the hood of anything mechanized, so there's nothing overtly frightening about this to me, but... what am I actually getting in to?

I think I can get the car for about $1500.00. My plan would be to tidy it up, get it running smoothly, and enjoy it for a bit, until the next air-cooled opportunity comes along. If I bought for 1500, and redid the interior, addressed the vacuum system and/or F.I. gremlins, tires, etc., would I be underwater upon resale? The car is genuinely solid. I could probably drive it a few miles home, to be honest.

I've attached several photos, if you care to look.

Thanks in advance!
Attached Thumbnails
Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?-screen-shot-2017-04-06-3.27.00-pm.jpg   Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?-screen-shot-2017-04-06-3.27.23-pm.jpg   Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?-screen-shot-2017-04-06-3.27.33-pm.jpg   Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?-screen-shot-2017-04-06-3.27.47-pm.jpg  
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  #2  
Old 04-06-2017, 07:06 PM
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Underwater expense-wise to flip? Yes.

This is an enjoyable car but you're looking at about $3K+ to bring it back to snuff.

Be warned, once you start working on it and driving it the harder you will find letting go of it.

The W123 coupes are fun cruising cars. The mileage on the M110 will depress you, especially with the coupe's heavier body.

I'd guess you can get a quality example of the W123 coupe for about $4K or less.

I do have to admit this is probably my favorite color for the coupe and I'd be all over the car at that price. The ACC is a big drawback for me.
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Last edited by Mike D; 04-07-2017 at 09:53 AM. Reason: added stuff and noticed the car does have a sun roof
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  #3  
Old 04-06-2017, 08:02 PM
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The fact that the AC and heat are fully functional is a big plus. These model year's cars are known for their Daimler/Chrysler AC components that fail. The AC module which is made of plastic often cracks and is rendered non-functional. Replacement aluminum units work good but are expensive. The other option is to eliminate the module completly. There is a kit made by UnWired Tools that does a beautiful job of replacing the module. A little pricey at $700+ but worth it. This is a DIY job.
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Old 04-06-2017, 11:05 PM
TwoDoorDiesel
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BWhitmore View Post
UnWired Tools that does a beautiful job of replacing the module. A little pricey at $700+ but worth it. This is a DIY job.
Looks like it already has that
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  #5  
Old 04-07-2017, 09:29 AM
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welcome, that is a nice find, but as others said , you will not make any money on a flip , and you are looking at a few thousand to get her comfortable and presentable to drive. If you love the car , then its a no brainer, but if its a "perhaps I'll fall in love with the MB line and this car" , then think about it for awhile .
One thing is for certain we love to help on this forum!
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99 E320 THE Queen Mary
62 220b - Dolly - Finally my Finny!
72 450SL, Pearl-SOLD
16 F350 6.7 Diesel -THOR
07 Lexus RX 350 - Lexi
14 38HP John Deere 3038E Tractor -Mean Green
84 300SD, Benjamin -SOLD
71 220 - W115-Libby ( my first love) -SOLD
73 280 - W114 "Organspende" Rest in Peace
81 380 SL - Rest in Peace
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  #6  
Old 04-07-2017, 10:19 AM
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For $1500 I would buy it, put some sheepskins on the seats and just drive it. Fix it as necessary to run but not expect to get my money back. If you like to fool with cars in your spare time, you might have fun.

Just do not spend too much money trying to get it back to 100%. And consider everything you spend as a sunk cost.
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  #7  
Old 04-07-2017, 10:57 AM
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Seller-to-be is moving, so I would think "obo" would apply to that $1,500 price. Car has to go and looks to be of little value to her.

I'd show up with half that amount (in cash) and see if she'll take it. Moving is a major chore and you'd be taking something off her 'must do' list.
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  #8  
Old 04-08-2017, 09:34 PM
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Thanks for your advice, everyone... I've been down the vintage car path (both basket cases and drivers) many times, and can relate to all perspectives shared above. I am looking for a cool cruiser, and have always enjoyed the MB, generally speaking, with the coupe being of particular allure.

I'm going to offer her 1000.00 tomorrow, and see if she bites. I'd like to clean it up, put on new tires, muffler and address the engine tuning, and then take a more measured approach with any non-essential interior work. If I don't love the car, I know I could sell it for at least what I put in to it, before any interior expenditures. If I like it a lot, and want to keep it, I will address the rest and just enjoy it!

Thanks again!
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  #9  
Old 04-09-2017, 01:06 PM
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Check the registration status - if it hasn't been driven for a couple years it may be expired which may mean several hundred in back fees. W123 coupes are nice. Mileage sucks. I doubt you will make money on it. So do it if you think it's a fun project.
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  #10  
Old 04-09-2017, 07:38 PM
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@ScooterABC, it's currently registered, and passed SMOG when last required, in 2015. I made an offer on it tonight for 1k, waiting to hear back...
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  #11  
Old 04-13-2017, 09:07 AM
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Update: got the car for 1000.00, will pick it up next week! My five year old son, Enzo, is delighted to have a project car, too.

I ordered the center muffler it needs, some rolls of vacuum line and fittings, and a new oil pan gasket and fasteners. Also have a new main fuel filter and oxygen sensor coming.

Thanks everyone, for your input. I'm sure I'll 'see' you around! Now to find a thread about synthetic vs regular oil. I'm sure there is one!
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  #12  
Old 04-13-2017, 10:05 AM
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GREAT price, well done
don't put synthetic in her , use regular dino, especially for the first refill and drain, most likely you will change it soon after the first refill. Trust me on that one. Plus at least once a year no matter your miles , you wont recoup the synthetic cost

some say synthetics will cause issues for older engine gaskets , I just avoid it in my ol gals, did not need it then m doubt they need it now

My opinion of course
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Ron
99 E320 THE Queen Mary
62 220b - Dolly - Finally my Finny!
72 450SL, Pearl-SOLD
16 F350 6.7 Diesel -THOR
07 Lexus RX 350 - Lexi
14 38HP John Deere 3038E Tractor -Mean Green
84 300SD, Benjamin -SOLD
71 220 - W115-Libby ( my first love) -SOLD
73 280 - W114 "Organspende" Rest in Peace
81 380 SL - Rest in Peace
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  #13  
Old 04-13-2017, 10:40 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 3,667
My personal preference is Chevron Delo 400 15W40. The Shell Rotella line is also a good choice. Both of these have the added zinc our older engines need.

Here's my M115. I had not adjusted the valves in five or six years and I figured it was time. This is how the valve cover and train looked.
Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?-valve-cover.jpg

Barnfind 1978 280ce. Am I crazy to consider?-valve-train.jpg
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Last edited by Mike D; 04-13-2017 at 07:28 PM.
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  #14  
Old 04-13-2017, 08:31 PM
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'78 280 CE

Ten13:

I have a '78 300 CD (five cylinder non-turbo diesel with 425+K miles) that I have owned since 1986. Obviously, I love this car and have restored during the last 31 years of ownership.

The good:

1) It's a W123 - one of the best built MB's out there. The twin-cam 6 cylinder is definitley in the minority ('78 to '81) as most of the W123's were diesels like mine. The fuel injected model got better mileage than the carbureted W115 coupe of the previous model.

2) It's a coupe! It is the tank like the sedans with some refinement as a coupe. It is definitely worth more than the sedans, but nowhere near the W111 coupes of the '60's/early '70's that are pure works of rolling art!

3) Great handling car that begs for the Euro 5-speed standard transmission.

4) The '78 and '79 coupes were the only models with burled walnut wood (which I prefer). The '80 thru '85 models had zebrano and the subsequent W124 coupes from '86 to '89 had zebrano. After 1990, burled walnut was again placed in the coupes.

5) Parts are readily available for W123's (see below for more)

The bad:

1) It's a coupe - and while W123 parts are available, some of the coupe parts are NOT available even from The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center (go figure!). You will be able to get the replacement seats for the coupe, but the door paneling and rear seat paneling are not available. I had to have mine custom made which is more expensive (I had this performed at Bud's Benz near Atlanta, GA)

2) Like all cars with vacuum line, there will be some gremlins to work out. The one I would advise you to check first is the vacuum lines to the front seats. It is a safety feature that locks the front seat backs in place when the car is in gear with the doors closed. When the car is in park and a door is opened, the seats release vacuum to allow the seat back to be moved forward to allow backseat passengers easy entry/exit. These keep heavy items/people not wearing seat belts from pushing your seat back forward in the event of a crash.
a) If your automatic climate control takes a long time to engage and function, lock the drivers door which will allow quicker vacuum build-up for the servo.
b) I replaced the original plastic Chrysler servo with an aluminum body Servo from George Murphy. It had a lifetime warranty and has been replaced twice in the last 30 years. I am not sure if the warranty is still available. He advertises in The Star Magazine.

Glad to see you were able to obtain the '78 280 CE. You will definitely enjoy it! My favorite time in my coupe is a comfortably warm spring or fall day with the sunroof back and the pillarless windows down for an almost "SL" type, top down experience.

Enjoy!

Jim
'78 300 CD (black with tobacco brown seats; restored with Euro small chrome bumpers, flush Euro headlights with headlight wiper/washers and a manual transmission - the way it was designed to look)
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Old 04-13-2017, 10:08 PM
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Hey Jim - thank you for that! I'm excited about the purchase, as is my son, and that's great advice about the vacuum lines. I did find two disconnected vacuum lines along the sill on the passenger side, under the carpet, with screws plugging them. The seats are beat, and I will likely replace them at some point in the near term. Interesting facts about the car, as well...

Much appreciated!
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