Which to choose? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-27-2007, 10:05 PM Thread Starter
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Date registered: Aug 2005
Vehicle: '94 E320 Coupe W124 (RIP) - '75 280S W116 - '11 Honda Accord Coupe V6 6-Spd (DD)
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Which to choose?

Fellow BenzWorldians.

I need your help.

The time may have come to nearly get the first Benz ever in our immediate family.

My mom and I are going to share the car because she has managed to wrack up about 35k miles on her current Infiniti FX35 (fantastic car) on a 12k mile a year lease!!! Long story short, it was the only way to be able to get that car at about $495 a month, very much near her 03 TL Type-S @ $475 vs paying $550+ a month for it.

Anyway, some of you know I am dead set on getting a W126. But reality soon got to me and I was finding myself looking at the less complicated, but just as much of Mercedes-Benz quality W124, more particularly the W124.5s.

So here's the predicament.

I haven't been lucky enough to find a decent V8 W124 E420 94-95 (I wish I had the money for an E500 hehehe). But I just recently found a 94 E320 Coupe blk/blk with 75k on the odo. Carfax suggests no more than two owners, but it has a clean and consistent history. It has the full Merc maintenence book filled to the brim up to 75k, in which it needs its 75k maintenance appointment. We drove it, and mechanically, it was fresh. No major malady to report (no idiot lights other than a burned out taillight, no decreasing oil pressure, no squeaks, no rattles nada). But just to be safe, we will be having the car inspected by a Merc specialist, highly recommended by a very very good and loyal family friend (one example already. We found a grey 1991 560SEL, made an offer and he agreed. But prior to committing, we took it to the mechanic. He found alot of things dealing with a leak somewhere, to the rear suspension needing attention, to spotting a non-OEM air intake. He was MADDD thorough and was very very good, just like our friend said he was. Moving on).

The only bad things about the E320 were that the paint on the sunroof will need to be stripped and be repainted. It's horribly cracked. It may also need a new motor and some lubrication because it runs a little sluggish. However, that's not too bad. Interior-wise, some of the wood is cracked, but not too bad. Everything else though was great. No rips, cracks in the dash, no lights out, nothing.

Another problem was that the seal for the rear window was compromised. A small bit of white could be seen near the bottom corners of the window. If I remember correctly, those windows are double pane for the purpose of the rear defroster and has a vacuum between the two panes. If the vacuum is not compromised, it won't be huge. But if it is, I know that will possibly exceed the $1k mark, which is a reason for him to bring down the price.

There is also a small bit of clear coat pealing on the driver side, but easily repairable.

Other than that, everything checked out fantastic. Hopefully he will bring the price down for that rear window. He said (used dealer) will fix the paint on the door and sunroof, the burned out tail light, and he'll detail it. He's also cool with the mechanic. So far so good though. Price discussion hasn't finalized yet. The car was also originally a FL car, but spent most of its life in NY. It was inspected yearly, abiding with NY laws and was serviced continuously at Ray Catena Merc, which is a highly reputable dealer where I live.

The other option is a 1986 420SEL with only 50,100 friggin miles on the odo. This car is PRISTINE. No words can describe the condition of the car. EVerything worked, minus the need for new wiper blades and headlight adjustment as they were a bit dim. Ad said it was serviced by a Mercedes Authorized tech. BUt we'll have that checked out ourselves obviously by our mechanic just in case. No malady to report.

BOth are asking in the high $9k range. And prior to final decision, we will have the cars inspected by the mechanic, and will pull up service records from Merc, hopefully assuming that the 420 was serviced at Merc, just like the E320.

Anyway, Need your advice guys. Which one is better? I really want a V8 Merc, and an E420 would be nice, but they're rare and hard to find! I would like a 560 but I don't want anything complicated to deal with in the future. I know Mercs are relatively complicated vehicles, but the 560 just makes it worse hehe.

Is there anything I should know about? I've done my research and I'm well informed about the W126, but not so much with the W124. I know the early W124 had headgasket problems on the M103 versions and the W124.5s had some wiring harness issues. But other than that, I'm short on info.

I also read somewhere that the early W126.5 V8s were best between 1988-1991. And general rule with first year cars, 1986 being the first year for the W126.5s, that they are usually the most prone to manufacture faults due to the first release of the car (and that can be proven with the first gen E65 BM 7-series!). But does it really affect this 1986 420?

All suggestions are welcome. We are also conscious about fuel mileage, so my mom's leaning toward the E320. But I've always wanted a V8 W126, and I just recently fell in love with the E320. HELP! lol

Thanks guys.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-28-2007, 01:31 AM
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Date registered: Nov 2006
Vehicle: Oo == oO 98 E320
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Both sound really nice! Perhaps the mechanics inspection will rule one of them out, thus simplifying your decision. The S class is nice...but big! The E320 should feel a bit more modern in design.

'87 300E: sold after 11years @ 230k & still on the road somewhere in rural Tennessee.

'94 C220 with 93k totalled 10/06 by hit & run broadsiding monster truck: not a scratch or bruise for me
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-28-2007, 06:09 AM
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Date registered: Jul 2004
Vehicle: 2005 E320 CDI, 1995 E300D, 2002 Avalanche
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I am sort of 124 biased, but keep in mind you are comparing a 21 year old car to a 13 year old car. Low mileage older cars that sit for long periods of time tend to have dry rot and moisture issues. I knew someone who bought an older Benz with mad low mileage. Mint condition and all original. He drove the car home and when he parked it every gasket and rubber o-ring was leaking.

The 124 is a durable well engineered vehicle. 94 was end of run, so all of the issues had been corrected over the years. Good mileage, safe and easy maintenance. I vote for the 124.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 01-28-2007, 06:40 AM
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Date registered: Oct 2005
Vehicle: 1966 250SE Cab, 1989 500SEL euro
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They'll all have age-related issues, but the w124 will have the fewest because it's newest. The 560 will eat gas, the 420 will drink it, and the 320 will sip it. How often do you plan to drive it?

My vote is for the w124 too, but why does that car have paint issues? That would be of primary concern to me because a 75k mile car shouldn't have paint isssues - are you sure it's not just oxidation and impurities that can be polished off? If the answer is yes, then definitely get the w124.

- Brian

1989 500SEL ECE
1966 Mercedes 250SE Cabriolet
1958 BMW Isetta 600
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