buying an 80's benz? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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buying an 80's benz?

My Honda Civic needs replacement, and I'm thinking about an older benz. I'm talking about a vehicle with around 100k on it. These have a good reputation for reliability, which is the quality that attracted me to Honda. Just, this time I would like something that was a little less dull.

Could I expect a low cost of ownership with an 80's sedan? ARe there some to avoid? ARe there some that would be more reliable than others? What are some red flags?

I know that's a lot of info to ask for, and my questions are very general. Thanks very much for any advice.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 10:42 AM
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There's no reason to associate "reliablity" with any 20-year-old car, ESPECIALLY Mercedes.

They are pretty nice cars, but it's a significant task to find one that's been maintained properly. For a 20-year-old car, "maintained" means lots more than just oil changes ... it means all the replacements and major repairs are up to date.

A 1980s Mercedes should have had by now ...

new transmission
new HVAC system components
replacement of suspension bushings
replacement of driveline cushions
replacement of several engine electronic components
repair of engine oil leaks, especially head gasket
windshield wiper transmission repair
cruise control repair

These are the things you'll be soon doing if they haven't already been done.

Because the car is old doesn't in any way mean these repairs are cheap.

Kent Christensen
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 11:16 AM
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The w126s are very reliable. Mine was a daily driver for years. There is no low cost of ownership though. Forget about parts, the first time you gas up you will know the difference between your civic and a mercedes of this era.

Mike
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 09:25 PM
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I just bought an '85 300 SL euro version and love it! With the $$ I saved instead of buying a 35-40 K new car, I spent bout 10 on this car and have a decent budget to replace eventual problems like the ones mentioned by Ikchis. Eventually they'll all get done and probably wont get near the 30K a new cheap car costs.
Plus...Driving around in a classic Mercedes is cool !!
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-26-2010, 09:34 PM
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The $2000 I spend this summer on 87 E300dt was probably the best investment of the decade. The car had some suspension parts replaced in last 2 years and new paint about 8 years ago so it looks good.
Less than $100 spend on orings and couple of sensors made it drip free and performing like a new one. Brake pads are really cheap on older models. Sure can put more work on fixing clima elements and sunroof, but I am living it for my son who is driving it.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-28-2010, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it. After discussing it with my mechanic, and looking around and seeing how hard it would be to find a car with proper maintainance within my price range, I decided against it. For now. I'll consider a benz next time I car shop, but this time I found a nice, low-miles lexus that should last a long time, have a relatively low cost to own, and still be a lot more enjoyable to drive than another Civic (the one I'm unloading is my third). Seems like a nice compromise.

Thanks again!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-28-2010, 09:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lkchris View Post
There's no reason to associate "reliablity" with any 20-year-old car, ESPECIALLY Mercedes.

They are pretty nice cars, but it's a significant task to find one that's been maintained properly. For a 20-year-old car, "maintained" means lots more than just oil changes ... it means all the replacements and major repairs are up to date.

A 1980s Mercedes should have had by now ...

new transmission
new HVAC system components
replacement of suspension bushings
replacement of driveline cushions
replacement of several engine electronic components
repair of engine oil leaks, especially head gasket
windshield wiper transmission repair
cruise control repair

These are the things you'll be soon doing if they haven't already been done.

Because the car is old doesn't in any way mean these repairs are cheap.
Well, the suspension bits and motor mounts would require replacement on any car that year. Aside from that, I've owned two 126s (84 300SD with 250K, 91 420SEL with 160k) that have had no transmission problems. Additionally, my parents each own 2 more 126s that haven't required new transmissions. I think that old 4 speed auto is pretty rock solid with proper maintenance.

That being said, because it seems like many things are controlled via a vacuum system, HVAC controls/ flap motors and central locking systems can become a sore point. All it takes is a small leak to cause a problem. With diesels, this can also mean the cars won't stop without using the emergency cutoff switch. The diesels cease by starving the engine of o2, if the vacuum system is faulty, it cannot complete that task..

Finally, the amount of money spent to find a good condition 126 or 124 would almost be just as well spent finding a 97+ 140. Just make sure the evaporator core and wiring harness have already been replaced, and the "lifetime seal" tranny has had actual transmission fluid changes.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-28-2010, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by tc4b View Post
After discussing it with my mechanic, and looking around and seeing how hard it would be to find a car with proper maintainance within my price range, I decided against it. For now.
Ive been trying to find a nice one for months now and Im getting close to the same conclusion. At this point Ive looked at numerous cars and they all have had major issues of some kind. Probably look for a few more weeks, but its starting to feel like a nice one will require a bigger budget than I have now.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2010, 06:16 PM
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I purchased a 1987 560SL with 67,000 miles on it last year that is in excellent condition and very well maintained, they are a quality car how ever any car 20+ years old will need constant repair, It seems like every few months something will go bad and these are very difficult cars to diagnose and repair. Just as long as you understand what to expect you will be happy with it. If it wasn't for the knowledge of people on this forum and my ability to do some work on my own I would have spent a lot of money keeping mine running right, but thats part of the fun and hobby of owning a vintage car.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 08-29-2010, 08:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tc4b View Post
Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it. After discussing it with my mechanic, and looking around and seeing how hard it would be to find a car with proper maintainance within my price range, I decided against it. For now. I'll consider a benz next time I car shop, but this time I found a nice, low-miles lexus that should last a long time, have a relatively low cost to own, and still be a lot more enjoyable to drive than another Civic (the one I'm unloading is my third). Seems like a nice compromise.

Thanks again!
I think you made the right choice. Unless you found a W126 like my old one, where just about everything that could fail due to age was replaced, then they are going to be expensive to keep going. Rubber ages no matter who made it. A newer Lexus is going to be rock solid and cost you little to own.
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