Is an older Benz a good "investment"? - Page 3 - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #21 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2012, 02:59 PM
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Is an older Benz a good "investment"?

Hard to say. As others have said here, it depends on the model.
I have a W210 E50 AMG that I've owned for a year now. I use it as a daily driver in the summer months, and it has been absolutely bullet proof. Not a single item requiring maintenance.
I also have an E31 BMW, which is slightly older, but has been a complete disaster. The parts I have replaced stretches to several pages now, from control arms to intake gaskets, to O2 sensors to... and it still doesn't idle smoothly.
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post #22 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2012, 04:53 PM
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wow !!, sounds like everybody is drinking the extra strong coffee today
joining the therapy of this thread, I too am inveterate older MB fan, especially diesels
As my 30 yr daily driver, 82 300CD, was recently totaled by a drunk rear ender
I too had to decide wether to replace it or not
arguably, the 300 series diesels are among the best engineered vehicles MB ever designed, to this day.
especially the "federal" 81' to 85's with turbo, ( not the Calif 85' )
I personally think the CD's are also the most timeless visually
so like several of you,
I found a rust free example that needed significant mechanical work
after 4 months of dedication, not only do I have again a car that can go to Jupiter & back
I even converted the auto trans to 4 speed manual
( as one might properly expect to pair with a diesel )
several times I was on the verge of giving up, and yes, it costs more than you ever plan
but now that everything except the final cosmetics are done
it is sheer pleasure to drive
( except in heavy traffic, then it's like rowing a Greyhound bus )
so is it worth it ?
absolutely, anything worth doing is worth over doing
so for about the same final price as something you can drive off a dealers lot
you end up with a vehicle that with maintenance, lasts 3 to 4 times longer easily
and is much more survivable in case some SOB plows into you
good luck

and from the never expected to hear something like this here category:
"at least the repo men won't be able to swing a dead cat at the Benz!"
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post #23 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2012, 05:00 PM
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There are a lot of ways to look at an old car. I had an MG (1980 B model) as a third car. It cost $5000, but it was clean. I had the car for 12 years and put another $6000 into the car. The second number is the total of insurance ($123 per year antique), repairs, tires, everything. I sold the car for $1000 last year, so the total cost of ownership for the dependable runner was $833 per year. You cannot get much cheaper than that for any kind of car (drove about 4-5000 miles per year.

I thought about totally restoring the car with me doing a lot of work would have been $15-17,000, and the car in the end would have been worth $6-8000. This is nonsense. So, I put my thinking cap on, and said, this is what I want in a car (I am 67). A convertible, air-conditioning, and an auto transmission. One day I stumbled on a 1983 Mercedes 240D online (I had a 300D, which was my second of many Mercedes. The 240 had a sunroof, auto trans and a broken A/C compressor, and was being sold by this guy in Miami. I overpaid, perhaps, but I drove to Chicago at 55 MPH with its totally shot front end, and trans slipping when taking off. So, I sold a 2000 Grand Marquis to Carmax for $3000 plus a $1000 for the MG, and came out of pocket another $800 or so, and set out for Chicago on a prayer.

I have put another $3000 into the car for a totally new front end, less springs plus me doing a ton of work on the car. New front tires, new brake master cylinder and reservoir, cleaned the fuel tank and lines, new rear callipers, and much more. My thinking at this point is this. My insurance is $125 (again antique) per year, plus I am getting twice the mileage of the Marquis, for a total savings per year (over the Marquis) for fuel and insurance of about $1,400. I have a list of parts I need to finish the job (another $1000), and will use the savings to pay for them over the next two years. I want to drive the car in case of any disasters, so I am taking my time. I have $8,000 in the car including hundreds in tools, and am still not a ton different than the MG at this point. I am getting about 29 MPG driving around town, and not much more on the road. This second number will improve with timing and new injectors. I should also state that my insurance company is insuring the car for an agreed amount of $11,000 for both comprehensive and collision. If it happened, I would profit $3,000, but it would be a very sad day.

There are a lot of these cars out in California, and some in Florida. If you do it, only buy cars with no rust, and you should be happy for a long time. I took a little chance with mine, as I never had the compression checked before the purchase, although it starts instantly and little particulates to be seen in the daytime. I now know that the compression is good, as I tried to turn it over at the power steering bolt when doing the valve adjustment. Wouldn't budge, and I won't try that again. You want to check the compression because the engine is the only big number if there is a problem.

My second Benz was a 300D. I bought it new, had it a few years, and my room mate, a Bmw employee talked me into a 525i. Like you it was a major mistake. A 300D gets about 5-6 MPG less than the 240D around town, but does the same or better out on the road. The 300D is also considerably quieter on the road if you plan on a lot of 45 plus miles per hour travel. Whatever you do, do not buy a gas model. Many were really junk. After my first Diesel Mercedes, a purchase, I only leased Mercedes diesels after that. I would also stay away from the turbo models, as that is one more thing to go wrong.

One other thing. Do not restore a car that needs body work, paint and interior work, even if it is rare, unless you restore every detail and spend a lot of money.

I absolutely love my car, and I plan to have my ashes slipped into the car before my wife sells it.

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post #24 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2012, 05:20 PM
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A Passion for Old MB.
I have 4, 1974 107-350SLC Auto, 1981 107-280SL 5 Speed Manual, a 1984 126-280SE 4 Speed Manual and a 1992 129-300SL. A find the 3 earlier cars not much of a problem to maitain and a real joy to drive the ones with manual transmission. The later car, the 129-300SL has more electrical gadgets than the other 3 put together, a nightmare. Many a time when the question is asked of what MB to collect, Pagoda roof comes up most times. With their value ever climbing, to get one these days will set you back a lot of bucks to get a "reasonable" example. The 107 in any of its variants are still cheap, except the rarer of the species, the 5 speed manual transmission.
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post #25 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-20-2012, 10:54 PM
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Whilst I can't compete with some of you guys in numbers of Mercs I do have a few different cars, apart from my modern a Subaru Outback H6, which I've had from new and is now 11 years old, all my other cars are 1990 and older.
The big thing with the older cars is I can do just about everything myself, no black boxes which mysteriously go phut without any warning but cost a fortune to replace, the only type of things I'll attempt on the Subaru are likes of brakes suspension exhaust, after 11 years I still don't know where the spark plugs are, I know there's 6 of them down there somewhere but the garage seems to know where they are so that's that one sorted. In long term ownership I have to say the Subaru has been quite economical, major expense being fuel and insurance but if anything major goes now it will be a hard decision which way to go as it's now virtually worthless in the market place even though it still looks good and goes as quick as it did when new.
Any way enough of that we're supposed to be talking older cars, 2 of mine are on the road just now, a 1980 380SL(that's 1981 to you guys stateside) and a 1970 Triumph TR6, both of which give me lots of enjoyment.
The Merc had been restored bodily before I got it so looks really smart, but I think previous owners had skipped a lot of servicing so a bit of fettling was required to get it back to health, also there were a lot of annoying niggles to sort out like central locking where the hoses were left disconnected in the doors, I wondered what the hissing noise was when I was driving, and did nothing for the vacuum either!!
The TR6 is a rolling restoration so is slowly starting to look better and run better as I do a bit more, most parts for both cars are readily available and on the whole not too expensive, but the big thing is I can do everything myself so I'm not paying out a fortune in labour costs. Mercedes' Classic parts scheme is a godsend and very often the best price and genuine Mercedes quality.
My other cars by the way a 1973 E Type, a 1990 Golf GTi and a E36 BMW 318iS in various stages of restoration although the Golf just needs a new MOT and tax to be back on the road.
So all in all if you can find a good solid example of your dream car at the right price go for it, drive it, fix it and most importantly enjoy it.
Finally, don't rush out and buy the first one you see, look at as many as you can and if you don't think it's the one don't be afraid to walk away the right one is out there and when you find it you'll know.
All the very best to you all
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post #26 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 02:29 AM
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There are good an there are bad 300D (w124) around there. I'm form europe and i can say there are here very rusty cars but also 'brand new' cars.

They very rusty car has done 120K miles and the 'brand new' car has done 340K Miles on it!. It's all about maintenance. The 300D enigine is an very reliable enigine.

I have had a w210 with a 300TD engine with almost 600K Miles on it. (Foreign Taxi). But also here maintenance is a thing you need to do. Use only original or quality replacement parts). NO CHINA. What kind of car are you looking for? There are some nice once's over here it all depends how much do you want to pay for them.
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post #27 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 08:38 AM
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I just sold a 123 (240D) which I had driven for 24 years, bringing it back as my primary car in 2009 after finishing an 11 year consulting job which had me driving a pair of Lincolns a LOT of miles during that time. My '81 240D (you can probably find photos back in April on the "for sale" forum here - its white) generated a lot of interest, and it looked and ran like about an average 4-5 y/o car, in other words, not perfect but nearly so. Everything worked as new, the original clutch still had travel left at 288,000 miles, and it was the easist car to work on I ever owned. But I've still got a '62 220SEb/Coupe, and some other cars which I plan to keep forever, and replaced the 123 with a new Jetta TDI that's not in the same league in some ways, but WAY ahead of the 240D in others. The W111 coupe is a money/time pit on a cost per mile basis since it became a 400 mi per yr garage resident, what with a/c, brake conversion to new type hubs etc. keep the F.I. clean and so on, but I've had it for 30 years and it gets great attention whenever I drive it (black laquer paint from '70 - awful from 4 ft away, wonderful from a distance). If I were just starting to buy Mercedes, the 240D I sold would be the first thing I'd buy - a well-cared for, needs nothing, great looking example that won't ever be rare and valuable classic, but will hold value and, best of all, inspire you to keep on following your desire to care for wonderful cars.

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post #28 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 12:16 PM
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It can go a couple of ways; If you are looking for a hobby car, and almost look forward to having something to fix, an old M-B is perfect, easy to work on with relatively affordable parts.
As to running an old car as a daily driver, it will almost always be cheaper than running a new car, especially when it comes to depreciation and payments, BUT you have to have a plan B for the times it breaks and can't get you to work. There is no hope if you are going to resent the car when it breaks, because you know it's going to - it's an old car and they do that.
My personal preference are the 107s, 126s, 123s and 124s. They are mechanically straightforward with good parts supply. I would stop short of the W140s, they are not as bad as their reputation, but not as good as the earlier cars.

The most important tip I can offer is to find a car who's previous owner could afford it. Second, like cats or dogs, the right one will find you, don't go looking to hard with a "must buy" objective.
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post #29 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 02:02 PM
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post #30 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 02:24 PM
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Buy an older MB as an investment? Not unless you were buying something like a low mile (<50k) 1970-1971 280SE convertible/coupe or a 1971 280SL.

I've been lucky with my W123. I have a turbo model nicknamed "Otto" which I drive winters in the metro Phoenix area. Originally a southern California car, Otto has no rust. That said, he had over 423,000 mi on an odometer that didn't work. However, the engine passed a compression test and the various stickers on the car showed it was owned by an Air Force aviation maintenance person.

I paid $300 for Otto at a junkyard. He was within a couple of days of going to The Crusher. I've sunk easily ten times his purchase price into him. He has an entire new front suspension, motor mounts, speedo cable, p/s pump, tires, brake calipers, brake discs and many more parts I can't even think of right now. The A/C system has been rebuilt with all new parts, except for a rebuilt R4 compressor. I use the more efficient "Freeze 12" instead of converting to R-134 (or whatever the hell that new stuff is). Currently, he is spending the summer at the Phx MB dealer, the underhood vacuum lines are being sorted out (many were inter-spliced) and replaced.

Safety? Otto is a tank. In the early 90s, I had a 300D which my girlfriend drove. I loved the car because I could fuel it with off-road diesel which I used in my heavy equipment. Changing the oil was a snap because I had my own repair facility. She absolutely hated the car until she was broad-sided by a pickup truck.

Cosmetically, Otto is a 20/20 car. He looks great from 20 feet away or doing 20 mph. His radio knobs work when they feel like it. The upholstery and door seals need replacing. The rear window rubber seal is cracked and split all the way around the glass. I recently bought replacement sun visors.

I'm retired. I have no car payments. Otto isn't the fastest car I've ever owned. But going around metro Phoenix, he's fast enough. I change his oil and filters every 3500 miles religiously. Every mechanic who looks at Otto says he could go a million miles.

I didn't buy Otto as an investment. I bought him to drive. I repair/replace items as I have the money; next to be replaced is a leaky/worn steering gearbox. However, every time I turn the key, he starts right up. As well as he runs, I may never have to buy another car again.

Last edited by FearlessLdr; 06-21-2012 at 02:52 PM.
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