1979 450 Sel - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-04-2006, 04:37 PM Thread Starter
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1979 450 Sel

I am considering buying a 450 SEL I saw on ebay. The owner believes that it is not a 6.9 liter. It appears to be in excellent shape and all work seems to have been done in the car.

Any recommendations for a first time MB buyer? Is this generally a good car?

Many Thanks
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-04-2006, 09:39 PM
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Greetings, Cruger------------

Welcome to the MB fold! The 450 SEL is not a particularly valuable car these days, and excellent cars can be had for modest prices. I saw one on eBay today---less than 1 day on the auction, and no bids at $800 starting bid.

With the 450 SEL, be prepared for high fuel consumption. These were early emissions days, and the 450 (US-spec) was a low-compression engine which consumed lots of fuel. Maintenance needs also may be high. The key to affordable ownership of one of these old cars is (1) buy a pristine, low-mileage example, (2) find an honest, low-priced independent repair shop, and (3) perform lots of the maintenance and repair yourself-----and preferably all three.

Look at cars with the Euro bumpers, and compare these to the US bumpers. Find out which you prefer. Speaking for myself, I greatly prefer the Euro car. An eBay Euro-bumper example with the 4.5-liter engine (VIN starts 116.033):

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Merce...12729985QQrdZ1

A US-spec bumper example with 6.9 liter engine (VIN starts with 116.036 instead of 033 for the 4.5-liter engine):

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Merce...11898269QQrdZ1

There also are 450SE (short wheelbase cars) as well. They were imported as USA models in 1973 and possibly 1-2 years after that; all later 450SE cars are Euro-spec. These are supposed to be the best-handling and most sporty of the 116 cars.

Still another consideration is a 350SE. The 350 was a short-stroke, high-compression, high-revving variant using the same 450 engine block, found in Euro-spec cars only, with about the same horsepower as the USA-spec 450 engine. The 350SE is rarely seen in the US as it was a "Gray Market" car only.

So there you have it.....drive 2 or 3 cars or more, if you can, as they will have distinct personalities. Some cars feel "old" while others seem much newer, transmissions shift very differently, etc. Be bold, and demanding, when it comes to price. If you buy a nice car, even for a modest price, you can still expect to spend thousands more on it, over several years of ownership. My first two Mercedes (280SEL 4.5 and 300SEL 4.5) did just that, yet I'm still a Mercedes enthusiast, 20+ years later.

Best of luck to you------

Jim Rothrock
Windermere, Florida
1970 300 SEL 6.3
1979 450 SLC 5.0
1990 560SEC Euro Conversion
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 06:08 AM Thread Starter
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Right On The Money!

Jim:

Thank you so much for your detailed email. You actually found the car that I am interested in:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Merce...12729985QQrdZ1

(Its the Blue 450 SEL pictured in the grass and currently listed at $800 with a Buy-It-Now of $3,800.)

The owner says that nothing in particular has been done to the car other than regular and proactive maintenance.

I definately prefer the Euro bumper to the US bumper. I think that this blue car is stunning! I am somewhat surprised that there are no bids on this car.

If you were bidding on this car, what would be your higest price?

Are there any other questions that you would ask in relation to the performance of this car? The owner has said:
I have done nothing to the car other than routine tune ups etc. The previous owner had some minimal rust removed and repainted. I just drove the car 150 miles from NYC to my home, with ac blasting and cruising at 75 mph. It loves the highway...but also loves premium gas! i hope this helps. There is nothing that needs to be done to the car right now for it to run smoothly
I am prepared to spend dollars on premium gas and a good mechanic (any good resources?) in exchange for the privilege of owning this gorgeous car!

It sounds like this car has really been well maintained and the pictures of the interior are flawless. I have never bought a car on ebay and am nervous about bidding on a 'lemon'. Before I bid, I think I will do a VIN check and search on the car.

Very kind regards,

Cruger Fowler
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 06:56 AM
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I don't know why you'd want to buy a quarter-million mile basket case. If you really want a W116, why not get the nicest one you can possibly afford?

For example, how does this one grab you?

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Merce...QQcmdZViewItem

Felicita e un bicchiere di vino con un panino.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 08:47 AM Thread Starter
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interesting.....

This is a nice option that you have presented although I am not a huge fan of a red car.

But I am curious. Besides the mileage, what makes you think that the blue 450 is a basket case? How is the red 6.9 a better value? Is it the condition of the engine? The power? The 6.9 liter? What makes th e red car worth the $9,500 asking?

Personally - I did not want to spend anywhere near $10k. Of course I realize that what I don't pay up front I will likely pay in service maintenance during my ownership. I felt that for the money it seems like a pretty decent car for a new Benz owner.

I appreciate you candor. Perhaps you could educate me a bit more as to your logic. As I said, I am ignorant when it comes to a classic Benz.

Regards,
Cruger
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrugerFowler
This is a nice option that you have presented although I am not a huge fan of a red car.

But I am curious. Besides the mileage, what makes you think that the blue 450 is a basket case? How is the red 6.9 a better value? Is it the condition of the engine? The power? The 6.9 liter? What makes th e red car worth the $9,500 asking?
Well, you never really know until you see the car, but the odds of a Euro car with those kinds of miles being a good vehicle are pretty remote. Many Euro cars came here after they could no longer pass TUV in Germany and probably had a couple of owners before they ever came here. So, what we have with that blue car is high miles, murky at best history and many question marks with regards to condition.

The red car, on the other hand, is a US model, seems to have a good history and, at least in pictures, looks like it's in pretty mint condition.

If it is as reprsented, $9,500 is not a bad price. I have always maintained that, when it comes to classics, it's always better to pay upfront for a nicer car than to have something that will nickel-and-dime you to death.


P. S. What's up with the flaps?

Felicita e un bicchiere di vino con un panino.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 09:32 AM
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Cruger, the point that Flyboyike makes is valid----pay more for a low-mileage car and you'll likely experience fewer headaches down the road. By the way, this particular 6.9 still could be problematic, and at the asking price, looks like it may be overpriced.

I've bought four cars from eBay, and in each case, through extensive telephone conversations, I practically had a personal relationship with the seller prior to submitting the winning bid. Make no mistake: Expect NO guarantees with 30+ years-old used cars--but if you learn the seller is an honest "car guy," you have a different expectation than you would with an uninformed seller who might not even know the critical things about the car which you really need to know about it. Looking at his feedback, I gather the seller of the 79 450 SEL deals in cosmetics and small items on eBay; thus, his feedback probably is representative of his business ethics and integrity, but doesn't make any representation about his knowledge of cars.

Most of the MB V8 engines require top end work (valve jobs, etc.) at some point in their long service lives. The 249,000 miles of the 79 450 SEL suggests that could become a reality in the future, if it hasn't already. Ask about his oil change intervals (YEP, I change it once every two years, whether it needs it or not!), and whether he needs to add a quart (or two or five) between changes. Also........the valve job could have been done so long ago that the car could be ready for another.

See those chrome trims around the wheel openings? They tend to collect road salt, and contribute to corrosion beneath. They also hide one of the areas where corrosion is most likely to occur in the first place. The seller might be entirely forthright and honest about what he KNOWS about the car, yet be unaware that there could be lots of corrosion beneath the chrome trims right now. All of New York is a concern area since road salt is a fact of life there. Garage-kept Southern cars, which are infrequently driven, commonly have fewer corrosion concerns. Sounds like the seller relies on this car as a daily driver, so he's probably had this car out in that salt and slush countless times.

You may not find much, if anything, from the VIN check. The 116 body and other pre-80s Mercedes have 14-digit VINs, and I doubt Carfax can help you. In the 80s and up, even the Euro cars (i.e., WDB126...) have records on Carfax.

On a silly, personal note: I never liked the sound the doors of 116 sedans make, when closing the doors. Both the predecessor 108/109 sedans, and the successor 126 sedans, have a solid feel and sound the 116 simply did not have.

The bottom line: What would I do? I would NOT be bashful in asking the seller if he'll sell the car for the $800 starting bid. Maybe he'll agree to do so. He is overwhelmingly unlikely to receive his BUY IT NOW price, regardless of how nice the car looks. And.....expect to pay thousands in maintenance and repair down the road, in any case. That's usually a fact of life with ownership of these cars. Speaking for myself, ownership of MB cars has nothing to do with status and prestige; it's all about driving a well-engineered car, and about looking through the 3-pointed star while driving down the highway.

Jim Rothrock
Windermere, Florida
1970 300 SEL 6.3
1979 450 SLC 5.0
1990 560SEC Euro Conversion
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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What a great site!

thank you Jim for all of your great advise. I will definate let you know what happens today.

Cruger
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 02:44 PM
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Thanks, Cruger--------I'd like to know the outcome.

Prior to buying, I'd suggest you look at a few cars. Once you have the "feel" of some really nice cars, you'll have a good idea what you want; what to look for and ask for.

If you're near some large population centers, then you will have lots of opportunities to look at cars.

Good luck!

Jim Rothrock
Windermere, Florida
1970 300 SEL 6.3
1979 450 SLC 5.0
1990 560SEC Euro Conversion
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 08-05-2006, 05:50 PM
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Thumbs up 350 SE rocks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Rothrock
Still another consideration is a 350SE. The 350 was a short-stroke, high-compression, high-revving variant using the same 450 engine block, found in Euro-spec cars only, with about the same horsepower as the USA-spec 450 engine. The 350SE is rarely seen in the US as it was a "Gray Market" car only.
My Dad had a 350SE in the mid-80's. It was a rocket ship and solid as a tank. The engine sounded fantastic also. I wouldn't mind finding one now myself.
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