Which model & year to buy? - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 01:01 PM Thread Starter
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Vehicle: 1972 Mercedes 280 SE 4.5
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Which model & year to buy?

I'm new to the forum. My father owned a 190 years ago, and loved it. He always pined for an older model MB, but never got one. I too have the bug, and love the looks of the late 60, early 70 models (the 108/109 style).

My question is, since I don't have tonnes of money to throw at this venture (I'm a working stiff), and since I live in Toronto, what suggestions does everyone have for the year and model?

I look to use it in the spring, summer and autumn somewhat regularily, and probably store in the snowy winter.

I'd love to get a 1971 300 SEL 6.3, but I'm not sure there is any point - why pay the money for so much car, when I could get a similar car for less. But am I going to rue the day I buy a car with air suspension? I'm thinking of repairs.

Does anyone know who a good MB mechanic is in Toronto who can work on these cars?

Thanks in advance

J
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 06:35 AM
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I like the 108's. They're the last of the stately MB's, they're basic, robust, and way under valued right now. I don't know about MB's in the 80's but I would avoid any car built in the 80's. In the 80's the Feds were screwing with regs and the car companies didn't know which way to go. In the 90's MB built nice cars that can now be had CHEAP, maybe for good reason. And I have also heard that you may not want to own any late model MB after it's out of warranty.

There is a saying; If it ain't broke it dosen't have enough features. The 108's definately win when it comes to no features.

If it's not broke it dosen't have enough features.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 06:56 AM
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 07:49 AM
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Can't go wrong with a W108, presuming it's not a major rustbucket project.
And IMO, you can't go wrong with a 80's era W123 neither... especially diesel & turbodiesel models in good shape.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 08:10 AM
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I like it. That one gets my vote.

If it's not broke it dosen't have enough features.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 09:33 AM
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That looks like a very well-sorted example.

Felicita e un bicchiere di vino con un panino.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 12:05 PM Thread Starter
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Love the 108s

I love the 108 series. But what things should I be wary of. I was warned away from the 109s with the air suspension. Anything else I should be concerned about? If in Toronto, rust...but would it be a terrible problem if I rust proofed a well kept car? What are the major headaches of these cars?
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 03:16 PM
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I had a W108 ('72 280 SEL 4.5) nearly thirty years ago--my first Mercedes. It was surprisingly trouble-free. I bought it with 100k miles, and drove it another 50k. Other than maintenance, some trivial repairs, and a new set of shocks, it was a gas-and-go car. The two problem areas I encountered were the heater/AC control slides and the camber compensator on the rear end. The slides are plastic, and they get brittle with age. Replacing them involves disassembling the dash. The camber compensator keeps the swing axles plumb and when it fails, the rear end sags. There is a spring compensator available that replaces the pneumatic OEM piece for a quarter the price and works about as well.

The paint and interior (mine had MB Tex, not leather) held up in nearly showroom condition from the time I bought it until I sold it.

Other than that, watching for fluid leaks because the gaskets get brittle like the heater controls, and keeping the maintenance schedule are about all you need to do.

I had no problems with rust, but I've heard W108s are a bit prone to rust around the fender wells.

Everyone would love to have a 300SEL 6.3, but they are very expensive these days and the air suspension restoration and maintenance are a nightmare. W108 280SE 4.5 (short wheelbase) are fairly sporty and according to a recent article are available for USD 5k-6k in excellent (but not original) condition. A 6.3 would be multiples of that price in the same condition.

The 6-cylinder W108s are less expensive, but they don't have nearly the grunt of the V-8s. If you can swing the added cost of a V-8 version, I think you would be happier with it in the long run. Late MY versions are more desirable as well. Neither are barn-burners, but the V-8s will accelerate with modern cars, and will cruise at interstate speeds easily. The general advice is buy the latest MY and best maintained car you can afford.

Good luck in your hunt.

"Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you."--John Steinbeck
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2010, 02:56 PM
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If you want to go for a W109 after all, there is this 4.5L-powered unit.

Mercedes-Benz : 300-Series : eBay Motors (item 180456528332 end time Jan-21-10 09:29:31 PST)

At least, you won't have the double whammy of dealing with the air suspension and the 6.3L engine.

Felicita e un bicchiere di vino con un panino.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 01-17-2010, 03:15 PM
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I would strongly recommend an R107 version of the "SL" roadster for your first vintage Mercedes. They're very reliable and most will have very low mileage for their age. Remember: these were luxury cars in their time; few people used them as daily drivers; the vast majority have never seen snow; many have never seen rain.

More important, they're dead sexy and quite usable today. The V8 versions (especially the 500SL and 560SL) have no trouble keeping up with modern traffic. Parts availability is still excellent. There were so many sold in the US that it's generally possible to find many good examples amongst which to choose.

You simply can't go wrong.






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