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post #1 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-10-2019, 10:07 AM Thread Starter
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W108 Purchase Advice

Hi All,
I really need some unfiltered W108 advice from current or former 280SE/SEL owners, especially 4.5 owners. I am very close to buying a W108, but I see the prices are all over the map. Rusty cars can be had for under $1,000, but I have already owned too many rusty old Mercedes so that scares me a bit. The driver quality 4.5 cars seem to be in the $8,000- $15,000 range and nicer ones are $15,000- $20,000. M130 cars are typically around $7,000. I am leaning toward a 280SEL 4.5 that is missing the exhaust and and some carpeting. It also has some rotted dash wood. It's being offered for $7,500. Can y'all help me make sense of this and give me some idea what to look for and what to expect?
Thanks,
Dan
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post #2 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 04:35 AM
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Dan. I’ve had my 280SEL 4.5 for almost 10 years now. She has been my daily driver for 9. I personally love it as a driver. I purchased mine as a total basket case. It had moderate rust and had suffered the dreaded engine fire. Areas I would look at for rust are front fenders behind the wheels, bottoms of doors, rear fenders behind wheels, trunk floor and the rockers. I cut/replaced rockers and portions of front fenders and doors. From an engine standpoint, timing chains/guides are the Achilles heel of this motor. D-Jet is pretty rock solid when in good shape, but expensive to bring back if in poor shape. That is why I have megasquirted mine ($1100 to do yourself for fuel and ignition). The chassis is pretty straight forward but I would caution you to look at the king pins to see if they have play and have been greased. For the interior, dash wood is hard to recreate so better off buying some on decent shape. Check the heater blower to make sure it works (W108 has blower in dash for heat/defrost and one in passenger footwell for AC). That blower fails and is expensive and about 10-12hours to replace. The only other issue I have with my car is it can tend to run hot. I had fixed that problem but now after my run in with Bambi, the “replacement” radiator USAA had the shop install appears to be partially fouled so I’m running warm again.
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post #3 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-12-2019, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TZ_280SEL View Post
Dan. I’ve had my 280SEL 4.5 for almost 10 years now. She has been my daily driver for 9. I personally love it as a driver. I purchased mine as a total basket case. It had moderate rust and had suffered the dreaded engine fire. Areas I would look at for rust are front fenders behind the wheels, bottoms of doors, rear fenders behind wheels, trunk floor and the rockers. I cut/replaced rockers and portions of front fenders and doors. From an engine standpoint, timing chains/guides are the Achilles heel of this motor. D-Jet is pretty rock solid when in good shape, but expensive to bring back if in poor shape. That is why I have megasquirted mine ($1100 to do yourself for fuel and ignition). The chassis is pretty straight forward but I would caution you to look at the king pins to see if they have play and have been greased. For the interior, dash wood is hard to recreate so better off buying some on decent shape. Check the heater blower to make sure it works (W108 has blower in dash for heat/defrost and one in passenger footwell for AC). That blower fails and is expensive and about 10-12hours to replace. The only other issue I have with my car is it can tend to run hot. I had fixed that problem but now after my run in with Bambi, the “replacement” radiator USAA had the shop install appears to be partially fouled so I’m running warm again.
Thank you for the detailed feedback. I remember seeing your car and thinking what a beautiful machine it is and how nice it must be to drive.
I have found a '72 280SEL 4.5 rust free car that I like, but its 1200 miles away and doesn't have an exhaust system on it. I hate to buy a car without a PPI and sight unseen, but I probably have to do it in this case and hope for the best.
Dan
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post #4 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 08:58 AM
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Dan,
Buy the best one you can find at a reasonable price. BAT has created an action forum than has created some sales at higher prices, but some of those cars seemed to be pretty good examples.
I just bought a rust free, no sun damage and 40k miles 1970 W108 280 SE base for $10,000. But because I want to drive it daily and drive it hard and I do not turn wrenches I will more than double that to replace all rubber, seals, window guides and a valve job because after 50 years you need to do that. If I drove it lightly on weekends I could have saved a lot of money and just fixed things when they broke.
So if I could have found one in the condition like how my 70 W108 will be when I finish its refurbishment, I would be willing to pay $25 to 30 thousand.
Of course if you do the work yourself and patiently scrounge for needed parts you can save a lot of money.
Good luck on your quest.
Brad
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post #5 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 10:36 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bracurrie View Post
Dan,
Buy the best one you can find at a reasonable price. BAT has created an action forum than has created some sales at higher prices, but some of those cars seemed to be pretty good examples.
I just bought a rust free, no sun damage and 40k miles 1970 W108 280 SE base for $10,000. But because I want to drive it daily and drive it hard and I do not turn wrenches I will more than double that to replace all rubber, seals, window guides and a valve job because after 50 years you need to do that. If I drove it lightly on weekends I could have saved a lot of money and just fixed things when they broke.
So if I could have found one in the condition like how my 70 W108 will be when I finish its refurbishment, I would be willing to pay $25 to 30 thousand.
Of course if you do the work yourself and patiently scrounge for needed parts you can save a lot of money.
Good luck on your quest.
Brad
Thank you Brad for your post. I am getting really excited about the prospect of driving a W108. Although my daily driver is a 2018 Kia Stinger GT2, a fabulous car, I enjoy my old cars more. I know that sounds crazy to most people, but I am confident those of you on this site understand completely. I have come to an agreement with the seller of the car I want so the deal should be done by Monday, he is traveling this week, and the car will be headed south.
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post #6 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 10:38 AM Thread Starter
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Have any of you put a Timevalve exhaust on your car? If I intend to keep the car for a long time do you feel it's worth the added cost?
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post #7 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 12:55 PM
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I honestly never understood putting a stainless exhaust on most any car unless you live in a extreme climate that rusts them out or it's a show car. Is Houston like that? Here in Colo an exhaust will last a long time.

I think Menke has a lifetime warranty.
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post #8 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 01:16 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by rumb View Post
I honestly never understood putting a stainless exhaust on most any car unless you live in a extreme climate that rusts them out or it's a show car. Is Houston like that? Here in Colo an exhaust will last a long time.

I think Menke has a lifetime warranty.
Thank you for your advice. I will look into them. I hadn't heard of them before.
Dan
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post #9 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 02:27 PM
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I would add, "There is no such thing as a cheap Mercedes".

Along with Brad's comments, you should always buy at the top end of your budget. It's far, far cheaper to buy the best possible example of a car you're looking for than to buy a "project" car, or one that requires a lot of work, especially if you expect to drive it regularly.

And I'm speaking from over 30 years of experience in this area, specifically with Mercedes. I learned my lesson early in life, thank goodness, and have applied that knowledge ever since with great satisfaction.

Don't fret about parts. I have a 1965 220SEb, and the parts that are still available from Mercedes is nothing short of amazing. You'll find much the same with the W108 chassis as well.

Never, ever let someone tell you a part isn't available unless you've checked with the Classic Center parts search. That's the end of the road - if they don't have it, you're not going to get one (for OE parts, that is.) Much of the maintenance items like soft parts and shocks, for example, are all over the secondary market. Stick with the OEM manufacturers like Mann, Hengst and Bilstein and you'll be fine.

https://partssearch.mercedes-benz-classic.com

And also check prices on parts from Mercedes - first! I say that because there must be a significant number of idiots or poorly uninformed people out there paying stupid money for used or new parts that can be had right from your dealer for less. For example - the tristar on the trunk lid of a W108/109/110/111/112 chassis car is under $50 from the dealer, NEW. Go take a look on places like eBay where sellers are putting used and new ones up for sale for twice that. Whether or not they're selling them, I don't know. I'm just incredulous that there is even a market for them since the dealer is the best place to get one....

Dan
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post #10 of 48 (permalink) Old 03-13-2019, 03:09 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by LWB250 View Post
I would add, "There is no such thing as a cheap Mercedes".

Along with Brad's comments, you should always buy at the top end of your budget. It's far, far cheaper to buy the best possible example of a car you're looking for than to buy a "project" car, or one that requires a lot of work, especially if you expect to drive it regularly.

And I'm speaking from over 30 years of experience in this area, specifically with Mercedes. I learned my lesson early in life, thank goodness, and have applied that knowledge ever since with great satisfaction.

Don't fret about parts. I have a 1965 220SEb, and the parts that are still available from Mercedes is nothing short of amazing. You'll find much the same with the W108 chassis as well.

Never, ever let someone tell you a part isn't available unless you've checked with the Classic Center parts search. That's the end of the road - if they don't have it, you're not going to get one (for OE parts, that is.) Much of the maintenance items like soft parts and shocks, for example, are all over the secondary market. Stick with the OEM manufacturers like Mann, Hengst and Bilstein and you'll be fine.

https://partssearch.mercedes-benz-classic.com

And also check prices on parts from Mercedes - first! I say that because there must be a significant number of idiots or poorly uninformed people out there paying stupid money for used or new parts that can be had right from your dealer for less. For example - the tristar on the trunk lid of a W108/109/110/111/112 chassis car is under $50 from the dealer, NEW. Go take a look on places like eBay where sellers are putting used and new ones up for sale for twice that. Whether or not they're selling them, I don't know. I'm just incredulous that there is even a market for them since the dealer is the best place to get one....

Dan
I agree with you whole heartedly about buying good quality parts. This will be my 8th Mercedes, and I still have 5 of the 7 I have bought to-date. I have always used Mercedes factory parts or OEM parts, with the exception or a couple of headlight sounds and replacement grills. Where I have went astray in the past is by buying rusty cars. I promised myself I wasn't going to do that ever again and this car is virtually rust free, with the exception of a tiny bit in the spare tire well, and all original.
This will be my first W108, but I currently have a W114, two 107's, a W123, and a W124. Ridiculous I know.😊
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