Have owned a '95 cabriolet since 2003. In the last few years, have noticed that parts -- mechanical and trim -- are getting harder to find; in some cases, they no longer exist.
Recently had my cabriolet with 84,500 miles into the local Mercedes independent shop for an SRS issue. it was touch-and-go trying to find the items necessary to correct the problem, and luckily we did. This instance started a conversation between myself and the owner of the shop (a German with a long Mercedes pedigree) regarding the sustainability of the E320 Cabriolet over the next 10+ years. He spoke of the cabriolet's low production numbers, the uniqueness of many of its parts, and Mercedes' business choice to get out of the "old car parts business".
His thoughts gave me pause.
I always felt maintaining an older Mercedes seemed quite doable. This, in part, was why I had chosen to take the cabriolet into retirement with me.
To ensure the longevity of my cabriolet I have always maintained it to a high standard -- addressing problem issues in a timely manner and performing preventive fixes to stay ahead of other issues. Besides a little road rash from 25 years of travel, the original paint (#904) has a high luster and the interior is exceptional. The engine wiring harness was replaced as a preventive measure; and within the past five years the cabriolet has received a new top and headliner, and all the top's hydraulics were rebuilt (again, preventive) by a company in the Mid-west.
A new air conditioning compressor (old one failed) was installed three years ago, and a new stainless steel resonator (another part that is getting hard to find) was installed this week.
Reading the above it sounds like I have written an ad. That is not the intent. Rather, my intent was to show that many 'typical' big items have been addressed with no undue difficulty; however, this may not be the case five or ten years down the road.
Has anyone else encountered issues with finding parts to correct issues with their cabriolets? And if so, what were the issues and how did you resolve them.
Did not mean to ramble.
My indy mechanic happens to own two, so I really lucked out in finding someone who not only has personal expertise on it, but also perhaps a personal pride in helping others maintain theirs. We've developed a sort of friendship--I shared my source when I found a vendor making reproduced fabric retaining bows and top release handle housing--he's provided a handful of comp plastic bits & service items (steering wheel AND airbag cover swap, AC recharge, and threw on a new tonneau cover release latch housing when my old one popped off in traffic).
That said, there have been a few things he's been creative on--recently did wiring harness on mine, but he wasn't able to find the exact late-95 harness, so he retrofit the early-95 harness, which simply has two different sensor connectors he was able to address.
I need a new headliner and canvas top if I wanted concours-quality, though I'd rather use my convertible top, and I understand it wears significantly near the rear fold regardless, so why bother replacing?--hydraulics are fine thankfully.
If I'm not mistaken, most of the AC/heater/etc related components are those shared across the 124 platform, right? (i.e. heater core + vacuum pods aren't Cab-specific versions?)
I've addressed every plastic and Cabrio-specific item that is broken while I can--new trunk handle, new side flap, new overhead dome assembly and rear view mirror (one of 6 of each left in U.S. MBCC inventory), new trunk struts, etc. Going to send the antenna to Becker for repair.
I think the bottom line is that the points your mechanic raised will increase the value of the examples as well-preserved as ours. As with any classic, resourcefulness will persevere.