Hello guys, haven't been active in a while due to scheduling. I recently got a text message from a friend and fellow member asking me to look into helping a member get a bumper. All I had was a link to this Euro 500SEL. Never heard of "Davis Junction" and looking at the map, it was literally in the middle of nowhere. Pictures appear to have been made in late summer or Fall. Davis Junction is located up in Northern Illinois close by to Rockford.
After researching how to even make it possible for me to give up time from my schedule to take a chance, I reached out to Lesguy and said I will attempt to head out there on Saturday. I got up early, dressed warm for the 20-degree expedition, packed my tools and left Saturday morning for my 180 mile round trip gamble. I timed myself to beat traffic from where I live and was able to arrive at the yard exactly as they were opening. My cell phone reception wasn't the greatest there either.
I wasn't sure if this was a self-serve yard or if you would order the part up front and someone would go out and take the requested part. I spoke with the gentleman who opened up the front door and asked about the Mercedes that someone has called in regards to the Gen 1 Euro front bumper. He said yes, the car is somewhere out back and I can go help myself.
Sounded good, wasn't sure what to expect. Granted, this is northern Illinois. You do not see older rust free cars. I mentioned to Lesguy that there's a probability the bumper chrome will be rusty and the parts that he wanted are no longer there. So he called to confirm and parts were supposed to be still there.
Going through the front door, I had to open the rear door with a key to get to the back of the yard. A little different than your typical yards, but was surprised to see the size of it once I made it to the back. Unfortunately, they do not have an organized way of arranging cars. So I had to walk in the open parking lot and look for this lone gold Mercedes parked out somewhere. Luckily it was about a third of the way into the yard where I noticed it.
Lesguy had a short list of items he wanted. His number one item was to find a good condition Gen 1 Euro front bumper. I examined the bumper and it did have your normal scuffs on the plastic that you would normally see with a car of this age. The chrome was surprisingly in good shape. I did not see rust and it appeared to be solid. Before starting on the dismantle, I did a walk around and also checked up on VIN to see what the car's history is.
The obvious thing that I first noticed is that the car is in fact a Gen 1 Euro greymarket 500SEL. I did not see any rust on the car except for some residual surface rust. It did have some green lichen on the lower cladding and the headlight buckets. This tells me the car was parked outdoors for a while to get this, but wasn't used in the winters much as the body and undercarriage were clean. The car also had a repaint at some point, but a poor quality one. I went up front to ask whats the story on the car as I did not see any reason why this car was given to the junkyard rather than being sold to a potential enthusiast. Supposedly it was given away by a family member probably due to a death.
Heading back to the car, I was able to find clues to the history of the car. Found original paperwork in the glove box. It was first imported as a nearly new car in 1985/86 to the Houston, TX area. Appears to have been driven regularly up until 1997 when it was sold and brought to the area it was found in. Shortly later, it was sold to a couple which I assume were the last owners. At the top left corner I found an old faded oil change sticker. I could barely make out what it said, but the mileage at the time was very close to the odometer reading and the date that was written showed 2003. In the trunk, I found another set of 4 hubcaps. The caps were all used but in different shape. Some better, some worse. You don't see these often and chances that someone coming to that particular yard would want them were slim, so I took them for myself... but I don't see them being used unless for decorative reasons in my garage. In the trunk, I also found a transmission valve body. My guess is the car had transmission problems and was "decommissioned" because of that in 2003. Could not prove it, but that would be my best guess.
Interior wise was not bad. Unfortunately some of the windows were rolled down. The wood trim were in poor shape, possibly due to the moisture and open windows it was parked in. Rear leather bench was poor, but the front seats were not bad. The front passenger and driver seats had the orthopedic adjustments which is a nice rare option. The passenger side had the controller valve removed and placed in the door card, while someone used electric tape to cover up the vacuum lines. Possible that the controller was faulty and leaking air.
So back to the part request list... the bumper was found in good shape. But it did not have the desirable under shield. I doubted that this would have been found, but stranger things have been found in the past.
After running the VIN and looking up the history, here's what I was able to find. It was a very late Gen 1 Euro 500SEL. Production date of 8/1985 which is just a month before the introduction of the Gen 2 and the top-of-the-line 560SEL. Originally was sold in Belgium, which explained the French words on the AC climate control panel. Some of the options that came back from he VIN decoder did not match what I saw. No mention of the orthopedic seats, VIN said the electric-adjusted seats had memory, but had non-memory seat controllers. VIN showed it came with a Becker Grand Prix for US, but manuals in the glove box showed a Becker Europa 730 model (typical for Euro 1985's). The original radio was long gone.
The wheels were 15" steel wheels with 126 part numbers. Appeared to be in good shape, but I rarely see steel wheels in bad shape unless after an accident. The VIN showed that the car did come originally with 15-hole alloy wheels (assuming what we refer to as Bundts). The spare wheel in the trunk was a 14" that was never ever removed. The antenna assembly had a Hirschmann mast, but the antenna unit was some aftermarket one that was made in Japan. Rear window was also delaminated.
The Gen 1 headlights appeared in very nice shape. They had the green lichen growing on them but would clean up nicely. Did not see any cracks or hazing of the doors. I took them off carefully and placed them aside during the removal of the bumper incase someone wanted them.
After removal of the Gen 1 bumper, I found the backside had a large steel bracket added to reinforce to be US-DOT approved during the whole Federalization process. This car went through the typical Federalization process that reinforced the bumpers, doors, added US lights front and rear, emission controls, and the "Johnson box".
As to whether the car had "Logs" or "Try-Y" manifolds? You will find Tri-Y's on Gen 1 cars. So that would be automatic that it did not have Tri-Y manifolds. It did have the typical dual logs as seen on most Euro models.
Speaking to the front desk gentleman about the car. He said that older cars like the Mercedes they will keep on their yard for a while. As to prices, the steel wheels are $50 a piece.
At the end, I managed to pull the part our member wanted..
I also found this interesting bit and took it for myself. When I wanted to pay for it, the friendly gentleman up front let me have it. Its a Euro warning triangle for a E.C.E model. Typically seen on French and Swiss cars... possibly also on cars fro Belgium as this one had it.