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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Folks,

I am looking at a new (to me) Mercedes as my daily driver. I've previously owned a 280CE and really liked it and was initially looking at getting another one. I decided to broaden my search to other w123 coupes as well leaving me looking for either the 280CE or 300CD. I am not intending to start a gas vs. diesel war so bear with me.

My primary use for this car is around town, and, since I live in a small town in New Mexico, that mainly means really short trips of 2-3 miles or so. That really isn't long enough for the engine to come up to temperature. Which car do you think would do better on this kind of short trip regimen?

Since I am about 100 miles from the nearest dealer, being able to do my own routine maintenance is pretty necessary. I have been rather impressed with the amount of DIY information that is available on the web for the 617 engines. Thee seems much less for the M110 (I think) that's in the 280CE. Am I missing something or is the DOHC 6 in the 280CE something that only the pros should contemplate touching beyond oil and filter changes?

I'm assuming that all of the transmission, vacuum issues (except shutoff), door locks, suspension etc. is either the same or pretty similar on the two cars. Am I missing something?

What is the relative performance between the two models? (probably 3 models considering the Turbo vs. Normally Aspirated versions of the 300CD)?

Most of the 280CE's I've been seeing seem to be of the era that uses the infamous ACC II servo system. Also, most of the cars I see of either model are listed as AC inop. Are the two related? Where I live, AC in the summer is a necessity. I can obviously check the blower but is there anything I should specifically look for in the climate control system even if the AC is not blowing cold at the moment? As an example of what I am thinking of, my previous car fogged up the bottom edge of the windshield when the AC was on. I know I have seen a post on this or another forum on how to diagnose or correct that. W/O AC operational, is there any way to check for this or other climate control related issues?

I'll probably have other questions that come to me as I look at cars. I'm pretty sure that I won't be buying anything until after the holidays (unless a free creampuff comes my way) so I am doing homework (and dreaming a bit) at the moment. Any advice you have would be appreciated.
 

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2013 MINI Copper S Clubman, '84 300CD-weekend car
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10,152 Posts
I can't say anything concerning the performance differences.

The same era cars will have the same CCU issues.

A/C being inop is quite common and I doubt that and the servo unit are connected, but am not sure, as all the MB's I've owned had the later HVAC system.

I would think, as you do, the other issues mentioned, door locks, suspension, etc. are the same as well.
 

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1985 380SE
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1,939 Posts
Get the diesel, you'll be more pleased with the fuel mileage compared to the M110 280 engine that gets 16-18mpg.
 

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1984 300D
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5,070 Posts
If you live some place where it is cold in the Winter a car with a Gas fueled Engine is less likely to have starting problems in the cold.

Other then that I am pessimistic concerning having an old Mercedes as a daily driver without also having another vehicle to drive incase the Mercedes is grounded.

What I find is that when something that effects the running of the Car goes wrong the Car sits in the Drive way until I can pull Parts and other recourses together longer than a comparable American Gas Car with a similar issue.
Part of this is due to Parts Cost and availability. Sometimes Special tools are needed to complete the Job.
Example: If the Rear Axle CV Boots go bad it is a major project to re-boot them. It was not too much of a project for me to re-boot the Axle on my Chevy Citation.

Other experience: Over the course of 3 days my front wheels started tipping inwards at the top and I was getting sever inner Tire wear.
The above was due to rotted out Lower Control Arm Bushings. You might want to look up the things you need to do to fix this.

Recently: 2 Days ago without warning my Transmission would not go into Reverse. I drove the Car around and tried several times but it would not go into reverse.
I took it for a drive on the Freeway and after that the reverse has returned.
This is the Car that my Wife drives to work. Since I cannot count on the reverse working until I drive it Myself for a few weeks and see if it is going to be reliable again or find something I can fix; I cannot let Her use the Car.
So She is driving our Van.
If the Reverse does not work for me during the test period; I can push the Car safely backwards; my Wife cannot.

The above is just a few issues that can come up. Ask yourself what would you do if they happened to you.

I believe to run an old Mercedes you need a better than average mechanical ability and you need to take an extra special intrest in learning the info about these Cars.
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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189 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Mercedes as a daily driver

Thanks for the info. I didn't mention it because I didn't realize it was pertinent but this would not be the only car in the household. There are two other cars of relatively modern vintage that can be pressed into service at need. What started this was the desire to replace the small SUV I am currently using as my commuter with a larger truck and travel trailer for weekend getaways and vacation travel. Something of the size I am looking at would be impractical to drive on a daily basis and not just because it would eat me alive in gas.

One of the benefits of living in a small town is the fact that you are never stranded for long. I can walk from one end of town to another in under an hour. In fact a couple of months ago I set out to do just that and had to turn down three offers of a lift and two of loaner cars from people who assumed that my car had broken down somewhere. Locally, I am not too worried about being left high and dry. If I took it on the road, that may be another thing. My last 280ce did leave me stranded in Tonopah,AZ with a dead alternator one time. Got towed to a dealer in Phoenix who found room in his service bay to put on a new one and had me on the road in about 2 hours from my being dropped off.

I know that more modern cars are probably more reliable and efficient but the 123s are always the car that I think of when someone says Mercedes. I intend to have another one it's just a matter of which one. Decisions, decisions.
 

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I love my 280CE, and am fortunate enough to have found a very good conditioned, low mileage example. However, it depends on how much you want to spend on fuel. My coupe gets lousy mileage... I average 15mpg in city driving, which is 99% of my use.
 

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1985 300CD Turbo coupe, 2006 E320 CDI sedan
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I too was going to comment on the fuel consumption, but Indy beat me to it. My turbo coupe (which is for sale by the way) gets about 25 locally, and up to 31 on the highway

//greg//
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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Discussion Starter #9
280CE Mileage

15 to 17 is about what I am getting now on my Envoy around town. Not too much different. Let's face it, if all we were concerned with was gas mileage we'd be driving Smarts or Priuses (Priusi, Priusim? whatever). I'm just tired of having a only cars that I need a course in computer engineering (which I have) to figure out the programming, diagnostic codes and everything else. That are so bound up with sensors and red tape that the add on systems overpower the fact that there is an engine in there somewhere.
 

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85 Audi Coupe Quattro, 85 Audi Coupe GT, 71 BMW turbo 2002, 73 BMW 2002tii, 85 BMW 635csi
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Get the gasser! 'nuff said.
 

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81' 300SD, 82' 300D
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My recommendation would be to get the best example you can afford, whether it's gas or diesel. The less you have to do to bring it up to spec, the better.
 

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1980 280e
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670 Posts
Second page and I haven't posted my 2 bits worth yet? Slacking, anyway imo a electric pre-oiler and a oil temp guage would be the best bet, basically the stratagy would be to minimize startup friction and a temp guage so you know when the oil is upto temp. so you know when you can bring safely bring the rpm's up if you need to. Also might want to get a hotter thermostat so it heats up quicker. Also with the electric pre-oiler you can plumb a 3-way valve in and use it as a electric oil changer, simplest oil changes ever.
 

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1985 300SD 1988 560SEC 822 1976 450SEL 1981 300SD
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I dunno. Both great cars in their own way. Both will die a certain quick death with short trips like 2-3 miles.
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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189 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Pre-Oiler

The pre-oiler is probably a good idea. I'll have to look into that once I have a car to put it on. Thanks for the tip. I can also see running winter and summer thermostats although winters here are pretty mild. It's considered a cold spell when the overnight temperatures reach the 30's and a snowfall basically shuts the city down even if it is only an inch or so.
 
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