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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Just picked this up today. 1978 280E, blue exterior with nice Blue MB Tex interior that just needs a good cleaning. The original spare, jack, complete tool kit, first aid kit and even the manual sunroof tool was sitting in its spot in the trunk. Runs, drives, and shifts perfectly. stops straight with no shakes, shimmying or pulling to either side. Ran it up to 70MPH with no issues. Underneath is very clean. Being a 1978 with only 105,000 miles I would wager it was stored in the winter given how clean it is underneath and from New England. Has been converted to 560SEC front brakes. Is this a common upgrade? I will change all the fluids. The plugs, cap, rotor and plug wires are all new, check all the filters and give it a coolant flush and replace the "green" stuff with Zerex G05.

Because everyone always wants to know price and I'm not reluctant to share this, the seller was asking $3800.00. We settled on $3000.00.

The Good:
  • Its a 280E with the M110. Slightly less common than the diesel W123s, which I already have, an '85 300CD.
  • Low miles for a '78 at 105,000. I would guess this is accurate. The odometer works and things like the brake pad, shifter knob, and interior look to have the appropriate wear for this many miles.
  • Solid floor (dry too), solid jacking points, rockers, etc. There are some minor issues covered in the not so good.
  • Seats are perfect, well aside from needing a cleaning and the driver's seat bottom is shot. I will look for a passenger's seat bottom to swap.
  • Front 560sec brake upgrade with new calipers, rotors, and pads. I assume this is a good modification?
  • Working electric sunroof. Will double check the drains.
  • All windows work.
  • All exterior and interior lights work.
  • Wipers work on all speeds.
  • Owner says the rear defroster works.
  • Rear glass is in nice shape with no delamination.
  • Original working Becker radio, how often do you see that? Antenna is a little "reluctant". Probably needs to be taken apart and given a good cleaning.
  • HVAC system (Heat not AC) works. The blower motor is nice and strong and quiet.
  • Front Euro bumper, but back is the original US spec bumper. Front was swapped by PO because he had a spare front, but not a rear.
Not So Good:
  • Dash is cracked. How many aren't? I have a nice one out of a coupe if they interchange?
  • Some surface rust/bubbling to address. Left rear corner of back window about an inch in diameter, a spot on the lower rear driver's side fender lip, and one other spot, but I forget where it was.
  • No service history.
  • Timing chain needs changing? The M110 is all new to me.
  • Not a fan of the wooden Nardi steering wheel or BBS wheels. The Nardi wheel may look better in my palomino interior coupe.
  • Non operating AC.
  • Didn't check the cruise control.
  • Vacuum door locks don't work. Maybe a cracked vacuum line somewhere.
  • Needs all new door seals, a trunk seal and will get a new rear window and windshield seal. I know these aren't cheap, but I need to keep water out of the car. And unless there is something less expensive than OEM, but not low quality like URO, I will spend the money on originals. Though I did find some made in Thailand. Any idea of their quality?
  • Will assume any rubber underneath needs replacing.
  • Need a serious cleaning under the hood.
  • Needs a new battery tray.
  • All coolant hoses will be presumed to need replacing.
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Super Moderator
85 Audi Coupe Quattro, 85 Audi Coupe GT, 71 BMW turbo 2002, 73 BMW 2002tii, 85 BMW 635csi
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18,323 Posts
Like that color.

Timing chain is fine at 105k miles.

If you have the black iron fuel distributor, consider sourcing the later silver alloy style.

Uro weatherseals are actually not that bad anymore. I have no choice but to use theirs for my old BMW’s and they’ve done very well.
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I just remember getting URO seals maybe 4 or 5 years ago for a W126 and they weren't all that good. I know nothing can come close to original MB seals, but you pay a premium, if you can still get them. The seals for my coupe are near unobtainable and when you can find them ungodly expensive. For the money better than leaking, cracked, dry rotted originals.

What is the difference in the fuel distributor?
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I may "risk" URO for the door and trunk seals as they are easily replace if I am not happy with them, but the front and rear glass will only get OEM Mercedes seals. Just not worth the risk no matter what the cost.
 

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1980 280E Sedan
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42 Posts
Nice car, at $3k you can't go wrong. The 280 is strong and powerful unit, for performance it will leave all the diesels in its dust!

My AC wasn't working either when purchased, just had it fully overhauled, a bit expensive but needed Compressor, TX valve, Dryer and of course, re-gas. Now like a fridge. The York compressors on these are dinosaurs compared to modern comp's, and with age they famously leak underneath, yours looks like it may be original but at least new replacements are still available.

Yes, good idea to replace all fluids, filters, coolant hoses etc. Also consider changing the rad and thermostat if you're doing an overhaul, especially since there is no service history. I agree those wheels are doing the car no justice, but I guess cosmetics are secondary, although a tailored dash mat will soon sort those cracks!
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I have an old school radiator shop close to me that I may have look at the radiator and see how much it would be to re-core it.
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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Discussion Starter #7
And the whole AC system will eventually get rebuilt.
 

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1981 W123 280E "Rusty", 1987 W124 300E "Hans"
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176 Posts
The "purist" inside me hates those "BMW" wheels, and that thin wood steering wheel looks somewhat out of place in the blue interior. The body color really suits the car, though. Beautiful find.

Is that front armrest a factory option?
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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Discussion Starter #9
I agree and the rims are even worse up close as the basket weave is a dark green. I have an extra set of steel wheels, but they are 14" and the seller says that it needs at least 15" to clear the swapped in SEC brake calipers and vented rotors. I will more than likely sell the BBS wheels. Even without the center caps I should be able to get a few bucks for them.

I thought the same thing on the steering wheel, it sticks out like a sore thumb against the blue interior. Maybe it would look nicer in my coupe that has Palomino interior.

I assume the armrest was an option, especially given everything else is all original and still unmolested in the car, even the original 1978 radio and those are the first things people tend to swap out. I am not an audiophile, so FM is all I need.
 

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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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To me those wheels look more like Rials than BBS
 

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1980 280E Sedan
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42 Posts
Interesting comments about the front armrest, I've never seen a W123 without one. Maybe it's another one of those quirky differences according the market you're in. Just like the rear seat headrests, standard in some markets and optional in others.
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Whatever the rims are I'm probably going to have to live with them until I find a set of 15", probably off a W126, that looks ok on the W123. I need 15" to clear the later series W126 brakes that were swapped in. I'll clean them up and maybe paint the basket weave the same color as the car and polished the lips.

The first thing that will be addressed will be the cooling system. I can't believe that the upper radiator hose is the original 42 year old hose. Heater hoses and all the rusted clamps will be replaced too.
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
As you can see from the picture of the interior the dash is very cracked. The good news is that I have a spare one that is in very nice condition, but the bad news is that it is black and not blue like the cracked one.
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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
The solution, SEM Color Coat in Shadow blue is a nice match to the rest of the blue interior. I have used this in the past with great result on other pieces of trim, but never to recolor an entire dash. I am very happy with the way it turned out. And of course it will get a dash pad to protect it from future damage.
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1981 W123 280E "Rusty", 1987 W124 300E "Hans"
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Unbelievable. Was that accomplished with just the SEM stuff?
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Yes, cleaned with SEM soap using a grey 3M scotch pad, used all their prep products, their adhesion promoter and Color Coat. Light coats, proper time in between, etc...
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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Discussion Starter #17
I will pull the center console, driver's and passenger's under dash knee trim pieces, the two kick panels, door pockets, and coat them in the same color so everything matches. The only thing that won't get coated will be the door panels and door pulls.

The key on the quality of how the dash came out, like any paint job, is the prep. I initially wiped the dash down with a shop towel and rubbing alcohol and thought that would clean it pretty thoroughly... Well, when I started cleaning it with the SEM soap and scuff pad was I shocked. Not only was there more dirt in the minute crevices, but the dash also need the scuffing to give the Color Coat something to bite onto. Then clean with SEM Vinyl prep and a coat of their adhesion promoter to open up the pores in the vinyl. Thankfully it will be several days before I swap it out, so it will have plenty of time to cure.
 

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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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1,300 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
I got a closer look at the wheels today and they are in fact BBS Mahle. 7Jx15H2ET23. They may be ugly, but they aren't giving them away on eBay are they?
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1985 300CD, 1985.5 Porsche 944, 1969 Triumph TR6, 1998 Land Rover Discovery I, 1992 Volvo 240
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Discussion Starter #19
With a pre 81 car with no VIN I learned it's not as easy tracing a vehicles history. Instead of Carfax or Auto Check I had to rely on what I will call car forensics. at 104,000 miles that is pretty low, but the cluster and or odometer could have been changed especially if the gears. Other items I found that show the car may have led a well cared for life for a 42 year old New England car, solid floor boards with no signs of repair, same for the jack points. And certain things came with the car that normally disappear over 42 years and potentially multiple owners, but may not disappear if owned by fewer owners or enthusiasts. Things like what is possibly one of the original keys, a Mercedes Benz Club of America sticker on the windshield (vintage unknown), but the windshield is original as it's numbers match the rest of the glass. The original AM/FM/Cassette is still present and functioning, the radio anyway I haven't tried the cassette yet. The first aid kit with all of its original items sits in the back parcel shelf, the manual sunroof tool and the tool kit are still present, not lost over the years. The tools don't have a single bit of rust on them indicating any water intrusion and the original Hirschman antenna is there, not working as of yet, but there. That little "h" I know is coveted in the BMW circles.

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Discussion Starter #20
Just about all of the rubber I can see will need replacing from the antenna grommet to the door seals, the axle boots are cracked so I can assume suspension bushings are too. All the radiator and heater hoses will get replace as well as any suspect looking vacuum lines.

Quick question I hope I can get an answer to here if I don't find it on YouTube, how do you remove the stock radio so I can remove the center console? Something to do with sticking something in this round hole? and is there another hole hiding under the other knob?
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