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I’m about to purchase a 1994 E320 cabriolet, 82k. What are the price trends and also issues to consider with purchase and ownership? Are these vehicles reliable or do they require lots of maintenance? Obviously depends on maintenance history and use/abuse but generally speaking what are the big ticket items to consider ? Thanks for reading and any help is much appreciated.
 

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'95 E300 DIESEL, '91 600SEL, '92 600SEL
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Read the buyer's guide sticky.

As with all MBs, it's all about service records, service records, and more service records.
 

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2003 G500, 2000 SL500, 1995 E320 Cabriolet, 1980 TR8
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As long as the proper maintenance has been done (including the replacement of the engine related ecco junk wiring harnesses), the basic drive train, chassis, and suspension is pretty bullet proof.

However, there are several cabriolet specific issues that you should aware of.

First, the hydraulic cylinders that operate the top have seals that are guaranteed to fail unless they have been rebuilt/replaced. They fail as a function of age, not mileage, so if they have not been done on your car, it will be in your future. There is a company called Top Hydraulics that does an excellent job of rebuilding the cylinders, but R&R of the cylinders is not what I would call an easy job.

Second, there are many cabriolet specific parts that are NLA from MB and are therefore difficult and expensive to find if needed for repair. Make sure that all of the electronic items related to the top (roll bar, top itself, convenience features [including all power windows]) function as these modules are NLA.

Third, make sure the cabriolet specific plastic trim bits are there and are in decent shape (in particular, the mirror and the console it attaches to) as these are also made of unobtainium.

Properly sorted, the cabriolet is a fantastic car to own and drive.

Good luck with your decision!
 

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1995 e320 Convertible
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Yes these are great cars but there were not a lot of them made. The newest is now 25 years old. Low production and age has made some parts difficult to source such as visors and rear view mirrors. The cars are rock solid. I have 140k on mine and it drives like a new car...but it was well maintained and garage kept. I think these cars are about as cheap as they will ever get and likely to increase in value in the coming years...but then again who knows.
 

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1990 Benz 300E 2.6 (mine) ; 1994 E320 Wagon (wife's) ; 1993 300CE Cabrio, needs some TLC
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1993, there were a total of 772 Cabrios imported into the US, in 94 and 95 around 1500 each. So the total import volume was under 4000 cars. I've seen at least a half dozen of those here in Santa Cruz, hah! My mechanic has one himself although the broken plastic bits around the mirrors and such mean he's put it away for now (its white with a parchment interior).
 

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1995 E320 Cabriolet
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I’m about to purchase a 1994 E320 cabriolet, 82k. What are the price trends and also issues to consider with purchase and ownership? Are these vehicles reliable or do they require lots of maintenance? Obviously depends on maintenance history and use/abuse but generally speaking what are the big ticket items to consider ? Thanks for reading and any help is much appreciated.
The roof cylinders leak. They are expensive and not easy to get to. Front shocks are specific to this model and are no longer available. Others have had to replace transmissions—very exoensive but not limited to the convertible. Plastic bits inside tend to degrade faster due to the additional sunlight when top is down. Reliable as long as you put aside a grand or so a year for maintenance and repairs. Great looking car, though
 

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1990 Benz 300E 2.6 (mine) ; 1994 E320 Wagon (wife's) ; 1993 300CE Cabrio, needs some TLC
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7,110 Posts
the hydraulic cylinders for the power top can be refurbished to better-than-new condition by tophydraulics.com ... its not that hard to replace all 8, time consuming but not difficult, just requires being careful and taking pictures to ensure you reassemble it all correctly. instructions are at tophydraulics.com

you can remove the damper from the front left shock tower (its rubber damper element is probably shot anyways) and use conventional coupe shocks with conventional coupe strut mounts, adding a front strut tower cross-brace to enhance rigidity.

the 124 tranny is only about $1800 for a top quality remanufactured one from the likes of Sun Valley, this is cheap compared to most newer transmissions. add $1000-1200 if a shop does the R&I for you.
 

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1995 E320 Cabriolet
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Anything is possible if he has enough money to invest in the vehicle. Refurbished cylinders are available but for how much each? Time consuming is an understatement.The poster is looking for advice on what to expect. The $1,800 if for the transmission, not the job. What would he expect to pay to convert the shocks and replace the cross brace? And would said brace provide the body rigidity of the original?
 

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1995 W124 E320 Cabrio
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Echo many of the above sentiments, though I have a 95 E320.

I bought a bit of a basket case example--clean & low mileage, but poorly maintained between 45 and 65k. I have since had a full valve job done (incl head gasket replacement), I paid to have the wiring harness replaced, a new ETA ("throttle body") just arrived, which is the other ecojunk piece on these, was $400 second-hand, though my mechanic quoted about $1200 for a new OEM one. Have also replaced OEM wheel bearings, brakes (seller installed incorrect, cheap aftermarket brakes), and wiring harnesses in the trunk and the oil sending harness have both been replaced, along with a transmission overhaul (though not a replacement with a Sun Valley, though I'm considering it--). Have also had a number of freeze plugs changed on the engine, which was a very laborious job for my mech, and oil leaks have finally stopped. Just replaced radiator and all cooling hoses, plus had the heater core flushed (yay, I don't have to replace it!) Managed to get one of the last 6 OEM replacement overhead dome units and rearview mirrors from the Classic Center in Irvine (both were heavily cracked), and found top release handle casings + an aftermarket fabric retaining bow from a German supplier. After I get the new ETA installed, the only remaining potential imperfections on the car are a new top, and podectomy (simple, ha!). The top will need to be redone on these cars at some point--along with the cylinders, the exterior canvas develops severe wear from the operation of the top, to the point of fraying, and the adhesion on the headliner is starting to sag until pressed up. Also might paint correct and ceramic coat. And send in the wood to fix the crack around the gearshift...and source new seat leather...and send the antenna in for repair... LOL I love this car.
 

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1990 Benz 300E 2.6 (mine) ; 1994 E320 Wagon (wife's) ; 1993 300CE Cabrio, needs some TLC
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7,110 Posts
i changed my hydraulic cylinders, took me an afternoon to remove them all and an afternoon or two to reinstall them all.

a strut brace is around $200, and is a simple bolt-in job, especially if you're changing the struts at the same time,

the shock install is the same as any other mercedes 124, the only difference is removing the old cabrio-only parts (the counterweight and weird top mount they used on the cabrio). I haven't tried the crossbrace myself yet, but I believe it was sbaert who reported the driving was just fine, possibly better than the shot original counterweight.

most 4-speed automatics in 30 year old cars in my experience last around 250K-300K miles of sporty driving. the W124's lasts maybe 150K-200K miles before the reverse goes out. rebuilding the tranny in a volvo 940 is about the same cost as that in the w124 family.
 

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2003 G500, 2000 SL500, 1995 E320 Cabriolet, 1980 TR8
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And would said brace provide the body rigidity of the original?
Having done it, the answer is a definite, "yes", if not slightly better rigidity. If you look at the recent history of convertible development, in the '70s, '80s and early '90's, "tuning" through the use of vibration dampers, weights, and other resonant methods was the preferred method for compensating for the lack of a steel roof (in particular, because many convertibles of the day, like the A124, were indeed cut down coupes). In the 2000's and today, the preferred method is stiffening the chassis through the use of strut/chassis braces, better steel and computer design. And more often that not these days, the "convertible" version of a car is purpose designed from the ground up.
 

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2003 G500, 2000 SL500, 1995 E320 Cabriolet, 1980 TR8
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1,102 Posts
As long as the proper maintenance has been done (including the replacement of the engine related ecco junk wiring harnesses), the basic drive train, chassis, and suspension is pretty bullet proof.

However, there are several cabriolet specific issues that you should aware of.

First, the hydraulic cylinders that operate the top have seals that are guaranteed to fail unless they have been rebuilt/replaced. They fail as a function of age, not mileage, so if they have not been done on your car, it will be in your future. There is a company called Top Hydraulics that does an excellent job of rebuilding the cylinders, but R&R of the cylinders is not what I would call an easy job.

Second, there are many cabriolet specific parts that are NLA from MB and are therefore difficult and expensive to find if needed for repair. Make sure that all of the electronic items related to the top (roll bar, top itself, convenience features [including all power windows]) function as these modules are NLA.

Third, make sure the cabriolet specific plastic trim bits are there and are in decent shape (in particular, the mirror and the console it attaches to) as these are also made of unobtainium.

Properly sorted, the cabriolet is a fantastic car to own and drive.

Good luck with your decision!
I almost forgot, make sure that HVAC system is in working order and blows hot an cold when and where it should. The cabriolet, like its W124 siblings, suffers from evaporator corrosion and vacuum pod failure. Either of these is a big job to replace, especially since most of the pods are NLA.
 
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