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they are painted and cleared when they come from the factory. your best bet is to repaint them. i did mine myself with a kit I bought from mercedessource.
 

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Yeah, the first few years of the 124 had painted wheels. I didn't know they were also clear-coated though.
I need to refinish a set of mine. The previous owner of TE#1 liked automatic car washes and those tire cleaning brushes just hammer the wheel paint.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
So should I just take them to a specialty chrome shop to have them chromed/dipped?

Only thing with that is I really want more of a matte finish than a reflect the sun in your eyes mirror shine.

Speaking of chrome, is the front grill frame real chrome?
 

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So are your wheels chrome? The w124 stock wheels are not chrome, but are a painted matte silver. If they aren't chrome you needn't have them chromed. Just have that same shop paint them. Most of the "chrome" on the w124 (door sills for instance) are anodized aluminum. I frankly don't know if that applies to the grille.
 

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Hey, I use to refinish wheels for a living. Here is what I would do. Sand off as much of the clear coat as possible. If you see of feel any ridges, trust me it will show when you repaint and even be amplified when you clear. So sand starting using 180 to 300 grit. Then keep sanding using higher grit count till you smooth them out with 600. Then you can repaint, usually 2 base coats will do, and clear with 2 coats.

If you have a die angle grinder you can use sanding discs to make this job much easier. It use to take me sand, paint, clear about 1 hour per wheel. Of course having the right equipment helps. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.
 

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There is a very low tech way i used when i had a '87 300e which just had a protective lacquer, no paint. I removed the tyre and then applied 2 coats of paint stripper about 2 hours apart. With the lacquer removed I just polished up the wheel gently with a scotch brite pad. All done for 50 cents. Wheels looked great. No gloss, just a natural aluminium sheen.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So are your wheels chrome? The w124 stock wheels are not chrome, but are a painted matte silver. If they aren't chrome you needn't have them chromed. Just have that same shop paint them. Most of the "chrome" on the w124 (door sills for instance) are anodized aluminum. I frankly don't know if that applies to the grille.
No, stock. They look a dirty grey right now.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hey, I use to refinish wheels for a living. Here is what I would do. Sand off as much of the clear coat as possible. If you see of feel any ridges, trust me it will show when you repaint and even be amplified when you clear. So sand starting using 180 to 300 grit. Then keep sanding using higher grit count till you smooth them out with 600. Then you can repaint, usually 2 base coats will do, and clear with 2 coats.

If you have a die angle grinder you can use sanding discs to make this job much easier. It use to take me sand, paint, clear about 1 hour per wheel. Of course having the right equipment helps. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.
Sanding in the spokes would be near impossible, I'd say it needs to be sandblasted.

But I'm wondering if it's cheaper to just buy new rims than to have all that done to them.
 

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You can get some replicas fairly cheaply at performance products or tire rack. But why not call an auto body shop in your area and ask them for a price. I bet you can get them to do it for $50 per. Even the replica wheels will set you back double that I would guess.
 

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So should I just take them to a specialty chrome shop to have them chromed/dipped?

Only thing with that is I really want more of a matte finish than a reflect the sun in your eyes mirror shine.

Speaking of chrome, is the front grill frame real chrome?

No not real chrome. Aluminum and i think Zinc coated
 

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Sanding in the spokes would be near impossible, I'd say it needs to be sandblasted.

But I'm wondering if it's cheaper to just buy new rims than to have all that done to them.
Nah, just sand them the best you can around the spokes. You don't need to remove the clear in that area, just be sure to score them a bit with 600 and be sure they are clean. Sandblasting is a waste of money on this project.

I also had a powder coating company do wheels for me for under $200 a set. That did include prep and finish.
 

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Hey, I use to refinish wheels for a living. Here is what I would do. Sand off as much of the clear coat as possible. If you see of feel any ridges, trust me it will show when you repaint and even be amplified when you clear. So sand starting using 180 to 300 grit. Then keep sanding using higher grit count till you smooth them out with 600. Then you can repaint, usually 2 base coats will do, and clear with 2 coats.

If you have a die angle grinder you can use sanding discs to make this job much easier. It use to take me sand, paint, clear about 1 hour per wheel. Of course having the right equipment helps. Good luck and let me know if you have any questions.

What do you use to touch up the curb rash around the rim lip?
 
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