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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Continuing with my quest for a relatively cheap W124 to work on, an ad popped up from the wild about a VERY CHEAP W124 E320 Coupe (320CE) with a Dogleg 5 speed. The thing is, considering my possible budget, my options are tight to Saloons, not coupes. This one appeared to be too good to be true being a coupe. I know a cheap Merc is always a problem, but I can't help it (as a reference, it is at 30% of the market price -currently asking U$3,300, and C124s in excellent condition can go for much more -say U$25.000 at the most). 188,000km.

Personally, I have to say I prefer much more the MOPF1 W124, specifically in 199 Blauschwarz metallic and a Dogleg transmission (which this one seems to have). I am aware of the "wiring loom" affecting early 1990's W124 and all facelifted models, although it can be "fixed" with used -updated- wiring harnesses from eBay, instead of paying over $2,000 at the stealership. Mechanically speaking, the 320 is just "running", and would require a deep service to sort everything out. Engine idles low (500Rpm), needs spark plugs, seats have some funny wrinkles, missing small trim pieces, visible rust on driver's side front fender and on hood frame -next to grille, mirrors have no paint (or no matching colour). Tyres are new, paint seems OK, dashboard is crack-free and the leather doesn't seem to be in bad shape. Who knows which other unfourtunate surprises may arise.

The car is located 1,100km away, hence why I couldn't just go and pay a visit. Pictures are what the seller gave in the post. He is a young guy who apparently sells some used cars and owns a W123 250 in mint condition, so he might probably know something about these Mercs. He claimed the owner is an old man who cannot use the car anymore. Maintenance history is questionable, something which is critical when dealing with old Mercedes (or any Mercedes).

I need to know how problematic can the M104.992 be compared to the M104.980, considering the much more modern HFM-SFI injection against the problematic KE-Jetronic on the 300CE-24 and else, and the uber expensive EZL ignition module that can go out at any time. I've heard that the 104.980, if sat for long, turns to be a fountain of problems, more than a regular Mercedes that hasn't been used in some time. Old fuel sitting inside the intake "diaphragm" and the rest of the components rusts all these parts and would require a full rebuild, apart from the whole fuel delivery system (fuel pump, maybe lines, etc). This car, compared to the almost non-running 300E-24 from my previous post, is driven time to time. And does run. Would be necessary to check for suspension wear, test cylinder compression of course, cooling system and of course check all electronics.

How BIG of a problem could it be? If I can get my hands on dirt cheap, do minor work and then sell it at no loss it would be great. Surely the car is a "no no" considering its condition, just want to hear your opinion. If it might be an opportunity -either for me or for anyone else interested- or better off to run away, to learn up to which extent it is worth getting examples in such conditions.
Why I ask if I already know the answer?... Only God knows.

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Discussion Starter #2
As a reference: the few W124s in mint conditions catch over $14,000 here, and coupes go for much more. Still most of these would need some kind of repair, so make the bill more expensive.
It's difficult to trust 100% the seller when they say the car needs nothing to be worked on, unless you make it check by a mechanic -which you should always do, of course.
 

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On the upside, this is the best W124 you've shown us so far albeit again a example with lots of sign of homebrew repairs such as the "universal" upper radiator hose, broken/missing headlight tabs (driver side headlight needs replacement), front airdam is damaged/missing and the strange knob on the dash among other things. Those seats also do not appear to be original. Maybe they were recovered at some point.

On the downside, be very cautious of the brown cancer a.k.a rust. What you see you on the outside is only the tip of the iceberg. Without seeing at least detailed photos of each spot where rust is present while the car on a lift, rust is the dealbreaker on these cars. In other words, if the car doesn't kill you then your wallet will. Rust renders these cars instantly "uneconomical to repair".

Also, the entire car is made from eco junk wiring BUT the most prevalent spots are the throttle body, upper engine harness and lower harness. Throttle body and upper harness you MUST source per the vehicle's VIN# as there are variations especially the upper harness.

On the facelifted cars, there is no such thing as "just needs spark plugs". The E320 uses a disposable ignition system (3 coils, 3 coil to plug boots, 3 spark plug wires, and 6 plugs) that are in need of replacement about every 10 years or 250K km with plugs needing replacement at least every 50K km. And the only proper plug for that engine is the Bosch F8DC4. Highly suggest you stick with Bosch ignition components for best results and longevity. Amazon has the best prices on genuine ignition components and MAFs.

FYI, I even had to replace the aux fan harness on mine due to eco junk but I think my case was a exception.

FWIW, if this car "needs nothing to be worked on" the owner would have a book full of service records and the car wouldn't look in this sorry shape and wouldn't be bargain priced compared to other W124s in your country. Example of this is the air conditioning. If it doesn't work 100%, the price goes down as fast as the Titanic sank. And on the topic of "needs nothing to be worked on", find out if the evaporator has been replaced. If not, then the car still "needs something to be worked on" and it is a big job requiring removing front seats, console, and entire dash. Last time I checked, a evaporator replacement is in the neighborhood of $5K US and that was back in 2014.

However, in the end I would take this basketcase over the others you've shown us so far IF you've got the budget to rectify and keep running.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yes, rust is the primary killer on every car, regardless of how well it was maintained. In such cases it's worth salvaging every component but the body panels -if one is truly attatched to the car, and knows how mechanically perfect it is.

Back again to this one, rust is no such a great issue around here (or even where the car is located) as there is no snowy climate and vehicles' life isn't subject to road salt, despite the fact that it is very very humid up there -province right next to Brazil, so basically tropical temperatures and rainfall which can end up forming rust on water drains if these are clogged with dirt. I'm just OK with cutting rusted out pieces and replacing them with new metal sheets if I am unable to find a complete replacement part. In the end the car is far from being perfect, so anything that can be cheaply replaced without compromising the integrity of the vehicle is fine.

As I have already said, the seller stated the car lacked proper maintenance -at least in the latest time- so nothing would be a surprise unless it's absolutely terrible. According to him, the "MB mechanic" who worked on the car knew nothing about Mercs and could only "tamper" such vehicles. A proper maintained W124 Coupe with every penny invested on EVERYTHING the car needed will for sure catch over U$25k-$30k (or more). Sellers will try to recover every cent they spent on it by "upping" the final price. It's not like in the US or Europe where the owner would have invested around $35,000 in the car during a span of 15 years but sell it for $8,500. So 90% of older cars like this one will either need lots of money to be put in or basic repairs are done with cheap sourced parts, and what doesn't prevent the car from running is not taken care of. The rest are at collectors' price.

This E320 will need -at least- $25k to take it back to factory conditions (even without having taken a deep look into it), which by no means I am willing to spend -nor have the money. My idea is to have a budget W124 to do basic and not expensive stuff myself to fool around and later sell it without losing much money. Of course if I wanted a car in mint condition I'll be expecting to pay over $30k in total. Not the case, at least for now.
If it needs a full A/C system replacement but the car is still a bargain, I can deal with it. Let that be the next owner's problem as I would prefer not to mess with such an expensive bill for a car in this shape.
The lack of maintenance does scare me, sure, but if there is no catastrophical damage on any vital component, it might be worth it.
Most probably spark plugs and wires weren't replaced or some cheap aftermarket ones were used. As you said, these are critical to the engine's performance as every OEM part in the ignition and injection systems on any old MB.

I'd be expecting at least for: new fuel pump, ignition coils and plugs, full engine service (including replacement of all fluids), perhaps shocks and rotors and pads. Other suspension related items can turn to be very expensive, as the "traggelenk" or ball joints which come in one piece for 3l and up W124s. Not sure if I can sort these out with a cheaper but reliable part.



Aside from this: Do these facelifted 124s have the same heater core problems as the other ones? Maybe it's not a recurring problem and is only limited to cars that have been sitting.

Thanks! ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Minor update on the deal:

I'm waiting for the seller to go and take some pictures of the car -owner is an older man- and provide me with as much information as possible, as I cannot personally go and inspect the vehicle because it's located 1,100km away. There is no way I'm going that far away if the car doesn't appear to be worth it and I can't see detailed pictures of every issue (say, rust, wiring harness, upholstery condition, suspension, etc).


-A/C works properly
-All four power windows roll up and down
-Sunroof doesn't work because it came with one!
-Power seats weren't fitted in this particular model, so one problem less
-One only "humidity spot", but didn't give more details. (I'm afraid it's the heater core...)
-Has a "Made in Italy" tag somewhere, he didn't specify where. As far as I recall, no W124 was made in Italy: 4x Germany, South Africa, India, Mexico, Poland, Indonesia and Malaysia. Probably it was to be sold there but ended up being imported to Argentina. Apparently quite a bunch of W124 come from the "Italian Boot" (speaking from the ones sold here). My father used to own a 1992 300CE-24 A124 with Italian tags, imported from there in '94.

He claimed he will remove the spark plugs to see how bad they are. There is a 90% chance this M104 needs the whole ignition system to be replaced. And the wiring harness.

Any known symptoms from bad wiring harness I must pay attention to?
 

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The heater cores are not known to leak unless the wrong coolant type was used.

The A/C evaporator core on the other hand, those do and will leak at some point. When replacing the A/C evaporator it only makes sense to also replace the heater core since you spent so much time getting to it. Make sure the heating and aircon work 100%. If not, bargain down the price hard . . . very hard.

Also, the engine radiator is some type of homebrew concoction. And the MAF is missing a clamp and not positioned correctly which is odd since the rubber bellows have locating tabs to avoid misorientation. Sounds like the mechanics down in Argentina are better qualified to work on a lawnmower instead of cars.

Bad wiring harness symptoms are bad/erratic idle to cutting out randomly, to surging, etc, etc, etc. As I stated before, without knowing that the engine harnesses and throttle body have been replaced these cars cannot be diagnosed properly.

I don't even begin to work on a eco junk era MB with a bad harness, unless the job includes harness and/or throttle body replacement.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
(Seemingly my reply didn't upload correctly, now I'm righting what I remember I intended to reply back).


You can find here any type of mechanics, ranging form one that can barely put to run a lawnmower engine to a professional who can rebuild a complete KE-Jet with their eyes closed. Referencing what the seller told me about this car, the "Mercedes mechanic" who worked on the E320 was a complete a***ole/scammer who knew nothing about these vehicles. Pictures of the engine compartment speak for themselves. Could it be that the engine is idling at low RPMs due to the MAF being wrongly connected/clamp missing? I imagine some vacuum leaks and unmeasured airflow can cause the engine to run rough.

By the way, is the throttle body replacement absolutely necessary on these M104s with bad wiring harnesses, or it might just be a secondary consequence of any possible electrical gremlins caused by the biodegradable loom?

Thanks.
 

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The low idle is NOT caused by a mispositioned MAF. If anything, it is more than likely that the low idle is due to the throttle body (eco junk wiring inside the throttle body).

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Continuing with my quest for a relatively cheap W124 to work on, an ad popped up from the wild about a VERY CHEAP W124 E320 Coupe (320CE) with a Dogleg 5 speed. The thing is, considering my possible budget, my options are tight to Saloons, not coupes. This one appeared to be too good to be true being a coupe. I know a cheap Merc is always a problem, but I can't help it (as a reference, it is at 30% of the market price -currently asking U$3,300, and C124s in excellent condition can go for much more -say U$25.000 at the most). 188,000km.

Personally, I have to say I prefer much more the MOPF1 W124, specifically in 199 Blauschwarz metallic and a Dogleg transmission (which this one seems to have). I am aware of the "wiring loom" affecting early 1990's W124 and all facelifted models, although it can be "fixed" with used -updated- wiring harnesses from eBay, instead of paying over $2,000 at the stealership. Mechanically speaking, the 320 is just "running", and would require a deep service to sort everything out. Engine idles low (500Rpm), needs spark plugs, seats have some funny wrinkles, missing small trim pieces, visible rust on driver's side front fender and on hood frame -next to grille, mirrors have no paint (or no matching colour). Tyres are new, paint seems OK, dashboard is crack-free and the leather doesn't seem to be in bad shape. Who knows which other unfourtunate surprises may arise.

The car is located 1,100km away, hence why I couldn't just go and pay a visit. Pictures are what the seller gave in the post. He is a young guy who apparently sells some used cars and owns a W123 250 in mint condition, so he might probably know something about these Mercs. He claimed the owner is an old man who cannot use the car anymore. Maintenance history is questionable, something which is critical when dealing with old Mercedes (or any Mercedes).

I need to know how problematic can the M104.992 be compared to the M104.980, considering the much more modern HFM-SFI injection against the problematic KE-Jetronic on the 300CE-24 and else, and the uber expensive EZL ignition module that can go out at any time. I've heard that the 104.980, if sat for long, turns to be a fountain of problems, more than a regular Mercedes that hasn't been used in some time. Old fuel sitting inside the intake "diaphragm" and the rest of the components rusts all these parts and would require a full rebuild, apart from the whole fuel delivery system (fuel pump, maybe lines, etc). This car, compared to the almost non-running 300E-24 from my previous post, is driven time to time. And does run. Would be necessary to check for suspension wear, test cylinder compression of course, cooling system and of course check all electronics.

How BIG of a problem could it be? If I can get my hands on dirt cheap, do minor work and then sell it at no loss it would be great. Surely the car is a "no no" considering its condition, just want to hear your opinion. If it might be an opportunity -either for me or for anyone else interested- or better off to run away, to learn up to which extent it is worth getting examples in such conditions.
Why I ask if I already know the answer?... Only God knows.

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One problem I’ve never had in my older MB is rust. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I wonder if this vehicle has been in an accident at some point and the fender replaced
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One problem I’ve never had in my older MB is rust. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I wonder if this vehicle has been in an accident at some point and the fender replaced
Yours was garage kept?
The one I am looking out now may have had some rust (common on that part of the fender) or it´s just a sketchy Bondo repair as someone commented on my post on Fb.
I´ll have to check if panel lines match and if there is any bent metalic support.
 

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One problem I’ve never had in my older MB is rust. Maybe I’ve just been lucky but I wonder if this vehicle has been in an accident at some point and the fender replaced
Yours was garage kept?
The one I am looking out now may have had some rust (common on that part of the fender) or it´s just a sketchy Bondo repair as someone commented on my post on Fb.
I´ll have to check if panel lines match and if there is any bent metalic support.
Mine have mostly been garaged but also extensively used in Maine, where the roads are heavily salted. Ever had an issue with rust
 
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