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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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Discussion Starter #1
Noticed a 300SD with a for sale sign at a local restaurant and followed up on it. Looks OK superficially but I've made an appointment to look closer/drive it the Tuesday after Christmas.

What I know so far:

1984 300SD

Current owner bought it at an estate auction about 6 months ago and has been using it as his daily driver. No service records available.

247000+ miles with the odometer inop. True mileage is anyone's guess.

When purchased, the current owner changed both fuel filters, the oil and filter and the transmission fluid and filter. Trans Fluid refilled with Royal Purple synthetic. Reportedly shifts very well. We'll see.

Currently is a bit difficult to start on chilly mornings and uses about a quart of oil every 3000 miles. This is a definite concern. I can do a quick check of the glow plugs and relay but I doubt that the current owner will let me do a valve adjustment and compression test before purchase. Even if he would, I'd have to order the gaskets and tools since all of that stuff I had was left in CA at the shop I used to be allowed to use.

Needs new wood on the central console. Big patches of missing veneer. Some cracking on the leather on the front seat armrest. Driver's seat is a bit tired but not excessively so.

I'm getting the VIN so I can run the data card and a carfax.

He was asking $3,500 which I think is a pipe dream. I think $1,500 to $2,500 is more reasonable from what I'm seeing on CL.

I've been checking out the pre-purchase inspection threads and will, at least, be putting it up on ramps so I can check underneath for obvious suspension gaffes and problems, oil leaks, rust and anything else that jumps out at me and will post pics to the forum after I have a chance to go through it.

What's worrying me is the oil usage and hard cold-start. That combination may mean compression problems. That would be a complete downcheck. I'm not ready to buy a project that the first thing that I have to do is an engine swap.

I suspect that, if the car checks out, and is still a candidate after I go over it, I may see if I can drive it up to Albuquerque to one of the indy specialist MB shops there and have them do a formal pre-purchase inspection including a Valve adjustment and compression check.

Any other ideas and suggestions gratefully accepted.

One other thing: GET WELL DIMMUBERGER. May you be back behind the wheel of your SEC before anyone even knows you are out of the hospital.
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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189 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Got the correct VIN and ran a CarFax. It's clean. Car was originally from CA and had 220,000 miles in 1997 when it came to Arizona in 1997. 1998 it had 231000, 2000-234000, 2002--238000, 2007--238483 and the odo is currently showing 247000. Since the car came to the current owner from an estate sale, I suppose that that is reasonably consistent with a lightly driven car with an intermittent and finally failing odometer.

I also ran the option codes on epc and looked them up. Other than the fact that it was a California car as sold no great surprises. Paint color is Light Ivory (623).
 

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1981 300 SD, 1994 C280, 1990 560 SEC
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618 Posts
Definitely sounding like a $2000 SD on the surface. No records and unknown miles shouldn't be more than that. Compression check for sure.
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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189 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Here is the 300SD I just went to take a look at:



Overall, the car is in decent, drivable condition but it has some issues (don't they all?)

The good:

- Decent presentable 300SD
- No rust at all. I crawled all over, under around and through that car, looked under carpets, in the trunk, under windows etc.
- New Transmission fluid and filter.
- Fresh oil change w/filter.
- New Tires
- Brakes appear good with no pulls to either side or squeeling/grinding.
- Appears to have correct coolant. At least it's not green.
- Brown MBTex interior
- Seats are a bit bouncy but I don't feel any obvious problems with them
- AC converted to R134a and appears to be holding a charge and cooling properly. There is a local shop that will convert back to R12 if desired.
- Engine runs strong with minimal blow-by.
- New battery (as of right after it wouldn't start when I went to check it this morning. Owner was embarrassed and went out and got a new battery right then.) Alternator appears to be working properly.
- All lights work OK. didn't check interior lighting although the owner stated it suffers from the usual dim panel light problem.
- Sunroof works fine.

The bad:

- First, the biggie. I'm not sure of the transmission. There is a slight delay when shifting into reverse and that shift seems to be very firm. It's move the shift lever into reverse, onethousandone, onethousandtwo, clunk, you're in reverse. When cold, the 2,3,4 shifts come very close together but this may be the way it's designed. I've never driven a W126 300SD before. Kickdown switch may be having problems. I could not get to downshift at all and had to back off of a full throttle accelleration run to get it to upshift.
- Motor reportedly uses a quart of oil every 3000 miles. Is this normal?
- Lots of white metal fuses. Will probably have to replace them in job lots.
- Needs air filter
- Needs power steering filter
- Needs valve adjustment
- Dash cracked (see bad interior photo below)
- Owner only has valet key. would have to get master key from Mercedes dealer.
- Passenger's side rear quarter panel seems to be slightly lighter than the rest of the car. This may just be sun fading from where it was parked as I can see no sign of bodywork or replacement of the panel.
- Slight wrinkle on driver's side front fender. Looks like a small dent was just pushed out and not dollied or smoothed out in any way. Paint OK on that spot.
- Small pop-dent on hood where someone closed the hood and had something sitting on the engine.
- Needs hood pad.
- Center console around shifter will need new wood. Has big patches of missing veneer.
- No radio
- After long freeway run, oil pressure dropped to about 1 3/4 and engine shook a little bit. Cold and except for that one time, the motor ran very smooth.
- Driver's side seat rake switch is finicky. Will rake forward but you have to work to rake aft. All other seat adjustments seem to work ok.
- Power mirror motor works but doesn't move mirror side to side. Up/down tries to work but not very well.
- Passenger's side rear window inop. Motor works but doesn't move window.
- Odometer inop.
- Cruise control intermittent.
- Climate control is working but there is a delay after selecting the mode before you hear the vacuum pods in the dash switch over. This may be normal, again, no comparison.
- Paint appears to have been buffed out enough that it has been burned through in a couple of small spots. (see photo below)




Most of this, barring the transmission and the engine oil usage seems to be relatively minor shade tree mechanic stuff. I haven't talked price with the owner yet. I'd appreciate any opinions on that and whether these issues are enough of a downcheck to go look elsewhere.

Thanks for the help.
 

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560SEL 560SEC 300SEL E320 Cab. MB Metris Van / 300TD 300TE 300SDL, 300D, Unimog 406 (Gone)
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2,321 Posts
Agree with above - $2000. I have that exact car (L) in blue. Same mileage. Question. Did it have 15000 miles in the last 12 years or did I misread that?
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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189 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
The miles are what was reported off of the car fax. I know that it was off the road at least a year before being put up for auction by the owner's estate. I have no idea how long the odometer has been intermittent or inop. Bottom line is that the mileage is anybody's guess.

BTW, forgot to mention on a previous pst that the hard start was a combination of the old battery and the owner not being familiar with diesels and not waiting for the glow plugs long enough.
 

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1981 300 SD, 1994 C280, 1990 560 SEC
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618 Posts
Tranny sounds like a deal killer. Have a mechanic who is familiar with MB diesels drive it before you even think about buying it. The tranny sounds like it could be toast. Could drag along for a number of miles as well but given this car could have 300K on it, it is doubtful you won't need a new transmission soon. Spend $3000-$4000 on a 300SD with fewer miles and transmission that works.
 

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'85 500SEL -- Gandalf, the Anthracite
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189 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Good advice, everybody. I'm going to pass on this one. Without the transmission issue, I'd have probably seen if we could reach a deal but I really don't want a known big ticket repair hanging over my head.

And the search continues.
 
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