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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #1
Over the past couple of weeks I've sunk about 7k into my, up-until-recently derelict 300SD. I've been talking about it for years but it would appear I'm now actually restoring my W126.

I'm aware it's financially stupid and don't expect to ever be able to sell it for anything. I originally purchased this car in 2004. I spent my younger days driving all over the country in her. The WVO modifications (back to stock now) forced me to learn to wrench which is now a huge part of my life. I sold her in 2011 before graduate school because I didn't think I'd have time. A couple years later I saw her on CL. Obviously I bought her back. Turns out I was right and didn't have time. But, now I do!

My guess is this is going to take a year or two. The drivetrain is solid and there's only two tiny specs of rust. Outside of that, there's a lot wrong. Kent Bergsma made a solid argument for doing everything cosmetic first. It leaves you with a shiny toy and more incentive to put time into it. So I'm starting with the ratty interior and investing in a full respray. Then I'll getting her to pass emissions and start working on all the non-functional bits and pieces like power windows.

Going to use this thread as some light documentation whenever I have to figure things out on my own. Hopefully it will help out some other poor fool in the future who wants to bring a ratty W126 back to her former glory. If anyone has any thoughts I'd love the input.

One other wrinkle to my ridiculous plan... I live in an apartment and don't have a garage.


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We’re in the same boat. 1984 500SEL graymarket. Going on for about 3-4 months now with the restoration. A lot of nerves gone but very rewarding stuff. My tip: don’t throw away the old parts until you get new ones. New ones can be wrong ones. And record everything before you take it off. Came close to pulling my hair out couple times because I forgot how to reassemble it. Mostly because wait time for parts is long and you just forget some stuff.

Good luck.




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1990 SEC
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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #5
Ha. Yes, you can tell he's wise by the hint of grey.

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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #6
Many updates from my initial post. However, there was a major milestone an hour ago. I finally dropped her off at the shop for paint, upholstery and some audio improvements! They said "every bit of two months". That seems like about how long it will take me to polish aluminum, dye carpet, rebuild vacuum actuators, etc. So right on track.

I'll try to get to some more helpful write-ups in the next few weeks but thought I'd post this picture. I had been debating whether to replace my headliner or just leave it up and attempt to clean. I eventually decided to do it right.

As outlined in a different thread, the problem is that this headliner does not appear to be available from American distributors anymore. I eventually found a German distributor with pictures that seemed pretty close. Currently waiting on DHL and we'll see. If it's not the same my plan is to thoroughly clean, stick it in my ozone bag (patent pending but not really invention of mine) for a week then paint with SEM.

For me, this is where the process of restoring my old car has been incredible. The "figure it out" portion. The FSM doesn't cover everything. I get to gain an intimate understanding of even these mundane aspects of a vehicle that's been a huge part of my life over the years.

At any rate, fingers crossed on SJS Car Styling headliner and here's some pics of gnarly 36 year old interior vinyl.


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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #7
Interesting update on my restoration. A little bit back I dropped my baby off at a shop for paint and upholstery. The place was a little shady but the price seemed about what it should be and I really liked the guy running the shop.

Couple weeks ago I was dropping some parts off and was early. Door was locked so I waited in my Jeep. This older woman drove up to my car and wanted to talk to me down the street. She told me the shop had her son's truck for 9 months and had taken $30k from them... to bag it! Not good. We exchanged information. When I met with the guy running the shop it seemed like everything was all good though. He just genuinely seems like a really nice guy. But then fast forward to a few days ago and she sends me this -


The owner of the shop is now in jail for multiple charges as a part of a criminal conspiracy case with Hell's Angels and one of those charges is "chop shop activities". Very not good. From talking with the older lady I had to assume one of their hustles is to just car owners for money long term. I HAD GIVEN MY CAR TO A CHOP SHOP!!! What in the actual f***?

I went back to the paint shop that recommended them. When I dropped the name of the shop the guy had an extremely strong reaction and initially said he shouldn't be talking about it. Then I told him the story of my car and that it was there. He opened up and was super animated. He said it's definitely a chop shop and they're going to get raided and shut down any minute. He said they were big customers and used to pay with wads of cash. But the folks at the paint shop were naive like me because the chop shop guys just seemed like good dudes. He said now the paint shop is expecting to have to deal with the DA because they did so much business with these guys. The paint shop is a 40 year old family business. They don't need this nonsense. His bottom line - get my car the hell out of there.

What I first did was text (they don't do phone calls) the guy running the shop (who I'll call R) and tell him I got fired from my job and was drowning in debt. I have to put the restoration on hold and need the car because working on it is the one thing that keeps me sane and it's either that or a bottle. My logic there is can't bleed a stone. Then I asked my attorney to find someone who works with this. Then I found a repo guy. The repo guy was actually the most helpful. I was thinking about having the police accompany me. He said under no circumstances do that. It would inflame the situation and they'd put it inside the shop so we wouldn't be able to get it. I was tempted to just have the repo guy snag it but the shop also had all of my GAHH interior, rebuilt seats, ebay dash, etc.

After days of dodging me and rescheduling R said any time Friday. The thing is the doors are always locked, there are no windows and you can't tell if anyone is inside. I assumed he would reschedule and duck me again. So I didn't set up a time but got there a little before lunch, figuring people would have to be there by then. Just banged on every door. A younger dude that works there let me in and then brought me to the office. There were four large gentlemen with neck tattoos and ZZ-Top beards. They were just glaring at me silently, clearly unhappy that someone random walked in. R was caught off guard and asked me to wait in the garage for a minute. I took a while of me giving him my fake sob story of being fired before Christmas and not knowing if I can make rent but eventually he relented and gave me the key.

Of course they managed to run up a bill larger than my deposit while not doing any work. But he's doing me a favor by not charging me the extra $300 because he knows I need the money.

Happily it ended with my car on a tow truck heading back to my apartment. A lot of stress, delay and lost $1,000 but the upshot is the Veggiewagen has another cool story under her belt!

Moral of the story - ALWAYS trust the Yelp reviews.

Veggiewagen on her way back home from the chop shop:
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Veggiewagen tire deflated from sitting so long in front of chop shop with cars unnecessarily jammed in togther:
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350SDL, '17 GLS450, "Grandpa's Roadster" Project Car
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Wow, quite a story. (Now I'm worried about my restoration project...)

What does "$30k to bag it" mean?
 

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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Wow, quite a story. (Now I'm worried about my restoration project...)

What does "$30k to bag it" mean?
I'm still coming down from the scare. This car has been getting me into weird situations for the past 16 years. Maybe if I keep her forever I won't get boring when I'm old. Sorry, older.

By "bag" I mean put airbag suspension in it like lowriders. The shop was ostensibly truck customization. I'm guessing that should cost about 2k and take about 3 days labor.

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That is INSANITY!!! Good Lord.

Man oh man, you need to talk to some quality people HERE in this forum so that you can have your ride properly cared for by people who are honest and forthright.

I wish you good luck because that is going to be a lovely 126 when you are finished.
 

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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #11
That is INSANITY!!! Good Lord.

Man oh man, you need to talk to some quality people HERE in this forum so that you can have your ride properly cared for by people who are honest and forthright.

I wish you good luck because that is going to be a lovely 126 when you are finished.
Yeah, I should have gone with the forum initially. I actually got another recommendation by way of the story. I'm in commercial real estate and in a meeting with my buy side broker I brought this up to explain why I was kind of off generally. Turns out he restores old Jeeps! He has a guy he goes to specifically for paint and upholstery. He's already referred me to both a fantastic lawyer and a great accountant so he's 2 for 2.

But you're 100% right. I'll see what the forum has to say. Benzworld hasn't steered me wrong

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Discussion Starter #12
Combination question and restoration hack.

I've been working like crazy to get all of my interior pieces ready for Color Coat. I finally secured somewhere to paint so it's basically whenever everything is ready.

Because I'm a psychopath I decided the rug doctor wasn't enough for the carpet. I've been putting pieces in the shower and going to town with a hard bristle brush, simple green and dish soap. Work intensive but incredible results. I couldn't believe how much dirt came out even after the carpet shampooer.

Issue is, they're drying firm and don't have a plush carpet feel. I'm concerned about putting the SEM on in that state. Like, that the dye drying with it like might lock in the texture. Or it might not allow it to soak in properly.

Is this something I should worry about?

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1989 560 SEC - V-8 Kompressor - 95 E320 Estate
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I don't think I'm any near your location but we specialize in Classic MB restorations. Check out my latest project here on BW of a 1984 W123 300TD. My client is paying around $6k total which includes the car. We produce well sorted Mercedes for a reasonable realistic cost. I guess that's why all my cars are sold before I ever put them on the market. Here is the BW link https://www.benzworld.org/threads/my-first-w123-restoration.3040606/unread Mike
 

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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #14
I don't think I'm any near your location but we specialize in Classic MB restorations. Check out my latest project here on BW of a 1984 W123 300TD. My client is paying around $6k total which includes the car. We produce well sorted Mercedes for a reasonable realistic cost. I guess that's why all my cars are sold before I ever put them on the market. Here is the BW link https://www.benzworld.org/threads/my-first-w123-restoration.3040606/unread Mike
Hey Mike,

I want to do as much of this as possible. It's almost spiritual for me. But realistically I have to farm a few things out.

What did that gauge face resto run?

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We do everything in-house. Either myself or one of my team members perform tasks which we are best suited. Feel free to PM me with items you need help with.
 

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1983 300SD
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Discussion Starter #16
We do everything in-house. Either myself or one of my team members perform tasks which we are best suited. Feel free to PM me with items you need help with.
I need to see what the story is with the new paint shop (see story of old one above). This place is end to end restoration as well. Guy was an MB tech in the 90s and was referred by a trusted colleague. So I have a great deal of cautious optimism. But if they want like a grand to clean up the gauge faces and you guys do it for 250 that's an obvious choice.

I honestly think that once the paint and upholstery is done I've got it from there. Gauge faces I could do, it's just a bit outside my wheelhouse. I'm just not totally averse to paying someone to help expedite the process. I'll PM you after getting some sleep.

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Discussion Starter #17
Issue is, they're drying firm and don't have a plush carpet feel. I'm concerned about putting the SEM on in that state. Like, that the dye drying with it like might lock in the texture. Or it might not allow it to soak in properly.
Okay guys, total derp moment here. I used the medium stiffness brush I have for my beard. Moderate pressure rubbing in all directions followed by brushing against the grain of the carpet. Nice and soft. Carpet has a little dandruff now, but that'll come out when I vacuum it 18,000x prior to the dye.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Longish update since it's been a while. The progress tends to get posted in other threads I start with questions.

I came to terms with the price of a quality paint job and the Veggiewagen is in the hands of a shop I trust. They just finished media blasting and as a life long Florida car she's in great condition! Unfortunately I found some rust underneath the sunroof, but he thinks that won't be too bad.

Most of the interior was stripped prior to handing her off and almost all of it + junkyard pieces I like have been SEM painted. It came out fantastic. Still need a center console and a driver's Gen 2 door card.

One of my big issues has been how to do this stuff while living in an apartment and not having a garage. For the SEM I initially did it outside but then it got too cold. Interesting solution to that. I work at an environmentally friendly co-working office. I told them about the project and how the car used to run on WVO and convinced them to let me spray in the office after hours!

Wrote about it in great detail on a dedicated thread but I pulled vacuum pods from the JY and rebuilt all of the single diaphragms. From what I can see there is no way to fully rebuild the dual diaphragm ones. The top diaphragm isn't designed to come out and I just couldn't find a way. However, two of those are still in production. I came up with a way to retrofit one of the new ones to have the same actuator arm and vacuum fittings as the remaining NLA pod using JY parts and copious use of my Dremel.

For the padding under the carpet I was initially going to cut new foam. I decided that was going to be impractical. I eventually figured out that using a hand steamer and wide trim puller would allow me to remove the rear pads with patience. The front pads were significantly more difficult but are more or less intact. To get rid of the musty smell I then stacked them with space in between and put them in a contractor bag. I put Biocide (chlorine bomb) in the bag, sealed it up and let it sit for 24 hours. For good measure I hit them with ozone too. Now they get to sit outdoors until the time is ripe.

One cathartic but PIA bit has been the aluminum trim. Flitz + buffing wheel on my Milwaukee drill + PATIENCE. Small sections at a time, very slowly. I have three sets, two off of Colorado cars and one off my Florida car. The CO ones are comparatively easy to shine up but the ones off my car are severely clouded. Seems like a simple solution. However the CO ones have more scratches. So I'm just doing all of them. Later on I'll sand, polish and re-anodize.

Monark nozzles are on the way. After much research and correspondence I found eBay nozzles from Germany are legit. And I finally found a shop that will install them and balance the injectors. Wanted to do it myself but living room smelling like diesel seems unpleasant. Very surprised at how difficult that was.

Next update will be on my sheepskin flooring! I've put a ton of time into hand washing carpet in the shower, but it sounds like full coverage on the floor will be under 1k. Not period correct for MB, but I think it's period correct for Rolls. Acceptable restomod in my book.


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