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85- 280GE /95- G320 / 08 - G500
125 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I originally was going to send this privately to requester of previous post, Jhughes11, who had asked for advice etc. on restoring his G but I thought it best to post public for anyone later searching same subject matter and for others to chime in with their thoughts.

First and foremost, I am by no means a G wizard,expert or mechanic. I am a Mercedes enthusiast which started 3 years ago when I restored a 1983 300D, followed by a 1981 300SD and now this project my 1985 280GE. I have pretty much followed the same guidlines which have resulted in a dependable,factory looking vehicle such that most everyone says "It doesnt look 20 years old"

In all my Benz vehicles I have always started out with a "clean base" that is, bought a used car with documented history of its past maintenance...this gives me my starting point. Once in my possesion I completely inspect and make a notepad of my "TO DO" list on those items that need addressed or that I want to address. Anything that looks worn or is a known issue of potential problems, I make note to replace. Which the following outlines in my order of importance:

A. Mechanical and Safety Items
1. brakes,belts and hoses
2. tires / shocks
3. tranny/transfer case, drivetrain
4. lights
5. fuel system
6. engine
7. battery
8. Safety belts
9. Wiper blades
When I purchased my G all items here were in good order and had recent servicing, except for light lens issues, cracked wires under hood and fuel lines to and from filter looked needing replacement.

B. Exterior Body
1. Inspect for rust
a. Door sills
b. Floor boards
c. Rear door sill
d. Rear spring retainers
e. Battery Box
f. Between lower molding and body
g. Under headlamps
h. Fuel cap area
i. windshield lower area
j. wiper shaft area
2. Paint
a. Areas that may need polishing or repainting
3. Moldings
a. Properly seated
b. Any screws missing?
With my G I did not heed to this before purchase and ended up with some surprise rust on the floorboards adn door sills. Although common, I had checked everywhere else and end result was this was the only area. Once and or if rust is found, you must then determine its cause. In my case it was the combination of water coming in through the water drain tubes that go from bottom of a/c into tranny tunnel,battery box grommet on bottom and worn door seals all which allowed water to enter while being washed or a good rain.

C. Interior
1. Missing screws
2. interior lighting
3. flooring/carpeting
4. mystery wires ?
5. corroded wires, usually found in sill area
6. gauges working and lights inside
7. seat bolts
8. drain holes
9. rubber door seals
10. broken plastic items, shifter gate plastic
11. transmission selector
12. electrical switches working
13. missing reading light holder
14 exposed wiring that shouldnt be
15 loose trim pieces
When I brought my G home, the first thing I did, like on all my vehicles, is pull out the seats,carpeting/flooring to air out the stink. All cars have a stink...I prefer my own stink so I like to start from scratch. This is when I found the rust and knew I had to address this and the cause. it was at this point I thought I was over my head as being from the west and never owning a car with any rust...I then cried the blues with a post here wondering whether to end this right then and there and cut my losses. Then out of the blue people starting responding with helpful hints and shared their was at that time I KNEW I WAS NOT ALONE.

I bought the EPC and manual from Harald which will pretty much show you anything you need to know about your G and recommend an EPC for those that are undertaking a restoration task.

So with time on my side, I started my project. i yanked out the interior, taking digital photos along the way for reference later when putting back together. I used the POR15 method for rust prevention and anything that needed replacing I looked up on the EPC to see what it is and lookup estimated cost for budgeting purposes. While doing the rust work, there was always time in between steps or waiting for things to dry to do rewiring of speaker wires, and identify mystery wires of which had no origin and going to the computer using the search function for whatever job I was doing or preparing to do later.

Keep in mind, I was never in any hurry and always looking forward for the UPS guy to bring my order of parts so I could get one step closer to bring this thing back to its former glory. Whenever I was in between jobs or waitng for a parts order, I would do something silly like polish and wax a section of the body,clean moldings,cleanup underdash wiring etc. This was somewhat productive, although it seemed everytime I started one project it would lead to another unanticipated project resulting in another parts order.

Jim, I think you had asked for hints, and I strayed away a bit. So here are my hints:

1. Use ziplock bags to keep loose parts,screws in and label accordingly.
2. Use a digital camera before you tear down anything so you can refer back as reference to reassemble.
3. Buy an EPC and manual
4. Use the "search" function on this forum to troubleshoot any issues your G may someone somewhere has had the same thing happen to them.
5. Have access to a good Mercedes mechanic where you live in case you get over your head on something.
6. Dont get in a hurry...ever
7. Be methodical how you approach something and look for a cause and effect. ie: if someting failed, ask why and does something else need fixing at the same time.
8.If you get frustrated doing something, stop and do something cosmetic to your G, like wax or clean an area,or something that you can see immediate results.

My G sat for 2 months in my garage after my purchase while at times had numerous projects waitng for parts or waiting for free time to work on it.

Hope this helps, it is now time for bed and then time to prepare for my next project..changing all fluids and troubleshooting my headlights by which go off when I use the turn signal from time to time. Looks like a research job I will undergo starting with the "search" function here.


280 ge and 300gd
201 Posts
I think that your post above is the best single article advice given to get somebody started.

My own 300gd has sat in the uk weather for 3.5 yrs after purchase as scrap before thinking it was better to use it.We were to swap 280ge to 300gd.

It wasnt a question as to if it could be driven, more of how much to do it and when.

This machine has turned out to be sound in axles transfer and engine but the box on its way out.

The usual 3 doors needed 12" each of metal as well as A and B posts on the back door and substansial metal welding in.The tank, piping of any description, oil and brakes were eaten away and yes the rear right body mount bar was rotted over a 6" length on the outer bumper mount.

both axles had to be dropped and rebushed along with new shockers and a superb locally made stainless exhaust system.

The above repairs £2000 and mounting with any internal mechanics still to do, still looks a shed on wheels but it is sound now and the interior and other items can be recapped when money allows.

As the work was done outside between September and March in UK weather it toughned me up and made you do what you could elswhere. Its on the road and apart from poor mpg will wash up well.

The parts situation in the Uk is fluid still with very little not turning up within 3 to 4 days of order. Ebay is a must for watching as this has some bargins especially in the EU.

Dont tbe put off, but if the G is not a essential to the fleet take your time.

Now roll on the flying bannana a late 79 280 ge demonstrator!.

Thanks again

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