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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,
I’ve been looking for a 560SEC as a project car and think I found one worth buying.


It’s an ‘86 with fairly high miles at 169k. My favorite color combo (charcoal/light gray). No accidents or rust, but based on the pictures it has quite a bit of exterior sun damage and the interior needs some work. The owner says it’s been sitting a while and he got it from an estate sale so no records... but it drives “strong”.

Do you think this a good buy at 3900? Any opinions are welcomed.

thanks a lot
Justin
 

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W201, W212, W221, & W222 Moderator
'84 Euro 500SE, '85 Euro 2.3-16, '51 Euro 170S, '97 Jeep Wrangler Sport, '15 G63 AMG
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I'm not sure if it's the photo quality or what, but that pain on that car looks like an awful respray, or a decent amount of oxidization at the very least. There's some damage and rear driver's wheel arch, clear coat is peeling off the cladding, cracked dash, and quite a few other interior issues.

I would definitely question the mechanical condition of this car, with no records, at nearly 170K miles it's likely past due for a timing chain, or at least warrants pulling a valve cover to examine the guides and see if the chain has any noticeable slop from stretching. If it's been dealer serviced, you can always provide the VIN to a local dealer and they should be able to pull up the service records, whether or not they'll give you that info is another story; it seems some will share it, and some won't, citing privacy concerns.

Given that these now appear into the low $20,000s (whether that's fair market or not, who knows) with even tired examples like this one being sold for twice that asking price, this could be a "good" deal relative to the cost of getting into a much nicer, more cared for car.

If you've got the know-how and aren't afraid to tackle issues yourself, you might find yourself not getting burned by a cheaper Mercedes (there's that whole saying about nothing being more expensive than a cheap Mercedes, but that applies to most luxury car brands, especially when they're 20-40+ years old). If it were me, I'd hold out for a better example if you're wanting a nice, turn-key driver. You're going to get different opinions on the value of this particular car, too. To some, it's a $10k car all day long while others may not dare pay more than $3500 for it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey all,
I’ve been looking for a 560SEC as a project car and think I found one worth buying.


It’s an ‘86 with fairly high miles at 169k. My favorite color combo (charcoal/light gray). No accidents or rust, but based on the pictures it has quite a bit of exterior sun damage and the interior needs some work. The owner says it’s been sitting a while and he got it from an estate sale so no records... but it drives “strong”.

I'm not sure if it's the photo quality or what, but that pain on that car looks like an awful respray, or a decent amount of oxidization at the very least. There's some damage and rear driver's wheel arch, clear coat is peeling off the cladding, cracked dash, and quite a few other interior issues.

I would definitely question the mechanical condition of this car, with no records, at nearly 170K miles it's likely past due for a timing chain, or at least warrants pulling a valve cover to examine the guides and see if the chain has any noticeable slop from stretching. If it's been dealer serviced, you can always provide the VIN to a local dealer and they should be able to pull up the service records, whether or not they'll give you that info is another story; it seems some will share it, and some won't, citing privacy concerns.

Given that these now appear into the low $20,000s (whether that's fair market or not, who knows) with even tired examples like this one being sold for twice that asking price, this could be a "good" deal relative to the cost of getting into a much nicer, more cared for car.

If you've got the know-how and aren't afraid to tackle issues yourself, you might find yourself not getting burned by a cheaper Mercedes (there's that whole saying about nothing being more expensive than a cheap Mercedes, but that applies to most luxury car brands, especially when they're 20-40+ years old). If it were me, I'd hold out for a better example if you're wanting a nice, turn-key driver. You're going to get different opinions on the value of this particular car, too. To some, it's a $10k car all day long while others may not dare pay more than $3500 for it.
Appreciate the opinion Josh! I did notice the damage you mentioned on the body as well. It’s got a lot of wear and hasn’t been driven much the past 5 years which is concerning. If it had lengthy service records or any sign of regular maintenance I would almost let some of the cosmetic issues slide.
 

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1986/1990 W126
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14,132 Posts
Shame about the records isn't it. And sun damage isn't ideal either. The mileage wouldn't worry me on one of these, but the maintenance is unknown.
It's an attractive car though, sometimes you can tell in person if they've been looked after or not.
That timing chain is a real unknown obviously and a brittle guide could chip off and make the car a pretty lawn ornament. That's the case with all of these though, it's just worth a thought. A lot of the time new guides and tensioner can get you by and the guides are very cheap at least

Paintwork is such a pain to get right too.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Shame about the records isn't it. And sun damage isn't ideal either. The mileage wouldn't worry me on one of these, but the maintenance is unknown.
It's an attractive car though, sometimes you can tell in person if they've been looked after or not.
That timing chain is a real unknown obviously and a brittle guide could chip off and make the car a pretty lawn ornament. That's the case with all of these though, it's just worth a thought. A lot of the time new guides and tensioner can get you by and the guides are very cheap at least

Paintwork is such a pain to get right too.
how much do you think it will cost to replace those components? Do you think a body shop could correct the paint damage? Just curious how much it would cost minimum to get it to a base level of acceptable daily use.
 

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1986/1990 W126
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Depends on your goal. If it doesn't need a new chain because of stretch, just the guides is cheap, maybe £250 done at a shop. Tensioner is advised and MB only is the best one by miles, they are about the same cost at least but super easy to fit, just two bolts.

Then if you don't find any other driving problems it may make a decent project run about. Very likely the suspension is worn and needing lots of cash and work, but if it hasn't got a death wobble it might be perfectly tolerable.

It looks clean inside but going by how the drivers bolster is omitted from every picture, you can bet there's the normal gaping hole there.

Dash is cracked in the usual places for a sun baked car. A cover could be put over maybe.

Fuel lines are a safety item and need considering. Other than that, just depends what you want at the end of it. It's usually just easier and cheaper to buy a more expensive one, if that makes any sense.

Do you tinker? These cars are way, way cheaper to own if you do. They're great to work on in general but if you have to take everything to a shop or could ruin you.

Paint is just a pain in the arse and it costs.
 

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'91 560SEC, '98 SL500
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I'm going to be Mr. Tough Love here and add to Ian's post, as we've seen many come and go over the years.

Many guys get excited to own the big boy S class with huge dreams and aspirations to make it cool and impress family, friends etc etc only to flee the camp once they get into it and realize the time, work and COST to get it to the "cool" finish line.

Point and case, I bought my SEC back in 2012 for $6,800 it was way nicer cosmetically (exterior) than this eBay car, but mechanically it was neglected and the leather was getting bad, fortunately the dash was perfect and no rear window de-lam issues, it took me 4 years to sort it out, that was working almost every weekend and many nights after work. To fix the AC for example cost me $3k, yes almost 50% of the purchase price and that was just for one maintenance item. But I had a vision and I stuck it out, I had fun along the way, I also learnt a lot and made some great online buddies here on this forum.

My question to you, if this car takes three (3) years of your life and $20,000, will you cut your losses and sail on or hang in there? Touche
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm going to be Mr. Tough Love here and add to Ian's post, as we've seen many come and go over the years.

Many guys get excited to own the big boy S class with huge dreams and aspirations to make it cool and impress family, friends etc etc only to flee the camp once they get into it and realize the time, work and COST to get it to the "cool" finish line.

Point and case, I bought my SEC back in 2012 for $6,800 it was way nicer cosmetically (exterior) than this eBay car, but mechanically it was neglected and the leather was getting bad, fortunately the dash was perfect and no rear window de-lam issues, it took me 4 years to sort it out, that was working almost every weekend and many nights after work. To fix the AC for example cost me $3k, yes almost 50% of the purchase price and that was just for one maintenance item. But I had a vision and I stuck it out, I had fun along the way, I also learnt a lot and made some great online buddies here on this forum.

My question to you, if this car takes three (3) years of your life and $20,000, will you cut your losses and sail on or hang in there? Touche
appreciate the honest response. I’m not a mechanic nor do I have the garage space to store it in :/ Very good question... 20k sounds is a heavy labor of love. I don’t know if I could keep it going at that point.

If you don’t mind me asking, how much did you end up putting into yours when it was all said and done? and did you end up selling it?
 

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1991 560SEL
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All of the replies in here are sound.

My opinion? if you are local and can test it out to see if it starts/runs/shifts well? $3500 would mitigate a fair amount of financial risk. Meaning, you get it, and if it turns out that its going to be a project you end up not wanting to take on? Chances of selling it at a price where you fully recoup your spend, are high. So you've minimized a lot of risk..

SEC's are quite sought after..
 

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1991 560SEL
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Mine was a SEL not SEC, and was a one owner 1991. Low miles. Maintained at dealership all its life, but for the last 5 years, not sure of much work that was done. But either way, a good example of a near 30 yr old car. Documented much of the work here:


Did almost all work myself and I easily have around $10k into it. Admittedly that includes non-necessary work as well (new wheels, euro bumpers, paintwork of the bumpers/cladding, euro headlights, ceramic window tint, euro look headlamps, trunk spoiler, etc) but still, expect to put a few grand into a refresh, even if you do the work yourself. add on a LOT more if you are talking about a full body paintjob.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
All of the replies in here are sound.

My opinion? if you are local and can test it out to see if it starts/runs/shifts well? $3500 would mitigate a fair amount of financial risk. Meaning, you get it, and if it turns out that its going to be a project you end up not wanting to take on? Chances of selling it at a price where you fully recoup your spend, are high. So you've minimized a lot of risk..

SEC's are quite sought after..
I’m in Southern California and it’s located up in the bay, so it would take a quick cheap flight to go check it out. The guy hasn’t been easy to talk to on the phone, and has been a bit reluctant to share information on it... which has been a big red flag for me. The guy basically flips old Germany cars on eBay. Good ratings but not the most transparent seller.

3500 isn’t a huge amount of spend to recoup I agree, and if it turns out to be more than I can handle I’m sure I could clean it up and get rid of it locally.

I’ve always been a big fan of the sec line and Bruno Sacco designs and you don’t see many of these mid late 80s sec’s around anymore in any kind of workable shape. but that said, making decisions based on emotions usually don’t work out since logic goes out the window.

Maybe best to be patient and find one with more love behind it.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Mine was a SEL not SEC, and was a one owner 1991. Low miles. Maintained at dealership all its life, but for the last 5 years, not sure of much work that was done. But either way, a good example of a near 30 yr old car. Documented much of the work here:


Did almost all work myself and I easily have around $10k into it. Admittedly that includes non-necessary work as well (new wheels, euro bumpers, paintwork of the bumpers/cladding, euro headlights, ceramic window tint, euro look headlamps, trunk spoiler, etc) but still, expect to put a few grand into a refresh, even if you do the work yourself. add on a LOT more if you are talking about a full body paintjob.
beautiful SEL man. Garage kept and dealer maintained really goes a long way!
 

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'91 560SEC, '98 SL500
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If you're not a mechanic or have a garage, sorry... this might not be the car for you....
You need a set of great tools and solid mechanical aptitude.
I have have well north of $30k in my car, it starts adding up very quickly.
That incl.
1) New 18" OZ Wheels, all new suspension (of which I experimented with varying types before settling on the best)
2) Fixed the AC
3) Rebuilt all the fuel system from the pumps to the injectors
4) One off headers and stainless exhaust system ceramic coated
5) Redesigned and fabricated new radiator and cooling system
6) Rebuilt transmission
7) W140 Glass sunroof
8) All new leather and alcantara headliner
9) New motor mounts, seals, timing chain, tensioner, lots of maintenance
10) AMG Body Kit
11) Repainted bumpers
It goes on and on and on..you get the drift.
but the car looks good and yes this car has 158,000 miles on it, it gets driven.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
If you're not a mechanic or have a garage, sorry... this might not be the car for you....
You need a set of great tools and solid mechanical aptitude.
I have have well north of $30k in my car, it starts adding up very quickly.
That incl.
1) New 18" OZ Wheels, all new suspension (of which I experimented with varying types before settling on the best)
2) Fixed the AC
3) Rebuilt all the fuel system from the pumps to the injectors
4) One off headers and stainless exhaust system ceramic coated
5) Redesigned and fabricated new radiator and cooling system
6) Rebuilt transmission
7) W140 Glass sunroof
8) All new leather and alcantara headliner
9) New motor mounts, seals, timing chain, tensioner, lots of maintenance
10) AMG Body Kit
11) Repainted bumpers
It goes on and on and on..you get the drift.
but the car looks good and yes this car has 158,000 miles on it, it gets driven.
Very clean. Yep might not be the right time for a project like this. Appreciate the info!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
On another topic, what’s your opinion of the w114? Another oldie Benz I’ve been a fan of.

I found a nice example for 7.5k, ‘74 astral silver, 85k miles. Seems to be in good condition.

This would make a cool cruiser with a few upgrades. Throw some bbs wheels, euro bumpers and some lowering springs. 👌🏻
 

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85 500SEC (Euro), 87 560SEC (now sold)
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If you are in So Cal you are literally in the middle of heaven for SEC's. There are tons of them going up for sale all the time and I highly recommend you stay local and find one there. You really do need to be patient. Trust me, I have bought two of them and learned a lot from my mistakes. An interior like the one you are looking at will cost a fortune to restore. The paint is obviously a bad respray and you just know there will be tons of mechanicals.

Please let me tell you from experience that you will 100% not want to invest in a hot mess as it will bankrupt you. My 500 SEC was supposed to be "near perfect" but right out the gate it had crazy issues that just tidal waved me into a near nervous breakdown. Thankfully it's all good now and I do not regret the purchase. My interior is very nice and that allows me to focus money on mechanical issues and keep costs down.

By the way, slownrusty's white SEC is pretty much as good as they get. The high miles are meaningless on such a sorted car.

My advice, whatever you set aside for money to purchase, add 4 grand to that for the first year. Just the first year alone! Unless you buy one that is already sorted from a real SEC enthusiast.

Below black beauty is mine. I paid just about $7000 in July of 2018, plus $2000 to ship it (covered) to me in NC. I spent around 2500 on wheels and tires and somewhere around 5 grand on mechanical sorting. I am sure I have a more accurate cost estimate elsewhere in the forum, but as cherry as my ride was, I still had to spend money on all sorts of surprises. Again, all worth it because cosmetically the car is terrific. Right now she has 112k miles.
2634043

2634044
 

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1991 560 SEC Black on Grey
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I would say not a chance. For a couple more thousand you should be able to find one in MUCH better shape, that one doesn't seem to have anything going for it and these cars get expensive FAST if you can't do the work yourself. Like someone else said, be patient.
 
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