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Hello – New guy on the block here who knows very little about the mechanics of a car. Comfortable changing a battery, tire, and a light bulb but that is about it.

I’ve wanted to get an older Mercedes for sometime now and recently starting looking more seriously. Quickly I’ve realized how much I don’t know about these cars. I don’t want a show piece – looking for something that runs decent, looks decent, and I can drive without putting much money into it right away.

I’ve found a car that seems pretty good.

The car is a 1979 280SE
-78,000 miles on it and 2 owners.
-blue exterior – its been repainted with what I think was the original color
-blue check cloth interior
-no rust
-inside is in good shape
-manual windows
-electric sunroof
-AC – not sure if it works or not – couldn’t figure out how to turn it on.
-asking price is $2995 USD

Questions –

1.The car does not currently start; it turns over but won’t actually start. The dealer says it needs a new cold start valve which is about $600 he says. The guy sprayed some starter fluid in it and it started right up and ran great. Does this sound like it could be the cold start valve? Is it really $600?

2.Dealer says it’s a European model because of the bumpers; it has the bigger one with a smaller one on top. How do I tell for sure?

3.It has the rectangular one piece headlights. Is there a reason why some have these and others have the round ones? I prefer the round ones.

4. The 280SE badge is missing from the truck. I am assuming that it was removed when it was painted and never put back on. Or worse that it was in an accident and the badge got ruined, the car got painted and they never got a new one.

5.This care has steel or alloy rims. I’ve always wanted the hubcaps that match the car color. Did the 280SE ever have these?

So…..If I could buy the car contingent on the cold start valve being fixed by them what would be a good price? Are there a few major items I should check out?

Sorry for the long post and really would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks
 

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67 300 SEL, 85 500 SEL, 90 420 SEL
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Answer

Questions –

1.The car does not currently start; it turns over but won’t actually start. The dealer says it needs a new cold start valve which is about $600 he says. The guy sprayed some starter fluid in it and it started right up and ran great. Does this sound like it could be the cold start valve? Is it really $600?
The warm up regulator costs $395.-- at Mercedes Benz Parts, Mercedes Parts, Accessories

2.Dealer says it’s a European model because of the bumpers; it has the bigger one with a smaller one on top. How do I tell for sure?
Yes, it is, small bumpers and cloth interior. US models came either with vinyl or leather (very rare, though)

3.It has the rectangular one piece headlights. Is there a reason why some have these and others have the round ones? I prefer the round ones.
Euro cars have the rectangular headlights which give you a lot of light at night, US cars had four sealed beam headlights, which give hardly any light at night.

4. The 280SE badge is missing from the truck. I am assuming that it was removed when it was painted and never put back on. Or worse that it was in an accident and the badge got ruined, the car got painted and they never got a new one.
Believe it or not, it was an option NOT to have the badge on the trunklid, a no cost option by the way. Lots of Euro cars came that way, especially the ones with the small engine........

5.This care has steel or alloy rims. I’ve always wanted the hubcaps that match the car color. Did the 280SE ever have these? Yes, they came standard like this, alloys were an option. Hubcaps match the outside color of the car.

So…..If I could buy the car contingent on the cold start valve being fixed by them what would be a good price? Are there a few major items I should check out? If he fixes the cold start valve and car is otherwise all "there" with no rust, it's an excellent price.

Sorry for the long post and really would appreciate any feedback.

Thanks
I hope this helped you a bit.

Best regards

Hans
 

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Outstanding Contributor
1990 500SL, 1986 500SEC
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1,799 Posts
+1 on everything Hans said.

I would add that is a relatively good price if they fix the cold start issue, however, NO ONE is seeking out W116 cars especially the 280SE. It is very unfortunate for value but if you like the styling (as I do) it's the perfect time to negotiate.

For $3000 (cold start or not) I would want to see books and records showing how it was cared for. Be very particular looking over the body for signs of rust and accidents. The W116 in my experience hides rust very well.

My point is take your time as the car probably won't sell quickly and do your due dilligence.

I honestly hope you find this car is for YOU because I am in love with a Euro W116 with checked cloth interior!!
 

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1985 500 SEC EURO AMG/LORINSER; 1988 560SEL, 1995 S500 Sonderschutz
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I was going to troll you but I'll give you some advice from my experience.

If you don't know much about cars, make sure you have a place to store/work on the car. You will learn if you have any ounce of mechanical aptitude (i.e. you know that a phillips head screwdriver won't work on a flathead)

DEFINE why you want the car.

If you want to flip it, flip it and don't put a dime into it and stalk the forums for uneducated, eager to-be-buyers.

If you want a daily driver, fix it until it drives and can get you from point A to point B. Be ready to open your wallet before long drives as you'll end up being more concerned about getting home not in a casket.

If you want a Concours winner, be prepared to open your wallet as well as the vaults of your local Federal Credit Union.

So the most important thing you can do right now, is DEFINE what you would do with the car and if you have the MEANS to achieve the goal. That's all ya gotta do. When all else fails, STICK TO THE PLAN. And you can't have a daily driver that will win contests, not in this New England weather.

Also, I'm in Northampton, SO STAY OUT OF MY TERRITORY! Hehe just kidding (but seriously.)

Also, the elimination of the trunk badges was an option that many people with euros did. So don't go looking for it between the cushions.
 

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1996 E320, 2005 Toyota Camry
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280se

I second Firewater's comments, especially about the money end of it. My '78 280SE is a wonderful car which I love to drive, but you have to be prepared to spend MONEY on these cars; I have had to pump $$$$ into mine. Also, expect 14 mpg around town (premium, no less), so don't think this is anything resembling an economy wagon. Other than those "warnings," they are great cars, and you can really sit back and cruise in comfort in them. Good luck to you.
Hemersam
 

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77 280E, 78 450SEL, 86 300E, 87 300E, 90 300E, 92 400E & 4 scooters
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My $.02 : )
Great deals are out there for W116's if your willing to look. No one wants these cars except the 10-12 of us here. Check out how many veiwers there are in the 116 forum vs the other forums. But it sounds as though you found your euro spec W116. I doubt the seller has any other buyers on the hook.

Find a mechanic in your area, not a MB dealer. This is a must. This will be the most important part of making you happy owning the W116. Unless you choose to teach yourself how to fix everything, which you can do easily. It's crazy how much help is out there to fix these old MB's on the net.

Have another car for those times when your 280 is getting fixed or your waiting for parts. The car IS 30 years old so expect everything to fail sooner or............sooner.

Buy a set of metric wrenches. Fixing these cars is as pleasurable as driving them. These cars are engineered to be maintained, so it's easy work. I refuse to work on anything other than German cars.

If you can change a V-belt you can save allot of $$$ and do most the work yourself. The problem is in diagnosing the problems with the car, thats what you need the mechanic for.
 
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