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W123 230E
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Discussion Starter #1
Good evening everyone.

New member here from the UK!
I have just acquired a once loved (but not recently) 230E. This is my first foray into owning a Mercedes and also into car restoration, hopefully I havn't bitten off more than I can chew!

The car is a 1980 230E with a genuine 55k miles on the clock, but has been left standing for the last 10 years and needs a bit of TLC.

Body wise, there are a few rust spots bubbling away under the paint that I will need to address, and the front left wing has completely rotted through and will need replacing, but other than that it seems pretty solid. Through I am yet to pull up the carpet and go poking around.

This project is going to be a slow burner, what with child #2 due to make an imminent arrival, so don't expect too much too soon!

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New: 2005 w211 E270 132kw; Old: 2001, w203, C220 105kw
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89 Posts
Good luck to you on all fronts! :)
I remember the time when 10-15 years ago my cousin wanted to buy one, 10 minutes test drive in it for me was a magical experience, first time sitting in MB and it was amazingly comfortable. I hope you will get it restored to its old glory.
 

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W123 230E
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thank you.
A friend of mine used to have a W124 pillar-less coupe, it was the most comfortable car I have ever been it, couldn't even nip tot he shops without having a snooze!

I have been thinking about a rough list of priorities, all subject to change depending on what I find along the way.

  1. Good clean and removal of moss to halt any rot, and get some rust remover on the spots where it has already started.
  2. Remove fuel tank, fuel lines, fuel pump, clean and flush through.
  3. New battery
  4. Get the engine running. Hopefully the above will be all it needs, the engine turns over so nothing is seized and the oil still looks good, though will be changed.
  5. Brake checks, strip down/replace as required.
  6. New tyres all round. At this point it should hopefully be derivable.
  7. Fit rear seat belts.
  8. Bodywork (a small heading that I think will expand to cover an awful lot of work)
  9. Interior tidy up.
It sounds quite simple listed out like that, lets see what happens....

Are there any common problems are causes for concern I should bare in mind? Something to go away and start researching I think.
 

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1983 W123 200 M102
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2 Posts
Congratulations in finding such a low mileage example, it a nice and rare color(to be frank, have not seen this color in person in my country) as well. I have always wanted a w123 since forever, almost got one with the older m115 petrol engine about 12 years ago. Fast forward to June 2019, finally got myself a m102 1983 200 with 250k miles, through facebook without looking at the car. By the way I am from Malaysia, the car was about 200 miles away from me so I flew over and pick it up. At first, I was kind of regret looking at the rust and the condition of the interior was almost like dozens of monkeys spent a weekend there. Since it was already mine and it cost me only half the price of a new iphone, I was like you know what lets drive it home and see what's what. I immediately changed my mine after the 200 miles drive home, there were noises here and there but the engine wants to go, I was averaging 90 miles on a 36 years old beater car and it feels like I could do it again the next day and the day after. Going through the service history of the past 12 years, I could not say the previous owner neglected the car, at least mechanically, there were top overhaul, carb rebuilt, suspensions, axles, ignition and electrical system taken care of. Since my ownership, I have converted the r12 ac system to r134, replaces all engine and transmission mounts, have the power window sorted. When replacing the mountings, we realize the rust problem was much bigger then we expected, we had two major rust to address, one is a hole under the passanger floor area and the other one was at the hood/bonnet where the spring just snapped. I was quoted a price of a new iphone to have the car rust taken care of, floor welded and to paint it back to its original color(It was blue and the previous owner repainted it beige and it wasnt a good paint job at all, lots of overspray). It was alot of money especially I got the car half the price of what the paint job is asking, I decided to go with it since the next day the deal was done, my wife and me welcome our first child.

On my list that needs to be done when its out from the paint shop:
1) Both driveshaft, I'm sure I can still find genuine ones but they are super expansive, I already got the SKF made and they are solidly built. When shopping, I do see a few driveshaft that cost almost half or less of what the SKF ones cost and I also realize they double the weight of the SKF/Original Mercedes ones.
2) Interior, yet to be installed, theres a decent shape MB Tex seats from scrap yard, already have them cleaned ready to be install. Found the door panel cheap but they are not in the best shape, they work for now but will definitely have them changed if I found a better ones. Dashboard since my dashboard had a few cracks, planned to replace all interior dash bulbs. Happen to know that the instrument cluster had the clear bulb and the bulbs behind the knobs were frosted.
3) Got myself a pair of new Hella headlights, Aric branded signals, and as for the tail lights(lens only with new Mercedes seal), they were Aric branded as well.
4) One of the rear shocks were slightly leaking, might have them replace when the driveshaft is out.

Here are some pictures:

The day we brought her home.
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Cleaned seats
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Passenger floor and other rust repair
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Filler and sanding
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Last weekend
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New driveshaft, sorry for keep mentioning driveshaft, the whining and knocking rear end noises drives me crazy and reading longevity of rebuild shaft worries me, its exciting for me to find a replacement that come close to the originals. Lobro used to make them too which believe to be the OEM? then my local stockist only have one left so I have decided the SKF.
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My "new" dashboard, looks dirty but no cracks, should be good after a proper cleaning
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Wish you all the best for your project.
 

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1993 300E, 1995 E320
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1,084 Posts
I love this style of hubcaps. A Great color. Congrats on your new project.
 

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W123 230E
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Congratulations in finding such a low mileage example, it a nice and rare color(to be frank, have not seen this color in person in my country) as well.
.......
Wish you all the best for your project.
Thank you. Yours looks great, I love the new colour. I guess unexpected surprises are to be expected

I love this style of hubcaps. A Great color. Congrats on your new project.
Thanks. I like the hubcaps, I think even more so than any of the alloy wheel options from the period so I am taking that as an easy win! Not sure on the colour yet myself, I know my wife definitely hates it! I think I need to find some example of this colour in good condition. Part of me is thinking to retain the original colour for authenticity, and also to be in keeping with the interior the choice of other colours would be very limited. Fortunately I have plenty of time before I need to make that decision. :D

I little more history of the car. I Actually acquired it from my boss and has so far only cost me two bottle of whiskey, one for the car itself and another for the transport. The car was bought new by my boss' late father in law as a Sunday driver, he had a Ford Capri used during the week apparently hence the low mileage. It was last used 10 years ago when he passed away and has been left standing unused since then. Unfortunately it was parked close to a fence that was covered in ivy, this being in contact with the left side helped to retain moisture and kept the car in shade slowing down any drying out which is why the left side is much for affected by rust and covered in moss than the right. It was however kept on gravel rather than grass to I am keeping my fingers crossed that the floor pan is in reasonable condition.
 

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1980 280E Sedan
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25 Posts
Congratulations on your project, always good to see someone prepared to take on the hard work required to save a worthy car, especially a W123!
Personally speaking I'd keep the colour, it may not be to everyone's taste but originality is key, frankly I hate customization (aka molestation) of classics. Hopefully you will sympathetically restore and preserve it, and enjoy doing it!
 

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W123 230E
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Congratulations on your project, always good to see someone prepared to take on the hard work required to save a worthy car, especially a W123!
Personally speaking I'd keep the colour, it may not be to everyone's taste but originality is key, frankly I hate customization (aka molestation) of classics. Hopefully you will sympathetically restore and preserve it, and enjoy doing it!
Thank you. The more I look at it, and more importantly the more I look at tidy examples, the more I like the colour so I expect it will stay.

I gave it a quick clean with the pressure washer this weekend, just to try and get the moss out of any crevices that would hold water and lead to further rusting. I say I cleaned it, I roped in my daughter to do the hard work.


What I had assumed was rust spots all over the bonnet, roof and left side on closer inspection turned out to be lichen and other than a few stubborn spots comes off with the pressure washer. This is a spot on the roof which I still need to finish.


And this is the bonnet after washing.


It actually came up pretty well, the paint is heavily oxidised but it may polish up OK. I might give a spot a go just out of curiosity, but other that any more work on the bodywork will be limited to dealing with rust spots until after the mechanics have been addressed.




And while I'm at it, a quick shot of the interior.


At some point someone has changed over the stereo. I believe this unit is a Pioneer KE-5000 which was actually released in 1979, so is at least of the correct era.
 

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W123 230E
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Discussion Starter #11
:love::love::love::love: Amazing condition of the interior and body also looks good! This is a gem!
Thanks. The interior was one of the main reasons for taking the project on. Getting the engine running doesn't phase me, I am reasonable confident with being able to sort out the bodywork, but having to replace/re-trim the interior of an old car really puts me off, to the fact that there are no concerns there with this car was a massive plus point.

I agree, looking great. Amazing what a pressure wash will do! The body looks straight as a die too.
It was definitely an easy win to give me some initial enthusiasm.


I have created a blog now to record me progress on this project just so that I have somewhere clear and concise that I can always refer back to. I will of course continue adding any updates here but should anyone be interested in following it, this is the link. https://mercedesw123resto.car.blog/
 

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W123 230E
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13 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I did a bit more in depth poking around this weekend to see what I am dealing with. The bumpers are off to see what was lurking behind, the carpets have been lifted and I also stripped out the boot. I have found more rust than I originally assumed, some of it well set in and will need cutting out and new steel welded in.

The most concerning area that I see is the rotten passenger side sill and around the bonnet hinge mounts, but still should be something that is fairly straight forward to repair.

I am however not set up to, or experienced in making replacement sections of body panel so will be heavily reliant on pre-formed patch repair panels. My concern here is that I hear they can often be poor fits or thinner than the standard gauge. Does anyone have any recommendations of a supplier of good patch panels, ideally in the UK or EU?

Not being familiar with these cars, I would appreciate anyone who could take a look and let me know if any of the rust areas are of particular concern.
A few pics below of what I have found, and more info/pictures here.

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1983 W123 200 M102
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2 Posts
My bonnet hinge area was affected too like yours, mine spring actually snapped. your's do not look super bad, it certainly needs to be sanded and welded, and the affected area doesnt look like you need to replace a whole panel or so. You only need a good welder/painter. The bumper valence area, thats a straight forwards sanding and repaint. I have some pictures of my repairs, my bad its low light and the pictures were little blurry.

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W123 230E
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Discussion Starter #14
My bonnet hinge area was affected too like yours, mine spring actually snapped. your's do not look super bad, it certainly needs to be sanded and welded, and the affected area doesnt look like you need to replace a whole panel or so. You only need a good welder/painter. The bumper valence area, thats a straight forwards sanding and repaint. I have some pictures of my repairs, my bad its low light and the pictures were little blurry.
Thank you for the confidence boost!
I do have access to a welder and should get lots of practice, every time I look at it I find another rust hole! :LOL:
 

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W123 230E
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Discussion Starter #15
Santa dropped off some new tools this Christmas so I did a bit more work yesterday. Only planned to check over and flush through the fuel system, but it all went far too smoothly and next thing I knew I was having a go at getting the engine started. :D

The rubber fuel lines needed replacing, cleaned out the air box and gave the spark plugs a brush and it fired up fairly easily. It seems I have a seized water pump so that will be my next job, and then hopefully I can get it running a bit longer without fear of doing damage!


I still need to replace the short length of flexi pipe from the tank outlet to the rigid lines. So far I haven't found somewhere to buy these, maybe I will need to get one made up. :unsure:
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More here. https://mercedesw123resto.car.blog/2019/12/29/its-alive/
 

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1983 W123 200T
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83 Posts
Bonnet spring pocket rust spreads and perforates bulkhead which will allow water to enter. water appears in rear footwells as they are lowest point. Have you checked for rust where floor meets sill on inside. Lift up vacuum pipe covers and keep your fingers crossed. Great colour.
 

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W123 230E
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Discussion Starter #17
Bonnet spring pocket rust spreads and perforates bulkhead which will allow water to enter. water appears in rear footwells as they are lowest point. Have you checked for rust where floor meets sill on inside. Lift up vacuum pipe covers and keep your fingers crossed. Great colour.
I did actually find a little water in rear passenger side footwell but i put that down to old door seals and jet washing, I'll take a much closer look when I come to dealing with the bonnet hinges. Thanks for the heads up!
 

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W123 230E
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Discussion Starter #18
Had a spare half hour today so whipped off the water pump ready to strip down later. While I was at it I found the thermostat housing was completely blocked with calcium deposits. Looks like being left standing for so long has hit the engine coolant system hard.

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1980 280E Sedan
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25 Posts
Hmm, looks pretty chronic! The rad may also be choked up. I imagine an o/haul of the entire cooling system would be in your mind?
 
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