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Discussion Starter #1
Hello people. I have been reading quite many posts in this forum both from being curious and also to look for some useful information, but just now decided to create an account as I am in need of some advice.



I found a '92 W124 260E Sportline for sale (300E 2.6 for the US market, M103 engine) with manual transmission (717.433) and Alpaca grey leather seats in pretty rough shape (234,000kms). As I couldn’t find any similar specimen (not even on internet images), this could be a rare combination (260E w/ Sportline package and M/T), so I would like to hear your opinion about the vehicle.

The other day I went to personally see the car. Details are as follows:



Front fenders and hood have intense sunburns that de-coloured the paint [see pictures], as well as one of the rear quarter panels (although strangely not in the roof) and paint cracking and falling off on the rocker panel on one side, that together with small chips on other parts of the car (including door edges) underly a whiteish basecoat, making me think the car was repainted and has some body filler.

Both front fenders and hood have fading paint/severe discoloration (same with top quarter panels, not that much), but strangely enough not the same with the roof and trunk lid. Paint is slightly chipped, underlying a whiteish base in some spots (possibly body filler, although I am unaware if W124 use a white base and/or clearcoat), and elsewhere some rust where there is a chunk of paint missing. One rocker has paint falling off [see pictures] for whatever reason I don’t know. Hood hinges are slightly tweaked so the hood itself doesn’t close properly, and radiator support is barely bent, which, together with fading paint on the front makes me think the car was involved in an accident and these three panels were badly repainted. (Also missing fan shroud, and the date of manufacturing of the expansion tank is ’97 while the car is ’92, but frame rails don’t appear to be bent and original factorAlso missing fan shroud, and the date of manufacturing of the expansion tank is ’97 while the car is ’92, but frame rails don’t appear to be bent and original factory stickers are still in place).



Onto the rest:

-Grille is cracked, one headlight has a crack on the glass, sunroof is inoperative, same as the controls on the driver power seat and one of the rear windows, has driver seat torn on a couple of sewings and left bolster.

-Squeaking noise coming from the rear but as the car seems to had lack care for most of its life, it could possibly be differential, wheel bearings or brakes (state inspection sheet highlighted some issues with the effectiveness of the braking system and whole suspension), I’m afraid fixing this isn’t cheap at all.

-A/C doesn't work (or "it needs a recharge"), although the owner told me the system engages fail safe mode when it runs out of gas (I doubt it works)

-Car is running now on a Ford carburetor (because the owner installed CNG), although he still has the original Jetronic injection system stored.

-Headliner is not peeling off and the dashboard appears to have no cracks

-Shift knob is missing

-Oil pan is wet

-No severe visual rust on body (only superficial)

-Wiring harness has some patches, but I am not sure if this specific vehicle is affected with the MB wiring harness loom.



Should I give this car a try or is it better to stay away from? If it were a regular 300E A/T, I wouldn’t even consider the purchase, still it appears to be a more “rare” version that might (just MIGHT) be worth saving. What are your thoughts? Planning on doing part of the work myself. Thanks in advance!



-Model: 260E MY 1992 (124 542 27 68)

-Engine: 103.940 (E26), Gearbox: 717.433 06 009896

-Alpaca grey Sportline leather seats (078a, two individual rear seats)

-Paintcode: 199 (Black Pearl Metallic)

-VIN: WDB1240261B649683



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W201 Moderator
89 190E2.6- 5-speed Manual, 95 E320 Sportsline-sold, 2001 E320 4matic Wagon-sold
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If you are into manual cars, (I am) it sounds like a great donor car if you can pick it up for less than $1000.
If I was in your situation, I would purchase this and later find a car that is in great shape body wise but has an automatic with transmission issues.
And you can swap parts and end up with a great car for your needs.

I would not try and restore this car, it looks pretty hopeless and a money sink. You can pick up a good car with bad transmission any day for around $2000 or less.

So for under $3000 you can end up with a manual sportline that looks great too.
 

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'95 E300 DIESEL, '91 600SEL, '92 600SEL
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Big Pass. It's knackered. Keep looking for a (much) better example.

Don't get tempted just because it has a manual gearbox. These cars drive better with automatics anyway.
 

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87 300D 5 speed
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If you are into manual cars, (I am) it sounds like a great donor car if you can pick it up for less than $1000.
If I was in your situation, I would purchase this and later find a car that is in great shape body wise but has an automatic with transmission issues.
And you can swap parts and end up with a great car for your needs.

I would not try and restore this car, it looks pretty hopeless and a money sink. You can pick up a good car with bad transmission any day for around $2000 or less.

So for under $3000 you can end up with a manual sportline that looks great too.
+1

The automatics from this era are garbage. Buy it for the 5 spd and swap it into a clean automatic.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I am particularly inclined for 199 Blauschwarz Metallic paint with grey door cladding W124s, and this one being a more "rare" version (Sportline + M/T) made me get more attraced to it. If it were a regular 260E or 300E A/T or even M/T without the sportline package, in the condition the vehicle sits right now I would not even consider taking a peek into it.
As I have said, the scarcity of this particular model which I didnt even come across on the internet (W124 standard & sportline) made me think it might be worth saving if it has some value.

Personally, I prefer a standard gearbox because of its simplicity and less possible problems (and, less expensive to repair), despite having read on many forums of MB enthusiasts these A/Ts do actually shift good for the era, contributing to a rather "unique" driving experience, and not only taking into account the viewpoint of elderly MB owners who usually stick to autos.

PS: My father briefly owned a couple of years ago a 1992 (or 1994) W124 300CE-24 Cabriolet with the Alpina 5-speed standard transmission (Dogleg Getrag) with the same colour combination, so it is quite likely I am unconciously biased into looking for a similar yet much cheaper w124. Oh, and same 8-spoke alloys.

The idea would be to have a car like this one as a project, hopefully not that expensive as I am planning to do some work myself if its really worth the effort.
 

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W201 Moderator
89 190E2.6- 5-speed Manual, 95 E320 Sportsline-sold, 2001 E320 4matic Wagon-sold
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If you want a manual sportline, that car would make a good donor car as previously stated. Benz only made a couple thousand sportlines a year and shipped very few manuals to US.
So that car would not exist in the US, So that is more valuable here as a donor. Not sure about Argentina though.

I had a 124 sportline myself and wished it had a manual transmission. Had to let it go for $2600 5-6 years ago because of the dreaded reverse clutch seal problem in the auto's.
At the time my independent mechanic always had one or more 124's in his lot (and many great looking cars BTW) which had no reverse gear. I asked him to sell mine and he said they are hard to sell because a rebuilt transmission swap cost is higher than the car's value here in California.

So if you are a DIY project person that is a good donor for a project. If not, I would walk away.

-Cheers!
 

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W201 Moderator
89 190E2.6- 5-speed Manual, 95 E320 Sportsline-sold, 2001 E320 4matic Wagon-sold
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2,509 Posts
If you want a manual sportline, that car would make a good donor car as previously stated. Benz only made a couple thousand sportlines a year and shipped very few manuals to US.
So that car would not exist in the US, So that is more valuable here as a donor. Not sure about Argentina though.

I had a 124 sportline myself and wished it had a manual transmission. Had to let it go for $2600 5-6 years ago because of the dreaded reverse clutch seal problem in the auto's.
At the time my independent mechanic always had one or more 124's in his lot (and many great looking cars BTW) which had no reverse gear. I asked him to sell mine and he said they are hard to sell because a rebuilt transmission swap cost is higher than the car's value here in California.

So if you are a DIY project person that is a good donor for a project. If not, I would walk away.

-Cheers!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Alright, many thanks! I will see what I can do, as W124s are quite uncommon to see around here (for a donor car).
 

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You found a nice $100 car. There simply are too many others in much better condition to want to subject oneself to the problems this car has. I don't care if its got a 6 speed; its a parts car at best.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
was it a taxi?
No, definitely not. At least here in Argentina W124s were not taxi (there were 180s and 190s taxi back in the '60s).

As I previously mentioned, W124s are not very common here as they may be elsewhere in the world (specially in Europe), so this is an option I may consider. Besides, a "rare" version of the vehicle is, at least for me, more valuable (perhaps not in economic terms but I feel it is more special).

Honestly, I find myself not much into modifying an old stock car like these, as for me they lose part of that "factory identity" and "bone stockness" without having a clean record of being untouched (as it could be the case of the '88 300D swapped with an M104 from (I think) a 300E-24 and a 5-speed) [sold after being advertised for 6 months, but I missed it]. If it were a basketcase that has already had several modifications (regardless if it used OEM parts from other MBs), I wouldn't have that feeling of "outrageing" the originality of the car (any car should I say).

I am very aware there are many many w124s in far more better condition at a fair price, though I couldn't find any other odd yet interesting spec throuought the last two years I've been simply browsing for old Mercs. So, if it can ultimately be parted out and recoup the money (if it's not worth fixing), I may give it a try.
 

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Unless you're willing to go all in and have deep pockets to match, I highly suggest you toss this fish back.

Example: the paint. That car has 199 Blauschwarz Metallic and requires a complete new paint job. A proper paint job takes at least 5K. All the money goes into the labor and preparation. Besides, there are at least 26 variants of 199 Blauschwarz Metallik requiring the paint shop to match the colors manually vs. letting the computer mix the paint.

I use a very highly skilled paint shop with the latest tech and they said their system could not match the paint automatically. At least not correctly, so he had to match manually. It looks perfect, but witch a matching price tag.

The car you are looking at simply requires way too much work (and money) to make it even remotely sensible. IF this was a 500E/E500 or genuine AMG then yes probably. The one you are looking at, not even close.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Alright, thanks. Maybe a 199 Blauschwarz metallic donor (with paint in great shape) as others said could be an option, if the paint in this one is unsaveable (its full of cloudiness but no visible clearcoat peeling - surface is a little bit rough, though no noticeable texture differences across the panels).
To be sure, it'll be ideal to have a thorough PPI from a MB specialist to check for the mechanic part and suspension components, other than the cosmetics. Besides, I tend to be rather "stingy" when it comes to very expensive and unnecessary/ not worth repairs. (I recon these vehicles require to pour money constantly to keep them running, and this particular case, a lot more to leave it in great -not excellent- conditions).


"Every old car is a money pit, but some of these are worth the struggle" (probably this one isn`t).

Cheers!
 

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Even if the clear coat wasn't peeling, your pics shows lots of areas with rust to deal with. The paint on the car looks the way it does because somebody washed it with dishwasher detergent vs. carwash detergent. Rust on the fenders means there is a LOT of rust lurking underneath. What you see is only the tip of the iceberg. And then there's all the homebrew hacking to rectify (like the Ford carb setup). And then there is the reconditioning of the interior. Same with reconditioning the alloy wheels. And let's not forget the Air conditioning system, another very expensive item on these cars as the evaporator leaks. Black painted wheels are a dead giveaway that this car was left in the wrong hands. Also, German engines do not take well to LPG setups.

Again, let this one go. Don't get all emotional because it is painted in 199. MB made LOTS of 124s in 199. And the 260E is the bottom feeder 6 cylinder engine, nothing to write home about.

IF this was a white 500E/E500 I'd fully understand your attachment. IMO, this one is just way too far gone and needs to be put to sleep.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Even if the clear coat wasn't peeling, your pics shows lots of areas with rust to deal with. The paint on the car looks the way it does because somebody washed it with dishwasher detergent vs. carwash detergent. Rust on the fenders means there is a LOT of rust lurking underneath. What you see is only the tip of the iceberg. And then there's all the homebrew hacking to rectify (like the Ford carb setup). And then there is the reconditioning of the interior. Same with reconditioning the alloy wheels. And let's not forget the Air conditioning system, another very expensive item on these cars as the evaporator leaks. Black painted wheels are a dead giveaway that this car was left in the wrong hands. Also, German engines do not take well to LPG setups.

Again, let this one go. Don't get all emotional because it is painted in 199. MB made LOTS of 124s in 199. And the 260E is the bottom feeder 6 cylinder engine, nothing to write home about.

IF this was a white 500E/E500 I'd fully understand your attachment. IMO, this one is just way too far gone and needs to be put to sleep.
Indeed. A vehicle in such state is not worth restoring to 100% original condition, rather doing a budget build without getting deeply into it and never recouping the money. To get it into 95% factory condition (paint, interior, mechanic, etc) it will need at least more than $6,000 to be poured into, to do the job correctly. A/C is not worth the struggle.
The car has had the CNG (compressed natural gas, not LPG) for around two years or I think 40,000km, but if the system is not correctly installed in whichever vehicle it is, there will be problems in the future.

I`ll keep browsing for a budget W124 to work on, hopefully something comes up soon and in decent shape for a decent price. Specifically looking for a MOPF1 M/T w/ fender & door caldding, though I guess I`ll have to wait till a good one comes up (if it ever does).

Again, thanks for your opinion.
 

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...I`ll keep browsing for a budget W124 to work on, hopefully something comes up soon and in decent shape for a decent price....
Do this exactly minus the budget part. There is no such thing as a cheap Mercedes. Pay a little more upfront, or pay a lot later. It's all about condition, condition, condition and service records, more service records, and more service records.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Absolutely. As in any high end old vehicle, I apply the term "budget" to whichever repairs must be done that don`t compromise the integrity of the car, say, aesthetics or other issues that can be "easily" fixed or solved for cheap. Mechanically speaking (and other exterior components, else related to safety), I`d rather avoid taking the risk.
I am currently looking for a cheap Merc, so this one falls into the tag. If I were to buy any W124 for a reasonable price in good condition, definitely this one would be a pass as it needs much more money into repairs. If I can find a rather cheap W124 that is mechanically sound or does not need important and expensive repairs, I think I can handle the rest without much hesitation.

As an exapmle, my father recently sold a W204 C280/C300 which took a couple of months to find when bought 2 years ago. The car was serviced its whole life at MB dealerships and, as any modern luxury car, a PPI was previously made. In the timebeing, we went to see many other W204 which were cheaply maintained, and we know even a minor repair can be pretty expensive. For modern cars I wouldn`t even consider going for the bottom cheap ones, unless it`s a basketcase that I could drive the trash out of it and pay 25% of the market price, so if something goes horribly wrong it won`t bother me. Plus, this one had NEVER had its ATF changed in its 12 years of life (100,000km), and we had to face later the dreaded ELV/ESL failure. The following service was done at an independant MB shop, since not only are stealerships horribly expensive but I learnt they don`t even do everything they SHOULD do. Better go with an independent shop you trust and doesn`t shoot you with the bills.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Farm it for the trans swap and steering box, maybe springs. Toss the rest.

Eventually you will find a W124 worth putting those parts into.
Is the 717.433 Getrag good enough? I heard manuals from this era are "just OK", but shifting feels like stabbing a pillow with a knife, not that precise as contemporary BMWs.
 
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