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I have a 86 300e 60,000 miles that seems to not have a first gear. This is my first mercedes and I have been driving it for a couple of weeks while I am fixing all the little things wrong with it. It feels gutless off the line. In fact I think I am starting off in second gear! By playing with the shifter, I can shift down from D to third and from third to second, of course the shifter won't go into first, but by counting the upshifts when I start out I cannot feel a first to second shift. Is this normal? That would surely explain the gutless off the line feeling but I have never driven a car where I could not feel all the shifts. Shifting that does occur feels good and solid. No complaints there. A transmission fluid change is next on my list which I will do tonight
 

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Hi!

These boxes start in 2nd gear. You should be able to select 1st by either get off the line with a kick-down/fully depressed accelerator, or by going from 'D' to '2' and back into 'D'. This should also select 1st.
 

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Well, I know about my 1994 E420 and it starts out in 2nd gear. If I want it to start in 1st I have to physically drop it into the 2nd gear spot and then move the stick to the right, that's first gear in my car. I'd like to have my car start out in fist gear as well, but I believe in order to do that I have to change out something in the tranny. Your car may have that 2nd gear start too.
 

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Yeah, when you put the gear selector in D, 124s start out in 2nd gear. As kbr says, to get a 1st gear start you pull the gear selector into position "2" at a stop. The trans will start in first gear, but be forewarned: it won't shift automatically into second until redline (or something very close to it). My cars are too old with too many miles for that kind af nonsense.

If I find myself in a tight spot i have been known to pull it into "2" at a stop and then manually shift into "3" or "D" soon thereafter.

Keep in mind that these are not race cars. They are 2 ton, 6 cylinder, 177 hp passenger sedans with "adequate" power. A transmission fluid change will not alter that.
 

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You can go back to 'D' once you dropped it into '2' immediately, if the car stands still. IIRC. I don't often drive them as auto :)

Speaking of sluggishness; the auto box makes them sluggish anyway :D
 

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Not sure if the year makes a difference, but in my '91 300CE, at a stop I put the lever into 2 (the lowest selectable setting) and then back in D. When I take off, it will start in 1st gear, so no 2 to 3 to D required while driving.
HTH

opps, 200T got there first.
 

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Wow, thanks for all the replies. I can't wait to drive home from work to test this out. This is a very unexpected thing, yet I am not too surprised. This is my first Mercedes. The last German engineered car I owned was my Volkswagen. I still love that '62 Rag Top I restored in High School. I used to hit 60 mph going down a big hill on I-215. Wee!
 

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I think I'm going to try that D into 2 back into D thing you guys are talking about, tomorrow when I take my son to school, just to see. I know from my experience I just drop the car into 2 and tap the stick to the right and I'm in first gear. First gear comes in handy when you need to get into traffic and your not trying to waste time about it:D. I need a new tranny anyways:p
 

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Yes +1's to the guys with the put into 2nd then back into drive at a stop.

Alternatively floor it and make sure you feel the accelerator kickdown switch click. Hang onto your hairpiece - it's quite an unexpected rush the first time it happens and you see those revs heading for the "don't go there" zone !
 

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On moderate to normal take off the car starts in 2nd but you should not have to tramp the pedal to the floor to get 1st.

My transmission is in fine condition with cable and vacuum adjustments according to the fsm and, from standstill 1st gear fires if the pedal gets a bit more than moderate to sharpish push about half way.

It certainly doesn't hang on to gears any more than it should either and really is a very nice car to drive.
 

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Well, I know about my 1994 E420 and it starts out in 2nd gear. If I want it to start in 1st I have to physically drop it into the 2nd gear spot and then move the stick to the right, that's first gear in my car. I'd like to have my car start out in fist gear as well, but I believe in order to do that I have to change out something in the tranny. Your car may have that 2nd gear start too.
There is something wrong with your E420 if it starts in second gear.

ALL 400E's & E420's have a 1st gear start valve body due to the tall 2.24 rear axle ratio.

This is the only W124 with this feature.
 

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My '95 cabrio starts in first as well, fwiw.
That's a new one on me, of course it's been a long time since I've driven one.

No real reason for it to be different from a sedan though.

Are you the original owner? If not, PO could have done a mod to the valve body.
 

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That's a new one on me, of course it's been a long time since I've driven one.

No real reason for it to be different from a sedan though.

Are you the original owner? If not, PO could have done a mod to the valve body.
I am the second owner and the previous owner was the 66 year old mother of my friend and she definitely didn't have the valve body modded.

Maybe the extra 500 or so pounds of the convertible structure made them decide to include first gear start to liven things up. The acceleration is pretty decent considering the weight.

Any other cabrio owners have first gear start?
 

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That could be, I may have never noticed it when I road tested them.

Of course it's been at least 15 years since I drove one.
 

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There is something wrong with your E420 if it starts in second gear.

ALL 400E's & E420's have a 1st gear start valve body due to the tall 2.24 rear axle ratio.

This is the only W124 with this feature.
Oh NO...my sub-$3000, 192,000 mile car MIGHT have tranny problems?! It shifts fine, bro. The simple fact that it doesn't start in 1st was debated in these forums when I first got the car and I questioned it back then. I was told it wasn't supposed too, I was told it was supposed too. I was told the only way to get it to start off in first gear was to buy a 500E valve body....now I'm being told there's issues with my tranny. I took the damn car 3/4 of the way across the country, through the mountains and it was fine. If my transmission is messed up then I don't want to fix it because in my book...it's just fine.
 

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You have it backwards, the 500E has a 2nd gear start valve body as it
has a shorter rear axle ratio, something like 2.65 or so.

I'm a Benz technician so I do know what I'm talking about.

If your car starts in 2nd either it has a W140 trans, W140 valve body or a problem. There's no guessing or debate about it.

The W140 S420 uses the same 722.366 trans but with a 2nd gear start.

Go on the EPC and there are 2 part numbers 1 starting with 124 the other 140
for the transmission assembly.
 
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