1984 280CE Advise please?

AndrewMcD

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Hi, sorry if this type of question was been asked often.

I'm inheriting / being given an 1984 280ce with about 100k on the clock. It failed it's last MOT in 2007 due to emissions. It then was taken of the road and stored under a tarp for a few years. The current owner bought it, took the tarp off, put a battery and petrol in it and drove it 30 miles to where is is now, mad man. For the past 5 years it's been in a dry garage. So I know it runs and seems to do all it should. I also know it was very damp inside when it was recovered... but the floor pans seem ok. The door window scraper seals are next to useless, so i'm guessing that could be part of the damp issue. And the passenger side door has a corrosion hole in it. Apart from that the body 'seems' ok. The spring on the drives side bonnet hinge has broken. Is that just a case of replacing the spring? And if so is that easy enough?

My plan for the car is to use it as a daily driver. My commute is a not arduous 20 minute drive.

So.... as i'm getting the car for free... is this a worth while punt? Does any of the above make any of you think I should run away. I'm not looking for an instant concourse car, but I would like to over the years to bring it back as best condition as I can. Are parts difficult to get? Are there any good online sources or am I better through main dealers? And am I mad...

:)

Thanks in advance, Andrew.
 

grober

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Body structural condition is paramount. Exterior trim is important. Interior trim and seats increasingly difficult to source at reasonable prices as these cars get rarer. I would suggest getting a W123 expert to inspect it. Then you will have a much better idea of how good a long term investment it is, and how much to get it sufficiently roadworthy to be a daily commuter.
 
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AndrewMcD

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Hi Graeme, the only bit I forgot to mention is the car is located in Downpartick, N Ireland and i'm in Stirling. Does anybody on here know of any specialists in N Ireland that would inspect it?
 

Charles Morgan

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I was given a W114 coupe for free. It has been my most expensive car (apart from my Porsche but that was brand new).

First, visible rust is a great clue to the magnitude of the hidden rust - if you see any externally, there will be tons hidden. If the car has been driven on Scottish roads there is a much higher chance of rot being found. Parts are available, my strong advice is to get a subscription to the Mercedes Electronic Parts Catalogue as it will give you part numbers and a much better understanding of how it all fits together. Inchcape in the UK will provide online pricing for a part number, so you can compare it with other suppliers. Do not assume MB will be more expensive, but assume for most things you can find a cheaper substitute.

Suppliers in Germany (a good source) include Niemoller (they use the EPC diagrams too), http://www.mbclassics.de/wartung.php, DBdepot, Autoteile Glauner and numerous others. Ebay generally is expensive. Learn German part names - there will be 30 times more available there than here. Lots of LHD stuff (brakes, exhaust, trim) is not usable on a RHD.

As Grober says, body condition is absolutely paramount. Bodywork is expensive to do correctly, and pointless to do it badly.

Frankly, you are inevitably looking at 10s of thousands. A car standing for 10 years will almost certainly need engine work, brakes, electrical, bodywork and suspension and that's before you get into trim.

Good luck, think carefully first, don't get so far in you can't give up - parts not on a car have value, un-finished projects rarely do.
 
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AndrewMcD

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Hi Charles, that's what worries me, i've just brought an old unloved Boxster back to life. And you're right, parts from Porsche half the time have been cheaper. Where would I find the parts catalogue? You're right that's invaluable. Those online suppliers are a great source, at least you can start to get an idea about part costs.

Rust is my biggest worry. I've just spoken to Heaney T & D in N.Ireland (Creavy don't deal with older cars anymore), they seem to do on site inspections. So i'll see about them investigating. I don't mind a project, but not one that will fall apart about my ears.

Thanks, Andrew.
 

Stratman

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Make sure they look underneath the rear parcel shelf for corrosion. Being a pillarless coupe (if I've got the right car) the body flexes more than the saloon version. This can let water enter round the rear screen seals and cause the structural panel under the shelf to rot. Big money to fix.

Its big brother, the 126 coupe suffers quite badly from this. Being a bigger car it flexes more, but it's certainly worth a careful inspection on the W123.
 

grober

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Hi Charles, that's what worries me, i've just brought an old unloved Boxster back to life. And you're right, parts from Porsche half the time have been cheaper. Where would I find the parts catalogue? You're right that's invaluable. Those online suppliers are a great source, at least you can start to get an idea about part costs.

Rust is my biggest worry. I've just spoken to Heaney T & D in N.Ireland (Creavy don't deal with older cars anymore), they seem to do on site inspections. So i'll see about them investigating. I don't mind a project, but not one that will fall apart about my ears.

Thanks, Andrew.
T and D Heaney Motor Company get the rep [ perhaps unfairly] of being on the pricey side - but see what they quote for an inspection ? :dk:
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AndrewMcD

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If somebody sees the car and says it's worth sorting then I have a local specialist who looks after our C180 and the Boxster. The problem is if I get the car over here and find it's not viable, then i'm stuck with a big car i've no storage for. They're calling me back so I hope they'll be able to do it. Murray motors in Belfast will also look it over, but I'd need to get the car to them. I hope it is salvageable, as it would be a fun car to have and our two boys would love it.
 

WDB124066

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Could you send it to a restorer for 6 months with a predetermined amount of cash - then drive it while finishing off the bits you can manage while its a driver...
 

a111r

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"The spring on the drives side bonnet hinge has broken. Is that just a case of replacing the spring? And if so is that easy enough"?

123s are known to hide rust rather well. The bonnet spring mounting area is included. Not easy to repair properly and points to deeper corrosion.
Can you establish if the spring is broken ... or has the mounting area rotted and failed (shine a torch down past all the leaves)?

If paying for an inspection, you need an Marque expert, IMO.
Otherwise, someone local on here could be better.
 

Pontoneer

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W123 bonnet hinges are a common failure , due to nothing more than seizure of the hinge pin , which then snaps - you have to take the wing off to replace it as it is between the inner and outer wings . Not that bad a job . W126's suffer the same problem ( just a bigger W123 ) .

As others have said , corrosion is main concern , the cars are simple and robust enough mechanically . Expect circa or below 20mpg economy ( I've had several M110 engined cars long term and covered hundreds of thousands of miles in them , including a 280CE ) , 10 mpg is an exaggeration and if you get that there's something wrong with it .
 
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AndrewMcD

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The plan would be to get it through an MOT (hopefully) and then slowly deal with all the various issues. Lord save us at 10mpg i'd hope to be flying about.! 20's not great, but then I only now get 23 in the Boxster. :) Yup it's just the spring that's bust. Are there specialist breakers about?
 

Charles Morgan

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No specialists in the UK, breakers generally are worse than useless on Ebay. German ebay is a better source, spring is federn, bonnet is motorhaube.
 

Charles Morgan

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Bonnet spring part number is A1238870479. Looking at Inchcape it's £17.28. Probably far cheaper and easier than bothering looking around for used!
 

Pontoneer

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The plan would be to get it through an MOT (hopefully) and then slowly deal with all the various issues. Lord save us at 10mpg i'd hope to be flying about.! 20's not great, but then I only now get 23 in the Boxster. :) Yup it's just the spring that's bust. Are there specialist breakers about?
Dave Collins in Yorkshire might be able to help .

Retrodave111 on here .
 
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AndrewMcD

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The more I look into this as an option i'm now not at all sure. You talk to one group and they say yes it'll be fine. I've also now spoken to 3 specialists and all three have warned against it, between rust and recommissioning costs. Does anybody on here use them as daily drivers and if so are they garaged?
 

Charles Morgan

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My perspective - once you've spent the money restoring this you will not want to drive it daily. Forums are full of people who like to give encouragement, which is a good thing from my experience as restorations like mine can kill enthusiasm badly - but they are not spending the money or suffering the other pains. However, specialists, those who work with these cars daily, see the issues and tend to be realists. As they have no financial incentive to be negative (turning down work) the fact that three have said don't is to me very compelling.

I would not dream of leaving a Benz of this era un-garaged. They have too many spots through which water can penetrate. Since doing my W114 I have, to my amazement, joined the dry days only brigade (and that with a huge amount of cavity wax and underseal).
 
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