Considering a Merc for transcontinental jaunts

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SamuelD, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. developer

    developer MB Club Veteran

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    Steer clear of W211/212 - the front seats are rubbish :mad:.
     
  2. Driver15

    Driver15 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Look at a DS4 -- Not too big for the streets of Paris, not too small for the long runs, plus a good selection of petrol engines...

    And its French...

    [​IMG]

    Sounds in a way to me that a A Class or even a 1 Series BMW (or similar size) would suit your needs... Guess you just need to think about boot size etc.

    If not... a 318d BMW would tick the boxes if its not going to be used in the city.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  3. ianrandom

    ianrandom Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Does make a huge difference if you can tinker, true.
     
  4. motodrb

    motodrb Active Member

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    Get an E class, my E220 is great for this job, I just did 2000 miles in Europe.
     
  5. DrFeelgood

    DrFeelgood MB Club Veteran

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    I can't comment on the 212 but the seats in my W211 are fine. I've covered 400 miles a day many times and had no bother, maybe because there is plenty of space to shift around a bit?
    I hated the seats in a Passat that I had, too thin and no room to wriggle about. My pet hate is hard door top material where I rest my elbow.
     
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  6. def90cars

    def90cars Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Toyota Camry or similar - much more likely to be trouble free - like your C1 (which is basically a Toyota Aygo)
     
  7. renault12ts

    renault12ts MB Club Veteran

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    Reasonably well.
    He's from West of the Bann (ask him).
     
  8. ianrandom

    ianrandom Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Given my experience with modern cars as lease vehicles at the place I work, Citroën have so far been the most reliable by far. Last one (that Berlingo) needed only one headlamp bulb in the whole three years. Bloody good going.
    We currently have a C4 Grand Picasso and it has scary amounts of electronics and an extremely weird transmission, but the economy is fantastic. On the motorway at 90mph it is below 2k rpm, so it manages extremely well in town or on a trip. It's not a quality car though and I'm not expecting it to last very long compared to the much more simple Berlingo.
    Also, both of these Citroën had an annoying freezing cold draught coming from around the steering column. The Berlingo you almost needed a blanket in freezing weather! The C4 much better but still there. Never had this in a car, it's it a Citroën thing? I wouldn't fancy that on a twenty hour journey if it was cold. (And I'm not an old person :)
     
  9. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    Indeed , and if you ARE into DIY maintenance , I'd avoid French cars at all costs !

    I've had two girlfriends who each had Renaults , oh and a pal who had two , and all were awful to work on with maintenance items which should have been easily accessible being the complete opposite ( try changing the fanbelt on a Clio ! ) . Another friend who had Citröens said the same ( he had to remove a front wing to change a battery ! ) . I also recall a report about someone who gave up and called out the AA to change a headlamp bulb - it took the mechanic about 90 minutes because so much had to be dismantled .

    By contrast , a lifetime of working on Mercedes and VW has taught me the difference when cars are well engineered and designed for easy maintenance .
     
  10. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    Jap cars seem to be very reliable for the first few years , then they just fall apart altogether - they may be OK as short term propositions but not as long term keepers - you rarely see anything Japanese more than about 10 years old on the roads , and scrapyards are full of them , probably because their parts are so expensive they just aren't worth fixing .
     
  11. ianrandom

    ianrandom Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Beemers seem to have reliability issues these days too, especially the diesels. We had a 7 series at my other work that went very strange indeed, literally just outside the warranty period. Lots of time at the dealer, no fix for ages and repeated trips back for investigation. Sold quickly as soon as it was working right. I hear about the swirl flap problem a lot on 3 series, expensive by the sounds of it.
    I just don't trust any modern car, three years is about all I'd expect. And even then...

    Ps don't buy a Seat! Bloody hell, off to the dealer we'd go, had three at work and all the same.
     
  12. ianrandom

    ianrandom Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Derek, I just got very familiar with a VW, my other halfs Golf. Had to replace the front bodywork after a bump. It's a great little car to work on overall but I've discovered to replace the front bulbs, the whole front bumper has to come off and headlamps fully removed.
    Mental, and disappointed in VW for such a silly design. It's a modern car thing though isn't it, massively flawed design in some ways.
     
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  13. 190

    190 Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I should have pointed out that my w204 C180K Blue efficiency is a manual which is perhaps why it gets exceptional economy at speed. It's very high geared for a 1.6 petrol at 31.9 MPH per 1000 RPM in 6th gear. I really have never dropped below 50MPG on long motorway journeys and that's measured by fuel added. My average to date is 44.9 MPG. I don't exceed the 70 MPH speed limit though.

    As far as W201's are concerned I must be a fan because I owned a 190e auto for 21 years. That averaged 32.73 MPG over that period and could just about hit 40MPG on long slow motorway trips but not in my experience at a consistent real 70MPH. One noticeable difference is the W204 speedo is spot on accurate while the W201 always over read by 5 MPH. The general performance of the W204 is in a different league to the 190e which needed revs to perform particularly on hills. Some of that is manual vs auto but I'm sold on the low/mid range torque that a supercharger or turbo provides in modern cars.

    My W201 at 26 years old looked rust free but it wasn't underneath with some serious structural welding needed to extend it's life. The one area where it trumped the W204 hands down is a much more compliant ride.
     
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  14. DrFeelgood

    DrFeelgood MB Club Veteran

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    Why on earth would anyone buy a classic car just for holidays?

    I'd just get something modern that will fire up after a few weeks down time and do a high speed long distance run without needing a whole load of fettling first.

    Keeping the thing for 10-20 years is the challenge though, I think I would go cheap and as large as possible, buy at 3 years old and change it every 5 years.

    How about Korean?
    Maybe buy at 2 years old and sell when the 7 year warranty runs out?
     
  15. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    W201's certainly seem to rust less than most other cars , and certainly less than much newer Mercs ! There are certainly plenty of clean , sound ones for sale here in the UK , but expect now to pay a bit more for a really good one .

    I've had three - the first was just an accident damaged stopgap I bought cheaply after my W124 was written off in my driveway by a driver who left the road outside my house , demolished my garden wall and crushed my car against the wall of my house ! Anyway , that 190 was sitting a mile down the road from my home with a smashed headlamp and indicator lens and a for sale sign in the window - I bought it for £300 after a short test drive , got a headlamp and indicator from a breaker for £25 and was on the road . At the time of buying it I knew nothing about 190's , although had owned innumerable Mercedes over the previous 30 years , and was hugely impressed with the way it drove : it just felt like a smaller W123 or W124 from behind the wheel . That 190 was a very early one , 1984 on a UK B registration plate , so had the earlier body style , non jumping windscreen wiper and , significantly , 14" wheels with 70 series tyres . It did ride and handle very competently , was a very smooth and comfortable drive , and turned out to be very good on fuel : I regularly got 40 mpg on my regular run form Ayrshire up to Aberdeenshire , and once on a run to Wales and back ( the return journey with the boot and back seats full of car parts and a car door on a roof rack ) the car averaged a calculated 44 mpg over three tanks of fuel , having started with a brimmed tank , noting mileage and fuel used until brimming again at the end .

    I did have to do some work on that car : one rear jacking point needed welding for the MOT ( this is a well known rust spot on 190's and generally the first place to go - normally if the rear jacking points are sound so will be the rest of the car ) other rust spots , in common with other Mercs , are around the wheelarches , the inner wings behind the headlamps and along the bottom edge of the rear windscreen . That first car had rusty arches which were only cosmetic , and one front wing was dented from the accident damage before I bought it - I bode my time until another Diamond blue one turned up in a local breakers and got a pair of clean , undamaged front wings for £30 , once bolted on the colour was a perfect match ; I cleaned up the rear arches , ground out and filled the rusty bits then painted with a spray can , just fading into the surrounding areas - not perfect , but for a cheap car it looked OK . I kept the car a couple of years , the only significant repair being replacing the water pump which started leaking ( about £80 odd pounds from Mercedes for an exchange part and two or three hours work on a dark winter night . The car also had new tyres and a battery , discs , pads , oils and filters in my time with it , and nowadays I wish I'd kept it , such a nice car it was .

    Alas , it was a basic spec car with no sunroof and wind up windows , so when a 190E 2.6 appeared for sale in The Mercedes-Benz Club Gazette , I went to look and ended up buying it - this car was a couple of years newer , but still pre facelift , now had 15" wheels with 65 aspect ratio tyres ( still very comfortable ) had the panoramic wiper , electric Windows , sunroof , and a towbar . The six cylinder engine was the nicest to live with , always silky smooth and refined , plus had a bit more go than the 2 litre - economy was high twenties/low thirties though , mainly because I tended to drive it harder . The two main faults with that car were a leaking heater matrix causing water to drip on the floor and steam to rise up the windscreen ( I got the car cheap because of it though ) - this was a day's work to completely strip out the centre console and dashboard to replace the £70 part then build back up again - it wasn't difficult , just a long job with the whole process covered in the Haynes workshop manual . The other DIY job on that car was replacing the collapsed drivers seat which also had a worn fabric cover . I was fortunate to find another 190 with the same interior trim and was able to use parts from the as new passenger seat to repair my driver's seat - the donor car had the rare option of orthopaedic seats so I fitted those parts while about it , and while I had the seats out I was able to remove the last traces of the previous owners dog hairs from the carpets and hidden crevices . That 2.6 gave me no trouble during the couple of years I had it - again I did a little bit of tidying to the bodywork , but just cosmetic stuff like wheelarches again - from memory it needed ball joints for one MOT and a front spring for another , I replaced the rear section of the exhaust ( about £80 from Mercedes for the genuine item ) a new battery again , and just the usual maintenance items .

    I would have happily kept that car longer , but the arrival of our son in 2008 proved that a 190 isn't the most baby friendly car out there , and trying to manoeuvre a lie flat infant carrier into the back seat without tipping baby out was a real challenge !

    My response to the need for a larger vehicle was to briefly consider another W124 estate ( but I'd had two plus a W123 estate ) then I settled on a W126 500SEL - the SEL part is most important as the extra long rear doors made getting the infant carrier in and out so easy , the huge boot was brilliant for carrying luggage plus baby stuff , and it was , of course , so quiet and smooth that baby was always at rest . I kept the S Class for five years , the one big spend was a stainless steel exhaust system , there were various things like ball joints and springs , but mechanically it never missed a beat . That car needed increasing bits of welding for each MOT , eventually it was rotten beneath the rear window ( a common W126 fault ) and water had leaked down into the boot rotting out the floor and chassis legs underneath - that was the end of that car .

    Anyway , re the 190's , I wasn't allowed to keep both , so I gave the first one away to a friend who was down on his luck ; I know he never had money to look after it , but he ran it for a few years - don't know what became of it . The red 2.6 went to my sister who similarly was hard up with her existing car on its last legs - again she spent nothing on it and ran it into the ground over four or five years .

    I'm sure that just with basic maintenance both these cars woukd still be running , but so many people just treat cars as consumables and discard them when anything needs done . I seem to buy older cars , bring them up to a decent standard , then when something new comes along I give them away to friends or family to ruin again !

    My last and current 190 was bought to replace a W203 C270CDI which was the worst car I have ever owned and the biggest money pit I have suffered .

    After persevering with that car for about 18 months , fixing one expensive fault after another , only for something else to always arise , I decided to go back to the older cars I was happier with and more comfortable looking after .

    Looking around locally , I found a 190LE advertised at £250 with expired MOT . The LE was a limited edition of 1000 of the last ones sold in each country , so somewhat collectable , this one suffered from poor starting and idling , despite being otherwise very nice inside and out , so I went away and read up on the possible causes before deciding to chance it and going back for it the following morning . On getting the car home , a new OVP relay cured the fault , and the car then passed its MOT without needing any other work . I then just ran the car for a few months as it was to see where I was with it . It became apparent that the cylinder head gasket was leaking since oil was getting into the coolant and emulsifying - the car continued to run like this , with no contamination into the oil , while I considered my options . On speaking to a number of people , including a well respected and highly qualified Mercedes specialist , the consensus was that the 1.8L engine , which this car had , was made down to a price , and not the equal of the earlier 2 litre unit . While it would certainly have been possible to repair the engine , I was advised that the head would almost certainly be corroded due to being made of inferior metal and that it would just happen again . Since it was arguably just as easy a job to swap out the whole engine than strip out and replace a cylinder head , and cost would be about the same , I looked for another engine of known provenance . It wasn't long before another member on here advertised a W124 230CE for breaking , and since that engine , still the same basic M102 engine but with 2.3L displacement , was offered in the 190E 2.3 , but not here in the UK , I knew that the swap would be straightforward ( in fact I know of others who have done it too ) . The upshot was that I obtained this engine , complete with gearbox , for £200 , drove down to Wales in the C270 with trailer to collect it ( that trip to Wales put paid to the C270 with the fifth and final diesel injector failing on the way back and having to drive with all windows open due to the fumes ) .

    Once home , the engine swap was straightforward , having purchased an engine crane , and the new engine is now in the car , running nicely . I still have to upgrade the brakes to vented front discs as fitted to factory 2.3L cars , and am just waiting until winter passes before doing this as I have to work outside .

    I also plan to replace the original differential , which gives lower gearing for the 1.8L engine , for a taller one to improve fuel economy on runs . There's a member on here , based on the continent , who runs a 190E 2.3 ( proper factory one ) and had a thread back in the summer about his tour of the U.K. , in which he reported some fantastic fuel economy figures ( 50+ mpg IIRC )!

    The 190LE came with chrome covers around the wheelarches , which I just knew would be hiding rust , and removal of one confirmed it . This is just cosmetic , along with various small scabs caused by stone chips here and there , and I will address all of these later - this one is turning out to be such a nice car I'll get it professionally resprayed at some point , but it is absolutely sound structurally and rust free underneath . Like many of my previous cars , it has had a new battery , and five new Continental tyres which have yet to see any use on the road . I recently bought a front armrest and illuminated sunvisors when they appeared for sale on here . Oh and I bought an ex factory detachable towbar for it on eBay.de ( great source of cheap used parts ) so I can use it to tow my trailer .

    Last year , I also swapped the C279 for a R129 300SL-24 , which I knew had a number of issues , and time spent on that car stopped me having the 190 ready before winter , by next summer , I'll have both cars running and be able to alternate between them when one or the other needs maintenance .
     
  16. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    My sister had a 3 series which was a money pit - she couldn't afford to fix it so I gave her my 190 2.6
     
  17. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    My early 190E , with its 14" wheels , never returned less than 30mpg , more usually 35-ish on mixed driving , but could easily achieve 40mpg on long motorway journeys , admittedly at an 'indicated' 70 mph - I don't know how accurate or otherwise that speedo was . I also liked the vacuum economy gauge on the early cars , which encouraged me to drive with a light foot , and will look to retrofit one to my current car when I can .
     
  18. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    Probably because many people , like myself , feel that modern cars are boring and unpleasant to drive with restricted visibility due to excessively thick pillars , generally poor fenestration , and closed in interiors , as well as rubber controls that convey little if any feel of the road to the driver .

    Most modern cars you couldn't fire up after a few weeks because the batteries would have gone flat with the drain from all the electronics ; my older cars , being properly maintained , start on the first turn of the key , and beyond a cursory check of tyre pressures and fluid levels , as a responsible driver ought to do with any car on a regular basis , they're ready to go anywhere .

    Mind you , I don't think of relatively modern 'youngtimers' like a W201 as classic cars - for that you have to go back at least to the 50's or 60's . Even then , we had a W115 which was kept as the good car for special outings , could be left literally for months , and would start on the first turn of the key , as did my Ponton , even though latterly I'd only start it 3 or 4 times a year .

    Pacific rim cars ? Yuk !

    Of course , if the same things interested everyone , what a boring place the world would be .
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  19. Happytalk73

    Happytalk73 MB Club Veteran

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    Wowzers Derek. Can you talk as much as you can type??? :eek:


    Ant. ;)
     
  20. StuartK

    StuartK Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Have to say an old 500sel would likely be more reliable than today's cars.

    My mum had a 300ce F330 PVN. Astonishing car and comfy.

    A friend of mine recently sold a 190d as it was approaching 500k miles and felt it was time to change. He bought a T plate E class and it was so unreliable he sold it for a Mondeo. He wish he had kept the 190d!
     

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