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We just inherited a 1984 Mercedes

We are about to inherit a 1984 Mercedes 500 SEC that belonged to my father in law who passed away in 2000. His wife recently died so we get the car. We lost touch with her and were surprised when we were called with this news. We don’t know if she even drove the car much, but we know she died in January and its been nine months for sure the car has been sitting. The car was in Los Angeles and we’re in Austin. We have confirmation that the car is on its way. We have arranged for it to be dropped off at a Mercedes mechanic. Does anyone think this is a good idea to fix this particular car? My husband already has plans to sell his daily drive for this one. I need guidance. Thanks.

It all depends on what shape it’s in. Regardless it will be expensive to maintain, use lots of gas, and be very expensive to repair. If you are willing to spend the money, OK, but be prepared. It’s also not a collectible, and it would be out performed by an Accord coupe. Don’t sell the current car until you have had a chance to get used to this one.

Having it dropped off directly to the shop is a good idea. They can look it over and give you an idea what it’ll cost to get it running propery.

Selling the daily driver to replace it with an '84 Mercedes is not a good idea. This car has been around for 25 years, and mostly sitting for the last 9 years. All cars, even mercedes, are loaded with elastomeric seals, belts,bushing, and gaskets. They’re in the fuel system, the brake system, the suspension system, the ignition system, the cooling system, and even the door and window assemblies. And many of them are probably shot by now. Try using it for a daily driver and you may find yourself doing constant repairs. At Mercedes parts prices even.

Besides, a modern car has more safety engineering than a 1984 car…even a 1984 Mercedes.

It’s a European gray market model two door coupe.
126 chassis coupes do have collector value, especially with the Euro version
5 liter V8 instead of the 3.8 liter American model. The 126 chassis Mercedes was and is a very safe car.

It will be completely dependent on the condition of the car on whether it’s cost effective to drive it every day. I still drive an '86 560SEL 126 chassis sedan every day with no problems, but the car is well sorted out.

Here’s a quick video on the 126 Coupes:

Collectable, but at what price? It’s not likely a car like the OP would be worth more than, what, $15,000? If it were in good driveable shape?

Tell your husband to keep his daily driver. The Mercedes does not make a good daily driver.

A colleague of mine, who is an automotive engineer, bought one of these at a California divorce auction, where the unwanted assets were sold off. He liked the car, but told me some of the parts were hard to get and VERY EXPENSIVE. He very definitely kept his Honda Accord daily driver, and made the Mercedes his toy!!

My recommendation would be to clean it up and sell it, unless you have a 3 car garage and enough spare cash to keep this toy on the road.

Let the Mercedes mechanic tell you what it needs, then have those things done at an independent garage specializing in imports like Mercedes, before you sell it. I think the Mercedes mechanic’s estimate for bringing the car completely up to scratch will blow you away, but your husband should see it!!

Please let us know what transpires.

Thanks for all your replies. My husband currently drives a 2003 Mini Cooper S so this car is going to be a major change for him. I think the car has around 120K miles, and the pictures we’ve seen look like its a very clean car. We are going to take all your input under advisement. We need help with this one.

If he likes how his Mini drives, he may not be too crazy about the MB-it’s a biiiiig coupe. Good luck!

I’d have to agree with benzman. Wish I had a 500SEC. Neat car, but vastly different from his Mini Cooper.

A 25 year old Benz, gray market, (forget about getting parts specific to that model) with 120K miles can only be described one way. A Money Pit.

Another personal experience, my dad purchased a 1990 Mercedes at an estate sale. It was sitting for a couple of years, and immediately needed new fuel injectors, pump, and tank due to varnishing of the gasoline. Even though the car rides like a dream, he’s had constant headaches with little things that keep breaking. The last thing he had to deal with was at least a few trips to the shop trying to fix a power steering leak. They ended up replacing the entire system.

Just remember, even if they have a good reliability track record, it is still a 25 year old car, and anything can break at any time. With the elevated price for Mercedes parts, I would not even consider this a good candidate for a daily driver.

“Nothings more expensive than a cheap Mercedes.”

On a slightly related note:

The parts manager I worked with at a Chrysler-Plymouth dealership was hired by a nearby Mercedes dealership to run their parts department. When I saw him a few months later and asked him how work was going he replied: “Customers would always complain about the price of parts at the Chrysler-Plymouth dealership. Now at Mercedes, the parts cost four times as much, and most of the customers are happy to pay it.”

Keep the Mini. If you keep the Benz, use it as a part time driver. If he makes it his commuter, there will be times when he is without a car. If a car rental is the only answer when the Benz is in the shop, rental fees could exceed insurance costs for the Benz as a part-time ride. Call your insurer and see what it would cost to insure it if it is not a commuter and is driven less than 5000 miles per year. This was the top car in M-B’s fleet and could be a lot of fun to own.

There may be a car with a higher cost per mile to own and drive, but I can’t think what that car might be…

A friend of mine owned a 12 cylinder Jaguar, about 15 years old. It was totaled in a crash recently, probably for the better.

He is a retired businessman and says the Jag “was his only vice”. Since him and his wife both own Acuras, the Jag was only driven in nice weather when it ran! He agrees that the term “bottomless money pit” was invented expressly for this car.

My sister has friends in Austin who own a Mercedes from the 1980s. It is their daily driver. They are simple cars, and if you can find a good mechanic to keep it running, it should continue to give you years of service.

It might be a 4.1L V-8 or a Northstar engined Cadillac with head gasket issues.

There are Mercedes cars and Mercedes cars. The 300 turbodiesel E Class of the early 80s was a very well engineered car and quite simple, as you say. They will run forever and are easy to sevice.

The OPs car in question is the top of the line, full of gadgets, flagship and is the opposite of the one you describe.In Germany these cars are government or corporate cars, ususally owned or used by those who don’t have to pay for the maintenance.

Thanks for all your replies. Now who will hold my hand now that the car in on route. I know I asked for it and I appreciate your honesty, but the idea of owning a bottomless money pit is giving me a tummy ache. Maybe my father in law is having the last laugh after all. Its a good thing my husband works from home.

Find a Mercedes specific forum for much more accurate advice.
http://mbca.cartama.net/index.php Look under 126 S Class Coupes.

Any 80’s car can be a money pit and there are thousands and thousands of 80’s Mercedes’ being used as daily drivers. As I stated, the car can easily be reliable and safe, it just depends on condition and past maintenance.