Garage > Test Drive

280" Concourse; Diary of a layman

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floyd111:
I guess it's about time I started a thread about the projects I have taken on here.
1977 280SE, 1976 280S, Euro models.
Plan is to beat the system, do 2 Concours restorations, sell one of them at top dollar to a collector, as to pay for the other one, that is to be mine.
Investment in 2 cars plus parts and work,50-75000usd.
Duration of project, estimated 2 years.

It didn't start off like this..

Over 2 years ago I planned to find an impossible to find good-condition w116, here in Taiwan.
A year later, and 5 cars down the line, I knew it was going to be nearly impossible.
So, I settled for one that simply looked good, and paid 8000usd for it, which is as cheap as they get here.
I knew it was a lemon, but it was the best looking lemon around. There may not be more than 20 of these cars in Taiwan.. One can't license new imports..

Since I am not a mechanic, but an MC distributor, I was far from home, in many ways.
Luckily, I found recently opened restoration-workshop, and they ensured me it could be done, with time, and money.
Question was..how much?

When I first test-drove the car, I found all was well, but I had 20 inches of play in the steering wheel.
The man promised to fix it, and I returned 2 weeks later, happy and anxious.

I picked the car up at the (dodgy) dealer, and drove off into the horizon, finally owning my own, first w116
I drove to see a friend of mine, 10km further down the road, and show off my new find. he was impressed, but not for long. After opening the bonnet, it seemed the steering pump had exploded, and the whole engine was dripping in oil. Further study showed more oil lines had burst or were leaking heavily. Driving 200km to my restorer was not an option.
So, I carefully drove back to the dodgy seller, and told him to fix the issue, or I would take issue. I was promised a safe 200km when I bought it!

2 weeks later i picked it up again, with the assurance of years of problem-less driving.
I made it 7 KM to the very center of Taipei, to find the engine stalling in the middle of rush hour, in the middle of a jam-packed bottleneck, blocking thousands of cars behind me, with no place to go.
For 45 minutes I stood there, with half of Taiwan cursing the mad foreigner who was silly and irresponsible enough to drive such a vehicle through rush hour.
I called the dodgy dealer, again and again, but he never called back. I was abandoned. Luckily, a friend nearby helped arrange a tow.
When the tow-truck arrived, the public embarrassment was complete.

The tow-truck brought us to a befriended car dealer, who quickly assessed my alternator did not work.
A costly replacement was available, but the next day.
So, I lost a day at work again, and had to get a motel.

The next day the car was ready -again-, and the long drive home could commence.
It was fun to see strangers wave on the highway, but I was too bloody nervous to enjoy the attention.
I was waiting for  more exploding parts..

Once home, I finally had a sense of relief and actual classic car ownership.
I decided to drive it for a week, before saying goodbye to at at the restorers' for a year.
By miracle, it lasted the week. It was a good week.

At the restorer, the long debate about restoration, parts, costs, etc etc now started.
To my horror I found that the manager in charge knew as little about these things as I did.
I was their first 5-star restoration case!
It meant I was completely responsible for each and every choice, every part, every move, from the beginning till the end.
Good thing I don't scare easily!
They DID seem to know their sheet metal work very well..

ptashek:
Well, for what its worth, I admire your dedication to the task but I think you're unlikely to ever see any return on a 280S/SE at that level of expense. Then again, maybe the Taiwanese restriction on imports will get you across that finish line. I sure hope so :)

floyd111:
I Hope so too. In Taiwan, if you were to drive a W116 off the top of a skyscraper, you could still sell the license plate for 7000usd, if you can retrieve it from the wreckage..
And then, Taiwan being the richest country in the world (yes, indeed), there is a lot of disposable income here. People who do not know their nett worth, and are bored beyond belief, not knowing what to buy next.
If you want a second-hand Ferrari, or lambo, no country sells them cheaper.. All the rich boys dump them, the moment the latest model is out.

floyd111:
I decided to go logistic on this car, and section what I would need to replace.
Different suppliers for different types of goods, and make sure each time to get the best source.
However, at this point, I started to realize the handicap of not having exact part manuals, and being very unaware of what I really needed to replace.
I just knew that I was going to have to end up with a car that could not possibly break down for years to come.

Logically, I deducted that whatever I could buy in Febi/Meyle would be a massive money saver.
Whatever I could not source from them, would be tomorrow's problem.
I DID, however, inform myself as to what NOT to buy aftermarket.. all the window and door seals. Must be OEM MB.
So, I went to order what I could in Febi/Meyle, and decided to replace other parts with classy second-hands.
I proceeded ordering the Febi/Meyle, in one go, in bulk, to save on shipping and achieve a max discount.

Meyle:
029 450 1800   1
029 475 1900   1
014 850 0000   1
014 830 0013   1
014 054 0027   1
014 020 0103   1
014 009 0003   1
014 001 0004   1
014 050 0000   1
014 020 0050   1
014 091 0000   1
014 018 0005   3
014 001 0015   1
014 050 0021   1
014 046 0026/S   1
014 033 0026   2
014 035 0016   2
014 035 0000   1

Febi:
1263   1
2591   2
3097   2
3219   1
3645   1
3668   2
4995   1
5165   2
5362   1
5595   2
5723   1
5809   1
5952   1
5953   1
6799   1
7162   1
7258   1
7259   1
7540   1
7915   12
8106   1
8247   1
8506   1
8545   1
8609   1
8643   1
8681   2
8694   1
8716   1
8720   1
8730   1
8838   1
8840   1
8907   1
10030   2
11253   1
12151   1
12275   1
14673   1
17080   1
18142   1
21751   1
30308   1
34917   4

That felt good! Great deal, big advance. It took a few months (read 6 months) for all of it to arrive, due to logistical failure abroad, but it arrived.
Lesson.. If you are going for bulk, and bottom dollar, be prepared for delays.

Next, GAHH. As far as I manage to deduct, the best there is.
Luckily, as an Automotive company, I could make the case that this is not just a one-time fix-er-up, but these cars are meant to be our introduction into the Classic world in Taiwan because, once finished, they will guarantee the best possible exposure for our Classic parts branch.
So, I learnt the ins and outs of how GAHH parts are ordered, and the first lot quickly arrived in Taiwan at a very fair price.
Again, all-in-one shipping is essential, or the freight costs will kill all incentives.
Regrettably, the carpets were not the same shade of Parchment that was expected, and were greener than I had hoped for.
My bad, I should have asked them to send me a sample. They WILL, if you ask them. I know that now.
So, I am now sitting on a full carpet kit for a W116 SE series, in light green. I can't install it, because I do not have a green car.
If anyone out there wants a rock-bottom price for a full carpet kit for, let's say, a moss-green W116, feel free to contact me.
BTW, the upholstery for seats, roof, etc arrived as promised, and it looks mint. Great color, looks just like the originals.
I got all that was available, pads, and all!

In the meantime, the OEM rubbers re an issue still very much alive. Sooo costly!
It lead me to go on a global hunt, armed with part numbers, many of them given to me by friendly folks on this forum.
I ended up in Germany, buying from Niemoeller. They seemed most competitive.
However, when the rubbers arrived, I was shocked that there was no MB packing. What does that mean? Are they overpriced URU's, sold by a pretending company, or NOS where packing was lost? Are the maybe sourced from the mystical Polish OEM suppliers for MB, through the back door? I still don't know, and I am afraid to ask. They sure LOOK like they're MB..
I will find out when we get to installing them.
If they are genuine, it was an OK deal. Way better than USA sources.

Now I got excited. I had visions of what the car(s) were going to look like.
No BBS, or crowns, but proper sized steel alloys with re-chromed old-skool caps.
Lots of Zebrano inside, as much as possible.
So I found Eris in Germany, and ordered 2 steering wheels in Zebrano for the original rubber steering wheel pad, 2 Zebrano shift knobs, and 2 full sets sill covers in polished stainless.
Again, combi shipping, combi ordering, be it that Eris ships really cheap! 50 Euros for my massive box of goodies. Guess combi-shipping is not an issue here.
Now I have matching Zebrano for wheels and shifters.
This means that all the dash zebrano needs to be matched up as well. Ai ai ai.. Now what?
It is hard enough to get good zebrano parts, and pricing is top dollar.
Single button consoles, double button consoles, manuals and shifters.. I all cases a good part is hard to find, costly, and the Zebrano will most likely never match.
I tried for almost a year..
Time for plan B, an idea I had been toying with..
Why not start a new company branch, specialized in restoration of Classic Car wooden interior parts?
This is now in the making. Tools, vacuum engines, selected veneers, it's all ready to go.
I can now match my dash veneer to the Eris-supplied Zebrano, if I put my mind to it.
Still, having the goods, does not mean I have the skills. The next few months will tell.

To those thinking of trying..
Do not even think of refurbishing a defrost unit in Vinyl, into veneer. There is no such shape in the plastic. If you take off the vinyl, it's all foam underneath. The pyramid shape is all air.
Same goes for the ashtray. You need a wooden one to re-do a wooden one
More about the dash restoration later..






 

daantjie:
Good luck you are a brave man!

As for rubber parts, I have invested in a mix or brands.  I also try and stay away from URO, but for the door seals I went with them.  My thinking is that it is not safety critical, and that I really cannot justify buying genuine MB door seals.  If you can even still find them the price will make your eyes water!

But then again I did spring top dollar for genuine MB tail light seals.  They are much harder to replace than the door seals, so i figured I really did not want to do THAT again...Door seals are really easy, so I figured even if the URO's are crap, I'll just redo them in a few years.

For suspension bushings and such, I go for Lemforder if I can find them, they are pretty strong in that area and you can find them at good prices normally.

Cheers

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