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Lament and beginning again...

Started by Casey, 24 February 2022, 04:40 AM

Casey

Less than a decade ago, I was swimming in W116's, a couple W123's, and a treasure trove of parts - living the dream in one sense.  But then I got married, started a family, and dismayed at how little value the cars I loved had at the time, I changed my priorites.  Seeking to travel and relocate, I sold and gave away everything, purchasing a single W123 wagon to keep.  That turned out to be an awful purchase, and thousands of dollars and a few years later, let that one go too, thinking I was done with classic Mercedes.

To be fair, they have no practical purpose in my life still, given that my family could no longer fit into one - not a sedan at least.  Now my vehicle is just something that fills a need, but has no real appeal.  Yet, traveling years behind me, finally settled onto land I intend to never leave, I find myself reminiscing about my time with classic Mercedes, particularly with W116's.

I took it for granted before.  There were always plenty on the market, good and bad.  Junkyard trips would very often turn up good parts.  I enjoyed it so much that I accumulated too much, and finally let it all go, thinking it would be easy to find something again in the future.  In the past I rented a garage and later a warehouse to contain everything which wasn't cost-effective at all, but now I finally own land where I can build and store anything money can afford without ongoing rental costs.

Fast forward to today, 7ish years later.  Prices are soaring - even poor condition cars that used to be under $1000 are now selling for 10x as much.  Even basic W123's!  Never thought I'd see 240D's selling on eBay for >$10k.  Good ones are much more, and really nice ones have gotten nearly impossible to find at all.  Looks like it will take a small fortune to buy something acceptable, and then another small fortune to get everything restored decently.  Had I known what was coming, I would have been better off storing everything I had until now.  I will almost certainly never find examples as special as some of what I once owned for a tiny investment!

Oh well, the experiences were what mattered, and though I would make wiser choices now, there is no sense in regretting what is done.  I still intend to find another W116 (or two), store it inside a dry garage, and keep it as long as I'm around.  It's something my soul needs to feel whole.  The cost doesn't matter in the long run, nor does practicality.  If nothing else it will be something to take on leisure drives in my older age, only seeing the road when weather conditions are perfect.  At least prices are still reasonable in the grand scheme of things - I just got spoiled by cheap costs of the past.  Might take a while to for the right car to hit the market, but I'll be searching and waiting.

I would love to build a full garage like one I used to rent, with multiple bays, a lift, climate control, etc.  Fun as it was tinkering with Mercedes in varying states of decay, what I really want next is something really pristine, in colors I love (ivory/tobacco?  white/red?  green?  something else that's love at first sight?).  Of course with as old as these cars are even the finest example will have needs, but that is the fun of it.  Fun as daily driving them was before, at this point I will just use some basic practical vehicle for most driving.  It doesn't look like driving daily might ever be a need again, anyways.

Anyways just rambling since I just discovered my account here still exists.  Hope you all are enjoying your vehicles and I look forward to rejoining you some time in the (hopefully not too far off) future. :)

daantjie

Welcome back ;D   I think the bump in 116 interest is likely the "rising tide lifts all boats" scenario.  Covid did a number on new car supply so the 2nd hand market has gone nuts.  I guess too diesels have the "apocalypse angle" as well as you can bug out and scoop veg oil out of abandoned restaurants when you're on the run 8)
Daniel
1977 450 SEL 6.9 - Astralsilber

gurrier

Hi Casey,

For me personally you sum up many of the facets of interest in Classic Cars, in our case the W116 - which provides
a very positive outlet that enables one to relax and enjoy life.

Thanks for the interesting insight you give.

Bill
1973 350SE

Casey

Quote from: daantjie on 24 February 2022, 10:34 AMI think the bump in 116 interest is likely the "rising tide lifts all boats" scenario.  Covid did a number on new car supply so the 2nd hand market has gone nuts.  I guess too diesels have the "apocalypse angle" as well as you can bug out and scoop veg oil out of abandoned restaurants when you're on the run 8)

Last time I was looking, you could find decent 450SE(L)'s for as low as $1500-$2000.  They might need a little attention and require a long drive to get, but they weren't terribly hard to find.  Now I don't see anything less than $6000-$7000 in the same condition.  I think I bought a pretty nice one for $4000, which I drove 2500 miles to get home, and which was in great condition with little of anything to worry about.  Now something that seems similar is well over $10k.

You're right that diesels are affected even worse - I had my eye on a decent-looking 300SD on eBay, but now with the highest bid having gotten to $19.2k and still not hitting the reserve, I had to avert my gaze, for the moment anyways.  No sunroof and an aftermarket radio, even.  It probably would have cost a quarter as much before.  I have a Dodge Ram 2500 4x4 diesel now that I bought for $6500, could easily double or triple my money now if I chose to sell it.  Crazy times indeed.

Of course, in addition to the supply chain shortages affecting new cars, there's also inflation to factor in, and as more head to junk yards the value is going up too.  As more regulations ard requirements are placed by laws on new cars, the cost of them gets pushed up higher than the rate of inflation too.  I just have a hard time understanding the relation between new cars being in short supply and a little more costly, and heightened interest in and demand for 40+-year-old vehicles - there's a lot of middle ground between new and 1970's, and most people seem to think that something just a few years old is the best value.  I just can't imagine somebody being in the market for a new car buying a W116 out of sheer desperation, lol.  I suppose we'll see what happens when there's no shortages any more.  I guess as you put it, the "rising tide lifts all boats", or there's a ripple effect that travels far from the center point.

The push to popularize hybrid and electic vehicles is interesting too.  People complain about fuel prices now, but they were just as high back when I was last driving a 450SEL regularly - due to my commute at the time gas was costing me over $600/month.  But I imagine they will continue rising, in part by design to push people more towards electric.  If EV's start getting more popular, and fuel prices continue rising, then I would guess that value of gas/diesel vehicles will drop.  But so far, the opposite is what seems to be happening.  Perhaps, the more collectable, classy vehicles, in good condition will rise in value, as rising costs limit who is able to maintain ownership and usage of them, while massive amounts of boring cars will become worthless as those owners turn towards low-end EV's.

I don't know about "apocalypse" scenarios - I guess I'm too skeptical to believe that's where we'll end up, but certainly it is easier to come up with some alternate fuel sources for a diesel engine, with less detrimental impact on it.  If fuel prices soar higher, then it will be easier to keep a diesel on the road for less money.  But for me, fuel cost is of no real concern.  In a so-called "apocalypse" scenario, I'll have bigger problems to worry about than driving!  I don't drive that much now, and if I were to have a classic vehicle at this point, it would be staying out of the weather and only taken for leisure drives when conditions were ideal.  Gas could cost $20/gallon or more and that would be just fine.  Even if it becomes limited, I think it will be around for the indefinite future to some extent.  Worst case, it gets a long break parked in the garage with the fuel completely drained.  While I love diesels, the 450SEL was my favorite car to drive (as evidenced by too many speeding tickets!).  I also always preferred the longer wheelbase, so my next car will most likely be a 450SEL (or less likely, a W108 280SEL 4.5).  Really hard to justify spending twice as much for a short-wheelbase 300SD.  Maybe I'll just save up and invest in a good 6.9 finally.  I still kick myself for letting go of a euro 6.9 I had with the super-rare electric reclining rear seat option, but it was really not a car I was ready to own or make appropriate investments into at the time, and I was not confident in having the means to afford storing it for an indefinite amount of time.

Quote from: gurrier on 24 February 2022, 02:23 PMFor me personally you sum up many of the facets of interest in Classic Cars, in our case the W116 - which provides a very positive outlet that enables one to relax and enjoy life.

Thanks for the interesting insight you give.

Thank you for your gratitude; it's nice to hear.  I also wonder if the increasing costs of these cars is due to more people re-evaluating their life and priorities, and deciding to invest in things that bring them relaxation and enjoyment.  That has been the case for me.  Had the last couple years been more normal as anticipated, I would probably still be pushing out thoughts of getting back into classic Mercedes.

JeffCullen

Quote from: Casey on 25 February 2022, 03:14 PMI also wonder if the increasing costs of these cars is due to more people re-evaluating their life and priorities, and deciding to invest in things that bring them relaxation and enjoyment.  That has been the case for me.  Had the last couple years been more normal as anticipated, I would probably still be pushing out thoughts of getting back into classic Mercedes.
I think this is the case. Over the pandemic, folks haven't been traveling or spending as much on doing things out in the world. Interesting and classic car values have been buoyed by this, combined with the explosion of car culture on the internet.

I subscribe to your theory on the Diesel. They aren't cheap to completely sort out - everything working, no excuses... but they are incredibly economical to keep on the road. Maintenance is straight forward, the systems are simple and the fuel flexibility is compelling too. No regrets going hog wild on mine - hope to be driving it when it's 86 years old!
1979 300SD #6680 - Astralsilber - 148,250km

Casey

#5
Since I do still have some other financial priorities and won't be seriously considering a classic car purchase for several more months at least, I thought I'd post links to some of the cars I've came across while browsing that I find the most compelling.  Perhaps some other lucky person on this forum might want one, and if nothing else, it's fun for me to look and dream...

First off, this absolutely beautiful 1974 450SEL, with only 25k miles on it.  One of my last W116's was a 450SEL with this same paint color, but a bamboo interior and the newer K-jet and trim parts.  I always preferred the feel of D-jet and the older-style parts, so this being a 1974 is a big plus.  Parchment is a bit bland compared to the warmer bamboo but it does combine well with the middle red paint color, and as clean as this is, I really couldn't complain.  Interesting that it's a US car but currently in the Netherlands.  Would cost just under $40k, which is a ton for a 450SEL even now, but boy is it lovely and in amazing condition.  The only thing that would make it better would be for it to be a 1973 model year, or a euro 6.9:
https://www.gallery-aaldering.com/mercedes-benz-w116-450-sel-1974/

Inverse colors of the above, and for half the cost to boot, how about this 1972 280SEL 4.5?  I always wanted to try, but never owned or drove, a W108/109.  My first Mercedes was a W115 and while I prefer the larger S-class and fell in love with W116's, this has a lot of elements that bring back old memories.  The colors are absolutely beautiful and condition looks pretty great.  I'm not sure though if I'd enjoy it as much as a W116 (I'm assuming handling, feel, etc. is significantly different), so maybe if I bought it I'd still desire a W116, with which I'm much more familiar.  Those doubts and the distance to get it on top of the cost puts it out of my reach for now:
https://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/cto/d/beverly-hills-1972-mercedes-280sel-45/7441617038.html

Lastly, here is a 300SD I was watching on eBay.  Bids got up to $21.8k without meeting the reserve price; I think they are expecting too much though it is a very nice car.  My first W116 was ivory with tobacco interior in similarly excellent condition, so this one with yellow paint and a tobacco interior holds very similar appeal.  The biggest drawback of this one is the lack of a sunroof - something I always strongly prefer.  Then of course there's the automatic climate control and short wheelbase, which are inherent in any W116 diesel:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/1980-Mercedes-Benz-300-Series-/384736957272

Hope you enjoy drooling over these as much as I have...

rumb

108's are lovely cars to drive, but certainly an old school fee.  The suspensions are no where as good as on later cars.  Smiles per mile and observer comments are high.

I've never driven any larger engine than my 250s, but the increase in power would be beneficial. Driving in Colo mountain above 9000 feet are at about 35-40 mph going up passes.
'68 250S
'77 6.9 Euro
'91 300SE,
'98 SL500
'14 CLS550,
'16 AMG GTS

gurrier

The red 450SEL is a fine example.  Fit Euro Bumpers and headlights and it would look very elegant.
I take it that the colour is Brilliant Red (525) although list would suggest that that was a 1975 colour
1973 350SE

Casey

#8
Quote from: gurrier on 01 March 2022, 11:44 AMThe red 450SEL is a fine example.  Fit Euro Bumpers and headlights and it would look very elegant.
I take it that the colour is Brilliant Red (525) although list would suggest that that was a 1975 colour

According to the listing, it's Red Metallic (571).  I thought the 1979 I had was 516 Medium Red.  This one looks very close to the color I had.  I guess being metallic this one would have a clearcoat, whereas my previous one did not.

I also had a dark red 450SE, which was more like "maroon".  It was dark enough to really contrast with the chrome without being too dark (I'm biased against black cars, which I've never owned)...  But I always prefered the lighter reds.  Signal red suits a smaller car well but looks a bit absurd on a W116 IMHO.

I love how Mercedes made so many paint color options available in the past.  Would have been nice to see a darker red interior color similar to that 108, too, however I do really like the bright red W116 interior option.

Although in the past I preferred the larger bumpers (a sentiment holdover from my first W115 where I'd often use them as a bench), at this point I must agree that the non-USA bumpers look better.  I do still like the look of American headlights, but must admit that the non-USA ones are superior and don't look bad.  Would love to get a set of vacuum-adjustable ones properly installed.  One reason I like 1973 W116's specifically are the smaller bumpers although they have a couple rubber blocks the euro ones lack.  Other nice things are simpler emissions, a brass rather than plastic coolant reservoir, and the stepped wood on the dash trim, plus the ebony option.  Curious that those were only available for a single year.

I see that you have a 1973 350SE - that must be a great car.  I can only imagine how the 350 compares to the 450, but imagine that the non-USA 3.5 is probably just as powerful if not more so than a USA 4.5, while lightening up the car too.

Casey

Here's a stunning 350SE, if you like green anyways (I do).  A nice silvery green with a rare green velour interior.  In Europe with European trim, with shipping available.  I should really research these more to assess how they compare to the 450's that I'm more familiar with.  This is a beautiful color combination that I've never come across before!  The front bumpers do seem to be bent downward though...
https://www.erclassics.com/mercedes-benz-350-se-1976-m5595/

johnnyw116

#10
i saw this rust issue on the rear panel and that is not something you want to see on an 20.000 euro car , 350's drive fine they drive smoother than a 280SE but are not as powerful as an 450SE , and in europe green is an common color so there are manny more to find so i should skip this one 

 
JohnnyW116

Casey

Quote from: johnnyw116 on 02 March 2022, 08:00 AMi saw this rust issue on the rear panel and that is not something you want to see on an 20.000 euro car , 350's drive fine they drive smoother than a 280SE but are not as powerful as an 450SE , and in europe green is an common color so there are manny more to find so i should skip this one

Good eye!  For now I am just looking and restraining myself from seriously considering buying anything, but it is great to be aware of any defects like this.  My first Mercedes (W115) had a green vinyl interior but that was less attractive than the velour, and also the nickel green paint, while appreciable in it's own way, was less striking than this color.  Green is rare here in the USA.  I bought a nickel green and parchment 450SEL before (I believe a 1977), but it had lots of hidden rust, bondo, and even fake lookalike cheap vinyl seat skins glued over the original badly decayed leather.  Definitely good to be careful and search for any issues.

I think that the euro 350, while being less powerful than a euro 450, may be more powerful than a US 450.  I looked up yesterday that the 1976 350SE was rated at 197hp and I believe the US 450 was less than that.  Of course euro imports are very difficult to find here and importing one without being able to first inspect it in person is risky at best.  Higher-octane fuel needed for the higher compression engines costs more, but one doesn't drive a V8 Mercedes for good fuel economy.  8)

Casey

Quote from: Casey on 01 March 2022, 06:19 PMhttps://www.erclassics.com/mercedes-benz-350-se-1976-m5595/

Does anyone know what the contraption in the trunk is?  Is that an LPG conversion?

gurrier

Yes it would appear to be. In the engine compartment photo before the one of the Manuals you can see the vapouriser - in front of the ignition coil.    The vapouriser is connected to the car's cooling system as part of its setup, again you can see two extra hoses in the photo.  I had such a system fitted to a 1984 Toyota Camry that I had in the early nineties. I believe it was a Landi Hartog system.  One of my work coleagues has purchased a new Dacia with duel fuel Petrol-Lpg so Renault/Dacia obviously still see economic sense in the system. Burnt Exhaust valves were always a concern with LPG run engines.
1973 350SE

johnnyw116

#14
Yes this W116 has an basic LPG G1 instalation you also have G2,G3 and G4 but they are fitted in the more modern cars and work with computers and lpg injectors (the G stands for generation) but they use lpg overhere in Holland for ages they began to drive on it here in about 1955, but it became more populair in the 70's many (full size) American cars ran on LPG overhere and they could drive forever on it without issues , but the mercedes V8 engines can run also pretty good on lpg only the M110 280S/SE engines seems to have weaker cylinderheads than the M116/M117 engines and need most of the times an cilinderhead rebuild after a period running on lpg but the M116/M117 V8's most of the times not , the damper needs the warm/hot water/coolant of the engine otherwise the LPG freezes in the damper/vapouriser 
JohnnyW116