Thinking about 1990 420SE seen for sale. Any advice...read on

A few pointers here if you can
I'm looking at quite a nice looking 2 owner 420SE. Its a 1990, with 240,000 miles on it. Current owner had it from 60k miles.
The body is good except for some small corrosion on one wing, and a little chrome blemishing. No accident/battle scars. It's had a Merc dealer top end refurb job at about 100k miles. Oil pressure is 'perfect', and it apparently uses none between services. The tranny is also described as 'perfect' It has been regularly serviced by a reputable garage. Not Merc.
Should I go and have a look at it, or is the starship mileage too much?. (its a day trip to do this).
Cheers... Rob.
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Hi Rob,
This V-8 is an interference motor - the pistons smash the valves when the timing chains break - and they do. The timing chains ought to be replaced after 120 K miles - this one is past due so keep that sum in mind and in pocket for immediate action. The cost of repairing the heads if the chains break is about what you will pay for the car!
Otherwise, it a very nice car - but thirsty.
Tom
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Hello T.G. Happy New Year
Once again you are the voice of reason here.
I just saw this one and got all doey eyed. It fulfilled my criterion... CHEAP/BIG/MERC.
Gosh I'm shallow!
It looks nice (its on Ebay UK BTW). I just fancied a bit o cheering up (not been a good year 2005 for lots of reasons), and I used to buy a motor in the good old being single days. I've asked about the chain, but I guess it was done at 100k only. Another poster has suggested I pay more for less miles. That is also good advice. Maybe I'll wait. I really fancied an earlier 280SE (similar age to my 123 280E), but I haven't really seen one yet. Also I'd like one without a sunroof. On an old car, that is asking for trouble.
I'll ponder on this a little longer.
Cheers all... Rob.

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240K is wayyyy too much when there are many benzes out there with much less. Pay a bit more and get something with as little miles as possible. Even if the engine and transmission are solid, at 240K many other components could be soon due for a replacement.
Be patient and find yourself a gem, a grandma's Sunday driver or similar =)
Stay away, find something local on ebay or www.autotrader.com
cp

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You may be right here.
A better one (on paper) has come up much more local to me. I can even go and see it. Its a 420 SEL, whatever you get with the L that is extra? It still needs a timing chain, but it'll be its first (if the miles are right). I don't know how hard a job that is to do?
Its also not leather interior, which I prefer (leather is so cold in winter and hot in summer).
Do I need this sort of 40th birthday present?. You bet, but better check with wifey!. She was thinking I should get an in car GPS. I'm thinking bigger!
Keep you posted... Rob.

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Yes, I have let's say, bad experience.

The L means it's the longer edition (a couple more inches of leg room)

I'd go to a mechanic if you haven't done it before.

If I were you I'd be patient and wait it out till some beauty comes along. Some guy at work bought a beautiful Jag, looked for the right car for a year or so and found it. If I were you I wouldn't get anything with more than 150K miles. If I were buying for myself I'd wouldn't look at anything with more than 100K. Though even with low miles you can get a problem car such as a friend of a friend who's 50K miles w123 300D is full of problems, because of bad maintenance.
cp
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Hello cp
The one I'm now looking at is better all round and has 102k on it. It certainly approaches your guidelines, which are definitely wise. Gotta say I'm really tempted. I've even been getting good vobes from wifey, but we've all been there and had permission withdrawn at the 11th hour. I think that they don't think we are serious until we take it to the wire. Hey, not that I'm complaining. Marriage is an important institution, otherwise men would go around thinking thay had absolutely no faults whatsoever!. Anyway, it looks real nice, and I've seen a number of photos of it. However there's a cheap 1980 56k miles 450 SEL for sale (double chrome bumper model). That is of the same era as my 123 280E. that is really tempting too, but not a runner (it starts etc, just not road legal). Dunno what to do here. What is the diff between the 420 and 450 motor?
Cheers... Rob.

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Oh Rob, a funky old '80 450SE??? If you bring that old dog home she'll make you sleep in it - alone!
Tooooo Old.
A 1990 is already 15 years old, fully depreciated but still looks decent and if you shop patiently a really clean one can be found. Remember, nobody HAS to buy a Mercedes, its voluntary and every week there's another candidate. Although the 420 avoids the 560's hydro-pneumatic rear suspension, if you're willing to jump for a 420 why not a 560? Broadens the choices and costs only about 2 mpg more - 15 vs. 17 mpg.
A comment about the timing chains on the 420 / 560 motor. These chains usually fail because their plastic chain guides (up on the heads) break and are drawn into the chain and sprocket. So if you buy one of these and want to change its chain the plastic guides must also be replaced.
Tom
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Are those problematic (hydro-pneumatic rear suspension)?
cp
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Ha! I know what you mean, I had to try a number of tricks to convince my wife to let me get a '66 w110.

Forget about the 1980 unless you want a project car or a divorce, and I don't think you want either.
If the one with 102K is that nice I'd get a thorough mechanical checkup, especially a body check underneath, do not hurry, get a gem!
cp
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I think you are right here.
For the experiance, I'll go and have a look at this one and leave it be. It'll hopefully be a benchmark so I know where the rough bits are/shouldn't be. I'm a great believer in value for money. Paying a bit more for less trouble is wise. I've been stupid before and payed bobbins for a car, then spent money getting it how I want it. But its my hobby in a way. I mean, I can't take the money with me, and whilst everyones fed and I can pay the mortgage (and that nice Mr VISA off fully each month), I have enough mad money to live a little. I've made a resolusion to get my NSU Ro80 out this year, if I can get round to removing the engine for 20 mins to replace the clutch release (throwout) bearing (its been sat in my garage for 18 months). I just want something a little less fragile (which my 280E has patently been, but it needs not inconsiderable fettling to get right again). I just thought I might buy a new bundle of luxury without the pain.
If I get to look at this motor, I'll post an update to give my opinion.
Thanks all for the straight and narrow stuff.
Cheers... Rob.

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Ah good, you've cooled off =) send an update when you find a gem
cp

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