OK folks, I took the e500 plunge a couple of weeks ago by buying a 1994 salvage title car (in need of much love) and adding it to the stable in my high desert, solar-powered compound.
The salvage title doesnt bother me (as I intend on keeping it until I croak), but I DO want to get it back as close to pristine condition as I can. This should prove to be a challenge though, as the poor car was both abused and neglected by past owners. It had taken a hard hit to the right rear, and the repair looked suspect in the photos (to say the least). I flew to Hollywood last week (in full-bore flu mode) and drove it back with no issues, but cursory inspection revealed the repair was worse than I had thought. I have some friends right down the street who specialize in BMW repair/restoration, so we immediately pulled out all the trunk carpet/panels and put it up on the lift for a closer look.
It immediately became apparent that the rear subframe was bent, jacking up the alignment. The bodywork was a real hatchet job with everything just pulled back crudely, the right quarter panel heavily-bondo'ed and out-of-alignment, and dents/damage left unrepaired on the inside of the trunk sheetmetal. The tailight flanges on the rear panel were literally GONE (i.e. cut out), leaving the tailights to be held in with self-tapping screws (oy).
There is also unrepaired alignment damage to the right frame rail, leaving the gas filler cap, passenger side rear tire, fender line, and passenger side rear door out of alignment.
The "Beemer boys" (as I affectionately refer to them) were having a field day dissing the new Benz . This was a calculated strategy on my part though. This time last year, they were saying the same unkind things about my $650 e420 (as we were assembling it piece by piece from a pile of parts in the trunk). Now that it has run flawlessly for a year (and they have ridden in its magnificent splendor), their admiration knows no bounds. When someone tells me I can't do something I feed off that negativity, hunker down, and get it done.
Anyway, other negative issues are as follows:
Odometer & trip both non-functional.
Hirschman doesn't power up/down.
Rear pneumatic spheres blown (riding 2-4" lower than normal).
Trans pan drain plug RTV'ed in.
No shift lever bushings whatsover.
Lifter click (assuming oiler tubes; they ARE plastic).
Strange whine in engine bay that sounds like a power steering pump low on fluid. Both the SLS and steering pumps are full though, so it might be the air pump.
Some type of issue with the gas tank (probably from the accident). When full, it wants to spit gas out of the cap.
On the plus side:
Interior is as perfect as you will find in a 20 yr old car.
Paint is fresh (probably from rear repair) and @ 90%.
Engine runs great w/no leaks; averaged over 20 MPG @ 70-85 MPH.
Passed AZ emissions hands-down.
Trans shifts like it should w no reverse clicking/lag.
Sound system excellent.
In any event, I have been quite busy in the last week. I found a donor 94 e420 at a local yard, and had them chop the rear end off of it for me. Her sacrifice will provide me with straight sheetmetal to weld in and repair the back end. It also came with a rear sunshade that will find a new home in my e420. A bummer was that I had asked them to leave the subframe on, but that got lost in the espanol translation (and it and the rest of the car ended up in the crusher). So, I am in search of a shippable rear subframe if anyone has any leads. On Monday I will get an estimate on repair cost on straightening the frame on a machine, removing the trunk guts, welding in the new metal, and repainting. I will probably have to shoot some of the interior trunk paint myself to save $$$; the exterior is a bit beyond my skills...
I pulled a set of oiler tubes from a 1992 400SE a couple of days ago, and gave them a spit-shining prior to installation.
I changed ALL the fluids except for the trans (because I also pulled a good pan for it at the yard, and will service it when I swap it in). The oil, coolant, and brake fluid were utterly disgusting (as I said; poor car had been neglected). I'll get to the rear diff lube soon too. I plan on getting AMG Monoblocks for this car, and selling the Porsche-style Gemballas. I also will get a slightly larger profile tire, as I need the added cushion in my remote rural setting. Also not a big fan of the low-profile "gangbanger" look. The next step if to get the rear spheres replaced to see what that does to the ride height etc.
I'll be working as quickly as I can find the parts,and will keep this thread udated with any progress. I really enjoy the challenge of restoring something that's been abandoned. I'm also in the middle of converting my 1953 Dodge M56 military truck into a 440 Magnum-powered dump truck (but that's ANOTHER story).
As always, any suggestions or help are much-appreciated. I'm long on neandrathal grunt, but VERY short on actual know-how.....