I initially started looking at W201 190Es after reading James' project car write-up. Having not much luck finding a W201 that I liked, I started looking at W124 models and the 300CE Coupe (C124 model) really caught my eye.
Designed by Bruno Sacco who also designed the W201 the 30 year old design is still elegant and well proportioned. The car I purchased was on Club registration and I drove it 350km back to Sydney on an Unregistered Vehicle Permit from Service NSW. I am in the process now of having a Blue Slip Inspection and getting it on full registration.
What really amazed me when I inspected the car was the level of technology and creature comforts available in this 80s car. Tilt and slide sunroof, dual zone climate control, electric seats, seat belt "butler", power windows, and ABS brakes were among the modern features. Minor touches like a mini sun visor over the rear view mirror to block the sun from that gap was also available. More amazingly, everything still works. The previous owner had fitted a Pioneer HU which has Bluetooth connectivity and works with an app on my phone for navigation and the like.
My first challenge was getting the car back 350km to Sydney. Before leaving the seller's place, I went to the local supermarket and stocked up with 6 litres of water, expecting to need some water top up as I drove along. The first 100km of the drive south down the Pacific Highway was done at a leisurely 70-80km/h with me keeping a keen eye on the temperature gauge. Once that was covered without any dramas, I stopped for lunch and waited for the car to cool to check the coolant level. It was still where it was when I started the drive. Having built up confidence in the car, I did the remaining 250km at 100-110km/h where the car performed flawlessly. The air conditioning blower was a bit noisy but there was nothing much else to say. It felt very stable at highway speeds without any vibrations or pulling to one side. The previous owner had lowered the car and fitted 17-inch rims with wider tyres which helped the stability at highway speeds. Downside was that less tyre sidewalls meant that the ride was a tad harsh when I arrived in Sydney and I had to navigate the horribly bumpy roads around town.
The M103 3.0-litre inline 6 engine was smooth and pulled willingly. The recently reconditioned 4-speed auto gearbox was shifting smoothly all the way. Fuel economy was surprisingly good for such an old car. I did the trip and arrived in Sydney with half a tank showing on the fuel gauge. It runs on premium fuel, as indicated in the manual.
I have a list of things that I want to do up with this car and it is mainly to restore the car to its original state. I have a set of period-correct 15-inch rims, and have replaced a very worn gear knob with an original leather one, changed a cracked wooden panel, some C-pillar trims, and a new set of seat covers. I have also fixed some odds and ends of pieces which can readily be found on eBay and gumtree at very reasonable prices.
There are a few small spots of rust on the A-pillar but when I removed the trim around the windscreen, there was no rust on the inside to be found. I have gotten a colour touch up set and will get to work on it this weekend.
Last weekend I managed to get the air-con blower out and did a lube job on it with just a Philips screwdriver, a pair of pliers and a socket wrench. A few pieces of trim and the wiper motor had to come out but it was rather easy with numerous videos online which shows the process step by step.
It has been a joy to work on but the big day will come when I bring it for a blue slip inspection.
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