With that said, I dove head first into the process and have had a blast so far. If you're an auto enthusiast and have never had a "project car" you're really missing out. I personally never anticipated that spending money in this way could be so much fun (OK, maybe I did but I sure didn't know HOW much fun). Day after day, with every new part, I get to see my beloved Grey Lady transformed back into her former glory. So lets start with a refresher look at her before picture and a recap of the issues...
- Numerous engine problems (stalling, trouble starting, poor idling)
- Rusted, hole-filled exhaust system
- Sunroof wouldn't open (this picture was taken about two days before it crapped out)
- Fog light housing broken
- Worn tires
- Radio antenna broken
- Misc. rubber grommets deteriorated
- Bumpers scratched to hell
- Windscreen cracked
- Paint in disrepair
- Wheels were curbed and peeling paint
- Center console wood was cracked and in poor condition
- Front window switches broken
- Tape deck broken
- Hood insulation was peeling
- A/C not working
- Cruise control not working
- Front leather seats cracked and torn in places
That said, these really are the most stunning wheels on a W126 body and might be the nicest AMG wheels all together - with the exception of the illusive AMG/OZ 3 piece wheels, which might as well be made out of gold because they are so bloody expensive. I chose 15" because I really wanted to maintain the integrity of engineering and the ride quality. Believe me when I say that I could have slapped on a set of 18" wheels, which do look a bit cooler but ultimately could have compromised the ride quality. Looking at the below pictures compared to the one above, you can easily see the improvement. These wheels really made a tremendous difference and gave the car a much more aggressive look.
|New wheels the day I got them|
|First day after being fitted|
|Another shot of the front end|
At the same time that I had the new tires/wheels fitted and balanced I also had the following done/installed:
- Full fluid change
- Brake system overhaul with new rotors and pads
- A new hydraulic actuator pump
- A exhaust system
- A new fuel distributor
- New control arms/bushings.
I then splurged on a new antenna, rubber grommet (for around the base of the antenna), wood panel (around the shifter), window switches and new fog light housings. These things were simple enough that I planned on fitting them myself. Some pictures below...
|Old fog light surrounds after I'd taken them off my car|
|New fog light surrounds on the car|
|B/A side by side of the wood panel|
|Old wood panel still on the car|
|Old (left) vs new (right)|
|Old wood panel, bottom portion to show cracks|
|Center console without any panel|
|New wood panel installed|
The next few big things that I wanted to take care of was the driver side door lock, cracked windscreen and sunroof. The lock before the repair meant that I continually had to lock and unlock the car via the trunk (those familiar with these cars know they have a vacuum system, so unlock any lock and the whole car unlocks). Although it wouldn't seem like this would be a big deal, it was a huge pain in the ass. The sunroof is also something I could live without, but when the roof is operable it makes the car feel so much bigger and enjoyable. Same with the windscreen, though cracked it was still possible to see through, but it looked like sh*t. So I bit the bullet and ordered a driver side door lock (custom cut to the VIN) and windscreen via Mercedes-Benz and booked the service to get them and the sunroof taken care of. While I don't have any B&A's of these, trust me when I say that these 3 things were my favorite fixes, what a difference.
So after having all of that done I had a major cleaning session that lasted a full weekend. I'd recently watched a video done by Larry Kosilla @ AmmoNYC of him doing a full paint correction/restoration job on an old Porsche. In the video he shows how to do it, in a very easy to follow way, step by step way and so I decided to give it a try. I followed his instructions and the results were truly fantastic (side note: if you haven't watched any of Larry's videos I suggest you check his YouTube Chanel Drive Clean or see his company's website, AmmoNYC). I also shampooed carpets, cleaned and conditioned the leather, treated the rubber seals, de-gunked the engine bay, polished the chrome, treated the windscreen...the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that The Grey Lady went to the car spa and I paid with two shoulders and a headache, but it was totally worth it. Here's a shot I took just as the sun went down on that Sunday evening.
|The Grey Lady|
I've still got quite a ways to go, and unfortunately the remaining repairs are still high dollar investments (A/C system, cruise control, leather for the front seats, stereo head unit and new bumpers). But as I mentioned above, I've been having a blast doing this and every dollar has been worth it. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the months ahead and finishing up this project. As always, I welcome any comments about my project. Also, if you have a particular project car/restoration you've worked on or even dreamed about, I'd love to hear about that too!