There’s no denying that Mercedes-Benz is one of the premier automotive marques in the world. With so many classic models from the German car maker to choose from, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting just one for classic Mercedes restoration.

The journey of restoring a classic Mercedes model will begin by selecting a model that best fits your interests. You may have a particular model in mind, but how do you know which one is right for you? And once you get one, what’s the best way of approaching such a rewarding project?

A classic restoration is a very personal affair, and everyone will have their own impression of how a restored Mercedes should look, and the extent to which the restoration should be taken.

Pro’s & Con’s of Classic Mercedes Restoration

Pro’s

  • Depending on the level of restoration you opt for, the final product could in fact be better than when it came out of the factory.
  • If the restoration is carried out correctly, your car could be worth more than the cost of restoration.
  • Appointing a restoration partner with a reputable track history will reinforce the value of the vehicle.
  • If you choose the right model, your restoration is to a high standard, the car is stored & maintained correctly, it could appreciate in value over time.

Con’s

  • Prepare yourself, classic restoration can be VERY expensive.
  • Be extremely vigilant when inspecting your donor vehicle, paintwork can hide a multitude of sins that can drastically affect the budget of the restoration.
  • It can be time consuming especially for bare metal restorations, so if you are in a hurry, restoration may not be for you.
  • If you’re not carrying out the work yourself, be very careful who you select to perform the restoration. Ask to see examples of past projects as well as testimonials from past satisfied customers. There are a LOT of cowboys out there.

What type of classic Mercedes restoration are you looking for?

In general, there are two types of restoration you can aim for. The first is a full and complete one, where the car is stripped right back to the bare metal and rebuilt. Such restorations get chosen for vehicles that must look “better than new” and are considered as “Concours” condition.

The second type isn’t as comprehensive, but it’s still a restoration nonetheless. Many people follow this option if they want to restore a vehicle that will be reliable enough to use as a daily driver. As you can imagine, the first option will cost more than the second choice, so you’ll need to consider what your end goal will be with your classic Mercedes restoration.

Selecting a donor vehicle

Your choice of donor is one of the most important aspects of the project as any nasty surprises can push your budget over your limit before you’ve even started. As mentioned earlier, paintwork can hide all kinds of nasty surprises. Over the years body shops and less scrupulous engineers have become adept at hiding flaws or rust so it pays to be vigilant.

Even if you plan to carry out your restoration as a DIY project, it’s worth paying an experienced restorer to inspect a potential donor vehicle as they will know common areas to look for problems & can often offer really good advice. It could save you a fortune further along your restoration.

Another consideration is assessing the potential value of you car once restored. For many, cost is irrelevant as their love for a particular model supercedes any cost implications, but if the final value is important to you, make sure you do your homework and ask lots of questions before proceeding.

Lastly, a non-running car will generally increase the cost of your project than donor that not only starts but can be driven. If you’re considering a non-runner be sure to check out why it doesn’t run first. If you’re lucky, a non-runner could simply be down to a failed starter motor, dead battery or broken fuel pump etc. The deeper you go into the engine, the more expensive it’s likely to become.

Many people focus so much on the cosmetic aspects of a restoration, they forget that mechanical restoration is just as important as the visual impact of the car.

Parts availability

Another crucial consideration is the availability of parts for your chosen vehicle. Before agreeing to purchase your donor car, check what work potentially needs doing and that all parts are available. Obviously the older & rarer the model you choose, you may experience difficulty in locating the parts. Sourcing parts is a side project all of it’s own and can take you all over the world.

Talk to some UK based restorers before you go ahead, they are a mine of useful contacts and many hold their own inventory of classic parts.

Set expectations

This is particularly applicable if you are choosing a classic Mercedes restoration specialist to carry out the work for you. Any reputable company will ensure that they have understood exactly what you are looking to achieve. It’s vitally important to make a list of key features you would like included. The more detail you provide the less risk there is of ending up with something you didn’t want.

Agree budgets & milestones with your working partner and inspect each stage of the restoration as it’s likely some details and ideas may change throughout the project. It’s important to ensure good dialogue so that everyone knows where they stand.

Post restoration

Your completed restoration will carry it’s own challenges in terms of protecting the investment you have made. Your restoration partner will be able to advise on after care and periodic servicing & maintenance required to keep your pride and joy in the best possible condition.

Storage of course will play a big part in maintenance of the condition of your car. Undercover dry storage is preferable for any classic vehicle.