“I love classic and collectible cars, and the 20+ years of detailing and reconditioning work gives me a much better perspective on what a true collector car really is. I really love and specialize in vintage Mercedes-Benz cars for many reasons most of which is the overall build quality, style, and engineering.”
–Dean Laumbach, Laumbach Restoration and Sales
The 1994 Mercedes-Benz E500 is one of my favorite cars of all time. Its not an expensive exotic, but its Porsche heritage and its low production numbers make it rare and unique as a “modern car.” In my opinion, its one of the best driving Mercedes-Benz’s of all time. Although my E500 has a patina from its 90,000 miles of use, it is still in top condition and is a great driving machine. Despite its overall good condition, any 21 year old car needs some attention from time to time.
Being a 1994 model makes my E500 even more rare than its 1992 and 1993 brethren as the last year of production was the zenith in terms of looks, technical specifications, and quality. Only 374 E500’s were imported into America in 1994. On these pages I’ve written extensively about the special history behind this car and my own personal history with this particular car. You can read my history of the the 500E/E00 here. While I have used this car over the years, I have carefully maintained it and its been properly stored and garaged its entire life. It has had no collision work and is a very straight original example. I’ve enjoyed every mile behind the wheel of my E500.
A few years ago I decided to invest some time and money into my E500 with the intention of bringing it back to as new condition as possible. The only problem with this plan was finding the right person to do the work. This car is neither a classic nor really an old car, so finding the appropriate restoration professional posed a challenge. I wanted somebody who had respect for the car and also had deep experience in the 1980’s to mid 1990’s Mercedes-Benz products. I am very patient when it comes to car projects. The car sat motionless in my garage for three years until I finally found the right person to perform the restoration work.
Dean Laumbach is a former Wall Streeter who, after a successful career on the Street, decided to follow his passion for automobiles with three-pointed stars on the hood. I met Dean earlier this year when I purchased a gorgeous 1990 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC from him. The dark metallic gray car was a 43,000 mile original SEC that had been meticulously maintained. Dean represented the car with 100% honesty and when I picked it up I was blown away by the quality and condition. This is how Dean operates: truthful and honest to the last detail and very particular and transparent about even the most minor fault. As he recently said to me, “no twenty year old car is perfect, there are going to be flaws, even it it has only 3,000 original miles.”
Dean’s shop is located in Tinton Falls, New Jersey about 50 miles south of New York City. You can learn more about Dean’s services here. Dean has deep knowledge of 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s Mercedes (his speciality is R107 convertibles). His passion and attention to detail are second to none. I shipped the E500 down to Dean’s shop in early June and he went right to work.The first item of business was to perform a thorough inspection of the car and define a list of repair items. In his own words, Dean identified the following list:
1.) Paint and body work would be done first. (under doors & front bumper). These are 2 easy areas to correct. Scratches that I saw in the paint can be corrected with wet sanding and machine polishing. Will advise if other paint is needed. Hopefully there is no hidden body rust under gray rocker covers? I use Lee’s garage in West Long Branch NJ.
2) Undercarriage heavy cleaning and de-greasing. Engine will also be detailed with vapor steam. Light abrasives to remove surface rust and I will used Eastwood rust encapsulator and chassis paints to refinish. Corroded hoses will be replaced. Exhaust can be replaced also. While car is on lift vapor steam cleaning will also be used on entire undercarriage. My mechanic is THE BEST Mercedes Benz mechanic I have ever met, and one of the most honest guys also. He can make recommendations as to service, but if the car is on the lift for a while I always have him change fluids, fuel filter and if needed fuel pumps. If he sees anything else that needs attention, I will contact you, and he will only perform maintenance that you approve.
3) Other wear items such as leather, interior woodwork, wheels and paint imperfections will be noted. I can make suggestions once the car is here, and you will make all decisions regarding the the degree of refurbishment needed. I am a bit crazy about wood work, leather, and wheels and I may make some other recommendations. Of course you will be in charge of the decisions about my recommendations. I will give you estimates of all costs prior to proceeding with any of the work.
Before I shipped the car to Dean I was confident and comfortable that I had made the right choice. My reasoning was primarily based on my favorable experience buying a car from him and the many phone conversations we had regarding the E500 project. Once I read his thorough, detailed and thoughtful action plan my comfort with Dean only grew stronger. Dean is very transparent about costs and seeks my approval on every dime that is spent on the restoration.
Right now we are about 25% through the restoration. The bodywork has been mostly completed. The interior wood has been sent out to Madera Concepts in California. We have just received perfect original factory wheels from Wheels Tires and More. With the help of Becker Sound we are going to repair the factory radio. We plan to perform a whole host of minor interior and exterior detail work to bring my E500 back to circa 1994.The headliner will be replaced and the leather on the door pockets will be corrected. We are also going to perform extensive mechanical work on the car, including a whole new exhaust system, new shocks, new brakes, and all new hoses and belts.
I will be writing Phase II of this update in the coming weeks as progress continues.