That Rude Little Courtesy Light

Many a good car disappoints when you look closely. This is what keeps the fussy owner up at night.  
More little things, but they're little things that stare into your face and annoy you to no end each time you sit behind the wheel. (So maybe they're not such little things after all.)

Note chip at corner.
Case in point is the overhead courtesy light. Like the sunvisors, this contraption is unique to the mid-90s A124 Cabriolet and R129 Roadster. (Read: Expensive.) Over time, the plastic gets dry and brittle and in the hands of an incompetent technician, it inevitably gets mangled. For Cabriolet owners, this tends to happen when a new windshield is installed because the local Safelite employee doesn't know  the quirks of this model.

Note crack on left side.
Mind you, this is one of the worst kinds of abuse—conspicuous disfigurement that is a scar to your ego. The message: you once took a chance on substandard service and got burned. Someone who didn't know what he was doing was allowed to work on your car and now you have to live with it. Forever. Consider it a life lesson not to entrust your car to people who are learning on the job.

After: Undamaged courtesy light and mirror.
In any event, my courtesy light was cracked on one side and chipped on the other. My guess is the same bozo who fitted the aftermarket windshield so poorly is responsible. He must have pried away at the light hoping it would pop off. When his clumsy work made a crack on one side, he promptly tried the other side where he removed a hunk of plastic on one corner. Eventually, he figured out that it's screwed in by five screws. None is obvious—three are under the mirror, and the other two are under the lens covers of the courtesy lights.

Original glass was visibly chipped at the top.
This week, I replaced the cracked and chipped courtesy light and the chipped rear-view mirror and it felt good. It was also very satisfying to vacuum out the tiny climate control device embedded into the courtesy light. That piece can get extremely dusty and moldy over time. What's more, it can only be cleaned thoroughly by dismantling the courtesy light.

With the vanity mirrors, courtesy light, rear-view mirror, glovebox, armrest box and passenger-side door panel now done, the only things left in the interior needing attention are the upper half of the driver-side seat and some minor wood restoration. (I have no doubt I'll find something else in the interior to obsess over.)

I found this penny lodged in the gearshift this week.
(This car is already making me money.)


  1. Did the painted line on the side of car come as an original option ?. It looks as though it improves the cars aesthetics.

    I just bought a beautiful (totally original) black/grey leather E320 cabrio with 55k miles from a Virginia Mercedes dealer.

    Thanks for your blog - appreciated.

    Titus Johnson Washington DC

  2. Titus, many Cabriolets have pinstripes. It was a popular dealer-installed option in the 90s. I'm conflicted about whether to keep mine. I will likely remove them this winter. Can you point us to a link with pix of your car? We'd all love to see it, of course.


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