First vehicle for my son - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2010, 05:30 AM Thread Starter
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First vehicle for my son

I'm in the market for my sons first car.

No, I'm not the type of person to go out and buy a high-end vehicle for my children. What I did run across is a 1980 450 SLC 2 Door Coupe.

I *think* it's a fair price, but here's my concerns:

1) I've never owned a Mercedes before.
2) I've never worked with Mercedes mechanically before
3) I've only heard horror stories of the 80's model Mercedes vehicles and impossibly expensive / difficult they are to work on if something does go wrong.

I thought I'd come here and see first hand what the enthusiast crowds have to say, rather than rely on the "My friends brother had a Benz that ate his children and cost 87 billion dollars to fix" type of things.

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2010, 06:21 AM
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Welcome to the forum.

Let me start by saying that had my Dad offered to buy me a 450SLC when I was starting to drive, I would have been darn near ecstatic. The 107 coupes (that's what the bodystyle is called) are wonderful cars, very comfortable, classic looks, decent performance and relative mechanical simplicity. The car has no computer of any kind, the fuel injection is of mechanical variety, common wear items (brakes, shocks, belts, plugs, wires, alternator etc) are both failry inexpensive and very easy to work on.

The one weak spot is the climate control system, specifically the climate control servo valve, a Chrysler-designed device that even Chrysler abandoned. Basically this is an electrically- and vac-controlled valve that measures the amount of hot coolant that goes into the heater core, so that rather than control interior temperature with a flap door, it's contolled by hot water supply. The idea is actually fairly ingenious, the trouble was that the assembly was entirely plastic, and they tend to crack. Fortunately, replacements (and conversion kits) are available.

The other issue is rust. Keep in mind that whatever rust you see, there is at least ten times as much hidden. This is true of any vehicle of that era.

The drivetrain is very reliable, both the M117 engine and the ZF three-speed auto routinely exceed 200K miles with no trouble. Many people advocate a timing chain and tensioner replacement at around 100K, but I say play it by ear, that is to say, if you hear rattling, replace only the tensioner. If that fixes it, you're good to go, if not, replace the chain as well. When done as a preventive repair, the procedure is not that expensive. All other systems are also very durable.

You haven't told us what (if any) history you have on the vehicle, or what the price is other than it's "fair". Where you're located is also not entirely irrelevant.

Another thing that this (and other) MB has going for it is that just about every single part, including body parts, is available.

Finally, visit the 107 section of this forum for more advice.

Felicita e un bicchiere di vino con un panino.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2010, 07:00 AM
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Ditto to asking on the 107 forum. Also pay for a pre-purchase inspection by a knowledgeable MB tech to see what you can expect.

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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2010, 07:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the quick replies, everyone.

The car itself is in Augusta, Georgia.

The asking price is $1,000.

In talking to the seller he said everything works (AC, New plugs, filters, the power windows and locks, sunroof and AM/FM Cassette). He said the paint is fading and could use some love, and the driver and rear seats are cracking (the cars 30 years old - I expect this)

The one thing that I don't know about is he said it needed a Fuel Distributor to run perfectly. I'm still trying to get a clarification on what exactly he means

1) It doesn't run but needs this or
2) It runs, but could be a lot better

A quick check on pricing led me to between 1,200 and 1,400 for a brand new one or about 500 for refurbished. Having never touched a MB before, I had to find out what the heck a Fuel Distributor was and how to replace one.

I like simple - I'm not a mechanic but through high school (way back in the day) I made my money buying, fixing, and selling old mustangs. So I understand the basics of automotive mechanics and can turn a wrench.

And now, I'm going to take all of this and find the 107 forums
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2010, 09:38 AM
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If I am right, the engine is having J-tronic fuel injection. I had something similar on VW years ago. Fuel distributor is 4x4" flat part that cost thousands of dollars new since it is high precision build inside. Before you buy the car -check if you will find a mechanic able to service it. The system is pretty unique and that might be a problem.
I am afraid that $1000 will not buy the car your son might dream about. Than get yourself familiar why one of the common advises on this forum is "there is nothing more expensive than cheap Mercedes"
My youngest son is driving 1987 Mercedes, but the car has no rips in the seats, good paint and after me fixing some seals and sensors is ready for another 300,000 miles. Something you can expect from diesel.

Last edited by Kajtek1; 10-24-2010 at 09:42 AM.
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-24-2010, 10:14 AM
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From a different view

The Good:
The early 107 bodies, including the SLC, are good, solid cars assuming rust is not a problem. They were top-of-the-line in thier time and if had good maintenance can still be reliable daily drivers.

The SLC had good but not blinding performance and as a two-seater has two additional teen-age benefits; (1) It is a chick magnet and (2) being a two-seater he will not be able to fill it with three or more over-testosteroned males urging him to see-what it will do.

They are indeed easy to work on given that access to some components can be difficult due to the tight spaces under the hood and dash. Plenty of parts available.

The Bad:
One thou sounds much too good to be true. Check e-bay for similars to get an idea of fair price for one in decent shape. A pre-purchase inspection by a Benz specialist is imperative.

The fuel distributor (if it really needs one) can be pricey. By all means buy rebuilt.

Please let us know how it goes. Things like this add greatly to the data base.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 10-25-2010, 04:21 AM
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If everything works out and you get this car for your son, I have a feeling you will be spending time working on it together. My oldest is no where near driving age yet, but I think this would be great. I hope it works out for you. If I was offered this as my first car, I would be really, really happy!

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