Possible new owner of a 1984 380 SL - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Possible new owner of a 1984 380 SL

Hello, a newbie here and wanted to ask for advice.

I have an opportunity to own a 1984 380 SL from my uncle who bought the car new in '84. As it stands now, the car has 96k miles. Cosmetically appealing with little to no rust whatsoever. No leaks form both the soft or hard top, and everything functions as it should.

So here's the caveat... he was trying to perform a routine upkeep by having his chain guides replaced... He has his trusted person perform the job.. according to him, this person has some background in auto mechanic and has been doing jobs for him in the past multiple times...

Anyhow, after all said and done, chunks of the old plastic guide rails fell into the cavity inside... apparently, when the "mechanic" was trying to manually rotate the crank, the chain is "jumping" and he believes that there is a piece of the old plastic guard rail lodged in between the lower sprocket...

Now the car has been sitting in my uncle's garage for almost 11 months and the "mechanic" us unable to find a remedy...

I don't know if this is a fair deal knowing that there is an "issue" that needs to be resolved and this car might end up being a money pit... by no means I have an abundant cash flow, nor have an extra money to spare, but I am afraid that this could be one of those rare chances I can own one of my "dream" cars...

I can do a simple DIY as long as it does not involve any special tools... I've done strut replacements, brake jobs, simple tune-ups, serpentine belt change, etc., but have not experienced lowering and opening an engine...

Given the issue of this car, is it worth trying to own it and try to fix the issue myself?
Can someone direct me on where to start on trying to find a solution to this problem?

He is asking for $3k for the car, but not sure if that is a fair asking price to start... plus how much more do I need to consider adding to the purchase price to get the car back on the road?

Thank you in advance.
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post #2 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 12:02 PM
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I guess I will be the first to ask the inevitable question: Is it a single or dual chain?

$3k is good price for a rust free car, but if it has a single chain it is not very desirable for anybody with some Mercedes knowhow.

The situation with the guides should be easily remedied by removing the front cover (obviously a little bit of work) to collect all the bits that fall in. There is plenty of guidance here to do that yourself or alternatively you find a real mechanic.
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post #3 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 12:38 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JS5D View Post
I guess I will be the first to ask the inevitable question: Is it a single or dual chain?

$3k is good price for a rust free car, but if it has a single chain it is not very desirable for anybody with some Mercedes knowhow.

The situation with the guides should be easily remedied by removing the front cover (obviously a little bit of work) to collect all the bits that fall in. There is plenty of guidance here to do that yourself or alternatively you find a real mechanic.
I believe it is a dual chain... didn't they start using the dual in '84?

Thank you for the response. After scouring for over an hour, it appears that the only option to really check for the debris is what you mentioned... but what I am not sure of is when my uncle said that his so-called mechanic claimed that the he feels that chain is jumping out/off when he is rotating the crank... could it be that by him rotating it and the chain has indeed jumped off the sprocket, cause further damage like bending the rods and affecting the timing?
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post #4 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 01:32 PM
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I believe they switched to dual in 1984 and there is always some confusion about the marketing MY (model year) and actual building MY.

I assume they did not start the car with the loose chain (and the bits in the bottom). You will not really damage much if you rotate by hand and something would clash inside. Best thing to do is remove the front, then remove all the bits. Properly replace all the guides (typically people don't go all the way and replace the bottom guides), then verify the timing is correct through the various markings and rotate by hand to confirm all timing marks keep lining up.

All boxed up you should be able to start it and it will run. With new guides and a dual chain you should not have to worry about that for years to come.

You will then find there are a few other things to fix (there always are). This is part and parcel of older car ownership. Love it or hate it.
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post #5 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 01:42 PM
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I'm no expert, but I have been messing around with these old cars for 25 years. I would think that there is a possibility that there is collateral damage, but if it has not been turned over with the starter or started, I would doubt there is anything other than a timing issue. If you want one of these cars and you aren't afraid to get your hands dirty, it sounds like a good opportunity to me. Of course, as the saying goes, "there is no such thing as a cheap Mercedes".
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post #6 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 01:44 PM
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1. The 380's were shipped to the US with a single row timing chain irrespective of year.
2. There are no rods to bend, the Merc 380 is a dual overhead cam.
3. While it's true that the 380 is an interference engine, if the valves were actually hitting the pistons, your mechanic wouldn't be able top turn the engine over by hand.... unless he's a gorilla.
4. $3K for a rust free '84 is a good price for a running car. $3K for a car in non-running condition is a bit high. Non-running cars are essentially equal to parts cars. The fact that it's a relative doesn't change that.

Even if all that is needed to get the car running for now are new chain guides and perhaps a conversion to dual row... after you're done you'll have a 34 year old Mercedes overflowing with 34 year old parts. The 107's are fabulous machines but they need attention... lots of attention. If you're prepared to take on the challenge then go for it... but if it's a reliable daily driver your looking for, this isn't the car for that.

Good luck.

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post #7 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jyuma View Post
1. The 380's were shipped to the US with a single row timing chain irrespective of year.
2. There are no rods to bend, the Merc 380 is a dual overhead cam.
3. While it's true that the 380 is an interference engine, if the valves were actually hitting the pistons, your mechanic wouldn't be able top turn the engine over by hand.... unless he's a gorilla.
4. $3K for a rust free '84 is a good price for a running car. $3K for a car in non-running condition is a bit high. Non-running cars are essentially equal to parts cars. The fact that it's a relative doesn't change that.
Only the '81-'83 North American 380SLs had single row chains. '84 and '85 were dual row. There are rods to bend. They connect the crank to the piston.

Turning over by hand did not cause any damage.
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post #8 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rowdie View Post
Only the '81-'83 North American 380SLs had single row chains. '84 and '85 were dual row. There are rods to bend. They connect the crank to the piston.

Turning over by hand did not cause any damage.
I'm becoming Rowdie shell shocked. I even thought about the possibility the 84 and 85 were dual row but I said to myself... nah. All my future posts will contain an implied Rowdie disclaimer.

In my defense... I didn't believe the op was referring to connecting rods instead of push rods but one never knows. If the OP was referring to connecting rods then I stand corrected.

I apologize for my errors.

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post #9 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 04:31 PM
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I have an 84 (Canadian) 380. It came w dual row. I replaced it when I bought my car. Cost around 2k from a reputable MB Indy plus minus I think. Had another 3-4K of work done to sort out a host of issues. I then decided to dive in and do more work myself. Probably added another 2k or parts,relays and specialized tools so far if not more. All sorts of things like the windshield seal drying out allowing water in the cabin (new windshield).

Fun cars to drive and own. Fun to figure out how things work and fix them.

With that said, you will likely have at least 10k in a 380 with a mix of purchase price, Work you pay to get done and parts and work you do yourself.

3k for a car that can’t be driven is high to me. Hard to put a spreadsheet on your likely costs. Are there transmission issues. Dunno. Ac. Dunno. Overheating. Dunno. Lots of dunno other than rust. And that’s another topic. A little bit of bubbling can be a lot or rust underneath the paint.

I’ve seen a lot of cars where I showed the owners rust. And passed.

I would pay around 1,500-2k if the interior matched my 107 and I didn’t find rust. Car could be parted out with some effort to a break even if engine was too expensive to fix.
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post #10 of 73 (permalink) Unread 07-27-2018, 04:52 PM
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Jyuma. Push rods never even crossed my mind. I should have got it from the rest of the sentence.
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