Date registered: May 2017
Vehicle: 1983 380 SL
Location: Long Island, New York USA
Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Quoted: 714 Post(s)
Although it's not optimal, there's no reason not to stay with a single row chain if that's what you decide, but make sure you stay on top of the required maintenance. Regular oil changes with top grade oil and check and replace the guides certainly at the time you change the chain and every 5 years thereafter. Tensioners do go bad so replace it along with the guides.
When I bought my 380 new (in '83) it had a single row chain. I was an idiot and went way too long between oil changes... the chain let go at about 30K. You'd think I would have learned my lesson… nope... the second chain let go at around 80K. The moral being... even with an idiot like me who never changed the oil, the single row chain still lasted 30K to 50K miles.
Pay attention to the oil... that's #1, and pull the covers every year or so and take a look. Chain stretch is a myth... chains don't stretch but the connections between the links wear out and each little bit of additional play adds up and the overall length of the chain increases over time, not from stretch but from wear. Oil, oil, oil, I can't stress it enough and it doesn't matter how many rows your chain has, if you don't change the oil on a regular basis you will have problems with your chain and sprockets... and above all, don't try to get an extra year or two out of your chain guides because you don't put that many miles on the car. Chain guides become brittle and break due to time far more than use.
Whatever you decide... good luck.
Nobody gets out of this life alive.