Originally Posted by Rasmus Egeskov Davidsen
Thanks to all of you for replying.
I am sorry for misspelling the model number - I realise that must be a death sin in here!
Anway, I will run away from it.
The European market seems flooded with US versions, so I wouldn't have to actually import one of these myself.
But I am just not keen on the powered down US-versions; catalysator, battery in the trunk, big bumpers, "double" headlights (exterior can of course be changed, but at a pretty high price).
So US version is not really an option for me. Epecially not the 380!
Yes, I could poke the rust, and perhaps its superficial. But even then it needs to be removed.
Rear seats and aircon. Yes, I know, for many not a "must-have". But it is for me; 2 kids and most likely quite a lot of driving in the summer time with the soft top on.
My search restarts...
As an owner of a 380SL, I find your lack of faith ... disturbing /darth vader voice.
I know you have your heart set, but a little mechanical education on these beasts is a must since you have a lot of leeway to make your "toy" purchase go farther.
I mean, we just saved you from sinking money into a black hole so let's expand your knowledge.
I wouldn't consider the US cars "bug bears" as a lot of that can be modified. If you purchase a US car, you can have any exhaust shop remove the catalyst and straight pipe the exhaust since your car will no longer be subject to emissions regulations which removes that annoyance from the equation. This won't impact performance and can be done for pretty cheap.
The US 380SL, while a dog HP wise, will get you 20 US mpg (or ~11.7 L/100km) on the highway when the engine is properly tuned running 87 RON as in the cheap fuel at the pump. Any other vehicle and you'll have to put in premium for the added expense. Yes the car is a cruiser and not a
speed demon, but it gets the job done.
Frankly, the fuel ECU systems on these cars are stupid easy to troubleshoot and with an o2 sensor, allow you the benefit of more easily tuning the engine to get peak performance. A euro car like a pre-1986 500/380SL that hasn't been federalized will require a CO2 sniffer on the tailpipe to properly tune the engine. My knowledge of pre Kjet cars is limited and sadly I don't know what the differences of the earlier DJet r107s were.
Yes, you can fiddle with the air metering screw to get it "close" but without a tool to measure output you're just guessing and it will never be perfect the way Hans in Stuttgart designed it.
This is assuming someone has touched the metering screw which at this point in time is almost a certainty.
If you go post 1986, you will have the KE-Jet system to deal with which does have fuel trim and electrical stuff that makes everything I just said easier. I'm not sure if they have a catalytic converter on the european models, but you could also in theory remove them. The UK SL Shop has the european headers and exhaust systems to retrofit all of this. They do have "europeanized" 560SLs which are faster than what you guys got in Europe.
If you go earlier (1976?), you have the Djet injection system to worry about. I am speaking blasphemy here, but that injection system looks complicated, crotchety, and scares the living crap out of me. It's an early style fuel rail system designed with electrical components and ECUs from the 60s and 70s. It's amazing what some of the guys here can do, but man they look like a nightmare to get right. Not to mention, certain parts for it look to be impossible to find.
Your aversion to having a battery in the trunk is an odd one. I consider that a big feature. Batteries in the engine bay are exposed to massive heating and cooling shocks which drastically reduce the life of the them. Having the battery in the trunk makes them last way way longer. A lot of modern cars (my old Prius especially), moved the battery into the trunk for that reason.
As for the US bumpers, US lights, and rear seats. I feel you on that. However, remember that all of those are highly desirable parts and will add to the markup value of the car. You'd make your cash go farther by buying a good US example and replacing those later. The rear seat and seatbelts can be had for around $1000.
You'll also get better cooling capacity with R12 than with r134a. Granted European summers aren't that hot, so this is a bit of a wash.
Look mate, we're trying not to discourage you but rather give you the entire "lay of the land" as we say in America or the full disclosure. Djenka018 really hit it hard on the head. The last model year of these cars are quickly approaching the 30 year old mark and some even are turning 48!
These cars will require mechanical attention and can be very needy. They say the only people that can afford these cars are mechanics and the rich. There is some truth to that. If becoming a hobbyist mechanic isn't in your plan, then expect to pay a mechanic to be doing a lot
of preventative work to keep the car going and passable for country's inspection program. I expect shop rates in your part of Europe to be pretty expensive.
Now that we've set your expectations, I would encourage you to visit the SL Shop in the UK as well as take a look at their website. They have a showroom and can give you an honest appraisal of their vehicles If they can get their cars to pass the UK's MOT, then in my not so humble opinion they will be able to fit the bill of what you are looking for.