Does This Story Check Out? Grey Import 1980 450 SL - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 05:09 PM Thread Starter
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Does This Story Check Out? Grey Import 1980 450 SL

I'm a newbie to the form and originally posted this in the general M-B forum but it was recommended (thanks NYYYCE&EEEEZY) that I pose this question to you guys as the C107 experts.

I found a beautiful 1980 SL posted for sale and have been going back and forth with the owner about its history and title. It was the guy's father's car that he had some AMH treatment done on in the mid 90s at the AMG shop in Beverly Hills. There was a lot of work done on the car to get it to meet California air standards. The seller has a bunch of its service history, which he sent to me and everything looks great, but there are a couple of hitches.

The car was a grey import and was brought over in the mid 80s, which isn't that big of a deal, but it has a salvaged title. It began its life as a 350 SL, but with the AMH mods it was converted to a 450 SL. When I inquired about the salvaged title the seller claimed that it was because of the upgrade from a 350 to a 450, and the fact that it had to have a smog system installed.

While I have to admit this sounds a little fishy, I have never owned a Mercedes, and don't know whether this is a legitimate reason for it to have been given a salvaged CA title. I did some research on salvaged titles in CA, and grey imports (including on the other forums here) , but have not been able to come up with anything substantial. Has anyone here encountered anything like this? Should I run away as quick as I can from this?
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post #2 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 06:13 PM
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What is the VIN and engine number? 340SL will begin 107.043 450SL will begin 107.044. 3.5L engine will begin 116. 4.5L will begin 117. Those will tell if it was a 350SL and has a 4.5L engine. It was common on grey markets to change the trunk badge. Are there AMG receipts?

The story about the salvage title doesn't ring true but I don't know California laws..
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post #3 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 06:25 PM Thread Starter
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The VIN is 10704412032710, and the engine number 117-988-12-000-952, so it checks out as a 450. The real hitch for me is the title issue. The title is from California, but the car is for sale in Arizona, where I live. Oh and yes, there are AMG receipts.
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post #4 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 06:43 PM
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I think that 032710 is kind of low for a 1980 model year. Pretty sure 80's should be in the 050000 sequence or at least high 040000s. 117.988 engine is not correct for a 450SL. Should be a 117.985. If Beverly Hills AMG franchise did swap engines there should be a receipt describing work done. Still does not explain salvage title which usually involves damage or theft.

The VIN will be stamped on the upper radiator cross support. If it is a grey market 450SL there will also be an aluminum plate screwed to the support with the VIN embossed (raised).

Pics sure would speak volumes.
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post #5 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-07-2019, 11:15 PM
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It might be too late, but can you do a car fax on the VIN? If it was retitled before 95 it might not be there.

You could reach out to the ca DMV. It would take time however.

The title story sounds fishy. Even in the 80s, an engine swap for emissions would be done at the smog refs and would have a sticker issued for it. That's not done through a title.
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post #6 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 12:04 AM
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Pics

Here are the pics from the CL ad.

VIN# is probably wrong. They say 1980 but the car has a chrome shift gate and early AC panel. And 72-73 bumpers. It also has the headrest vent holes. I think those were only on really early cars? Anyone know more about those?

Is there any AMG paperwork? None is shown in the ad. It looks like a mess to me and all you are getting is a bad white out job. I would doubt there's any performance changes.

And $10K will get you a nice car.
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post #7 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 05:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macarbon_john View Post
Here are the pics from the CL ad.

VIN# is probably wrong. They say 1980 but the car has a chrome shift gate and early AC panel. And 72-73 bumpers. It also has the headrest vent holes. I think those were only on really early cars? Anyone know more about those?

Is there any AMG paperwork? None is shown in the ad. It looks like a mess to me and all you are getting is a bad white out job. I would doubt there's any performance changes.

And $10K will get you a nice car.
That explains the 350SL to 450SL "conversion" It is most likely a '72 US model which was originally badged 350SL when sold. It should have a 117.982 D-Jet engine.

To add to what you pointed out: clock in center vent is '72- mid '73, '72-'73 front turn signals. Pretty sure the holes in the headrests are to tighten so they don't flop around.

It is missing the AMG rear valance.

Seller is either ignorant or lying.
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post #8 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 08:39 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for adding the pics, and for everyone's insight. I was already pretty suspicious but now I'm considering it a pretty hard pass. Everything sounds a little too wonky, and if the seller has all of the emissions work documentation then why not get it turned into a restored salvage title and have an easier go at selling it?

It does have AMG paperwork, but it was for a new computer, emissions, and cosmetic stuff, nothing really performance related.

I appreciate your help, guys.
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post #9 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 09:28 AM
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I can't find the ad on craigslist. Anyone have a link?
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post #10 of 43 (permalink) Old 08-08-2019, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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