Legitimate BRABUS? - 1990 SL500 - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-12-2019, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
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Legitimate BRABUS? - 1990 SL500

Hello all, first post here, be gentle!

I've been scouring the internet for the better part of the last 6 months trying to find an SL500 that tickles my fancy, so far I've been really close to two cars, a 1997 in black and a 1995 in imperial red that both fell out because the seller decided against selling at the last minute, I've done plenty of research here and elsewhere (ken rockwell ftw) and did my due diligence with both cars, it was such a shame I couldn't nab the 1997 :-(.

Recently today I came across an Ad that features an apparent "BRABUS" SL500 from 1990, it has pretty low KM's for the year and seems to be in decent mechanical condition, the interior is a different story however. The seller claims he got it from across the country from a guy who imported it from Japan, no big deal I thought, cars are imported all of the time. But red flags started to appear when I ran VIN checks and saw that 50% of the time and sites I visited (carfax especially) gave me invalid VIN decodings yet the other 50% were telling me information that lined up with the car, everything except anything to do with BRABUS. Is there any way to tell that these BRABUS attachments are legitimate? I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that some cars leave the factory with BRABUS attachments but this car doesn't seem to show any certifications on VIN checks that it left the factory as BRABUS.

The interior damage is actually quite staggering for what is supposed to be a ~100k KM car... looks to have the wear and tear of a car that has seen much more than that, the front grill is kinda bent and the grill/emblem is black, it looks like it has 2 rounded side slots instead of the 3 square ones that are on older SL's as well as what seems to be lights on the side view mirrors? very odd, never seen that one before.

I'm very weary as this could be either a diamond in the rough or very very bad news, I'll post pictures and have a link to the Ad available if anyone wants it. Just kind of looking for secondary opinions and inputs right now, I may have the car inspected but would rather not waste the money if someone could potentially point out things from the pictures I post, not really into modded SL500s but the price/mileage isn't bad and I'd be willing to fix it up, also I'm pretty sure 1990s are safe from that dreaded wiring harness issue so that's a plus.
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-12-2019, 11:14 PM
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Welcome Zalgo,

This seller has no documentation other than what's displayed on the car indicating it's a legitimate Brabus?

There is no way to verify the auto is legitimately a Brabus vehicle unless the buyer has proper documentation verifying and matching the chassis vin# on the physical car. In Japan, many of the owners like to "re-badge" their MBs, etc to look like an AMG, Brabus, high end model etc. Mods are very popular for that market. Looking at the photos you provided, I find it overwhelming the interior is "badged" everywhere (typical of a Japanese re-badging imho). I dont recall Brabus ever doing this type of overkill.
Even when the car is auctioned off in Japan, they may not be necessarily described as a high end model but it may have all the "badging" and amg options added to make it look like an AMG, as an example..

It's buyer beware. I believe all properly badged Brabus MBs were also numbered thru matching serial numbers on the chassis as well as the motor.

Edit: I saw the Ad. The mileage seems correct for a Japanese market vehicle.
Did you check the vin# here or any of the others?

Also, the side mirrors you mentioned are add-ons. Mirror side blinkers were not mandatory at that time.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 12:16 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply Khomer,

That was one of the sites that actually gave me the most info when I ran vin checks, I verified that everything matched up color wise, year wise, etc also the fact that it was actually a Japan order car and it had option code 498 "version for japan", no option info on anything BRABUS tho, so I think that kinda confirms what you said about it being re-badge'd. I also see code 341 for additional blinkers, that must be the ones on the mirrors right? The seller hasn't provided me with any documentation other than the VIN although I haven't asked I'm not expecting much. Some vin checks have brought this back as a 2001 sl500? super weird considering datamb and other sites say it's a 1990.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 12:21 AM
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With carfax or carproof, you wont find any data info on any Japanese or European imported vehicle until it's been registered in Canada and it has passed thru provincial inspection process. Once that is done, it'll be on record from that point moving forward.
Any past history in any other country, if available, will not be on the carfax/carproof searches.

341 - http://www.mercedesmedic.com/decode/

It's possible that could refer to either the side mirror blinkers or the side blinkers on the lower portion of the front quarter panels.
I'm not 100% sure. Only way to verify is removing the side mirror cover and inspecting the wiring to the light portion of the mirror blinkers to see if it resembles factory oem wiring. If it doesnt match the oem wiring bundles or looks not to be a factory install (ie. wiring is after-market style), then it's been added in by a third party. I have my doubts of Brabus adding this feature in.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 02:40 AM
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The vents on the front wings/fenders are not 1990....
3 slots are from the early 90's. In the picture...unless my eyes are wrong, I see only 2 slots...
The climate control is early 90's...
Japan SL would be right hand drive...,
Even the air bag in the steering wheel seems to be....removed...

We are here on earth to do good unto others.
What the others are here for, I have no idea.

Last edited by Benica; 06-13-2019 at 02:43 AM.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 03:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benica View Post
The vents on the front wings/fenders are not 1990....
3 slots are from the early 90's. In the picture...unless my eyes are wrong, I see only 2 slots...
The climate control is early 90's...
Japan SL would be right hand drive...,
Even the air bag in the steering wheel seems to be....removed...
Many premium import cars are LHD in Japan.

Mirror blinkers weren't available, so they're aftermarket tuning too, like probably all of the Brabus things on the car. I don't think you'd see Brabus on the data card but in any case I doubt it's original.

I'd run away and never look back.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 05:04 AM
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RUUUUUNN!
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 05:17 AM
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I like the car and definitely smells like a Japanese import. Its got some cool and expensive (period correct) parts installed. If the car checks out mechanically (passes a PPI), buy it!
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 01:41 PM
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This isnít a Brabus and Iím skeptic how itís left hand drive.

I have a w211 which is a jap import and it has a brabus body lit, convenience side skirt spot lights and 18inch brabus wheels. Itís definitely not a brabus.

The aftermarket mods a rife in Japan


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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Unread 06-13-2019, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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I genuinely appreciate all of your guys input, you're all echoing sentiments I feel, 50% of me is saying run away and never look back (justifiably so) and the other 50% of me is saying "ah what the heck, give it an inspection to at least see how fit mechanically it really is".

The only things bugging me is the shady history of the car, LHD, the side slots not matching a 1990 model, the excessive mods and the low KMs, however taking into account what khomer and juuso said I did my own research and it seems like a fair bit of Japanese cars are actually LHD like they said. The side slots are telling me that parts of the car have been replaced possibly? although I have 0 information on any of that since it was a Japanese car, all I have is information about it being in British Columbia (which is half way across the country from me) and that is was indeed imported from Japan and has a "Normal" tag meaning it wasn't re-built/salvaged. If I could get vehicle history report in Japan that would help calm my nerves, for some reason I don't think it'd be possible, is there such a service available to cars that were once in Japan and would they offer it to foreigners?

The low mileage makes sense too because after doing some reading I found out they have very strict emissions laws in Japan and it's a lot of $$$ to own a vehicle that isn't fit to their rigorous standards, I believe the law is called the Shaken Law and apparently involves one of the most stringent inspections of any country on the planet and as the car becomes older it gets even more expensive to have this inspection carried out and the registration fees as well as the insurance costs increase with the age of the car. Not to mention vehicles which cannot pass inspection are not permitted on public roads, so when it isn't cost-effective they export or scrap/recycle them.

I'll be honest I'm kinda leaning away from this one, I've been looking for half a year for a good SL and i'm not about to rush things, yet at the same time I don't want to miss out on something and if this thing is really mechanically sound I wouldn't mind de-modding it and bringing back some class to it as well as fixing up the interior, i'm going to mull over whether or not I'm getting this one a PPI. will keep you guys posted.
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