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1987 420sel, 1980 450sl
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi every one. I have had a 420sel as my first car for several years now. I love the car and has been with my family for a while. I have been having some problems with it though. there is a high rough idle and the electronics are starting to act up ie. the headlights choose when they want to work, and sometimes the car alarm comes one while driving. It has almost 250,000 miles on it and has served me very well.

That being said, all my life I have had a love for the look of a w107 sl. i think they are the most beautiful cars that exist.

Today, I came across a 1980 450sl hard and soft top for sale. It has 212,000 miles on it and needs alot of work. The paint is completely shot, the interior needs alot of work, and there is a leak with the ac.

The guy is asking $1,500 and is negotiable. The cheapest I have seen on craigslist is $4000. I have not test driven it yet, i want to consult the expertise of the benzworld forum before i dig any deeper into this. But the owner tells me it runs great. In your oppinion, is this a good car to buy (considering price and miles)? What types of repairs am i looking at in the future? Any general advice about this car? I really want to get it, but i dont want to be stupid about buying this so quickly with not enough knowledge.
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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32,777 Posts
Run. You described a parts car. If the oustide and interior are that bad the rest of the car has not been taken care of either. You are talking several thousand just to get it road worthy.
 

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1989 Astral Silver 560SL
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253 Posts
"...I have had a 420sel as my first car for several years now..."

I don't know what stage of life you are in. But I would surmise you're in your late teens or early twenties. I would guess you are in school, or possibly on the first rung of your career ladder. Either of these requires a lot of your focus right now.

A $1,500 SL is going to have lots, and lots of problems. In fact, any "cheap" SL you find is going to have problems. Wait....check that,...I would guess almost all SL's changing hands today in America are going to have problem. Problems that will cost a new owner $3000-$10,000 in the first 12 months of ownership just to get them up and keep them up to par. A $1,500 SL just might cost more than $10,000...

Finding a 107 that is absolutely turnkey with no issues.....well, lets just say unicorns are more common.

I'd run from this deal. It could turn out to be the most expensive "cheap" car you ever bought.:D
 

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2,043 Posts
+1 on what everyone else said. sounds like your 420sel is falling apart and you want to dump $1,500 in a junker. not a good idea
 

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Premium Member
1986 560SL with M120 V12 Engine, 1988 560SL Stock
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12,611 Posts
Hi every one. I have had a 420sel as my first car for several years now. I love the car and has been with my family for a while. I have been having some problems with it though. there is a high rough idle and the electronics are starting to act up ie. the headlights choose when they want to work, and sometimes the car alarm comes one while driving. It has almost 250,000 miles on it and has served me very well.

That being said, all my life I have had a love for the look of a w107 sl. i think they are the most beautiful cars that exist.

Today, I came across a 1980 450sl hard and soft top for sale. It has 212,000 miles on it and needs alot of work. The paint is completely shot, the interior needs alot of work, and there is a leak with the ac.

The guy is asking $1,500 and is negotiable. The cheapest I have seen on craigslist is $4000. I have not test driven it yet, i want to consult the expertise of the benzworld forum before i dig any deeper into this. But the owner tells me it runs great. In your oppinion, is this a good car to buy (considering price and miles)? What types of repairs am i looking at in the future? Any general advice about this car? I really want to get it, but i dont want to be stupid about buying this so quickly with not enough knowledge.
OK depending on how you look at this it could be a jewel or a disaster. If it has rust it will be a disaster no mater what you do. I did notice you in CA land of generally no rust.

I bought an 86 560SL just like this for $5300 + $1000 shipping from CA. Total cost to get it up and running in really nice shape with a new interior was about $12,000 which includes the original purchase. At the $12,000 it still needed a new soft top and really could use paint. So what you sea is that a perfectly good running 560SL with a quality paint job could be had for $22,000. That is also with me doing everything but the paint job myself.

Compare that to a low mileage 560SL for about the same price. slightly worn paint, slightly old interior, slightly old soft top. Both have there pros and cons.

One of the nice thing about purchasing a car with totally shot paint is that you don't feel its a waste to paint it, as long as it is only paint. Once it has rust it is dead.
 

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1974 450sl 1994 bmw 530i 1995 f150 2007 FJCruiser trd se
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41 Posts
I must have found one of those unicorns when i bought mine :)
 

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1978 280slc
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3,203 Posts
Rnegv my mom lives up the hill from you in North San Juan and my grandma is in cascade shores.

The more I learn the less and less I'd want to deal with a rusty tattered 107. I think spending some time and money on the SEL is a better idea than buying a beaten neglected r107. I hate to say it but if you are having a bad time diagnosing the 450sel I don't think changing to a ratty 107 is going to be a step up. The car is going to need work and if you cannot fix the 450sel what make you think you'll be able to fix an r107? At least spend some time on the w126 before thinking you are going to buy a ratty 107 and restore it.
 

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Registered
1987 420sel, 1980 450sl
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you everyone for your advice. You all mention that the car will have expensive problems. What sort of problems will i be looking at? I am comfortable making repairs myself.

i may also keep the 420sel and work on this as a project car.
 

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2000 SL500
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193 Posts
Well, I wouldn't do it unless you have a couple grand to dump into it.

I bought a 77 450sl for $1k and had to dump $2k in shitty bodywork and a shitty paint job, plus plugs/wires and it ran like complete crap.....ended up selling it for $5k

Then bought a 79 450sl that is absolutely beautiful for $800....sunk $200 in it for fuel pump/filter, took out the tank and cleaned it myself (which saved $200-$400). To get it running perfect I need to buy injector seals and o-rings to rebuild the distributor for about $40 and spark plugs and wires(maybe). It's really hit or miss with these cars.

There's a lot of miles on it, so I figure that maintenance was probably kept up with. If there is NO body damage, I'd go for it for $1k. And then do research from this site and learn how to do as much as you can on your own. You save a LOT of money that way.
 

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1987 420sel, 1980 450sl
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53 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you everyone for your advice. Feel free to call me a fool, but I ended up buying the car for 1k. I figured if I put Some money and work into it, I can only come out ahead in the end. Plus, this has always been my dream car. I plan to keep the sel so I can work on the sl anytime I want and I dont have to be as super concerned about reliability. I intend to do all work myself. Thank goodness for the valuable information and expertise of the benzworld forums.
 

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Always Remembered RIP
1979 280sl 4 sp w/ac 1957 MGA 1998 volvo xc/70 2004 F150
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6,050 Posts
If your a fool then we're all idiots. We share a compassion for these piggy-banks. Glad to have you around.
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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32,777 Posts
Add it to your profile and lets get to work. No looking back now. Post some pics.
 

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Premium Member
2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid, 1993 BMW 325i convertible
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6,077 Posts
* Interior kit in leather ~$800
* New top in German canvas ~$650
* New paint anywhere from ~$1200 to $10,000, depending on your resources. I just picked up another project car and found an adult "continuing education" class for auto body and paint work that will set me back $300+supplies, but I'll learn a valuable new skill and get the car fixed at the same time.
* The mechanical work is all an open checkbook. Vacuum hoses cost next to nothing, and that will go along way toward making it run right, I betcha. Whatever else is needs is extra, and that could be anything from a few rubber bits to refresh the suspension to a rebuilt transmission for $3500 and everything in between.
 

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Audi A8, Land Rover
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276 Posts
congrats! now lets see this thing!!! :)
 

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W221 & Audio Moderator
2013 S550
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11,212 Posts
Posts #2 and #6 have it about right. Here's my experience from just a bit over a year ago, purchased for $3,500:

Repairs/maintenance since purchase:
--5 Tires w/nitrogen fill: $440.44 (My tires were so bad I used a private, off-brand supposedly made by Bridgestone just to get new rubber on the road that day. Will replace with a high quality set after restoration is complete).
--"Lifetime" alignment: $228.97 - Hey, they're close by and convenient, and I can have it done every 6 months if need be. Despite screwing up the tire balancing, they did a great alignment job. I watched.
--Safety checks/recall compliance (two of the recalls are VERY important), purge and replace all fluids and filters (transmission, differential, coolant, brakes, windshield, oil); remove & inspect master brake cylinder for leaks (OK); lube; replace steering coupler; replace both window switches; remove driver's door panel and fix armrest bolt "U" clip; replace antenna grommet; replace driver’s seat belt and retractor: Total, $2268.26 (Dealer)
--Seat belt retainer guides: $108.67 (ebay seller)
--Replacement owner’s manual: $43.90 (books4cars.com)
--Install new fuel line: $130.12 (Dealer)
--Replace rear flex disc in driveline: $325.00 (Dealer)
--Replace transmission mount: $271 (Dealer)
--Re-balance tires after tire shop screwed it up: $60 (Dealer) Tire shop also told me I needed $500 worth of steering components that dealer said I absolutely did not need, and they misdiagnosed the cause of play in the steering (it was the steering coupler). I did not replace the steering components - only the coupler. Allow only certified MB techs or certified indies to diagnose the mechanical systems of your car.
--Fuel system cleaner, light bulbs, fuses, polish, car care: $53.52 (Auto parts store). Techron fuel system cleaner has improved engine smoothness overall, and has apparently gotten rid of grunge on the fuel level sensor so that the fuel gauge accuracy is improving! With a 22 gallon tank, I was initially getting an "Empty" reading after using only 10 gallons. Now, after using 10 gallons the gauge reads half full (there is a reserve that is just over 5 gallons).
--Halogen bulb for fog light, $35 (Auto parts store)
--Driver side under-dash panel: $96.44 (From ebay seller, car being parted out; there are no new ones)
--Windshield washer pump, self-installed: $75 (FCP Groton)
--In-Cabin temperature sensor: $15 (Forum contributor, car being parted out; there are no new ones).
--New roof locking handle set: $31 (FCP Groton)
--Replace damaged glove box and trim panel behind headlight switch, $75 (Forum contributor, car being parted out).
--Trace & repair wiring problems for cigarette lighter, overhead lights, door courtesy light switch, fog lights, and emergency flasher (self, no $ cost)
--Locate and reconnect fiber optic leads for dashboard switch lighting (no cost; F/O leads were disconnected and behind A/C controls)
--Replace driver seat padding (horsehair) and 2 springs, approx. $275
--Replace A/C receiver/dryer unit, recharge system, $575
--Replace canvas top, approx. $1,250 - High quality canvas custom sewn with new windows, $600; installation labor $575, rest is tax.
--Engine work: Tune up, filters, replace cam oilers and brackets, & check timing chain guides: $650
--Replace muffler w/OE: $650
--Replaced "A" pillar seals, $250 for OE seals (parts only; Classic Center)
--Replaced soft top bow (rear) seal, $65 (part only; Classic Center)
--Replaced center dash A/C duct (triple outlet; Classic Center) - $20 and a REALLY miserable DIY.
--Remove & re-seal windshield - $133 (OE windshield did not break on removal - whew!)
--Wiper blade inserts (OE, dealer) - $42
--Duplicate keys (2 sets, independent locksmith) - $111
--Battery - $145
--Fuel sending unit (VDO) - $135 (Autohaus AZ)
--Grommets for master cylinder/reservoir - $15
--Glove box switch - $13

Appearance & Optional Items:
--Touch-up paint (Code 932, Lapis Blue) $34.24 (Dealer)
--Coverlay Dash cover: $129.99 (JC Whitney)
--Replace missing chromed plastic seat trim, 4 pieces: $88.10 (PartsGeek.com)
--Burl wood center console storage box: $181.77 (Performance Auto - performanceparts4benz.com)
--Replace damaged/missing wood trim with burl wood, self-installed, approx. $525 (Performance Auto)
--Burl wood shift knob - $72
--New headlight surrounds (called headlight "doors"): $102.00 (Foreign Car Parts - FCPGroton.com)
--Replace all passenger compartment/glove box courtesy lights (self-installed): $15.00 (PartsGeek.com) - Old ones broken, yellow, and brittle.
--Garmin Nuvi 885t Navigation unit with Bluetooth phone capability: $402.30 (Best Buy)
--Alpine head unit w/Bluetooth, iPod control, USB input, audio input for Garmin nav; and Hertz speakers - $850
--OE wind deflector, $525 (Performance Parts).
--OE door edge guards, $25 (from a friend who didn't need them).

Anticipated expenses:
--Replace shifter box bushings (for accurate shift lever movement): $182.25
--Trace wiring problem for bright headlight indicator bulb on instrument panel (self; it wasn't the bulb)
--Lubricate A/C blower fan bearings (self) – low cost, but difficult and time consuming.
--Replace remaining weatherstripping: $250, self-installed MB parts
--Repair or replace sun visors: $100 to $250 (I'll try the DIY foam fix first).
--Rebuild steering box - $700
--New shocks - $600
--Brakes have 40% of wear left, but will need replacement eventually
--Recondition instrument cluster lighting, and paint indicator needles, $35
--Upgrade sealed beam halogen headlights to Xenon, $250.
--Eliminate body rust (Trunk, rocker panels, hood, under parcel shelf) – approx. $1,500
--Repaint, approx. $3,000 – $4,000.

For the math challenged, and in round numbers, that's: Purchased for $3500; spent $11,400+ in first year getting it in good mechanical shape and having deferred maintenance performed; spent $2950 on optional and appearance items; and I can anticipate another $8,000 before it is "done" as I intend it (but none of that $8K is an immediate need). I'll have $26,000 into it easily. I could have saved a LOT if I were a better mechanic, and if my back could stand more contortion

After that, it will be normal maintenance & repair of a 32 year old classic car. Another good source of OE parts is MB's own Classic Car Center, reachable through the MBUSA web site.

Of course, the car was quite drivable after I replaced the tires (they were dry rotted and extremely dangerous) and had safety checks done, the fuel line and steering coupler replaced, and all the fluids changed. Replacing the steering coupler got rid of the dangerous 6" total play in the steering. The fuel line burst on me while I was starting it at the dealership - prior owner had installed it improperly, minus a small but important "C" shaped section of hose. The rest, I just wanted done sooner rather than later - much of it could have been deferred. But as it is, it's a blast to drive (except in the rain - it leaked like a sieve until I got the windshield re-sealed), and it draws lots of looks and some rave comments.

Congratulations on your purchase, and have a ball. If you're handier than I am, you can save money on repairs, and there is LOTS of good help here. And of course my list contains much that did not have to be done - but it increased driving enjoyment.
 

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1987 560SL
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89 Posts
Like they said....RUN!

Good advice to just stick with your 420, and check that timing chain. If it goes, so does your engine.

Project cars, having owned 8 or so Fiats, are nightmares, even if you are a DIYer. But if you enjoy that process and have a nice enclosed garage with plenty of places to disassemble and categorize parts, a good compressor and air tools, sanders, and accessories, and preferably a lift, go for it. But it will be a long, involved process and it will take you at least a year and lots of money before you have a reliable, roadable car. I'm just starting my Benz adventure but happened on a great piece and bought it primarily because it was well preserved as well as always liking these roadsters. Save your pennies and find a good example and you will enjoy it now, not have to spend months and money sorting things out. The unseen is always worse than what you see, that's what gets you. Project cars will nickel and dime you to death, no matter what kind've project it is. American cars, or old Brits like Triumphs and MG's, and of course VW's, are well supported with rebuild stuff, but that goes out the window when you get into high shelf Euro cars. Keep in mind that these Merc roadsters were some of the finest and most expensive cars available at the time, ergo, there is little motivation for aftermarket parts suppliers to keep extensive inventories of those expensive parts laying around. You will likely need a complete other car, or use this car as a parts car.

I need to qualify all of the above by saying I'm new to Benz and there are a great many who know tons more than I do and you would be well guided every step of the way. I just have experience with old Euro cars. It's almost as if we here are out of the loop with parts and restoration unless the car happened to be very popular. Fiats are probably the worst, they still have a bad reputation, but are coming back next year with the little 500 which will compete directly with the new VW bug and the MINI. Should be interesting. I'm sold on this community in just a few short days, very nice, knowledgeable people, and no snobbery like on the Ferrari boards.
 
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