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84 500 SL sitting for a long time

442 Views 13 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  txturbo
I recently acquired an 84 500 SL sitting for a long time. The car has spent its life in Texas and was owned by an oil exec in Houston. The odo shows ~180K.

I am not exactly sure how long the car sat, but the last sticker on the window is from 1997, and a set of plates in the trunk from 1990. It was kept in a garage, from what I can tell, for a number of years.

In 2020 the original owner's daughter had the car towed to a shop in San Antonio for service. From what I can see, they worked on the fuel system, but I am unsure if they ever got it to run properly. It then sat for another three years, presumably outside.

I had the car towed from Houston to Austin yesterday, and today I took a closer look at it.

The good:
It has euro lights with wipers
Euro bumpers
Heated seats
BBS Wheels (including two wrenches for the center nut)
Dash is in really good shape
The front seats were covered with sheepskin and were in good shape.
The body is free of rust that I can see.

The bad:
The interior has been exposed to a leaky top and is quite filthy
There are a couple of dents
The paint is oxidized and faded and looks like it's had some work in the past.
The only light inside the car that works is in the passenger footwell
All of the dash backlighting is out
The gas gauge is not working
The carpet in the trunk is shot
Radio is dead
The soft top is shot
Hard top needs trim work
The drivers door pocket is broken off
Trim at the driver's door sill is damaged from a broken door pocket
Under the hood has white chalky oxidation on anything aluminum, and I can see that something was making a meal out of some of the wires and vacuum lines.
When replacing the battery, I noticed the brake lines were corroded, where they passed near the battery.
The electric fan is broken
The exhaust is hanging down because the rubber donuts are gone
Actually, the bad list is long..

I put a battery in it and gave it a whirl. It cranked but did not fire. I put a splash of gas in the throat of the intake, and it fired for a moment, then died. I put a few gallons of fresh gas in the tank and another splash of gas, and it fired; this time, it ran for much longer and then died. Subsequent restarts would get the engine to run briefly.

I did not pay much for the car and need to decide if it's worth restoration or if I should take its good parts. I have an 86 560 that would look great with the BBS wheels, euro bumpers and lights. On the other hand, I hate to see the car parted out.

For now, I am going to work on getting it into a running state.

Wheel Tire Car Vehicle Hood

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Ran into my first issue....

Last night I went to try and start the car again, and now the lights on the dash come on when I turn the key, but the engine will not crank. I can see the lights dim slightly, so I know there is a bit of a current draw, but nothing happens.

I assume that it's the starter.

A quick search reveals that the starter for the 500 SL is unique. Apparently, I need to buy a similar starter and swap the new or remanufactured parts into the housing.
Did you check the battery? You mentioned you put it in a few days ago but chancer it ran empty due to some electrical gremlin. Those V8 need close to 12V to even start spinning.
I put the charger on it last night for a bit in engine start mode but it made no difference. I will try again later today.
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I tried again to start the car.
I gave the starter a good wrap with a dead blow hammer a few times, and it started working again.

The car started and ran for a short time. Feathering the throttle a bit would get the RPM's up a little but it was running really rough. I tried to put it in reverse and get it into the garage, but it's running so poorly that it just dies as soon as I try.

I think my next move will be to clean it up and move it into the garage. It’s been sitting for so long without a bath it’s a bio hazard.

It looks like some work was done on the fuel system not too long ago but I am not sure what was done. I think the entire system needs an overhaul.
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Beauty must be in the eye of the beholder; those are some ugly wheels. BTW, I didn't realize there was a 1984 500 SL in the USA. Is this a gray market car?
There must be something in your eye ;)

The car is grey market.
I am making some progress. I found that the over voltage protection relay is bad.

I opened it to see if I could get it working but the coil is open. I will take it to work and see if I can graft some other really into the housing.

I ordered one but I suspect it will not fit.

The relay is a 5 pin version with one of the pins being plastic. With the really not working many circuits lack power including the ABS and Lambda system.
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