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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all- I found a 1985 380sl with 88,000 for 12K in the desert! Original owner, but lacks service records. A/C reportedly doesn't work. Not sure if the system needs a recharge, but the mechanic should figure that out during the PPI. Photos show well, leather is good, no cracks in dash, original paint without scratches.. Scheduling a PPI and if everything checks out I'll be having that darlin' shipped to the East Coast.

Owner has not updated the timing chain or repaired the subframe, but I'll use those for negotiating the price even lower ;).

Anything I should be aware of for a blind purchase? I've been wary of them, but have figured that if I'm going to find a nice r107 without rust it'd be somewhere out west.
 

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2007 ML320CDI, 1959 220SE, 1971 280SL, 1982 380SL
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683 Posts
Plastic pieces, rubber pieces, rubber diaphrams for the climate control and locking system generally need replacement. Cruise control amplifier is generally dead. Read about the timing chain guides. Yours should be a dual row chain which is great, BUT it has plastic chain guides which become brittle with age rather than miles. A broken one can turn your engine.into junk immediately. If no.record of replacement, don't wait at all to replace them
 

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1986 560 SL
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Do I remember correctly that the 380 was deemed by Mercedes to not require subframe reinforcement because of the lighter engine?
 

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1983 380SL, 2000 S430, 1991 420SEL (retired) - RHD
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5,708 Posts
Do I remember correctly that the 380 was deemed by Mercedes to not require subframe reinforcement because of the lighter engine?
I don't know but I did mine anyway.:)
 

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2007 ML320CDI, 1959 220SE, 1971 280SL, 1982 380SL
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683 Posts
Do carefully check the subframe. True, Mbz did not issue a recall. They must have convinced an NHTSA engineer that even though the subframes between the earlier series and the 380 seriece were identical, and crack the same, because the number badge on the trunk had a different number, then no problem. (I suspect the 380SL badges sends out subframe protection rays). If no special rays from the badge then I have the assume the NHTSA engineer was mentally challanged. Both models are just as much of a dangerous problem as the earlier cars. If it does not have either the later subframe or the subframe reinforcements,. Then, first check the lower A arm mount where they are attached to the subframe, CARFULLY, for any cracks. The cracks can be hard to see. If the car has the original subframe without the added reinforcement plates, work on finding a set of plates and having them welded on.
 

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1986 560SL, 1993 Isuzu Bighorn (RHD & Diesel)
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I bought my 560sl without PPE or even looking at it, just went off his online pictures. It was a huge gamble, the car was a little worse than expected. Also check under the rear seats/deck and under the footwell carpet for rust. I don't mind dealing with most of the R107 issues I've had but I rust is one I never want to deal with.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The car is out near Las Vegas.. so if anyone knows of reputable MB mechanics for the PPI near there I'd appreciate any information y'all might have!
 

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1998 ML320, 1975 280C
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185 Posts
So you know, I bought my 450 from a dealer 650 miles from home. Looked at photo's online, and flew up, paid for it, and drove it home WITHOUT a mechanic looking at it! I know, dumb, but it's been a fun car, and not needed a lot as of yet. I WAS careful as the tires were 19 years old!!!! It did heat up, in a snowstorm, but a flush and new fan clutch has fixed that problem.
 

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R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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32,533 Posts
Do carefully check the subframe. True, Mbz did not issue a recall. They must have convinced an NHTSA engineer that even though the subframes between the earlier series and the 380 seriece were identical, and crack the same, because the number badge on the trunk had a different number, then no problem. (I suspect the 380SL badges sends out subframe protection rays). If no special rays from the badge then I have the assume the NHTSA engineer was mentally challanged. Both models are just as much of a dangerous problem as the earlier cars. If it does not have either the later subframe or the subframe reinforcements,. Then, first check the lower A arm mount where they are attached to the subframe, CARFULLY, for any cracks. The cracks can be hard to see. If the car has the original subframe without the added reinforcement plates, work on finding a set of plates and having them welded on.
Yep. 380SL ................no problem :rolleyes:

subframe failure.jpg



:eek::eek:
 

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1983 380SL, ivory/dk brown, 46k miles, dual roller timing chain. 1986 560SL, red/white, 190K mile.
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7,004 Posts
There are a lot of 380SL's in the wild and I guess that the vast majority have not had those plates welded to the subframe - especially if the Mercedes shop advised that they were not necessary. My suspicion is that a collasped subframe is the exception and not to be expected as a safety issue. I do agree though that Mercedes should have applied the recall to 380SLs to preserve their corporate reputation.

My 1983 380SL has not had those plates welded and still no collapsed subframe.
I do agree that a collapsed subframe can and does happen but I ponder that its more associated with those cars that have been involved in accidents or ones that perhaps ran over a concrete parking log at full speed.

Don't know for sure ... just surmising that this is not a worrisome issue to fret over and just a simple inspection for cracks and abuse is all that is really necessary. What do you think? Is welding in the plates of such concern that one should park your 380SL until you have it towed to a shop for the job to be performed? I think not.
 
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Discussion Starter #12
Do carefully check the subframe. True, Mbz did not issue a recall. They must have convinced an NHTSA engineer that even though the subframes between the earlier series and the 380 seriece were identical, and crack the same, because the number badge on the trunk had a different number, then no problem. (I suspect the 380SL badges sends out subframe protection rays). If no special rays from the badge then I have the assume the NHTSA engineer was mentally challanged. Both models are just as much of a dangerous problem as the earlier cars. If it does not have either the later subframe or the subframe reinforcements,. Then, first check the lower A arm mount where they are attached to the subframe, CARFULLY, for any cracks. The cracks can be hard to see. If the car has the original subframe without the added reinforcement plates, work on finding a set of plates and having them welded on.
Are the plates hard to come by? I'm also wondering what the ballpark price would be to weld the plates?
 

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1983 380 SL
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Do I remember correctly that the 380 was deemed by Mercedes to not require subframe reinforcement because of the lighter engine?
That is correct... but some failed anyway. I think the general rule is if the car has not been driven hard for extended periods of time over rough roads, it should be ok.

My '83 380 was not upgraded and there are no cracks in the sub-frame mounts.
 
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