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I just acquired a classic 1981 MB 280 SLC with 53,000 miles! The color is gold, it has some surface rusts and the front bumper on the side is rusted out. The windows are intact and rims look good. The seats need upholstered or replaced and the carpet nees replaced, other than that it needs a good paint job and who knows what else. It's been sitting for 3 years, so what do you guys think we ought to do with it? Should we sell it for parts or try and restore? We're going to try and get it started tomorrow, does anyone have any suggestions on how to get it started?

Anybody have any advice for me?

Gina
 

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280SLC-GIRL - 4/10/2005 9:38 PM

I just acquired a classic 1981 MB 280 SLC with 53,000 miles! The color is gold, it has some surface rusts and the front bumper on the side is rusted out. The windows are intact and rims look good. The seats need upholstered or replaced and the carpet nees replaced, other than that it needs a good paint job and who knows what else. It's been sitting for 3 years, so what do you guys think we ought to do with it? Should we sell it for parts or try and restore? We're going to try and get it started tomorrow, does anyone have any suggestions on how to get it started?

Anybody have any advice for me?

Gina
Gina,

Congrats on the inheritance! These are pretty cool cars and the 280SLC is pretty rare. Before you get it started, try to turn the crankshaft pulley to see if the engine is ceased up. If it isn't, make sure it has oil in it and give it a go. You didn't say if it's been sitting in a garage or outside, but some people advise to drop the gas tank and get rid of the old fuel but that's up to you especially if the tank is low and the engine seems to be running fine. The engine, by the way, if it really only has 53K should run like bastard!

Now for your question about parting it out or restoring it. This is always a tough decision, but what speaks in favor of restoration in your case is that you didn't pay for the car so, for example, if you were to put even as much as $10K into it, you will have a very pretty SLC with only 53K on it. Pretty good deal, in my opinion. If the rust is indeed only surface, it may not be as big a deal as if the floorboards were rusty or the subframes shot. Some pics of the car would be nice, so we all might get a better idea of what you have gotten yourself into. Another factor for restoration is that just about any part you could need for this car is readily available (though not cheap) and that certainly makes the process much easier.

In summary, see if you can figure out exactly what the car needs and decide if you like it enough to make that kind of commitment. It seems you like it a little, otherwise you wouldn't be asking.

Feel free to ask all of us all the questions you want. I myself have had an SL for 5 years now and am happy to help. I think I can safely say that all the rest of us are too.

Again, pics would be nice.

Hope this helps.

Ike
 

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450, 350 & 280 SLC (W107), 280TE (W123), C36 AMG (W202), Brabus B6S (W210)
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To my mind -- if you like the car and are ready for some investment -- keep it! Or sell as it is, not for parts! I have cherry red 280 SLC and right now it's in restauration process (pictures will be later!), I'm sure, that I made the right decision about mine!
 

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I'm on my third DOHC 280 series benz, they are the most reliable gas-driven cars MB ever made, IMO. My first question, is why would someone park a car with only 53,000 miles on it? Myself, I'd send it to a shop for a good mechanical evaluation, and to have it properly restarted. The cosmetic stuff you mentioned is the cheap stuff to fix on these cars, and its the stuff you can easily do your self - even the seat reupolstering is fairly easy if the seat internals, the horsehair pads and springs are in good shape. The carpeting kits sold by Performance Products make new carpets a breeze to. Most of the chrome parts required a couple of wrench twists to fix. You can get a decent paint job for $1500. But the thing that will eat your lunch is major mechanical repair. I can tell you right now, having sat so long, just to get it started you will probably mean you need a new fuel pump, about $300 installed. The tank and injection system will also have to be drained and serviced.

If you part it out, you can probably make three or four grand over ebay. If the engine is good, you can sell it for an easy $1500, maybe more, especially if it really does have 53k on it. If it is an automatic, the four-speed auto is also an easy to sell piece. Does it have woodwork in good shape? I need a few Zebrano pieces.
 

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Good deal! I would take care of the mechanical things first and then worry about cosmetic stuff. With only 50+ thousand miles, the car has a lot of life. Just remember your up against a 24 gallon gas tank. Good luck, and here is some eye candy
 

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Thanks for the helpful information. I do have many questions to ask before we decide what to do with this car. <p>First, all we know about this car is that it came from Conneticut, it was stored outside with possibly no cover for 2 years here in Southern Illinois, when it was in Conneticut, I don't have a clue how it was stored or maintained. The interior appears to have some mildew and smells musty, the window may not have been fully up when stored?, but really there are no holes in the foam, just some tears in the cloth.<p> While looking underneath the car it appears that the exhaust or muffler has a wire to keep it supsended, not sure if that is good or not, please see the pics for more detail. I'm just wondering if it is worth paying $400 to $500 to get a mechanic and get a good tune up and get some good feedback from a MB mechanic on the mechanical condition?<p>There is a sticker on the back of the trunk reads in the German language as well as the turn signal lever arm on the left hand side of the stearing wheel. Does this mean anything?</P>What would somebody pay for a car in this condition with 52,487 miles? Anyway, could you please give me your honest opinion about the shape of the car and what would be the first 5 things you would do to this car?


Sincerely,

gina marie fuhrmann

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280SLC-GIRL - 4/11/2005 9:42 PM

Thanks for the helpful information. I do have many questions to ask before we decide what to do with this car. <p>First, all we know about this car is that it came from Conneticut, it was stored outside with possibly no cover for 2 years here in Southern Illinois, when it was in Conneticut, I don't have a clue how it was stored or maintained. The interior appears to have some mildew and smells musty, the window may not have been fully up when stored?, but really there are no holes in the foam, just some tears in the cloth.<p> While looking underneath the car it appears that the exhaust or muffler has a wire to keep it supsended, not sure if that is good or not, please see the pics for more detail. I'm just wondering if it is worth paying $400 to $500 to get a mechanic and get a good tune up and get some good feedback from a MB mechanic on the mechanical condition?<p>There is a sticker on the back of the trunk reads in the German language as well as the turn signal lever arm on the left hand side of the stearing wheel. Does this mean anything?</P>What would somebody pay for a car in this condition with 52,487 miles? Anyway, could you please give me your honest opinion about the shape of the car and what would be the first 5 things you would do to this car?


Sincerely,

gina marie fuhrmann

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Gina,

The pics aren't coming up, but that might just be me. I don't think you can go wrong by paying a reputable mechanic to tune the car up and give it a thorough inspection.

As some of the other members have stated, the body and interior work in your case will be relatively inexpensive so if you get a clean bill of health mechanically, I think you're in pretty good shape.

The car is Euro-spec (there were no US-spec 280SLCs), hence all the German language stuff. It is in fact one of the rarest Mercedes models in the US, which also speaks in favor of restoration. A 280SLC with those miles (provided they are real) and in good shape can easily fetch in excess of $12000, so...

I think, the next step for you would be to shell out some funds for a reputable mechanic and/or body shop to give you a thorough estimate of what the car needs. It's a lot easier to make a decision with hard numbers in hand.

Ike
 

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Ike,

Check the pics now and tell me what you think. The panel below the doors are rusted near the front wheels, could this be a major problem? I'll get better pics of the area later.

gina
 

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280SLC-GIRL - 4/12/2005 5:53 PM

Ike,

Check the pics now and tell me what you think. The panel below the doors are rusted near the front wheels, could this be a major problem? I'll get better pics of the area later.

gina
Hi Gina,

The pics are coming up now, thanks. The rockers are a fairly major deal as on these cars, they are, I believe, one piece with the floor boards. Having said that, I think what you have there is an absolute pearl that just needs someone to give it some love.

This is a beautiful automobile! Even if you were to replace all 4 quaterpanels, the hood, the trunklid and the rockers, at least when you're done, you've got something! Your car even has the fairly rare for a 280 option of the automatic climate control. I think, it's your duty to restore this thing. It deserves it!

By the way, have you started it yet?
 

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280SLC-GIRL - 4/12/2005 8:18 PM

Hey, check out my pictures on this thread. Tell me what you think honestly? Is it worth restoring?

gina
Gina,

I looked at the pics again just now. I stand by my statement that the car is very much worth restoring. Yes, it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of money, but you will have one very cool car when you're done.

It will probably look something like this
 

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After looking at the pics my opinion is: if you don't love this car like a new baby you'd better sell it as it is or by parts.
If you want to rebuild the car to the exact new specifications you'll have to spend many 1000s USD. Those interiors will cost you in MB parts (and I don't know how can you do it without MB parts) more than 5000 USD. And I don't even mention mechanical parts, like breaks and hydraulic systems...
Of course you can do it yourself, but during how many years?

Jorge
'91 300 SL-24
 

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AJSM - 4/13/2005 8:53 AM

After looking at the pics my opinion is: if you don't love this car like a new baby you'd better sell it as it is or by parts.
If you want to rebuild the car to the exact new specifications you'll have to spend many 1000s USD. Those interiors will cost you in MB parts (and I don't know how can you do it without MB parts) more than 5000 USD. And I don't even mention mechanical parts, like breaks and hydraulic systems...
Of course you can do it yourself, but during how many years?

Jorge
'91 300 SL-24
Gina,

I agree with AJSM here. It does have to be a labor of love. I would mention though that, if you are willing to do some fingerwork, a lot of the parts can be had at prices far less than retail. Our host, Ron (Germanstar), can help you here as well some of our other sponsors. I myself have one of the parts you are going to need, namely the plastic surround for the headlights. I have one of them and you can have it FOR FREE as a sign of encouragement.
Just PM me your address.

Again, this is gonna be work. But I would certainly do it if it were me.

Ike
 

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280SLC-GIRL - 4/11/2005 10:42 PM

Thanks for the helpful information. I do have many questions to ask before we decide what to do with this car. <p>First, all we know about this car is that it came from Conneticut, it was stored outside with possibly no cover for 2 years here in Southern Illinois, when it was in Conneticut, I don't have a clue how it was stored or maintained. The interior appears to have some mildew and smells musty, the window may not have been fully up when stored?, but really there are no holes in the foam, just some tears in the cloth.<p> While looking underneath the car it appears that the exhaust or muffler has a wire to keep it supsended, not sure if that is good or not, please see the pics for more detail. I'm just wondering if it is worth paying $400 to $500 to get a mechanic and get a good tune up and get some good feedback from a MB mechanic on the mechanical condition?<p>There is a sticker on the back of the trunk reads in the German language as well as the turn signal lever arm on the left hand side of the stearing wheel. Does this mean anything?</P>What would somebody pay for a car in this condition with 52,487 miles? Anyway, could you please give me your honest opinion about the shape of the car and what would be the first 5 things you would do to this car?
The miles on the car wouldn't mean that much given it's current condition. On Euros, you also need to be able to document the miles somehow. If the car arrived in the States as a used car, the speedo was changed out to read in MPH, and the odometer would have been set to zero at that time. For all anyone knows, it could have had 200,000 german miles on it before arrival. Savvy MB buyers know this.

Looking at the pics and reading the story on the car, I'd sell it for a parts car. The car has been abused and poorly stored, its going to cost more than it is worth to fix it, even if you got it for free. The rust also indicates it was driven in New England in the winter. The only way to own an SL in New England is to store them in the winter - the salt on the roads ruins these cars. The car is a long term rust bucket. The exhaust probably rusted off. Save your money and go buy a nice SL out of Arizona or Texas.
 

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I RESTORE THESE FOR A LIVING, AND IF YOU CAME TO MY SHOP I WOULD TELL YOU NOT TO DO THIS ONE.

LAST TWO CARS I DID WAS $15K EACH, AND THEY DID NOT LOOK ANYTHING LIKE THIS ONE.

SELL IT FOR PARTS, AND GO AND GET A GOOD ONE W/ RECORDS
 

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Dear Gina,

Having seen the photos of your car I would say that the only way to determine what to do next would be to get a mechanic who knows the MB 280 engine to look it over.
As you have paid nothing for the car it might be fun to restore it. It really depends what you want the car for, fun or daily use.
In Europe the 280SLC is the most common SLC available, they made something in the order of 38,000 of them. Your only advantage is that it's cheaper to run that a 350, 450, 380, 500 SLC as it doesn't have a V8 engine.
If you had a 500 SLC I would say restore it NOW as it's the rarest car on the block, only 1200 ever made!
I would also ask a bodywork specialist his opinion on the very obvious rust you seem to have on pretty much every panel. The paint job is not the expensive side of this vehicle, you would have to have what's known as a wire mesh lead fill weld to any holes that actually go through any of the panels. And a bare metal respray so you are looking at 6 coats of paint minimum. If the frame of the car is rotten then you are looking at huge sums to basically have the car rebuilt. The interior, less vitally important, is tatty. This would be feasable to replace with second hand parts etc. The most important thing to discover is what state your electrical system is in. If you need to have new motors to operate the front windows and rear quarterlights etc. as this is also not cheap to redo.
If someone comes back to you with a figure of say $7000 to get the car back on the road and presentable, you should probably budget for $10000 as hiddens costs have a curious way of mounting up.
I am NOT a fan of breaking the SLCs to furnish parts for the SLs, something that happens very frequently.
I suppose it's down to whether or not you just LOVE it and are captivated by it's quirky charm, or if you are ambivalent.
A point of note:
If you are going to restore the car, make sure that you stay faithful to how the car would have looked coming out of the factory.
If you ever want to sell it and have stuck all kinds of things on it, like hideous wheels (you have a great set of original MB sports rallaye alloys on there which you could sell to finance redoing the interior by the way) or the wrong bumpers, kit additions etc.
If you stay away from customizing it you should be able to get some of the money back and it should hold its value.
Check out ebay to see what the average resale price of an SLC is in the US. They are not as popular as the SL so you might struggle to achieve $6000 for a car in 1st class condition.
I don't want to influence you either way. There's lots of help from all us mad folk if you decide to go for it and if you get cold feet, well there's always someone else who might take it on.

All I can say is good luck, find a GREAT supplier of salvaged parts from other SLs and SLCs, make sure your heating blows HOT for the winter and enjoy.
Failing that, put it on ebay and see what happens.

Cheers,

James
 

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Red300SL - 4/15/2005 10:13 AM

Dear Gina,

Having seen the photos of your car I would say that the only way to determine what to do next would be to get a mechanic who knows the MB 280 engine to look it over.
As you have paid nothing for the car it might be fun to restore it. It really depends what you want the car for, fun or daily use.
In Europe the 280SLC is the most common SLC available, they made something in the order of 38,000 of them. Your only advantage is that it's cheaper to run that a 350, 450, 380, 500 SLC as it doesn't have a V8 engine.
If you had a 500 SLC I would say restore it NOW as it's the rarest car on the block, only 1200 ever made!
I would also ask a bodywork specialist his opinion on the very obvious rust you seem to have on pretty much every panel. The paint job is not the expensive side of this vehicle, you would have to have what's known as a wire mesh lead fill weld to any holes that actually go through any of the panels. And a bare metal respray so you are looking at 6 coats of paint minimum. If the frame of the car is rotten then you are looking at huge sums to basically have the car rebuilt. The interior, less vitally important, is tatty. This would be feasable to replace with second hand parts etc. The most important thing to discover is what state your electrical system is in. If you need to have new motors to operate the front windows and rear quarterlights etc. as this is also not cheap to redo.
If someone comes back to you with a figure of say $7000 to get the car back on the road and presentable, you should probably budget for $10000 as hiddens costs have a curious way of mounting up.
I am NOT a fan of breaking the SLCs to furnish parts for the SLs, something that happens very frequently.
I suppose it's down to whether or not you just LOVE it and are captivated by it's quirky charm, or if you are ambivalent.
A point of note:
If you are going to restore the car, make sure that you stay faithful to how the car would have looked coming out of the factory.
If you ever want to sell it and have stuck all kinds of things on it, like hideous wheels (you have a great set of original MB sports rallaye alloys on there which you could sell to finance redoing the interior by the way) or the wrong bumpers, kit additions etc.
If you stay away from customizing it you should be able to get some of the money back and it should hold its value.
Check out ebay to see what the average resale price of an SLC is in the US. They are not as popular as the SL so you might struggle to achieve $6000 for a car in 1st class condition.
I don't want to influence you either way. There's lots of help from all us mad folk if you decide to go for it and if you get cold feet, well there's always someone else who might take it on.

All I can say is good luck, find a GREAT supplier of salvaged parts from other SLs and SLCs, make sure your heating blows HOT for the winter and enjoy.
Failing that, put it on ebay and see what happens.

Cheers,

James
Gina,

I second what James is saying, except that in the US, the 280SLC is the second rarest SLC behind only the 500.

He's right in that with a good supplier and a good shop this could be a very rewarding project.

I also understand where jako is coming from. There are nicer units out there, but odds are they won't be free.

I would also add that while I certainly have seen better looking cars scrapped, I also have seen cars that were literally brought home in a bag restored to a very high standard.

We're not helping you much, are we?
 

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Sorry, but having grown up in my fathers restoration shop this one is a parts car at this point. To do this car Right will cost you far, far more then you will ever see out of it.

I'll tell you what we have been telling people who brought in cars such as your's for years.. Get rid of it for what ever you can, save up and buy the very best example you can find. In the long term you will be So far ahead of the game.

Jonathan
 
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