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Hello. My name is Jay. I live in Virginia. I have the opportunity to purchase a 1985 380SL. It is in excellent shape, interior and exterior-wise. Maintenance schedule has been kept up. Been garage kept for the last 15 years. Do not see any rust. My concern is the mileage, which is at 231K. What should I look for in a high mile Mercedes? If the maintenance is up to date, should I just enjoy the car and think of it as a testament to the quality of this model? I plan taking the car to the local Mercedes dealer for an inspection and any maintenance issues that come up.
 

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Jay,
I also have an '85 380SL, albeit with far fewer miles (76,000). The general consensus that I have gleaned from this forum is that miles are not so important if the maintenance and other repairs can be verified. Age is a bigger problem, especially with plastic (esp. timing chain guides & cam oiler) parts, rubber and some of the electrical parts (mainly circuit boards). Some rubber parts are hard to replace, such as the subframe bushings and the halfshaft boots. Perhaps these are already renewed on this car. Much will depend on how much $ the car is and if you are willing or capable of doing most of any required work yourself. I have done all of mine and I would have way more $ into the car than it is worth (probably do anyway...) if I had to pay a reputable and experienced shop to do everything I have done.
 

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Thank you for the reply. I will be deep diving into the maintenance history after a state inspection and a trip to the local Mercedes dealer, where this car is serviced. I am hopeful the car will be in good to very good shape mechanically, structurally, etc. the owner is asking $6,000. I did notice the tach is not working and new shocks may be needed for the rear. Other than that, this is a very clean car, two owners, mountain of maintenance records. I am cautiously optimistic on this since it is what my wife likes. We shall see. Thank you.
 

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I would skip the trip to the local Mercedes dealer... it is unlikely that they will have anyone on staff in the maintenance department that is even remotely familiar with a 34 year old 380sl. Try to find a local, preferably older, indy that has experience with the 380sl or at least vintage Mercedes in general.

Far too many mechanics today only know how to read error codes and change whatever part the error code points to. Not to say that it isn't an art unto itself, but it's just not applicable to vintage Mercedes.

Years and years in a garage is no guarantee that there aren't hidden problems but the fact that nothing is visible is at least a good sign.

Good luck
 

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Has the car been sitting totally unused for 15 years in the garage? Or has it been sporadically or regularly used and kept in the garage? Have you driven it or started the engine?

Seems like a good price to me if the maintenance/condition checks out.

Best wishes!
 

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Thank you all for your input. The car is used sporadically, maybe three times a year for the last 3 years, according to the owners. I looking for an independent mechanic that works on Mercedes. Somewhat difficult inquiry. None standout. The local dealer has better reviews than the others. If there is a link that rates local Mercedes mechanics, I would be interested in that. Thank you.
 

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I have driven the car for a couple of miles. The car is out of inspection, so driving it was kept to a minimum. Once it passes inspection, a more lengthy drive time is in order.
 

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Thank you all for your input. The car is used sporadically, maybe three times a year for the last 3 years, according to the owners. I looking for an independent mechanic that works on Mercedes. Somewhat difficult inquiry. None standout. The local dealer has better reviews than the others. If there is a link that rates local Mercedes mechanics, I would be interested in that. Thank you.
Keep in mind... the average Mercedes mechanic working at the dealer today was probably not even born yet when the 380sl was being manufactured. The Mercedes mechanics today are likely well trained... just not in anything remotely close to the technology used in a 380sl. Some dealers won't even work on cars built before 1995 (ODBII).

Just be careful who or what you pick to work on your 380... we're not in Kansas anymore. :laugh
 

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I appreciate where you are coming from. I agree with your sentiments. I think the car is a good find. I am still looking for a decent mechanic who works on older Mercedes models. This is somewhat daunting. I know they are out there, near me, just need to seek them out. Thanks.
 

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I appreciate where you are coming from. I agree with your sentiments. I think the car is a good find. I am still looking for a decent mechanic who works on older Mercedes models. This is somewhat daunting. I know they are out there, near me, just need to seek them out. Thanks.
I think I remember seeing a list of indy's and locations somewhere in this forum... I just don't remember where.

Perhaps someone who remembers will chime in.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
There is a list under General MB forum. The thread for Richmond is 6 years old. I will contact them tomorrow to feel them out. Just seeing if there are more recent recommendations.
 

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I recommend you contact knowledgable and competent specialist for older Mercedes in Henrico, VA: O.L. (Chip) Hughes, 804 288 0885
 

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Please allow me to respectfully ask you, Jwc13025, are you a car person? Do you have, or have you had, any older cars and like driving and/or tinkering with them?
 

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OKC Jeff: I did work on my VWs, bus and Ghia. That was a while ago. To be honest, I have little room to work on cars. The only one I still work on is my 1986 Toyota Pickup. Being a basic 2.2L and have the ability to put my hands on just about every where under that hood, I am confident tinkering on it. As for this 107, all I can say is yikes! That is a lot of motor under that hood. I have contacted Neelyrc’s contact, Chip Hughes. We may be able to work something out, maintenance-wise. Fingers crossed.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Nobby: I do know which side my bread is buttered on. I am retired and down to just one boss. She wants the car and if all the mechanicals are good to go, she will be the proud owner of it, envy of our street.
 

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Please allow me to respectfully ask you, Jwc13025, are you a car person? Do you have, or have you had, any older cars and like driving and/or tinkering with them?
X2

Not to be an numpty, but if the idea of car work only consists of detailing and cleaning, I don't think this purchase is a good idea.

First, as we've all noticed the specialized knowledge of working on these cars has faded away in the professional shop world. Taking a 380SL into a shop and saying, "fix it" with them doing a lot of specialized research on your dime. Most repairs will be in excess of $2-3k.

Has the car had its subframe fixed? Do some searches for this issue. The 380SL subframe is prone to cracking and needs the gussets welded on.

This isn't to discourage you or the misses who has fallen in love with these cars. It's important understand what you're getting into.

1985 was 34 years ago. Mileage is now not a relevant thing on these cars and it's now a matter of what's failing or failed. Age is tough on rubber and plastic.

Here's a question and I mean it partly seriously and partly jokingly, has the Mrs in the past wanted a pet that you ended up taking care of?

If so, this is probably how your 380SL will end up :p

Edit: saw your post. I recommend you make some room for working on this car. Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
okyoureabeast: I understand where you are coming from. I am trying to gain knowledge on the 380 SL. Timing chains, guides and rollers, rust, all the rubber and plastic parts are on my radar. I am sure there are other Things to watch out for. To me, it is never too old to learn. That is why I signed up on this forum. I have learned much in short time. A little background, I am a Subaru guy. I have owned three, one with 200k miles, one with close to 300k. My current one has a mere 113k. My mechanic, who I trust is a Subaru mechanic from way back who owns his own shop. That is where my head is when it comes to a mechanic who will work in the 380. I may have found him. I am establishing a good communication line with him and he is willing to inspect the car and decipher the maintenance records. Trust and rapport with the mechanic is essential, in my humble opinion. As far as the pet thing is concerned, we are dog people. It is a family affair with our pet. A second child, so to speak. I am not going into this sale blindly. Knowledge is power. I think I have my eyes open, trying to do the due diligence. I also know if the car comes home to us, it is for the love and joy of it. Treat it well and it repays you in spades.
 
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