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Discussion Starter #1
Hello Gurus,

As we work through our quest to find the perfect MB, we've narrowed the field to two distinct possibilities. The first is an '81 380sl - 89K, babied, don't know about the timing chain. The second is a '73 450 sl - 129K miles - not as sure it was babied but it definitely wasn't abused. They will run me about the same $$ to purchase.

Thoughts???

Thanks!
 

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2017 Police Interceptor Utility, 2017 Police Interceptor Sedan
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Hi,

Around here there are no dumb questions, only dumb answers.

Here are my thoughts on your situation. I would go with the 380SL and here is why. The timing chain can be easily checked by taking a valve cover off. If the chain you see has two rows, it has been upgraded, if only one row, then not. That in and of itself does not, in my opinion, disqualify the car, rather, it means that you would be wise to budget for an upgrade. Besides, it might not blow the chain for another 60k or more miles. It's a gamble, yes, but people take bigger ones every day.

The 450SL, on the other hand, has 8 more years and 40k more miles on it. It also has the much less reliable EFI system than the 380SL CIS unit. Back then, the injectors were controlled by trigger points in the distributor and, with time, oil would seep onto said trigger points and make the car run rough. Also, between an older car with a computer and a newer one without, which is the case here, I would go with the car without the "black box". In addition, the original R107s are known for heater core corrosion with subsequent carpets full of coolant. Sucks enough by itself plus it's very hard to get the heater core out on a 107. The 380SL is far less likely to have that problem.

Hope all this helps. Let us know if you have any more questions. Pics of both cars would also help.
 

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83 Astral Silver 280 SL
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The angel in me says get the 380SL because it's a better car. The devil in me says that the 450SL has what? 80 more horse? Those early 450s are supposed to be really fast.
 

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2021 SL770
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For a variety of reasons (some parts-related) I would lean strongly toward the newer car.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the insights! I've just gotten a line on an '85 380sl - still looking for the perfect car for us!
 
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