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Hello all. I am new to this site and new to Benz. I am considering buying my first "toy". I've always been fond of the style of the SL series roadsters (particularly the 450), however I know very little about the model. I'd appreciate any advice about whether or not this would be the right type to consider. I am neither a collector nor wealthy, so I need to make a good choice. I would be most interested in what to look for, what to avoid, service issues, reliability, values, etc... Typical rookie questions. Thanks.
 

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Always Remembered RIP
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The project initially started back in ’67 as a replacement for the W113 SL roadsters. L...

The project initially started back in ’67 as a replacement for the W113 SL roadsters. Later on in the design stage of the W107s the idea of a fixed head coupe (the SLC) to replace the ageing W111 two door coupes was added to the project.
At the time the north US market took up almost 20% of the Mercedes-Benz exports and as they were eager to continue selling cars the the USA, the W107s were the first cars out of Stuttgart designed solely around the requirements US apposed to being adapted from an existing design as before.
As to keep in the tradition of safety and to comply with the US requirements, the car was made strong by simply building it strong, i.e. heavier. Thus the W107 soon got the nick name ‘der panzerwagon’ German for Armerd car.
The model was then launched in 1971 and ran till ’89. On launch the 350 and 450 were the offered engine choices. But because of the wide-spread fuel costs panic the 280 was introduced in ’74. Then in ’81 came the 380 and 500 engines and in ’85 returned the historically named 300SL along side the 420.
The main problem area, as with all Mercs. Is rust. Mostly located around rear arches, the front inner wings (were the water drains), the boot floor and generally the underside, especially the behind the rear axle. The engines and transmission are usually bullit proof if serviced correctly, so ensure on lots of history by either main dealer or specialist.
Personally unless fuels an issue I’d go for the larger engines, preferably a later 500 or the rare 560 (if one exists[:D] ) as there were quite a few improvements made after 1980. But look at a fair few, don’t buy the first one you see and go on condition and history rather than the year and mileage.
Also only go for one with Auto, Leather, the hard-top and a good colour combination (believe me Mercedes released some awful combinations back in the ‘70s & ‘80s)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
your response to SL questions

Many thanks, heckflosse. I am grateful for the advice. As I live in the Great Lakes region of the U.S., the warning about rust concerns is particularly helpful. I will pay close attention the the service histories and search patiently. I think my next step will be to find a good Benz man in my area. Self service is not my forte. Again, thank you.
 

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1986 560-SL
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SL's

There is a book out, "Mercedes S Class" from Road and Track. It has road & comparison tests, specs, etc. Covering 1972 - 79.

Another book is "Mercedes Benz SLs & SLCs Gold Portfolio" from Brooklands Books. This covers 1971 - 1989.

Another that I use as a "bible" is "Mercedes-Benz Production Models Book 1946 - 1990 by W. Robert Nitske published by Motorbooks International out of Osceola, Wisconsin. This tells all the specs, why this model replaced that model, how many were made, etc.

I went through the same situation that you are now in a few years ago. Retired and now get my dream car. Everyone is different with a different price and different demands.

I went with the 560 SL due to seats and power. Plus, condition of the car that is available, maintenance records, etc.

I wish you well,
Stan
 

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US 107 comparison (long)

The "Gold Portfolio" mentioned is a fun reference; it's a collection of road tests from the major magazines through the years the 107 was produced.
Another excellent reference is the Mercedes-Benz Illustrated Buyer's Guide, by Frank Barrett, in paper.
As a US buyer, you've got three 107s that were imported and official US models: the 450SL (badged as a 350SL for its first year) 1972-80; the 380SL, 1981-5; and the 560SL 1986-89. Barrett will give you a good discussion of all three.
The 450 has a remarkably long-lived engine and in the earlier years a very nice, flexible, non-automatic HVAC system; its handicaps are a three-speed auto transmission and power loss due to EPA emissions requirements. My own picks would be 1974 or earlier. 1975-6 had catalytic converters in the engine bay that cook the wiring and plumbing, and 1977-80 had the first-generation auto air which is perhaps a little more problematic than the next system they used, as well as being the most hamstrung by EPA issues.
The 380 is the slowest of all, and also the most fuel-efficient. It has auto air, which is something MB didn't do especially well until the last few years, but it's a moderate annoyance rather than a serious flaw IMO. There's a timing chain issue, but it can be dealt with, and there's a fundamental timing chain issue with all these MB V8's (keep up the timing chain and its guides properly and they'll last essentially forever; fail to do so and they crump). It has more than enough power for real-world driving, but on the level of 0-60 in 10.5-11.5 or so as I recall; the flip side is that it can get you up to 18-19 mpg or so in average use. It's a quiet, civilized roadster.
The 560 is the hot rod of the bunch and also received significant updating; the seats and suspension were both revised, and the body got a front air dam. Most significantly, it got a 5.6-liter V8 which propels it 0-60 in about 8-8.5 seconds, depending on who you read, and tops out 135-140. It tends to be more expensive for those reasons. It has the same HVAC system as the 380, which is the only significant annoyance I find in my own.
Any of them are great cars to use and enjoy; my 560 has been my daily driver this season, and I absolutely love it.
Reality warning: You may get unusually lucky, but as you're looking, plan on dealing with $2-3000 worth of issues on almost any car you buy; it can be more and is occasionally less, but that's a ballpark. As someone said elsewhere on the board, "Owning an old car is a voyage of discovery; sometimes you hit rocks and sometimes you run into pirates, but it's always interesting". And as someone else has said, there's nothing more expensive than a cheap Mercedes.
 
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