Mercedes-Benz Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm looking for a SL and need to know what to look for and what to run away from. Here are some details on the cars i've seen so far? This will be my first Mercedes so I'm kinda like a biddy in tall weeds

About the Cars:
1981 380 sl red tan interior both tops goods 125000 miles. I have seen it yet. Its in driving condition, ac doesn't work interior is in fair condition. I don't know if timing was changed to dual.

1983 380sl black on black think it may have a leak on hard top. soft top has a tear. 160,000 miles. Drives good suspension and brakes are good. interior fair. AC blows but warm(maybe needs charging)

1984 380sl blue with white interior soft top has tear in seam. He thinks fuse maybe blown lights went out. Antenna up/down works maybe a cylinder leak. 162,000 miles. Owner says has some rust in truck spare tire area

About the Prices:

1981 $4000 negotiable (I haven't spoken to him yet waiting on a call to see how negotiable and to take a look at the vehicle)

1983 $3000 kinda firm at the price (but cash hasn't spoken )

1984 $3100 but states he very negotiable. But I haven't went out to take a look at the car yet only pictures

My questions:
1) How fair are these prices?
2) What/Where should I look? (Rust prone area)(timing chain)....
3) Are these some of the better years of production or should I look into others?


Thanks
 

·
Registered
'85 380SL (155Kmiles), '82 240D stick, '80 300SD, '77 240D, '89 BMW 535i, 3 VW Diesels, 2 Triumphs
Joined
·
1,553 Posts
bp-

Welcome to the better R107 forum. You will see many of the same names here, but more traffic than at PP. Please edit your user data to tell us where you are. Please review the stickies- you will find a lot of what you are asking for there and in searching older posts on this forum.

We will try to help you , but a lot of what you want to know depends on your intentions, your budget, your usage, how long you will keep the car, your level of mechanical ability.

You will need to provide more specifics on conditions, appearances etc.of what you have been looking at.

Note to forum members: Rowdie and I have briefed him on HVAC, timing chain and subframe issues already. No need to go there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Here are the few that i'm currently looking into.. First off I'm not rich my any stretch of the imagination, and I think I make an excellent sous mechanic to my buddy. Depending on the weather in my area I would probably only have it here up until maybe Thanks giving then if i'm going to get any work done to it then I will line that up in my hometown area of NC.

Hope this helps
 

Attachments

·
Registered
'85 380SL (155Kmiles), '82 240D stick, '80 300SD, '77 240D, '89 BMW 535i, 3 VW Diesels, 2 Triumphs
Joined
·
1,553 Posts
Still not a lot to go on. The '84 (dunkelblau) seems to have euro bumpers, but has an '86 style brake light. Does it have euro lights? Those euro features might be worth $1K alone.

They all look decent for the money you are talking about, but the devil will be in the details.
 

·
R/C107 Moderator
1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
Joined
·
32,355 Posts
1984 380sl blue with white interior soft top has tear in seam. He thinks fuse maybe blown lights went out. Antenna up/down works maybe a cylinder leak. 162,000 miles. Owner says has some rust in truck spare tire area
What does "cylinder leak" mean? Antenna is totally electric. The prices are all within reason. I would avoid the '81 due to the climate control. Rust can be a deal breaker depending upon the extent and location. The '84 280SL I just bought has a rust hole in the spare tire well but it is the only rust I have found on the car.

The '84 with the Euro bumper looks interesting. The VIN will tell if it is a true euro model. U.S. models have a U.S. conforming VIN. Euro will start WDB 107 045.

We always suggest a PPI by an independent shop that is used to these older models. No MB dealers. They have technician not mechanics.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
rowdie
"cylinder leak" guess that was bad use of grammar or punctuation... cylinder leak was another issue aside from the antenna. I will check the vin to see whats, how much of a better deal would that make it?

baco why you say the black one?
 

·
Registered
1982 380SL/1955 Austin A30/2014 VW Beetle convertible/2005 Honda CRV/1964 Mobylette moped
Joined
·
96 Posts
I bought a '82 380sl at auction last year. So I speak from experience. As much as i love the car...a smarter move would have been to spend more money and get a 450 or 560. Fewer issues. With the money I've spent on top of the purchase price, I could have gotten a very tasty 560sl without subframe or timing chain worries. Or, a later 380sl after they went to the double row timing chain. So I've got way more in than I'll ever get out.

I tend to be an impulse buyer (I went to the auction to buy a disassembled MG TC). You seem to have the patience to do it the right way, and look at several cars. I'd suggest you keep looking, and see what you find in a 450 or 560. the extra money spent on the purchase price would probably mean more days driving, and less days in the shop.

Sample of costs in my end of the world: conversion to dual timing chain - about 4.8k. New 'uprated' subframe (parts and install) - 3k. Needless to say, I passed on both.

Good luck, keep us posted. You'll love an SL.
 

·
Registered
'85 380SL (155Kmiles), '82 240D stick, '80 300SD, '77 240D, '89 BMW 535i, 3 VW Diesels, 2 Triumphs
Joined
·
1,553 Posts
The '84 with the Euro bumper looks interesting. The VIN will tell if it is a true euro model. U.S. models have a U.S. conforming VIN. Euro will start WDB 107 045.
doubtful euro as it has US ACCIII auto climate control pictured in a PM he sent to me.
 

·
Registered
1972 350SL 148,000 miles
Joined
·
7,105 Posts
I found this article very much in line with the day to day posts I see here as far as "pecking order", the only thing I would add is if you get a 72-75 make sure it is in good condition, I have seen thread after thread of folks that bought 72-73 then they have a laundry list of s**t to fix, and it's the same issues in the same order and although the fixes themselves are easy the troubleshooting takes forever, I made a thread where I took a bunch of threads chronicling these trials and travails (which matched my experience -exactly-) and laid out a thread that deals with the issues you WILL have to deal with if you buy the D-jet (72-75). It literally happens like clockwork, buy this car-have these issues, period, non negotiable, now all these fixes are easy to DIY but those who don't take the time to read the other 72-75 owner introduction threads tend to spend countless hours trouble-shooting and trying to diagnose problems (like I did)

If you buy the D-jet take the 3 hours to read the D-jet thread in the encyclopedia, or just spend hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours burning 100 dollar bills while poking yourself in the eye with a sharp object to achieve the same result, that all being said, the article from Road and Track

Road and Track Article 1994 Mercedes Benz 107 SL SLC Roadster

They called it der Panzerwagen. The "armored car", as it translated from the Teutonic tongue, wouldn't seem to be a very dignified name for an automobile that's become one of the most coveted status symbols of our times. But those in Mercedes-Benz engineering who coined the moniker for the new 350SL had a point. Compared with the lovely, svelte 280SL that it was to replace, the 350SL did indeed look brutishly impregnable.

Of course, given the regulatory climate at the dawn of the Seventies, that was the point, Mercedes engineers knew the new design would have to meet not only the desires of consumers, but also the safety (and emissions) standards of U.S. lawmakers.

The 350SL ended up heavier and less efficient that the 280SL of the Sixties, far less sporting than the legendary 300SL of the fifties, and almost homely next to the two previous beauties. Yet the design worked-- so gloriously, in fact, that it persisted almost unchanged for nearly two decades, selling about a quarter of a million copies along the way.



Unfortunately for poor but enthusiastic SL fanciers, prices also rose along the way, by about 500 percent -- from $10,500 in 1972 to $ 64,200 in 1989.

But now, for us less monied enthusiast, there's been a happy confluence of events that has made owning an SL affordable. Thanks to the introduction of the current 300/500SL, the nation's sluggish economy and the vast numbers of these SLs on the market, you can put a fine example in your garage for a little as $12,000. Intrigued? Then read on.

SL foibles



1994 TYPICAL REPAIR PRICES *

Reseal power steering box............$ 300

Replace catalytic convert with aftermarket converter.....................................$ 400

Replace water pump ...................$ 550

Replace climate-control................$ 515

Replace starter motor...................$ 250

Aftermarket soft-top, not including installation...................................$ 495

Aftermarket 2-seat leather upholstery kit, not including installation...............$ 900

Aftermarket horsehair seat pads, 2 seats, not including installation...............$ 150

Rebuild cylinder heads .............$ 2,500 - $4,500

Normal cylinder rebuild...............$7,500-$11,000

3,000-mile service.................$200-$400

15,000-mile service...............$200-$400

30,000-mile service...............$400-$600

* Unless noted, prices include parts and labor with a labor rate of $50 an hour.

In affluent Newport Beach California, home of R&T, residents drive "Newport-Beach-Chevys" elsewhere know as Mercedes-Benzes. And in the area around our offices, there seems to be a Mercedes mechanic on every block.



Steve Marx, owner of Marx Mercedes Service, and Rod Curha, owner of Dan's Automotive Service, are two of the most knowledgeable. We culled their wisdom regarding the purchase of an older SL. And we also turned to a nearby Costa Mesa resident for advise, Doug Rugg, proprietor of an independent used Mercedes dealership, DR imports.



The well-heeled usually choose their status symbols for compelling reasons, and these SLs process a host of them. They were built with superb care. They show sophisticated engineering. They're sublimely comfortable. And because of their bulk and stout structures, they're just about the safest open cars imaginable. But beyond these attributes, most of these 1972-1989 V-8-powered SLs have engines that are just about unburstable.



"I've driven a number of early 4.5-liter SLs with 750,000 or more on their engines," said Rugg. "At a million miles they get a little edgy". That may be stretching things just a bit, according to Cunha and Marx. But both agree the iron-block V-8s are exceptionally long-lived. "Around 350,000 before a bottom-end overhaul isn't unrealistic," said Cunha. "The top end is often good for 180,000-240,000 miles."

And from Marx, "I have some customers with at least 300,000 miles on their cars and the engines haven't even needed valve jobs."



So does this mean a high-mileage early SL, say, one with 150,000 or even 200,000 miles, might still be a good buy? You bet. "I wouldn't be afraid of it, as long as I knew its service history and it was a good car in other respects," said Cunha. (All of our experts recommend oil changes be done every 3000 miles.)



Still, all things being equal, it's best to avoid 1975-1976 models, and 1974 California cars as well. In the former, the cars carried catalytic converters inside the engine compartment. The heat generated by the converters tends to cook wiring and vacuum lines under the hood. Vapor lock was also a common malady. Mercedes engineers moved the catalysts farther downstream for 1977.



The 1974 California cars, according to Marx, were equipped with exhaust-gas-recirculation devices that cause stumbling problems.



For model year 1981, Mercedes substituted a lighter, more efficient all-alloy 3.8 liter V-8 for the old reliable iron-block 4.5-liter V-8. And along with it came trouble.



The engine has a single-row timing chain, which as the miles piles on, tend to stretch. Unchecked, the chain can jump its sprockets, causing pistons to collide with valves, leaving the 380SL owner facing a $6,000 repair bill. During 1984, Mercedes switched to a double-row chain and solved the problem.



Though it was not an announced recall, Rugg says that at one time Mercedes did convert some of the early 380SLs, free of charge, to double row chain for some customers. "The only way to know if a car is converted is to take off the valve cover and look."

Converting one now is a $2500-$3000 proposition, said Marx. But Marx added that the conversion is unnecessary if the owner changes the chain and tensioner every 40,000 miles -- a $300 job.



Owners of 380Sls -- and later 560SLs, another SL with an all-alloy V-8 -- may also find that if their cylinders heads need to come off for any reason, they'll face an extra expense of several hundred dollars, in addition to a valve job or work needs to be done. Mercedes suggests that once the head bolts are removed, the aluminum block must be helicoiled to provide new threads. Otherwise, the bolts may pull out.



However, Marx said he's successfully replaced the head bolts on several 380 and 560 engines without helicoling. "You just have to torque them down very carefully, according to the book," he said. "But maybe I've just been lucky so far," he added.



Given regular service, the rest of the drivetrain, and most of the car for that matter, seems to be nearly as robust as the engine. Our panel of experts report no unusual problems with automatic transmissions (manual gearboxes were never an option on U.S.-spec cars), rear ends, suspension or electrical components. Cunha said front brake rotors might need replacing every 40,000 miles, catalytic converters sometimes plug up after 100,000 miles, and water pumps, fan clutches and starter may fail after 80,000 or 100,000 miles.



The 450SLs were subject to a formal recall, one still being honored by Mercedes-Benz, for cracking subframes. The dealer will replace or weld the subframe.


SL Selection Tips



1994 TYPICAL ASKING PRICES

1972-1973 350/450SL...$11,350-$12,900

1974-1977 450SL........$12,200-$13,500

1978-1980 450SL........$14,700-$16,950

1981-1983 380SL........$14,750-$17,800

1984-1985 380SL........$20,500-$22,800

1986-1989 560SL........$26,500-$40,000

Given the long model run and the various engine changes, there is a pecking order of desirability among the V-8 SLs. For guidance on this aspect of SL buying, we turned to John Olson, of the SL Market letter (2020 S. Girard, Minneapolis, Minn. 55405, $42 for nine issues).



1) Because it represents the pinnacle of the car's development, Olson places the 560SL at the top of his SL list. Of course, as relative youngsters, they also command the highest prices.



2) Next in line come the models that generally cost the least: The earliest V-8 SLs, the 1972-1973 models. Horsepower steadily declined in subsequent years, reaching a low with the 380SL. Moreover, these earliest car don't have catalytic converters to worry about, and they have the esthetic advantage of smaller European bumpers.



3) Third on Olson's list are the 1979-1980 450SLs, which represent the pinnacle of development for the trusty 4.5-liter cars. All the other years would come next, except for the 1981-1983 380SLs with their cursed single-row timing chains. These 380SLs would be his last choice among the 1972-1989 SL variants.



Then there's the SLC, the stretched pillarless coup version of the SL. The extra 14 in. of wheelbase allowed for reasonably roomy rear seat. Introduced immediately after the SL, the limited-production SLC became the top of the Mercedes' model line (beside the very limited-production 600). Some called its handling crisper than the SL's, while others appreciated the added carrying capacity. But perhaps because of Ho-hum looks and its fixed top, the SLC never became very popular here.

The model was discontinued after 1981. Today SLCs can cost 10-20 percent less than the SL and, in this respect, represent quite a bargain.



Any SL shopper is likely to come across gray-market cars as well, cars originally sold in Europe but supposedly brought into compliance with U.S. safety and emissions regulations. In Europe these SLs came with a bewildering array of engines and transmissions. Some, like the powerful 500SL, were very desirable indeed. Olson estimated that during 1985 alone, the peak year for gray-market imports, some 5000 SLs entered the U.S. If you should seriously consider purchasing a gray-market car, check especially carefully for rust, and make certain the proper EPA and DOT releases come with the title.



And are any of these V-8-powered SLs likely to become valuable collectibles? You probably shouldn't plan to retire off the profits from one of these cars. Unlike their predecessors the 300SL or 230/250/280SL, the V-8 cars are just too numerous to become collector pieces any time soon. Instead, these are cars to buy, use and enjoy.
 

·
Registered
1981 380SL - Lorinser bodykit w/16x7 LOs - AKA "Frau Blau"(Lady Blue)
Joined
·
7,563 Posts
16K on the 83 is all?
If that's true and it had the dual chain conversion, that's a no brainer.
 

·
Outstanding Contributor , Bob's Your Uncle!
-----'83 280 SL----- 5 speed....The PIG
Joined
·
29,512 Posts
I was gonna say that you SHOULD look for a 280SL.

But that might be percieved as biased.
 

·
Registered
'85 380SL (155Kmiles), '82 240D stick, '80 300SD, '77 240D, '89 BMW 535i, 3 VW Diesels, 2 Triumphs
Joined
·
1,553 Posts
Perception noted. And seconded.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Ok I've seemed to stumble upon a '73 450. That i plan on checking out today? What should I look for gentlemen already said that there was some rust, 200,000 miles needs a tie rod and interior is decent and drives. asking around 2k? Initially my concerns are the rust and mileage
 

·
Registered
1981 380SL - Lorinser bodykit w/16x7 LOs - AKA "Frau Blau"(Lady Blue)
Joined
·
7,563 Posts
Just a note: I paid $1700 for mine. And put a LOT of time and elbow grease into her, not to mention another $2000 or so. No service records, but she'd been garaged the whole time the PO had her.
IDK that I'd want a 200k + car unless I had a LOT of evidence that it was properly maintained during it's lifetime.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
431 Posts
Ok I've seemed to stumble upon a '73 450. That i plan on checking out today? What should I look for gentlemen already said that there was some rust, 200,000 miles needs a tie rod and interior is decent and drives. asking around 2k? Initially my concerns are the rust and mileage
If there is "some rust", there is A LOT of rust.

Here's a Craigslist ranking:

LEVEL 1
"Needs minor body work" = Body is dinged and dented on nearly every surface. Lots of small scratches, some really big ones.

LEVEL 2
"A couple dings here and there" = Was recently in an accident and my cousin and I popped the bumper back in place with some yard tools on Sunday. We didn't bother with the rest. Where the paint was damaged, it's starting to rust.

LEVEL 3
"Minor rust bubbles appearing" = Rust beginning to form in almost every area: fender wells, trunk, floors, door bottoms, hood and front strut towers.

LEVEL 4
"Has a few spots of rust along the wheel area" = Rusty, everywhere

LEVEL 5
"Rusty" = Hardly anything left.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Yea, after doing a forensic work for CraigTrickery.. I don't think I'm going to even take a look at this car.

Seems this car was purchased a few days about 100 miles apart. First guy was asking 2850obo second guy has it offered for 2000obo about three days later. So i'm think that he may have gotten it going and found out there were more issues(rust) than he was willing to handle and plans to cut loses?
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top