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Mercedes 380--450--560 SLs

I am interested in purchasing one of these models
and am looking for advice on which models and years
are best in terms of reliability, performance and
value.

Thanks,
Edward
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Comments

  • I have a 560sl that I would love to sell you. 18,500, Excellent condition White/Navy 2 tops 120K the air conditioning and heat are beter than my 300E. Jeng51051@aol.com
  • dgraves1dgraves1 Posts: 414
    Way in the back of my brain, I swear I've seen a 2+2 configuration 450SL (not SLC - it was definately a convertible). Was I dreaming or was such a car ever made?
  • The only 2+2 I was ever aware of was the SLC. I know that in the SL, that there was an optional jump seat for the small area behind the two front seats. This would allow one person to sit sideways. Perhaps this is what you are thinking of.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Unless some crazyman chopped an SLC...people do weird things with welding torches these days, and an SLC, being near rock bottom in the Mercedes used car pricing, could be transformed into---well, not a valuable car, but at least one worth more than $5,000 on a good day.

    All these older V-8 SLs are in great danger of extinction once the engines fail on them, since the rebuilt engine will cost more than the car is worth....not a good situation for survivability.

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  • I've got a good friend with a 77 450SL. The weatherstripping or gasket or whatchamacallit that goes between the ragtop and the frame is worn out and the car leaks like a sieve in the rain. I want to buy him a new one for his birthday so he can enjoy the car this summer.

    What do you call this part, and where can I find one????? Thanks for the help.

    I'll also check on the maintenance board and see if I can find info there, but thought this would be the place to start.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Hardtop gasket I guess.

    You might try this site for the part:

    www.budsbenz.com

    or

    www.germany-direct.com

    Host

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  • Thanks so much! I'll take a look at them :)
  • thanks for the info. I'll give them a try as well. I think the locks are in good shape, just the weatherstripping is shot.
  • By the way, the www.germany-direct.com e-mail address didn't work for me. Came back as undeliverable. Haven't heard back from Bud's yet.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Oh, sorry, it was from a current ad...harumpf! Well, scratch them off the list.

    Let me know if you srrike out and we'll try to look for others sources for you.

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  • The reference to Bud's Benz, which is located in Douglasville, Ga, was a good lead. They did the total restoration of my 72 350SL. They are extremely knowledgeable about the SL.
  • coolchickcoolchick Posts: 174
    Heard yesterday from Bud's Benz and from GAPA. They both have the part in stock, a 50 cent price difference between the two, and very very reasonable -- $23. I'll have to get on the phone to order it tomorrow.

    thanks again for all the help.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Great! Thanks for reporting back on your success.

    Host

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  • I have taken a liking to Mercedes recently, I decided that I would make a Mercedes site with discussion forums so that I could learn as much as possible about Mercedes. (I still Love Edmunds, I just created a more specific site, I hope) I remember that some people were asking for a Mercedes discussion site on the board so I thought I would post my site here.


    My Mercedes-Benz Enthusiasts Site


    If anyone is interested please check out my site. Thank You for your patience.

    I hope you enjoy this.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    No, it's a double row 5 liter V-8 (m117), gray market car here in the US, and consequently devalued somewhat....probably $12.5K-$15K would buy you the world's nicest.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    I'd appreciate if you would let me know what sort of things I should look for in these cars when buying one? also would you recommend the 500SL over the 380SL of early to mid 1980's? The one 500SL I've found has records only for the past few years. the car has less than 70K on it, but it's been sitting alot during the past 17 years. there are no fluid leaks, and the engine and transmission are smooth. your advise is appreciated Mr Shiftright.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Rust is always a factor to consider on a European car. As for what to look for, I'd suggest having the car thoroughly diagnosed and tested by a competent shop, since any major repair would be a financial disaster for a car of this value (i.e, they are not worth putting new engines in). I'd go for a domestic 380SL over a Euro 500SL if value retention over time were an issue, but the 500SL is a much better performer, no doubt about it. The problem is that Euro cars are hard to sell if you ever want to. All the SLs are heavy gas eaters and a bit clumsy, so if you're expecting a sports car, you may be disappointed, but for a comfortable sunny day straight-line cruiser they are had to beat. Think of them as German Impala convertibles but with a much better overall build quality. Certainly a lot of car for the money, if you can find a really nice, well-cared for vehicle.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    Decision time........

    83 500 SL with 65k miles, for $10K
    89 560 SL with 120k miles for $20K

    which one should I go with? $ to performance ration.

    Also are the parts for the 500 SL readily available like the 560SL? just wondering if foreign auto part stores or Mercedes dealer stock parts for the 500 SL which is European?

    thanks,
    Shon
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    The 560SL is a much better car in every respect, but I'm not sure I'd pay $20K for one with all those miles on it, unless the service documentation was impeccable, the car mint and the mechanical inspection gave the thumbs up. There's supposed to be a $3,000+ deduction in book value for that many miles, so I think about $18.5 would be a target price for a very very nice car.

    Also, the 65K miles for the 500SL sounds highly unlikely...that's 3,800 miles a year.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    the 65k on the 500SL is documented, and the engine sounds excellent(hard to hear at all with the hood down). This car as far as power, handling and drive is identical to the 560. The 500 has been sitting a lot and not driven regularly.
    The 560s in my area run between $17k - $24k. We're talking $8k-$10k difference between the 560SL with much more miles and the 500SL with low mileage. But if I have to wait for parts to arrive from Germany then it's not worth it. One other thing that I really like about the 500SL is the European slick head lights. Please let me know if the parts are available for the 500SL? and if there's that much different between 5.0 and 5.6 engine. by the way the 380 is out. that's one slow, sluggish car. after driving the 500 and 560 the 380 is no good.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    The 560SL is a superior car in every way, really, with many refinements, including torque compensator to the rear axle, limited slip differential, front air dam to control front end lift, new front end geometry for better handling, ABS, theft alarm, much better climate control system, warning lights for low fuel and bulb failures, much better radio/cassette system, standard leather seats with much better lateral support, new alloy wheel design and equal power to the European car.

    Aside from all that, I regard low mileage as a liability, not an asset on these cars. Lack of use kills a Mercedes, so if you are expecting the low miles to work to your advantage in terms of reliability, this has not proven to be true in most cases.

    And the issue of European origin is a serious one. Some insurance companies will not insure a gray market car, and some mechanics will refuse to work on one. Given all the fly-by-night companies who converted these gray market cars in the 1980s, who can say what snags you'll run into with parts, emission testing and safety issues.

    My opinion is that over time the 560SL will turn out to be the better buy...none of these SLs are destined to be collectible, so they won't increase in value, but the Euro cars will depreciate faster and always hold less value compared to the 560SL models.

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  • wasjrwasjr Posts: 8
    I am looking at a 74 450SL owned by the classic little old lady. The car has 88,000 mi and is slightly above average in appearance and wear, with minimal rust underneath. It has been hit in the right front and the repair was poor with respect to suspension--new bushings may be needed.
    My question relates to the engine and oil pressure. When idling the gauge registers 18 lb, otherwise 45 lb. The mechanic I had look at the car says that a range that wide means that the car was not well maintained and that there are cam problems. He says the engine wear is equivalent to 180,000 mi and that a $3,000 to $8,000 major overhaul will be needed within 20,000 mi. She says that she had the oil changed every 3,000 or twice per year but she does not have service records. She is a client of a close friend and I do not think the car was neglected.
    I can buy the car for $3,000 so my main exposure is the engine overhaul. Any ideas on the reasonableness or liklihood of the mechanics diagnosis? What are the chances that the oil pressure gauge is bad? Thanks for any response.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Frankly, the car sounds like money pit and I would listen to your mechanic...you can buy these cars in pristine condition for around $12K and this is the only way to buy them. I think $8,000 wouldn't be enough to overhaul the engine anyway unless perhaps you get lucky and you live in a low labor rate area...and with the body damage and rust situation, the old lady really needs to give you this car to make it worthwhile...and even then I'd worry you wouldn't come out right on it.

    The only other alternative is to buy it as cheaply as you can, and don't put a single penny in it...O wouldn't even change the oil--drive it til it drops and walk away...you'd probably get $500-750 from a wrecker, so if you bought it for $2,000 and got 6 months or a year of fun out of it, that would be okay I think. As an investment, you'll be an old man before you get your money back...trust me on this one.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    well, I have to disagree a bit. I've had about 10 or 15 of these Mercedes from 220D to 450SEL and anything in between (except the SL models). some with as many as 250k miles. I did notice the same thing on my oil pressure. In the morning the pressure was all the way up, but when the engine would warm up it was below the midway point when stopped on a red light, as soon as you start moving the gauge would go all the way to the top. In all cases I had the cars checked and compression tested before buying. they ran perfect.

    so as far oil pressure, that's a new one for me. $3000 sounds like a bargain, and I haven't even seen the car. You can sell the parts and make $10,000 easy.
  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    just got back from looking at the SEC. The car is very clean, but has an oil leak. it's not the valve cover gasket, and 'doesn't' seem to be from the pan. the metal frame which runs across the car behind the oil pan is soaking. could be the rear seal, or maybe from the block itself. If you had to guestimate the cost what am I looking at. under $500 I maybe able to negotiate in the price, but few thousand, I'm not touching it.

    by the way this is the 4th 560 (3 SLs & 1 SEC) that I've looked at and so far 2 have looked pretty oily underneat. as I mentioned I've had many 450SELs and 300SDs and you basically gas and drive....... most with close to 200k on them.

    let me know your thought on the above few posts.

    thanks
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Yeah, the 300E is a pretty good bet...of course, as with all 80s era Benzes, you have to check the climate control systems very carefully before you buy, as they are poorly designed, and you can also take the factory radio/tape deck and throw it over a fence...but those are not major hassles, they just need examination.

    The problem with oil leaks is that you have to determine exactly what the cause is...valve covers? No problem. Head gaskets or main seal...oops! Big problem. A technician who has the right tool can add dye to the engine oil, and then hit the oil leak with a special light and see exactly what the source is.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    I'd prefer the 3.0 liter cars, since you really don't save any gas with the 2.6 or 2.8...my favorites are the 4-valve engines with variable valve timing, which started in the 300CE in 1990 and in the 300E in 1993. These are really great cars, but are not going to be collectible in any way. Buy one and USE it up and enjoy the ride.

    As usual, the weak point on 1980 on up Benzes is the climate control system/a.c. system. Play with all the setting, knobs and valves and make sure everything works perfectly. They are expensive to fix and the A/C isn't terribly effective in really hot climates no matter what you do. But mediocre climate control is a small price to pay for this great-performing car.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    bought the 91, 300SE with 105k miles for $11,000
    looks and runs excellent. It's amazing that it has more power than a 380SEL which has a v8.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,041
    Great! I've been out of town so couldn't answer your questions. Sounds like a good car for you and a fair price...I was going to suggest the SE rather than the SEL, because who needs the extra weight and size...Benzes are big enough already inside.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    Mr. Shiftright, your expertise maybe needed at the following conference if you care to add this to your placemarks.

    Maintenance #1295 (General Mercedes Questions)
    thanks,
    Shon
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