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Mercedes 380--450--560 SLs



  • I know this was discussed probably years ago here, but does anybody have anything against the original '72 350SL? If so, what's the best year/model to look for and what mileage? The '72 does IMHO look nicer without the extendabumpers (Thank you DOT). I've been around these cars since '72 but never owned one. Driven a few and liked the ride, the feeling of a solid car, the power (of the 450) and the look. By reading all your posts, it is clearly not something to jump into without research. Example: local beautiful '84 with 55,000 orig. miles. What do we expect or can we?
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424
    As I understand it the '72 350s (4.5l v8) are tops on collectability, while the 560s are tops on practicality for modern use. I'd skip the 380s and 450s.
  • Don't know much about the original 350SL except that the same car appeared a year later as a 450SL. If you are interested in the appearance of the slimline bumpers, bear in mind that all the Euro (grey market) models never went the extended bumper route. There are several opinions pro and con the Euros, but having owned one for 6 years I can tell you it attracts a lot more attention than the US 107's and there is quite a bit more engine choice together with an occasional stickshift. The car I bought needed sprucing up and in doing this I have never had a problem in accessing spares. If I were going to do it all again, I would definitely look at the Euros before anything else.
  • So, being a guy that always heard that gray market cars were disallowed by DOT/EPA into the good old U.S., is there a means now by which I could look for and purchase a Euro version as freshairfiend indicates. Sounds like an awesome new look at the car from my perspective.
  • The car I bought was out of Nevada and had an aftermarket catalytic converter which enabled it to pass the necessary smog tests. At the same time though I was looking at several in California, all of which were on the road at the time, so I have to assume that they also conformed to the California requirements. the Euro versions of both the 500SL and the 380SL have better performance than their US equivalent (though the later 560SL's went pretty well) but as I was looking more for a tourer/roadster than a rubber burner, I ended up with a 280SL which is a dohc inline 6 making about 30hp more than the US 380SL. It's also not at all bad on gas which is more than can be said about the 560SL. I would have liked a stickshift but the only ones available at that time had been tramped pretty hard so I ended up with a 4 spd auto. No real regrets though, it does everything I want and is a real honey on the highway.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    If they are in equal condition, I'd choose the older car - nicer trim (bumpers) and less finicky emissions junk. I think some years of the 450SL, maybe 75-76, can be troublesome.

    You could privately import any car that is 25+ years old, but it'd be an expensive undertaking.

    A highline dealer in my town has a grey market 107 of some sort in the showroom, it even has headlight wipers. It looks spotless.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    It doesn't matter if a Euro car passes smog or not--it has to have its DOT and EPA papers regarding conformance to all safety and emissions regs, or the car could be confiscated.

    I wouldn't *touch* a Euro car that doesn't have its DOT or EPA papers.

    Some of course, are older than 25 years, so no problem, and some are titled as older years than they actually are, --also to beat EPA/DOT requirements. You'll see ads for instace like "spec 2000, year 1964 Mini Cooper".
  • Thanks again. Don't want headaches I don't need! I was looking at a '72 on a site (just google '72 M B 350SL and you'll see it in Atlanta/Charlotte/GA) and you'll see the car. Looks nice but they call it "Burgundy".. Looks like burnt orange on my pc. At $17,500 it's not over the top price wise, but...???
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    edited March 2011
    Maybe it was repainted a non-stock color?

    Looks pretty nice, but they all do, in photos. You need eyeballs on the car to know what it really is, or is not.

    Here's the LISTING for those who couldn't find it.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    I can't find the listing, but for that money the car really needs to be immaculate with no issues at all.
  • I agree with what Mr Shiftright says regarding the DoT stuff, however if a Euro car is a 107 (minimum 22 years old) and is driven on a regular basis it would have been confiscated long ago if it in any way did not conform to standards. I have to admit that some modifications to US standards were badly done and that could result in problems. If the mods were done properly as most were , the Euros have no more problems than any other 107 and there is no doubt that the slimline bumpers and the square headlights add to the appearance. One proviso, of course, would be to buy from a reliable source and to check the car out thoroughly before parting with any cash, but that holds true for any used car. The 350SL as listed does look good though and that year still had good horsepower. It is also 38 years old not 28 as advertised. Good luck whichever way you go.
  • So you are saying that as long as the car has EPA/DoT papers all is well?
  • texasestexases Posts: 5,424
    edited March 2011
    Re Euro SLs - what about getting replacements for parts that are different from the US versions, engine parts in particular?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    Yep, or if it's 25 years or older, that's also okay.

    Of course, the EPA/DOT can change the game any time it wishes, like it did with the Nissan Skyline gray market cars. But that won't happen with old Benzes like this.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    With the internet and even the ability of dealers to order most anything, if you have a part number you'll get your part. Mechanical parts are the easiest to find for old MB.

    The EPA/DOT BS always makes me laugh, when in real first world countries the grey market restrictions aren't nearly so tight. I wonder who bought those laws, and how much is wasted enforcing them.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    Depends. Australia's rules for importing are pretty strict regarding safety regs, and Sweden has stricter emissions regulations than most of Europe.

    Gray market cars came under scrutiny of DOT and EPA because of all the outrageous scams that went on in the 1980s, and NO DOUBT due to lobbying by legitimate foreign car automakers / dealers who resented having to compete with outlaws for the USA market share. I believe Mercedes dealers were particularly adamant in demanding that the EPA/DOT crack down on gray market cars.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    edited March 2011
    You can easily get JDM stuff into Oz, the place is full of it, heck, I've watched Youtube videos about how to do it. Lots of old American iron there too. The muscle car never died in Oz. Sweden, the banana republic?....I don't know if it is relevant - they just tax the hell out of everything to pay for the insane amount of social welfare they pay to asylum seekers and others who really shouldn't be there to begin with. Canada is also much easier to get a private import into than the US. Western Europe and the UK the same. I bet it's easier to get a used American car into Japan than vice versa, too.

    The DOT/EPA junk is 100% because of carmakers and dealers who didn't want competition, I can't see it any other way. Saying it is about "safety" is about the same as saying speed enforcement is for safety and not revenue. You get the justice you pay for in this society.

    It kills me that overpaid federal suits will crackdown and persecute those who import a handful of enthusiast cars, but in the vast majority of states, one can drive a bald-tired no-braked rotten old heap without worry, so long as it was sold in the US when new. Crazy.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,637
    You must be thinking of New Zealand. Australia is stricter, but has a special and enthusiast vehicles (SEVS) program that might have worked for some of the cars you saw.

    But they require that you conform to a set of rules and may require safety modifications, assignment onto a registry, and government approval.

    If you aren't on the list of approved types of "enthusiast" cars, I guess you are SOL in OZ?

    you can read about the Aussie regs here:

    Yes of course part of EPA/DOT regs were due to dealer pressures, but there's no denying that traffic deaths have decreased dramatically.

    Rules and regs in *any* government are fueled by political will and not really on any rational basis. Politics supports auto safety for instance, but not gun control or allow an uneducated person from one country to become a citizen but not a PhD from another country.

    Go figure--it's politics for sure.

    If nothing else, the history of EPA/DOT and the history of the American auto industry in the last 30 years should convince anyone that there is no such thing as a "free market" around here.

    Big lobbies rule.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,902
    edited March 2011

    This doesn't make it too hard to ship a JDM unit into Oz. A quick check of Oz ebay shows lots of weird Japanese and US market stuff there - not all of it classic or specialty material either. Odd Japanese microvans and mundane sedans, malaisey yank tanks, not exactly enthusiast vehicles.

    How do traffic deaths relate to a handful of weirdo foreign market cars being imported? I'd wager any of them would be better maintained than a typical domestic of similar age. That I can't bring a Skyline here but I can drive a rotten 25 year old heap with threadbare tires and no brakes just fine says it all.

    Free markets are indeed a lie. There's no rational reason to this, it just makes the US laughable in yet another way. Spend a day in Vancouver and see how much cool weird stuff is on the roads. You can't throw a cat without hitting a RHD RX7, Supra or a Skyline.
  • Much as I enjoy the wind in one's face that is part of the joy of convertible motoring, on a long trip it can be a little tiring. Consequently I have been considering making a rear windshield that could be employed for longer trips but don't have all the information needed to start. Does anyone have experience in this area? First, is it better to use a mesh or would a solid shield be better? Secondly would anybody have any ideas as to the right dimensions? It wouldn't seem to be too difficult a project and what I am looking at is making the shield with legs that can be fastened to the cloth covered back wall with velcro. If the shield is solid it would be very easy to cut the whole thing out of a sheet of perspex, while if the preferred shield was to be composed of mesh it would be necessary to make a frame. Either way it doesn't seem to be too difficult, but I would hate to make something up and find it didn't work properly because it was a couple of inches too big/small. Any helpful ideas would be appreciated.
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