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Mercedes 380--450--560 SLs

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    Probably the valve guides themselves are worn. For a more accurate idea of engine condition, you should have a cylinder leakdown test done; otherwise, compression tests can fool you...you can have good compression rings but bad oil rings, and that won't show on a regular compression test. Old Volvo engines are symptomatic of this latter type of problem.

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  • ataieataie Posts: 84
    what's the widest tire I can put on MB W126? (83 500SE model)

    I'm replacing the current 14" rims with a newer MB 16", and want to fill the fender gap as much as possible. Was thinking 225x60x16, but wasn't sure. any ideas anyone???
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    What I've always done is have my tire shop fit one on a lift and then look over the clearances. This is hard to predict from a chart. Maybe the MB Club can help on this. Just offhand, I don't think it will work.

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  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    Not an SL question-hope that's OK.I'm going to look at a 1966 Mercedes 220S-asking $3750.Odo shows 21000;I'm thinking 221000 is mostlikely.I'm really not expecting much from it,just slow weekend drives with it.I've always loved old Mercedes.A/C doesn't even work,and I don't mind.That's how little I expect it to be like a modern car.I don't want to have to junk it months from now because of a huge repair.
    It's got an automatic,and I know that lacking a modern torque converter,it shirts very rough.In the few I've driven in the past,I've always been so overly light on the gas pedal-that's how much the rough shift seems like impending doom.Are these old automatics best avoided?What do you think of the car I've described?What would be a good price to offer the seller?
    As I say,I really would just want the car to last as a fun weekend car.Thanks for any advice you or anyone elsecan offer.
  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    Thanks for your input.At idle,car had a fairly noticable blue-white plume from tailpipe.Ran my finger inside pipe-oily and readily black.Does this automatically imply such an expensive repair that i should walk away?Brand new paint-suspiousally thick-I found one rust bubble.Bottom of one rear quarter panel solid bondo-again,automatically out?I don't want to be too critical of an inexpensive car.It drives perfectly,shifts much smoother tnan I rember.Chrome perfect,new black paint.whitewalls-ithink the car looks magnificent!(at first glance).Should I keep looking?Can you estimate what the engine repair might cost?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    Rust is unavoidable with these cars, and really, being so old, one would expect it to burn oil. The question for you, I think is:

    How much oil?
    How much rust?

    You might pull up the spare tire and see how bad it is (I'm sure you'll find rust there or the sign of former rust).

    If the rust has been bondo-ed, it will return, absolutely...the only way to properly repair rust is to cut it out, and even then it comes back sooner or later.

    You can test for bondo with a simple refrigerator magnet...if the magnet falls off, you have a lot of bondo in there...

    Bondo was never meant to be use thickly...it is supposed to be a thin sheet of covering for file marks and small imperfections. If the bondo is any more than say 1/16 of an inch, it will crack and fall out soon enough.

    So I think you need to dig a little deeper here and also figure out how much oil this car consumes. Oil burning isn't bad, per se, if it's not excessive...but if it's eating a quart every few hundred miles, the end is probably near.

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  • I looked at the above car today. It was brought in by an American surgeon new in 1984 and converted to American spews when it arrived in port. The second owner has had it for 5 years and it is in immaculate condition. Cared for by the same mechanic for the last five years. He says the car needs nothing and is in outstanding condition. The owner has all manuals and all repair tickets. It has 68 thousand miles documented by repair tickets. Is it worth $19,000 or does a car converted to American spews lose value? Give me a quick answer if possible. Thanks in advance. What are the pitfalls of buying a car like this?
  • In the above message spews should read specs. Sorry about that.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    I'm looking for some guidance on care of the soft-top on our SL. The current top is a 1-year-old canvass, European style with no vinyl in it. It has been washed periodically with water, but no detergent. I’d like to clean it up and treat it with a preservative if this is appropriate, but do not have any information on the subject. Also, the windows are made of a very soft and easily scratched vinyl. I’m using flannel and/or cotton towels to clean them with, to avoid scratching as much as possible, but am interested in hearing about other’s solutions to this problem.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    There are lots of good products on the market for washing convertible tops. You could check with the MB dealer or stroll through the aisles of a good auto parts store for that. I believe BMW also makes a good product, as their tops are similar to MB.

    I think what kills convertible tops, aside from the obvious (cats and automatic car washes) is in the top storage. It can't be stored wet and it can't be stored dirty. As for the plastic window, my rule of thumb is that you get two plastic windows for each top, that is, one top willlast the life of two windows. They are fregile and there is only so much you can do. Some folks put a very light cloth on the window before they hit the down button, and this keeps the window from "kinking".
    But scratches, well, you're going to get them sooner or later.

    Another enemy of plastic windows in the sun, but fortunately for your car when your top is down it is automatically stowed under a cover. But if you leave a plastic window exosed to hot summer sun day after day, you'll fry it.

    What kills convertible tops in a car wash is not the detergent or brushes but the force of the blowers that dry the car. It causes the top to flap and vibrate and loosens the stitching.

    MODERATOR

  • dubo1dubo1 Posts: 3
    Hi there,
    Unfortunately, I have to start out with a very stupid question....What is the difference between an SL and an SEL? (yah -- I'm a chick) I have just started looking at Mercedes. I know I like the look of the 420SEL (81 to 87), but when reading some of these posts I am getting the impression that it might not be too good of an idea with gas prices and the cost of repairs. (any ideas on which model minimizes both?)

    My question is, what would be the best bet between the 300 and 560 series, both SL and SEL. I don't necessarily need a V8 if a V6 is still going to provide reasonable speed and handling. I'm looking more for comfortable cruising rather than quick off the line. I would like to spend no more than 10k and would like to find one with 115k miles or below. Am I being reasonable?

    I know enough to make certain that the seller has the maintenance book, or at least a reasonable amount of the service records, as the key to the future health of the mercedes is its past maintenance....right?

    Oh yah, I should mention that my reason for getting this car is to eliminate a car payment and to have something bigger/safer the the VW Jetta I have now, as I will eventually be transporting a baby around.

    Thanks so much in advance! I appreciate your help.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    Okay!

    An SEL is a sedan, a stretched version of a regular 4-door. So if you want a BIG 4-door, that's any of the SELs.

    SLs are 2-door convertibles, usually with both soft and hard tops.

    The best SLs are undoubtedly the 560SLs. Earlier SLs, such as the 350, 380 and 450, are decent cars, and often quite cheap to buy, but they can be slow, gas-hungry and not so reliable as they age.

    All Mercedes cost a bundle to repair, there is no way around this except buying the most impeccable, clean, well-maintained car you can.

    There is no shortage of Mercedes SLs on the market. You can take your time shopping. Any car with a "story", or any owner who cannot present a complete or reasonably complete record of service should not be considered.

    Also, despite the reputation for durability, Mercedes wear out just like any other machine, so excessive high mileages should be avoided. If you see an exceptional high mileage car, you should only buy it if it is heavily discounted. I would say mileages exceeding 150K are excessive, and mileages over 125K are borderline. You have to remember that a rebuilt engine for a Mercedes SL will often exceed the value of the entire car! ($!2,000-16,000 for a complete rebuild).

    Last of all, I don't see this as a move toward economy for you, if you are moving out of Jetta payments. With maintenance and the occasional repair, the difference per month between a new car under warranty with payments and a used SL with repairs and maintenance is not going to be very much IMO....if you are lucky, you might save $100 a month, but then again, you might not. All used cars are gambles.

    Really last of all (phew!), I could not say with any confidence that an older Mercedes SL, say without air bags, would be substantially safer than your Jetta. Accidents are dynamic and unpredictable in outcome....you really can't 'buy" safety, it's often a matter of luck.

    Anyway, if having a convertible isn't such a big deal for you, and you're content with a coupe or sedan, you might think about a newer and smaller Mercedes sedan, like a 300 series, or a luxury Japanese coupe such as a Lexus. An SL is not a cheap car to own.

    MODERATOR

  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    It appears that you only have a casual knowledge of Mercedes,so,not appearing to have the borderline obsession Mercedes can inspire,how about an early 90s Infiniti Q45?I think they are a little undervalued on the used car market.Like a Benz SEL,it is a large,roomy car that is a lot of fun to drive.Being a bit of a poor seller,it's a little exotic to the casual observer,but still very reliable.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    Also a car I like, the Q45, but also tricky to buy and a complex car that isn't easy to work on. A lexus of that era is about bullet-proof, and I suspect that is really what she wants...no headaches.

    MODERATOR

  • dubo1dubo1 Posts: 3
    Thank you for your feedback Mr. Shift right & merckx -- although it wasn't exactly what I wanted to hear :-) OK maybe it isn't all about economy. Correct, I have only casual knowledge of the mercedes, but I have more than a casual desire to own a big, shiny sedan with a lot of chrome. (I don't want a convertible) It would also look a little more professional in my image conscious line of business, than my Jetta.

    Given that, I know I want either a 1985 380 SEL (is this the only year they made 380 SELs?), or a 81-87 420 SEL, 500 or 560 SEL. Am I better going with a 380 due to lower maintenance and gas costs, or is it not as good a car?

    Also, what about diesel -- the 300 SD, should I steer clear for any reason?

    I don't mind minor headaches. Is there any reason other than getting a not well maintained car that I could anticipate spending more than $2000 a year on maintenance? (That is half of my current annual car payment) I'm figuring $650 for annual fluid drain, or whatever they call it, 4 or 5 oil changes a year at $40 each or $200 and then $1200 in misc. This of course being on a car that has 110k miles or less starting out.

    Again, thank you. I should have been a little more upfront about my excitement at the possibility of owning a nice comfy, classic looking car. Please give me your thoughts, I appreciate it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    Yes, I think a budget of $150/200 a month for a used luxury sedan is about right if you take excellent care of it. The 380SEL is too old I think. The 300SD is a great car in that you get big car room and comfort but with great diesel economy and reliability. Most common issues with the Mercedes sedans of the 1980s is faulty climate control systems and silly radios. So you need to have the climate controls checked thoroughly and you can throw any Becker radio over the fence. Also check for slow power windows.

    The 300E Series would be a nice choice. The problem with the 420 and 500SELs is that they are HUGE cars, and parking or maneuvering in traffic could be a real pain.

    MODERATOR

  • merckxmerckx Posts: 565
    I started with the Q45 as I thought money was an issue.It's a car not many seem to want-that's why you can get a great deal on one. The Lexus LS400 is also an excellent car.It and the Q45 sold for about the same price new,but now the Infiniti is thousands less.If you are not on a strict budget,by all means go Mercedes-they are wonderful cars.
    Many seem to feel the various S-class sedans 1981-1991 were a high point for the marque.But they are quite large,and,indeed,the air conditioning typically goes south.The six cylinder SEL,the 300, is a good one.I've heard the first all aluminium 8,the 380,is troublesome.The last generation S,1992-1999,are rather ponderous-notice the current ones have been pared back.The Sd is 4 inches shorter in the back seat,and therefore a bit more maneuverable.The diesel is bullitproof,but noisy and a little truck-like.
    The smaller E-class is more reasonable in every way,but they lacy the presence of the larger S-class.
    How about a 1990 300SEL?
  • dubo1dubo1 Posts: 3
    Mr. Shiftright & merckx, thank you both for some good advice and the starting point I needed as I begin my search.

    Given your advice, I know where to begin looking and comparing. I'll take a look at the 90 300 SEL, as well as try to find a SD, which I am imagining are a bit more scarce. I'm glad to hear about the issues with the climate control in the sedans. I was wondering why some of the ads I have seen make specific mention of the AC working well.

    If you don't mind, I may eventually be back with more specific questions as I narrow down my choices.

    All the best and thank you again.
  • nszabonszabo Posts: 19
    www.adsitco.com It has all the mercedes parts
  • jhpghjhpgh Posts: 2
    I drove the above car today. The dealer has most of the service records and the odometer reflects about 58,000 miles. The body has no visible rust and has had some minor body work. It handles very nice but hesitates from a start. What are the possible reasons for the hesitation? The dealer's price is $24,000 but is willing to negotiate. Does this seem like a good price? What else should I check before making an offer? I know I'm asking alot of questions but I'm trying not to make a mistake. Any assistance is greatly appreciated!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    I think the car is priced a bit too high for a less than pristine example, and there should be NO hesitation whatsoever. So the dealer needs to drop the price to reflect the cosmetic mishaps and fix the car, then you can talk.

    You should remember that Mercedes prices drop DRASTICALLY if the cars are not absolutely spotless.

    A perfect '88 560SL can sell from $23K-27K....so less than perfect? Low 20s on down.

    MODERATOR

  • samzurc1samzurc1 Posts: 19
    This car is in good condition , Has 110,000 miles for 11,000 obo. Good price or what.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    It's just retail. You can buy them all day long for that. But it's market rate, so no complaints about the asking price. A "good" price would be under $10K.

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  • joanfyjoanfy Posts: 3
    Hi Mr. Shiftright,

    Been reading through the bulletin board postings and noticed that you have an affinity for the 560SL. I happen to own an '89 and am in the process of selling it. Getting lots of calls, but nothing serious. It's in excellent condition both mechanically and cosmetically, but has 150K miles. Valve guide seals were repaired at 120K. I love the car and hate to sell it, but I'm a family of 4 now and it's very impractical. Could hang onto it as a classic, but it wouldn't get driven much. Can you give me some advice on a fair asking price? I know you suggest a deep discount once the car has reached 150K. Just how deep?

    joanfy
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    I like the 560SL as the best of the V8 SLs, but it's not really my ALL-TIMEfavorite SL.

    But that's not your problem! YOUR problem is selling your car.

    Yes, high mileage is a discouragement to buyers, there is no doubt about it. Maybe if you gave me an idea of what you have been asking, I could suggest some negotiated price.

    Also a factor is the car's cosmetic appearance (more important than how it runs, sad to say but true) and also your maintenance records---these are additional factors that will determine price.

    So give me some more info and maybe we can come up with a strategy. Also, what is your approximate geographic location? (If you are in a climate with a "long thermometer", these cars are harder to sell at summer's end.

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  • joanfyjoanfy Posts: 3
    Hey Shiftright,

    Haven't logged in for awhile 'cuz I was having a baby instead. Now that he's here, I'd love to get my garage back. It's tough loading and unloading the kids on a hill.

    So, if cosmetics have anything to do with it, I should have no problem unloading this 560SL. No door dings, no dents, no tears in the leather, new rag top, no rust, a little paint touch up on the hood. It's excellent, excellent, excellent!! Retail blue book is $20K and wholesale is $12K. We've been asking $17K, but would be happy with $15K. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, so the weather should hold out for another couple of months.

    I'm getting lots of calls, but no lookers. Look forward to your reply.
  • joanfyjoanfy Posts: 3
    I also have all maintenence records for the past 7 years. I don't have the records from the previous owner.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    joanfy, you should contact the poster of response #81...seems like an active looker.

    You should be able to sell for $15K. I have some ideas...e-mail and I'll send you a list of people to contact and cheap places to advertise.

    MODERATOR

  • 89 560SLs are still in VERY strong demand...

    Pricing on some would shock you....

    That being said, if this car is really in excellent cosmetic shape... It could still do $10-11K at a dealer auction, so Ithink that $15K is realistic if its' ready to go...

    (I've seen some VERY low mileage ones do $27-33K at auction (Wholesale).. but then we're talking 30K or less miles and as new. In reality, a 15-20K mile car that basically can't be told from new.

    Shocking $$ when you think about it..

    Bill
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,875
    It is shocking but when you compare the price to a new SL, it's not quite as bizarre a price structure. Still, the 560SL is the older body style and can't be much differentiated (if at all) from the 450SL, which is a pretty cheap used car. So the idea of paying over $30K for a 12 year old car that looks exactly like a 25 year old $10K used car does make me wonder what people are doing.

    The allure of an older Benz with such few miles is irresistable I guess, but personally I think paying a premium for low miles is rather foolish.
    If you drive the car, the miles go up and the price plummets to the usual $18K-25K range for super sharp 560SLs...if you don't drive the car, what is the point? The V8 SLs are not going to be classics (too many made) so holding on to one for an "investment" is better for a 3 year old than for you, because it's going to be a long, long time for that car to appreciate in value.

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