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Mercedes 380--450--560 SLs

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  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,704
    But a 380SL will never get the good gas mileage of, say, a Jetta or Cavalier, right?
  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I'd figure a 380 or 560 would probably get the mileage of a big V8 Mercedes sedan of the same era, probably like 12-14 in the city and you might see 20 mpg highway with a light foot and the wind at your back. The 560s, IIRC, had a gas guzzler tax, if that tells you anything.

    Modern small 4-cylinder sedans generally do about twice as well on mileage.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    We drive about 50/50 in-town and freeway and average about 16-17mpg.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    They are heavy cars and the technology is old by today's standards, so you have to be realistic in your fuel mileage expectations. But considering the performance levels of the 560SL especially, it's not half bad. You could buy a new BMW M5 sedan and do a lot worse on fuel mileage.

    $600 for a new top on an SL is a hell of a price. I can't comment on the quality, not seeing the $600 item. The factory top is a high quality German canvas and has a very intricate padded lining. Of course, as the old SLs are not high dollar cars, it makes sense to find a good quality economical replacement, even if it doesn't quite duplicate factory standards. $1,200-1,500 is a bit much for a top! Also I think where you live will vary the price, as labor is a big part of the price tag on these tops.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    My memory might be playing tricks on me, but I'm pretty sure it was in the $600 price range. German canvas rather than the US vinyl, but not lined. I think this might be where the difference lies. When we were talking things over with the guy who did the work, he never mentioned padded or lined tops. The one that was on the car when we got it was also unlined.

    The extra $$ might be worth it if it dampened the road noise. One thing about a convertable top is that things get noisy at freeway speed.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Oh, you know, I may be thinking of the older 280SL tops, so don't quote me on the lining business for the 380. I'll have to check that out further.

    The price seems low to me because I'm used to California labor rates, and the labor alone would be near $600....well, maybe not quite that but out this way even a lowly Miata top costs a bundle. My Alfa Spyder top was $800 but it was a beautiful top and a beautiful job.

    Nothing looks worse than an SL with a slack top. The vinyl tops don't look very good on a Benz in my opinion. They are more suitable for American cars.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    I thought the price was pretty low too. But we did have a lot of stuff done all at once. Seats, carpet set, top, some vinyl pieces, wood trim, etc. maybe he cut us a deal.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Well, great, I like deals too! Especially out in California, with some shop rates pushing $100/hr, "starter" homes at $850,000 and gas at $2.10 a gallon here and there. Of course, I don't pay any of those silly prices. Like the old song goes, you betta shop around.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Unfortunately, north county San Diego seems to be right behind you guys in the Bay Area in cost of living. At least a starter home can be had here for $500k.

    Shop rates here seem to still be in the $65-75/hr range, at least near my office in Mira Mesa. As you say though, you gotta shop around. Still, I wouldn't shop price alone.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    No, especially on repairing or servicing an old SL. The repair shop has to know what it is doing, in a big way. Just because someone is named "Hans" or just because he has an excellent reputation fixing Porsches, doesn't mean he knows anything worthwhile about fixing an SL.

    Small example: My Mercedes diesel needs glow plugs. Well, you say, just like putting in spark plugs, any competent shop can do that.

    Well now, not so fast. First of all there are two types available for my car, so you need to know that to get the right ones. Then there is a special "thread chaser" designed just for this purpose, that you must use to clean the carbon out of the threads. Why? Because the carbon can ground the glow plugs, even new ones (you put them in but they don't work correctly). THEN you have to know to spin the engine over to expel the crud you dug up in the threads. Then you need physical dexterity and patience and the ability to disconnect the then bleed diesel injection lines.

    How'd I learn all this. I read the factory manuals carefully. How many "Hanses" who only work on Porsches will do this?

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  • pobrianpobrian Posts: 9
    I'm the proud owner of a '67 230sl with a shot transmission. I've had one heck of a time finding anyone that can locate parts to rebuild it, or to simply find another rebuilt to replace with. My quotes run anywhere from $2k+ to rebuild the existing to $4k for a completely rebuilt. Unfortunately I don't know much more about cars than is needed to drive one! Anyone have any comments that might help?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Well, if by "help" you mean a cheap way out, I don't think so. I assume this is an automatic.

    You might comb through Hemmings Motor News in the Mercedes parts section. It's possibly you could be lucky enough to score a good used one--but it would have to come from a very reliable source, or better yet, from a running car. Also there are rebuilders in Hemmings.

    The Mercedes Club might be of help as well, and there are all kinds of SL specialists listed on the Internet.

    Getting a trans rebuilt isn't hard but getting it done reasonably and done well is what takes the effort and research.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Our 84 380SL is acting odd. Once or twice in a 100 miles, while braking, the car will want to suddenly go to the left or right. It might be a slight pull or it might be rather pronounced and it will take you completely by suprise. I was thinking that there mught be a hange-up with the brake caliper the first time it happened, but then the next time it pulled to the oposite side. Maybe air in the hydrolics? Any ideas? I'm taking it in later this week.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    And the current tuner is dying. So we are looking for a new tuner with a single CD slot. .... Have you been out shopping for anything lately? Everything I've seen this weekend, except for a $900 McIntosh looks like it is the control panel for a video game. Even though the old SL isn't a collector's item, I hate to put such an obviously "this mellenium" tuner in.

    Anybody aware of a decent, mid-range ($400 or less) car stereo tuner/CD that still has knobs, a few buttons, and no flashing lights?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    You need to have the front end checked. There may be something amiss there, especially if the car can swerve to either side.

    Good luck finding auto sound equipment that can be interfaced by real human fingers and eyes. The designers have all gone mad. If you're real lucky, you might find an actual round knob that adjusts the volume, but you'll never find a manual tuner knob anymore or any type of analog tuning. Too bad, too.

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  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    ...I was recently looking for a cheap stereo for my old Honda. I want something *simple*, apparently that's too much to ask. A million tiny buttons, remote controls, bright green, yellow, blue or pink displays, silver face (which clashes badly with the matte black of most '80s cars). Ick. It almost makes me want to find a lackluster circa-1987 factory unit. I'd rather it sound marginal and not look quite so absurd.

    Who thought of remote controls for dash mounted stereos, anyway? I can still reach the stereo, thank you, and seeing as how I lose remote controls in my own home, I don't think one in my car is going to fare much better!

    Anyway, my mom replaced the Becker in her 300E with a Sony in-dash single CD a few years back. You may want to do a search on the web, check Crutchfield (though I personally think they're a bit overpriced), or call your local Mercedes dealer or repair shop and ask advice.
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Thanks for the lead. Looking at Cruchfield just reinforced my gloom. Oh well. Guess we're over the hill, don't have a clue, old geezers. I'll keep looking though!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    You know, I just remembered that I've seen a line of "vintage-looking" tape and CD players that are sold to classic car owners. They are modern units but look "old" in the faceplate. I'm wondering if Hemmings Motor News would list such things.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Thanks for the lead. I checked out the web site but didn't find anything. The vendor showcase pages were not available though. I'll go back to check them out later. I'm taking the car in to check out the brakes and front end this morning. My mechanic does work on a lot of old MBs. He might have some leads.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Check your tie rods and check for something like a loose steering box. I bet you'll find a front end problem.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Just got a call from Ziggy (my mechanic). Front end in good shape. No tie rod problems or bushing deterioration. Calipers in excellent shape. Steering box loose, need to rebuild the ball joint and box assembly. He also suspects that the old hydraulic hoses may have swollen inside and reduced the flow of hydrolic fluid. Said he's seen this before. So were gonna try new hoses and fluid and a steering box rebuild and see what happens.

    Ah, the joys of an older car. What would I do with all that money of we didn't drive cars. :-)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Oh, we'd waste it on food or our kids education.

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  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Wow, what a difference. I guess these things kind of creep up on you. I had started to notice a little play in the steering. But with a new ball joint, the overall performance of the steering is like night and day. The brakes seem much crisper too. I guess the new hoses were needed. Since the problem with pulling to one side or the other was intermittent, I'll just have to wait to see if the problem is gone.
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    I just installed a new Blaupunkt San Diego CD32 stereo in my Alfa Spider and it looks like it was born there. The one I got was a cheapie ($159 at Crutchfield) but it looks good and has enough power to hear it at 70 with the top down. Blau doesn't have it on their web site yet - look at Crutchfield (sorry, this link don't wanna work)

    www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S-Ig4NNrAnBbb/ProdView.asp?s=0&c=3&g=300&I=023SANDIEG&o=m&a=0


    The Santa Fe CD32 is similar with a few more bells and whistles. If you want something a little nicer, check out the Nakamichis at http://www.nakamichiusa.com - these are VERY nice, clean looking, and probably have much better sound than my cheap Blau, but I decided I didn't need to spend that much.


    -Jason (who hates "bling bling" stereos)

  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Hey thanks Jason! The Blaupunkt isn't bad looking at all, but the Nakamichi line is about as close to the look we want as anything I've seen. In fact, I think it not only blends well with the 80's style, but looks better than the original Becker. I'm going to talk to the guy who is doing our installation today and see if the CD-40z or CD-45z will be compatible with the other parts of the current system (amp, sub-woofer, etc).
  • jaserbjaserb Posts: 858
    I think we're starting to see a backlash against the gaudy, flashy aftermarket stereos that have been forced on us. If you look at the 2001 Blaupunkt T-line compared to the 2002 models the new ones are far more restrained and tasteful.
    In the end I chose the Blau strictly on convenience and price - a local shop had the San Diego in stock for $100 ($60 less than Crutchfield!), while even the cheapest Nakamichis were $200+++ and I couldn't find a convenient source. If I were installing it in a Benz I probably would have cared more about sound quality but in a noisy, snarly Alfa about the best you can hope for is to hear it above the engine / wind noise. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out!

    -Jason
  • sddlwsddlw Posts: 361
    Bad news. I guess Nak is having some "supply chain" difficulties during a model changeover. They have phased out the CD35z and 40z models and are expecting to be able to supply the CD-45Z in about 3-4 weeks, but at a higher price, along with a new series of gear. :-(

    Our second choice is made by Eclipse. It is kind of similar to the Blau in overall design, although the LED screens are a little more pronounced. But does have all the modern technology we are looking for including a separate sub-woofer channel and comes highly recommended by our install guy. At least it doesn't flash lights and silly designs ;-)

    My wife decided not to wait (and pay more) for the Nak, so I'm going in Saturday for the Eclipse.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Might even be more reliable, too.

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  • My '80 450SL driver's seat doesn't like to recline. The shaft which links the knob from the left side to the right side comes out of the square-drive gear that it fits into. Usually I can fit the shaft back in, and then it works. But invariably it comes out, and then the knob freezes up and jams. This has resulted in my driving around with the cover off of the back of the driver's seat.

    Has anyone else encountered this problem, and/or know of a fix?

    Thanks!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,855
    Must be a lost retaining clip or pin somewhere in that seat. You could unbolt it and take it to an upholsterer if you can't figure out how to secure it. they do this kind of stuff all the time.

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