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VIN check

My neighbor bought a 78' MB SL450. He would like to know if there is a site where he can find out the history of the vehicle by using the VIN, which has only 12 digits.

CARFAX is no good, since it will not accept anything less than 17 digits.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,

- guzzel
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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    No such thing for that car, it is too old. You can probably write to the Mercedes factory in Stuttgart to see how the car originally came equipped and perhaps where it was shipped.

    People who want to know the actual history of older cars have to trace them from previous owner to previous owner.

    Sometimes, a club dedicated to a certain type of car will have a "registry", wherein club members list their VINs and known history and then the club keeps a record (usually private for club members) of each VIN.

    If your state keeps the same license plate on the car from owner to owner, that's another lead, but the DMV will not give out that information to the public. You'd have to have a friend in the police force, etc.

    CARFAX and other services only use public records anyway, and all they tell you is how many owners and in what state (but not their names or addresses) and the mileage at which each change in ownership occurred. Also they'd tell you if the car had a salvage title at one time.

    But for a car like this, such information isn't all that useful, IMO, since mileage and salvage wouldn't affect value very much if at all at this point.

    Other than curiosity, what's your neighbor trying to get at here?

    MODERATOR

  • guzzelguzzel Posts: 4
    Mr_Shiftright,

    Thanks for the quick reply. I think he wants the info that a CARFAX report would provide, no necessarily who the actual owners were.

    I did find the breakdown of the 12 digit VIN, but not too much info there. Position 1-6 is the chassis number; Position 7 is either 1=LH drive, or 2=RH drive; Position 8 is 0=Stnd trans, 1=Hydraulic clutch, 2=auto trans; and finally Position 9-14 is Construction serial number.

    I'll print out your reply and take it over to him. Thanks again!

    - guzzel
  • guzzelguzzel Posts: 4
    I mistyped; the VIN on his car is NOT 12 digits, but 14.

    - guzzel
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    Okay I see.

    Perhaps if he could find out where the car was first sold (which dealer) or which repair shop worked on it, he could gather up bits snd pieces of information from repair orders.

    but you know, usually with a 30 year old car, what you see is what you get. Sometimes the car itself can tell you all you need to know.

    MODERATOR

  • texasestexases Posts: 5,541
    Yes, his energy might be better spent finding a reliable mechanic that can go over it and give him the list of things to do...
  • guzzelguzzel Posts: 4
    True, many times you can just see that a car has been through rough times. Although this one is in very nice condition. All original on the inside, no rips or tears in the seats. The only thing he told me that needed repair was the cruise control. He said when he engages the cruise, it works fine for a few miles, then suddenly turns off. Not sure what the problem is.

    I didn't ask him how much he paid for it (none of my business), and he didn't offer the info. So don't know if he got a good deal or not.

    Anyway, thanks for all the input.

    - guzzel
  • Around April 1971 my dads 1965 gto was stolen from a bowling alley parking lot.He had left it there because of a flat tire.It was the only car we owned at the time.He lost a job over this and my mother was expecting in june .The reason why I am trying to find the car now , I found the registration while cleaning out old marine duffle bags.My dad was in the marines when he purchased the car.The GTO was taken from the Mckeesport/norwin PA area.The vin # is 237675p356264 title # F17387918 registration # 17794K.The color of the GTO was night watch blue with white interior.It had a 4sp but the orginal 389 was replaced with a 350 4barrel out of a 1970 pontiac.It also had aftermaket chrome reverse rims.The rod bearings went bad in the 389.I'm not looking to get it back,But it would be nice to find out if it ever survived or maybe buy it back.Thank you for any help,Scott Elkins
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    Actually if you filled out a police report as a stolen vehicle, you probably could get it back, if they ever found it.

    You might check the GTO Registry on Google. They often keep track of cars by VIN #. Of course, probably 90% of all '65 GTOs are junked by now, but you never know.

    MODERATOR

  • HI! I have own a few antique over the years but they were all american made. (Cheap to replace especially if you di it yourself. Saw this light cream yellow (Light Ivory) 450SL that appears to be in EC. It has 157K miles on it. No rust on top or underneath, but slight bubbling near the right headlight. Interior had been replace an is in EC, except for 2 hair line crack in the dash. All electrical & gauges work. Heat works, the servo & many suspension parts replaced. Recent tune up etc. New tires & 15" 560 rims. Runs/drives and handles like a dream. A/C does not work, but I don't really care. 10 CD changer & the power antena works. Even the clock works. Soft top looks to be brand new as well. Brakes & rotors very recent, and I had this car checked an a import repair shop. Not even a ding in the body. I paid $5,400 not counting taxes etc.

    Here's my question. After reading some of the post it seems that once these engines go, you just junk the car because they cost $6,000 to $8,000 to replace. Even though the car seems great I fear I made a bad choice. I was also going to sell my 60 Tbird to offset the cost for this car and have a little chabge left over. Now, I feel I might have may a mistake. I was told these engines had a long life. ANY THOUGHTS OR COMMENTS WILL BE REALLY APPRECIATED. AM I JUST FEELING BUYERS REMORSE OR DID I INVEST ON THE WRONG CAR???? I am just using it for pleasure drives & car shows? :confuse:
  • HI! I have own a few antique over the years but they were all american made. (Cheap to replace especially if you di it yourself. Saw this light cream yellow (Light Ivory) 450SL that appears to be in EC. It has 157K miles on it. No rust on top or underneath, but slight bubbling near the right headlight. Interior had been replace an is in EC, except for 2 hair line crack in the dash. All electrical & gauges work. Heat works, the servo & many suspension parts replaced. Recent tune up etc. New tires & 15" 560 rims. Runs/drives and handles like a dream. A/C does not work, but I don't really care. 10 CD changer & the power antena works. Even the clock works. Soft top looks to be brand new as well. Brakes & rotors very recent, and I had this car checked by a import repair shop. Not even a ding in the body. I paid $5,400 not counting taxes etc.

    Here's my question. After reading some of the post it seems that once these engines go, you just junk the car because they cost $6,000 to $8,000 to replace. Even though the car seems great I fear I made a bad choice. I was also going to sell my 60 Tbird to offset the cost for this car and have a little chabge left over. Now, I feel I might have may a mistake. I was told these engines had a long life. ANY THOUGHTS OR COMMENTS WILL BE REALLY APPRECIATED. AM I JUST FEELING BUYERS REMORSE OR DID I INVEST ON THE WRONG CAR???? I am just using it for pleasure drives & car shows? :confuse:
  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,598
    I don't think your price was terrible. Not a screaming bargain, but you didn't really get taken. Buyer and seller probably made out respectably. You could have done a lot worse.

    If the car has been maintained, it has many years ahead of it, so don't be too worried. If you like the car a lot, and it pukes up the engine - just replace it with a used engine, much cheaper than a rebuild (a full job would probably run 10K, more than the car is worth). But I wouldn't lose any sleep over the engine dying. Enjoy the car.

    However, if you are thinking of it as an investment, you might not see much return. R107s seem to have a great survival rate, they are not rare and not appreciating yet...and I don't see them doing so for quite some time.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    I think the price was fine. Very sober. Just drive it and enjoy it and don't DON'T go sinking lots of money into it. Your '60 Bird has a much better chance of appreciating than this car does.

    I also respectfully disagree about the engine--if it goes, don't fix the car--just buy another 450SL for less money than even a used engine replacement.

    Rebuilding these engines are well over $12,000, up to $15,000---not $6,000.

    If you do put money into the car, put it in cosmetics--that will assure that you can at least recoup your original investment. This car is worth no more with a new engine than it is now, oddly enough.

    So spiff it up a bit and take it in for regular maintenance and it should last you a long time. Find a good independent shop to take care of it. Don't ever go to the dealer except for parts and then only as a last resort.

    Joining the MB club will be a big help to you as well.

    MODERATOR

  • Thanks for the reply mr Shift Looking at the worst scenario, a used engine cost around $2,000 less the labor cost and I believe you are correct that a rebuilt or new engine will hardly enhance the value of the car from all I can see. I did see rebuilts for $4,995 less core. Anyway, everything is work as it should and it is a pretty sharp looking car and handles & drives great. Perhaps the best thing to do is like you say, just enjoy. I think I'll keep it for the summer and make up my mind about selling then instead of jumping the gun. Question, if these are basically throw away cars if the engine goes, won't that make them rare in future years as there numbers dwindle down? Any idea why the rebuilts cost 4 times as much as a Tbird rebuilt? :) Thanks again for your help!!!
  • Thanks for the reply. I have seen used engine in Hemmings for this car at $1,995 with 90 days warranty. Of course that doesn't include the labor. I have seen rebuilts for $4,995. Again not including labor, etc.

    I guess I am looking at worst scenario that I should have look at before I bought the car, but that car has many new parts including refurished & seal gas tank, new fuel pump, springs, Bilstein shocks, tie rods, pwr str pump, heat servo exhaust, tires/rims etc. Mr. Shift pointed out that rebuilts are not the way to go, because you can buy a decent 450 for about the same price. He right about that. Something to ponder if the engine goes. But as I mentioned to Mr Shift, if these are throw away cars if the engine needs to be rebuilt than won't there numbers dwindle , and make their prices go up?? Anyway, I appreciate your advise & expertise on this matter. Thanks-Jack :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    It really doesn't matter so much the rarity of a car, I mean, unless people want them to begin with. It is the low price that makes these cars sell, not their rarity, and I think that will continue to be the case. Dealers have tried to drive the price up on the V8 SLs, but as long as 280SLs exist, the V8s will be the "poor sisters".

    So really I think the fate of 450SLs rests not on their own future rarity, but rather on the future rarity of the car that everyone wants, the 280SL. If the 280 dries up, then the 450 will look more attractive.

    That's my two cents anyway.

    I can't imagine rebuilding a 450SL V8 engine for $5,000, that is, doing a long block with all the extras like hoses, belts, gaskets, water pump, re-cored radiator and highest quality German parts. I think that price must mean an "overhaul" with shortcuts, or maybe this is a short block with Japanese pistons, etc? Don't know.

    They cost a lot because of the precision required, the metallurgy and the cost of German parts. Yes, a shop that rebuilds Chevy V-8s could rebuild this engine but I wouldn't count on its longevity. There are so many ways to make mistakes with these engines.

    Used engines are one way to go but keep in mind that the "warranty" only applies to the engine. If they sell you a used engine and it craps out, that's fine, they'll take it back, but they aren't going to pay you for the labor, and doing an R&R.

    It's no disgrace to be a "throw away car". There are many fine cars that are throw-aways if the engine goes.....Porsche 928s come to mind, also 80s era Ferraris, most 80s Rolls Royces, just about any Jaguar made after 1973, etc.

    MODERATOR

  • That was a great post on these fine 450SL. Probably the best info regarding these cars for future buyers/restorers. I think anyone interested in buying these great cars should look to these post 1st to get real world information. That's not to say they should stay away from these cars, because loaded with this advice, I think they'll be able to choose the right one, and "not a fix me upper". (Knowledge is power.) I never bought based on the hope that the prices would rise. I bought because, like most, they are affordable, look great, are versatile(convt & HT), and durable. But, there are potential pit falls, and trade offs to own. (With anything , I guess.) :) Your reply and others only help this model car, not hinder it. Thanks-Again
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    that's right, they are very durable cars. They just require some sober caution. You don't want somebody else's worn out piece of junk just because it says "Mercedes" on it. Neglect is neglect, and no car on earth can take a fatal dose of it.

    Any complex old car has pitfalls. You can't avoid that, but you can minimalize them by buying the very best car you can afford, even if you have to pay a premium price for it.

    A low miles beautifully maintained 450SL for $15,000 is always going to be worth that, as long as you keep it up. A shabby 450SL with rips, tears and dents will be very hard to unload even if it's running, and near impossible if it breaks.

    MODERATOR

  • can you switch this into the right forum, like 450 for others to read. I believe it quite informative!!!
    Thanks-Jack
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    That's kinda tough. But these things get repeated often in there, so I think we're okay.

    You're right, we did stray off topic. My bad. :blush:

    MODERATOR

  • vlaportevlaporte Posts: 1
    I have a lovely 1979 Mercedes 450 SL. It has basely 96 K miles. It has been handle4d primarily by gentle ladies, garaged. Motor and all things mechanical are perfect. *Interior is nearly perfect. I just had a full body and restoration job completed, and now it is ready to sell. What do you think it is worth?
  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,522
    "I just had a full body and restoration job completed". On this car, what exactly does that mean? A new paint job?
    Realistically, without seeing the car and knowing more of it's history, it may be worth $3K up to about $8K in todays market. Go over to Ebay and do a search on mercedes 450sl and you'll see lots of real nice ones in that range. It's a narrow niche market for these cars.
    If it comes from the rust belt I wouldn't have anything to do with it myself.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    These W107s are all over the map in pricing. Most clean ones I see seem to actually sell in the $8K-10K range. Sometimes you will see a drop-dead stunning original car sell up to $15K. An earlier version of the 450SL with the slim chrome bumpers would be worth more, as would the later 560SL version of this car.

    If indeed the car were professionally restored, be prepared to take a huge beating financially, sad to say. This is not a car one can restore to a high standard and ever come out whole on.

    Given today's market and the car's appetite for fuel, don't turn down a good offer.

    MODERATOR

  • kingzonkkingzonk Posts: 4
    Approx. 5 years ago I bought what I thought was a 66 GTO. Today July 4, 2009, a guy came by looking to buy it and pointed out several items that really ticked me off.

    1. The proper GTO emblems on the outside of the car are not correct (they say "custom"). :mad:
    2. A close look at the GTO grill indicate it"IS" real. :confuse:
    3. The headless rusted out engine block is a 326 NOT the 400 I thought it was. :cry:
    Conclusion: Someone changed the grill etc. to the GTO look but the dang car is a Le Mans! This is the VIN 235176B139151 Do I need to research more? Can anyone confirm my conclusion?Looking again I found a 326 emblem in the trunk.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    You need go no further than the VIN. It should start with 242.
    By the way, the statute of limitations on FRAUD only starts ticking at the moment of discovery. So you could sue the seller.

    MODERATOR

  • burdawgburdawg Posts: 1,522
    Unfortunately this happens all to often. The guy across the street from me bought what he was told was a 67 Mustang GT500 only to find out later that it was a 67 fastback that had been doctored up to look like a GT, and was only worth a pittance compared to what he paid for it. He admitted that he bought it on impulse without knowing what to really look for.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    You know, I do not wish to make the victims of these slimeballs feel any worse, by any means, but a lot of this information is readily available prior to purchase.

    My experience has been that most deceptions of this type are not very clever----there are a FEW that are very clever, but these are usually reserved for very big buck cars.

    My rule of thumb is that on a given car, a string of "dubious" things points to fraud, even if nothing can be absolutely proven.

    Case in point---a missing VIN tag that was "lost during restoration", a data plate in the wrong place....the use of modern fasteners to rivet a VIN plate....a "decked" engine with missing ID numbers. Also ZERO documentation is suspicious. Also lots of mis-matched date codes on various components. (NO, you cannot have an engine made in MAY 1966 put into a car made in January 1966).

    On some bogus GTO's, you can shine a flashlight down the opening of the rear windows and see where the body filler leaks out of the holes that held the "Tempest" script to the body.

    MODERATOR

  • blh7068blh7068 Posts: 376
    "Conclusion: Someone changed the grill etc. to the GTO look but the dang car is a Le Mans! This is the VIN 235176B139151 Do I need to research more? Can anyone confirm my conclusion?Looking again I found a 326 emblem in the trunk."

    As shifty said...the VIN says it all... 35 indicates it was born a Tempest Custom.
    The 42 would I.D. it as a goat.
  • kingzonkkingzonk Posts: 4
    I'm glad to see we got back on track, was getting concerned that the original topic got lost. Thx for your information. Fortunately I only paid $300 for the car so it doesn't hurt too bad financially. Thought I had my dream car only to find out NOT... I've been disabled now anyway and cannot restore it. I have no idea what this thing would go for on criags list. Can anyone give me some help on what is fair, being honest of course, not as a GTO even though it has many GTO parts. :cry:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,631
    Sure. Give us a GOOD description of Paint, Body, Interior, Engine bay, Undercarriage, Chrome Trim.

    Use a rating scale like this:

    #1 -- show quality better than new
    #2 -- very sharp, local show, you have to look to find small defects
    #3 -- clean driver--a few little dings, paint still nice and shiny but some chips, chrome a bit dull, a few flaws in carpet and upholstery, runs well, undercarriage is old looking but no rust, no big dents anywhere, trunk is pretty clean, engine looks decent, not full of grease and oil and shredded hood insulation.

    #4 -- running complete car but from across the street, you can see problems.

    #5 -- beat up, not running, but not stripped of parts or bad bad rust.

    #6 -- obvious parts car

    The best topic is here:

    What's This Thing Worth?

    MODERATOR

  • kingzonkkingzonk Posts: 4
    Hmmmmm how to say this....
    #1 -- show quality better than new - Would look appropriate planted on a set of rusty old steel rimes like they do at the local Pick-n-Pull.
    #2 -- very sharp, local show, you have to look to find small defects - The entire body has not been cared for since what looks like 1966 (however, being in CA, it's mostly surface and repairable, no holes.
    #3 -- clean driver--a few little dings, paint still nice and shiny but some chips, chrome a bit dull, a few flaws in carpet and upholstery, runs well, undercarriage is old looking but no rust, no big dents anywhere, trunk is pretty clean, engine looks decent, not full of grease and oil and shredded hood insulation. - NO shine at all, there are a few chips along the edges of bondo from a few repairs; the heads and all accessories are removed but inside where the rear seat should be. The front seats are present and "ok" as well as the complete dash; all glass is present and not broken; carpet needs a good cleaning; all chrome suspension, drive train exhaust etc. are present.
    #4 -- running complete car but from across the street, you can see problems. - Looking under the hood one can see where the cylinders are but not the cylinder walls due to the rust; it's not likely to get any compression without the heads.

    #5 -- beat up, not running, but not stripped of parts or bad bad rust. Could fit into this category. The G-60's on the rear still hold air.

    #6 -- obvious parts car - although it appears all parts are accounted for I notice two generators not just one, maybe some mod they did back then.

    Ray
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