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Mercedes 380--450--560 SLs



  • ribrkribrk Posts: 1
    Hi. I have an identical fuel pressure issue with an 81 380 SL. I was just wondering if you ever solved your problem.
  • In my case, the problem seems to have corrected itself. I have not driven the car very far, waiting for spring. I have started it a number of times with no problems. I can only assume that there may have been some air in the fuel system. I did remove the gasket from the gas cap. This took care of the pressure build up in the gas tank. I don't know if this is the correct thing to do or not, but starts and runs ok, No slow starting and no rough idle. Will know more when I get it out next spring.
  • Just started driving my 1981 380 SL that I purchased last year. It seems that the shift points are harsh and at fairly hight RMM, is this normal. Aso I have an indicator light on the dash that looks like it might be for brakes. Can't locate any problems with either the parking or service brakes. Anyone know where to look?
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    The transmissions in these early Mercedes do tend to be harsh, yes. If you are comparing to a modern American or Japanese car, they are nothing like them. What do you mean by "high" RPM?

    The dash light could be low brake fluid or just a stuck float indicator or bad level switch in the brake fluid reservoir. (I forget which you have) Check the fluid level, and unscrew the cap.

    You should really have an owner's manual for this car as well.
  • bgruberbgruber Posts: 8
    The garage I take mind too took the wire off the brake sensor. I think it was about 18 years ago. The light went out. I wouldn't rush into doing anything other than having the transmission fuild changed with the shifting. I have a 73 since 82. It left me sitting on Sunday and I haven't heard from the garage yet.
  • shorty21shorty21 Posts: 1
    Does anyone have an idea of what a 1972 Mercedes Benz 450 SL convertible with 57000 miles and in good condition might be worth today?? Have been unable to find this information out.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    Depends very strongly upon the overall condition of the car. We'd have to know:

    1. how's the paint---mint, very good, pretty okay, obviously has needs

    2. what's not working? AC? ,etc

    3. How's the seats, console, dashboard?

    4. Hows the convertible top? (that's $1500 bucks right there)

    Depending on your answers the price could be $4000 or $15000.

    Really nice ones go in the $10,000--$15000 range. If yours is pristine and the mileage is provable and the color is good (hopefully not brown), you could even break that ceiling by a bit.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    If it's really pristine, it's a good one as Shifty says - much more desirable as that's a very early car. I'd be curious to know the last digits of the proto-VIN number, in the first couple thousand cars no doubt.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    If it's a European car, with kilometer speedo and gauges, that's a minus in value.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    Yeah, that's true, and if it is a grey market car exported in the 80s, who knows how it was neglected early in its life.

    IIRC the first 107s came to the states in 72, so that could bode well. However, it seems the 450SL badge was not officially used until 73 (?)...that was the weird time when the cars were badged 350SL no matter the engine, and then apparently many dealers changed the badging later.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    In any event, unless the car is very tasty-clean inside and out, and has no "needs", it's a hard sell right now because the car has a reputation for expensive repairs and is very hungry on gas (as you no doubt know!).

    But a super clean, low miles example will always find a buyer who is willing to pay top dollar.

    With the 450SL there are just two kinds---the 'best' and the 'rest' of them.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    A harmless Sunday driver kind of car, although it is hard to argue against spending a few grand more and getting a 560SL, unless one is somehow interested in having a very early car.
  • bwaterslbwatersl Posts: 1
    Mr. Shiftright
    I am considering a pre 2003 Mercedes SL. I’ve tried to absorb all the info on the forums so here is what I think (newbie to old cars) I’ve learned:
    With a reasonable budget (less than 15k) the 560SL is the best (vs older or newer), medium mileage (less than 100k), check service records, and have it inspected by a certified mechanic. So here are my questions?
    I want a daily use, fun to drive, reliable car. What is the better model, engine and year to look for? What specific history should I review for before I conclude it’s worth paying for an inspection? i.e. timing change replaced?, a/c changed, flushed what? Can you give me the top 5 problems?
    Would it be better to stretch and get late 90’s SL?
    Any other advice or reference sites about this type of purchase would be appreciated.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    I'm sure everyone here has some good advice for you--my two cents is that yes the 560SL is the car you want; but I'm not sure you're going to find a really perfect one for under $15K. The basic rule is "don't buy an SL with needs" and "buy the best SL you can afford--no fixer uppers".
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    Buy the nicest one you can possibly afford - for the cheapest Mercedes often turns out to be the most expensive. Look for old records, and if you know a reputable shop, it is very worth it to have them go over it. A lot of the individual problem areas are centered around specific engines and years. I will say that on a decent miles car, timing chain is seldom an issue.

    I think a nice enough 560SL can be had for 15K. Not a low mileage time warp, but something that has been shown care. I could have bought a very nice 88 560SL with about 70K miles on it about 5 years ago, in a color that matched my W126, for about 15K IIRC. It was taken care of and had no needs.

    A 90s car will be in the same price range - even the very last 2000-2002 models aren't bringing much more than 20K now. Off and on there were 6cyl variants of these sold, even a 5 speed 300SL in the early years, maybe in 90-91. One of those would probably be cheaper to take care of, but there would be some sacrificed performance.

    Beware of 90s (R129) models that show any kind of neglect - I have noticed a lot of run-down ones lately, they seem to be attracting the type who can't or won't do the required maintenance. And for that platform, run away from the V12 cars - running costs are very high and there's not much extra benefit.

    For specific advice, MB specific forums like MBworld and Benzworld might get you more responses.
  • To bwaters.
    The idea of some sort of an SL as either a hobbycar or a daily driver is a good one, but you have to decide what characteristics you want in this car. A 560SL is an excellent car in so very many ways, but by today's standards, it is by no means a performance car and is completely different from the later models. Those SL's that came after offer a far higher performance, but tend to be rather more expensive in regard to upkeep. A good 560SL is certainly not an expensive car to maintain (bearing in mind its pedigree and what it is) and spares are still readily available. The build quality right through the production time was very high and with the right treatment - a little TLC and regular maintenance - the car will run for ever. I doubt if such can be said of the SL's from 1990 and on. Their heavy reliance on electronics can make them extremely expensive to fix and although they are nice looking cars in their own right, they do not have the eye appeal of a well kept 107. I personally don't think they are as comfortable either though in fairness, with automatic tops etc they are undoubtedly more convenient. One final thought: although there are a lot of 560SL's out there and they will probably never command the kind of price the rarer 113 goes for, they are no longer depreciating whereas the newer ones still are. Whichever way you go I hope you enjoy your SL.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    thanks for those comments freshair. Good advice.

    I would like to add, though, that the last years of the 560SL show pretty darn good performance figures. These cars are considerably quicker than earlier SLs and can even beat the later 500SL. With the right car and right driver, you are easily in the 7 second category with this car, and perhaps high 6s with an extreme brake/gas launch. And handling is much better than earlier SLs as well.

    Only "downside" is that your gas mileage isn't going to get much better than maybe 16 mpg.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,885
    That's very correct on 107 vs 129 - the older car has significantly less electrics to break, and will probably prove to be more durable with less fiddling around needed - MB really did know how to build cars in the 80s. I still am often tempted with going back to a nice W126...and may keep a 107 or something around for sunny days...they are both cheapish cars anymore.
  • That's interesting. I had no idea that the late 560SL's were that quick. I have driven a friend's '88 a few times, though only in cruising mode, and although quite responsive, I never felt it had more than a bit of an edge on my '85 280SL, but I guess with a little more lead in the foot it would react differently. You alluded to gas mileage though and that rule rarely changes - the faster you drive the more gas you will use and none of the V8 SL's are specifically known for economy.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,626
    Oh you have a European 280SL with the 6 cylinder? I think the 560SL would easily outperform it, yes. But maybe not from 0-30 mph. It takes a little while for that truck to get moving. :P
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