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USED European Luxury Cars (pre 1990)

bcathcartbcathcart Member Posts: 54
edited March 2014 in Audi
SPORIN.Iwould rate the audi 100 as your best option.Best spec is the 2.2litre 5 cyl model. A good one from a reliable source with a service record ,moderate miles,and good body, no rust,is good for 200k miles. Better if available in US is a 200 looks like 100 but has turbo engine and is fully loaded,a really nice car .Body trim is expensive so make sure none is missing.Be fussy when buying, a nice one will hold its condition for years if looked after.In general a mutch under-rated car.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'm also a big Audi get a Benz-like car for much less money. But as bcath says, you must buy the best possible car you can in the very beginning. I think you might find a 100 automatic a bit dull, whereas a turbo or turbo quattro is an awesome car. They are not really fast cars, but they are solid and handle impeccably. When shopping, avoid any with a damage history or any with excessive mileage. Service records would be nice. Figure $100 a month for top notch maintenance (spring and fall major service plus midterm oil changes 4 times a year plus occasional bit and piece to be replaced. This will be an average, since every fourth year or so you'll spring for tires or or somesuch more major expense).

    Since Audi resale isn't that great, expect to pay a bargain price but also possibly take a beating on a resale later on. The Benz holds a much higher resale value, but you pay a lot more in the first place. You will find all German car parts expensive, including VW, so no getting around that.
  • bcathcartbcathcart Member Posts: 54
    I did not realise that the US imported Quattros. Its the best.I have a 230 bhp version .its the dogs balls as we say here.Get one before you die.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, it's a luxury car...even a Benz would cost that, if you really did excellent maintenance...I'm figuring major spring service, major fall service, and incidental items to keep the car top notch.

    You can drive the car for less per month, but it won't be getting the best care. I always have to laugh, my friends say "Oh, I don't spend that much and my car is great!" So I drive it and before I'm around the block I noticed 27 things wrong with it that they have easily come to live with that would drive me crazy..."oh, I never use the rear window, so why fix the motor?" "Rattle, what rattle?" "Do you think the muffler has a hole in it, I hadn't noticed"..."just wiggle the wiper blade, it'll kick in" get the idea....there's maintenance and there's me, give an expensive and complicated car what it needs now, or it'll ask for way more later on.
  • SporinSporin Member Posts: 1,066
    I agree, believe me, I am not sulking, I was looking for an honest answer and you gave it, I appreciate that. I would rather know now, then find out down the road.

    I guess the safest thing for me to do is continue leasing every 3 years. This has worked out great for me, low monthly payment, bumper to bumper warraty through the life of the lease, inexpensive servicing. I can lease a 99 Saab 9-3 locally for $299.00 per month with almost nothing down, hard to beat that.

    Thanks for the info.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You know, you can't be a warranty...that's what makes it "worth it" to buy or lease a new car...economically it may not make sense, but if it breaks, you just dump it at the dealer...I find great comfort in that, especially when the cars are so least now I can fix just about anything on the cars I drive, so I'm my own "warranty" I long as I have the time, and a second old car in my back pocket to drive.

    I didn't think you were sulking, I thought you took it very bravely.
  • pbnargizpbnargiz Member Posts: 1
    I've been driving a BMW 3.0cs for 25 years and yes I've put a lot of $s into it. Although I have been looking to replace it, I'm having a tough time cutting the umbilical cord. This dude must be an exception, no mechanical problems, runs great and is a "head turner".So, my experience has been positive. If the truth be known, the bimmer is probably in better shape than I and it's time for an automatic.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    If you can get ahold of a 3.0 that isn't rusted and that has had Weber carbs installed, right there you've defeated two of its major problems....and by your model, the overheating had been tamed, I believe. But if you don't mind putting money in now and then, it's a perfectly okay everyday car to drive.
  • SporinSporin Member Posts: 1,066
    I am still going to look at some older Audis, I don't think that rattles and maybe small things that need fixing is what worries me, I would fix those when $$ permitted, and put the neccessary $$$ into the parts that keep the car running.

    I am more worried about getting stranded somewhere. This will be our only car and I don't want to worry about my wife if she is out driving. Obviously, I am not expecting Accord/Camry reliability, but shouldn't a well maintained 7-10 year old Audi be mechanically realiable?

    Again, thanks for all the good info, I want to make sure I am going into this with all the information I can.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    yes, an older (but not too old) Audi should be fine, but I'd stay away from those high mileage cars..that's where the trouble starts...
  • FREDERICKFREDERICK Member Posts: 228
    I think it's a Japanese conspiracy towards the West that automobile dirvers shoud expect the boring and be able to drive them into the ground with little or now maitenance.

    I like Audi a lot and I KNOW the the press was full of B.S.about the 5000 here in the States. M.B. just had the fortune of making boat loads of cash off the [non-permissible content removed] so that they've been able to dominate the world market for German automobiles ever since.

    I personally love driving huuuuuge older American automobiles on a daily basis but I think that oldr Audi's are really good buys. I like the lack of driver feel for the road in American land barges but I admire Germans for their superior quality engineering. I've spent well over $200/ month keepeng my old Cads and Lincolns on the road so I see $100 as reasonable.

    Compare a 15-20 year old Japanese car and with a similar German auto of that era and you tell mee who made a better car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'm sorry, but I couldn't support anyone buying a used Audi 5000...that was not a good car, but rather a great concept of what a car should be, IMO. Just didn't work out. Me? I'd advise people to avoid 'em like the plague, but not for the "sudden acceleration"...more for the "sudden deterioration".....But I like later Audis a lot.

    Japanese cars aren't my cup of tea, but they did crush the American car industry in the 1970s, ...beat 'em up bad...and quality had something to do with it. The Germans didn't sweat the Japanese until the Lexus came out, I think, and then they really starting worrying, for good reason.
  • SammyPSammyP Member Posts: 6
    First of all, I own a W126 chassis 1985 Mercedes 380SE---S-class, short wheelbase.

    Look at the 1st gen Lexus LS400. It is nearly a blatant copy of the 1981-91 S-Class Mercedes. No telling where they got their design parameters from, right?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That's what the Japanese are good at...taking cues from successful products and developing them from there. It's just good business sense. Last time an American company did that, was, I think, with the Chrysler minivan, taking the old VW design of the roomy box and giving it FWD and more power. Ford Taurus, too, took its styling cues from the Audi 5000 and produced one of the mot successful cars in its history. And look how many people have copied the basic BMW sports sedan of the 1960s.
  • timothyj1timothyj1 Member Posts: 5
    Bought a BMW L7 (735 variant) last month as a family car. Couldn't take a minivan or a toyota crayola. LOVE IT! Loads of room, smooth power, solid feel. Great leather interior. Looked at a lot of cars, and we did buy the best we found. I expect some repairs are inevitable, but that's life. Why not drive a car that makes you feel like a millionaire?
  • timothyj1timothyj1 Member Posts: 5
    By the way, if anyone knows where I could get a microfiche for the parts I'd appreciate it- I work for a BMW motorcycle dealer and can get parts for cost- another plus...
  • occupant1occupant1 Member Posts: 412
    I know a guy locally who is selling his 1972 Mercedes 250 SE. It is about the size of a 70's compact and it has a straight six, AC, and automatic. The A/C has the belt cut off but the compressor turns OK. It has a bad oil leak at the back of the valve cover (leaves cat sized puddles overnight and drips a drop every ten feet on city streets). It also needs rear shocks badly and possibly a U-joint since the car leaps up (rear bumper goes straight up!) almost a foot when placed in reverse. It drops down a few inches in drive. The interior is nice (the little chrome cap on the speedometer needle fell off and rolls around in the bottom of the glass...) and the car has 172K miles. For $1000, is this a car worth fixing up to be a daily driver? Or would the costs of repairing any leaks in the A/C and getting the suspension brought up to spec be prohibitive? The car is beige on brown perforated vinyl and it has new Michelins on original painted hubcaps. The rust is confined to the left front fender skin, there is NONE underneath and even under the carpet it is untouched. Does anyone know what kind of money shocks and AC repairs cost on a 27-year old car?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Wee, xtski, this is an expensive car to fix, so you'd better find out what that leak is all about, or you'll have another $3,000 in there in a blink of an eye. These are good sturdy cars, but you have to go over them carefully before buying, because they cost just as much to repair as new BMWs, and 146K is a lot of miles. So be extra-diligent in checking it out. If you can't afford $100-150 a month to keep it going (on average, to keep it totally reliable and safe) then shop for something else, that would be my advise.

  • rkcrawfrkcrawf Member Posts: 3
    I found a mechanic with an 87 325i convertible. It's only got 66K and he's asking $7K. He said that he's changed the water pump, timing belt, and a few other things. Given the low mileage, would you say the $100/$150 month maintenance costs still applies?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    No, rkcrawf, I think the 325 is a much better car than the old 7-series, and if it's been as well cared for as you say, I think more like $600-700 for the year should take care of all normal maintenance, not counting the major expendables that all cars need sooner or later, like tires and shocks. Timing belt is very important on these cars, as they will break around 60K.
  • echapman1echapman1 Member Posts: 7
    What can anyone tell me about a Mercedes 6.9? I understand that they are rockets. For how long were they manufactured (1978 - 1984?). Are they a good vehicle? Did they have any problems. Where can I purchase one and what should I expect to pay? I'm currently living in the UK, consequently, if need be, I can go to the source. I've seen them in the United States for approximately 10-12K. Notably, there's one here in London for sale at "best reasonable offer." Should I even be interested in a 6.9? I'm a family guy who likes fast cars -- on a budget. My wife is extremely cool, however, she expects solid reliability. Please advise on a 6.9 and/or something else cheap, big and fast. Thanks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    dear echapman,

    the 450SEL 6.9 was made from 1975-80, and about 7400 were made. It has 286 DIN hp and 405 ft lbs of torque at 3000 rpms, so it's a "puller", no doubt about it. Fuel consumption would be about 14 miles per US gallon.

    The question as to whether to buy one or not depends on your ability to pay the upkeep. This is a sophisticated and complicated car, with a hydro-pneumatic suspension incorporating nitrogen gas and hydaulic oil in spherical chambers at each wheel. The engine is an improved version of the 6.3 unit found in the Mercedes 600 limousines. Given this, your repairs will be very, very expensive. On the plus side, you can buy them cheap in the US ($10,000 should do it, plus whatever costs to ship, etc, another $2K I'd guess). Also, I'd imagine US cars to be in better condition than the European versions, and more desireable even if a tad slower.

    You can see from above that these cars are NOT worth restoring and have no real collectible value. All they are is a great cheap ride. So the strategy is to buy the best one you can and keep it that way. Attempting to fix or restore this car is sheer folly and I strongly discourage you from doing so. But if you found a nice one at a good price, you could drive a wonderful "sleeper" that will beat the pants off many a modern and very expensive car of today.

    Your call therefore, and be careful. Great cars, but certainly risky if the cards don't fall your way.
  • echapman1echapman1 Member Posts: 7
    I'm glad you're available Mr. Shiftright. Thanks for the excellent response! The 6.9 sounds like a cool ride, albeit, expensive to maintain. In any event, I plan to telephone the owner today and view the car later this afternoon. This fellow claims to be the original owner, consequently, it's worth a look. Basically, I want something fast and cheap that can haul kids around as well. Do you know of any European cars (in the $7,000 range) that fit-the-bill? What about an Audi or a Rover? Please advise. Again, thanks for your assistance. Best regards, EWC
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    No Rovers, please! Audis can be great cars, but only the 80-90 or 100 series quattros, which should fit your price range. 7-Series BMWs are quite cheap in the late 80s, lot of car for the money, or a Mercedes 300 Turbo Diesel (SD Model only) can be quite decent. Hey, how about an Infiniti Q45, 1990 or so model. Fun and *fast*, and a much underrated car.
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    Mr. Shiftright, a Mercedes 300SD? I'm not sure that fits into the "fast" category(even with a turbo) such as a 6.9 or a 4.5! Good general purpose sedan however, if you can put up with the diesel smell and the soot!
    echapman1, I've found the old 116 body MB sedans an extremely durable, solid, long lasting model. I currently have a 280SE, which is mildly powered compared to the V8's. One warning though, look for the best car you can find-there out there-overall repairs can be expensive. Make sure everything works, and works good, especially the environmental controls and vacuum system. A set of FACTORY manuals is a necessity if you do your own repairs, an illustrated parts breakdown is also handy, but you can probably do without it.
  • echapman1echapman1 Member Posts: 7
    Thanks for the sage assistance Messrs. Shiftright and Burdawg. The reason I suggested a Rover was because they seem to be everywhere and cheap, here in London. By the way, does anyone know the process for purchasing, registering and licensing a vehicle in the UK? Also, approximately what does it cost to ship a car state side? Bottom line, is it worth the trouble -- or should I merely go to Hertz when I need a driving fix? For instance, must I get a UK license to purchase and register a car or can I use my U.S. license? We're here for 6 mos. to a year or more. While walking, jogging, cabbing and tubing are all charming modes of transportation; we miss getting out on the road and getting some serious miles under our feet and bugs in our teeth. Notably, there seem to be a lot of very cool cars here (i.e., Rolls, Bentley's and big V12 MB are actually common and they're more funky Porches then either LA or NY). In the back of my mind, I see myself finding a solid old MB or BMW sedan (left hand drives are actually cheaper here); driving it while we're here and then shipping it back to the states. Does this sound even remotely practical or would I be better served to find such a car in Washington, D.C.? Question: What big, fast and bullit-proof, MB and/or BMW's would you recommend? I'd like to spend a mere $7,000 U.S., thus, I'm looking at vinatage 70's - 80's material (I've seen a fair number of left-hand drive, late-70's BMW 7 series for approximately £2,000). Mr. Shiftright, I noted above that you have warned others away from certain BMW 7 series. Are there others I should avoid? Finally, in your opinion, would it be worth a trip to Germany to look around a bit for some early German road-warrior material? Thanks. Best regards, EWC
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Actually, I think all the best deals are here in the states, and I wouldn't import anything European over here except some hard-to-find rare classic. European cars, especially older ones, are subjected to much more environmental and road abuse than domestic cars.

    I'd say forget this scheme entirely, and buy yourself an Austin Mini and be done with it, and sell it before you come home. This really makes the most sense. Anything you can find there you can find here for less and it better shape.

    I' a firm believer in driving the kind of car the country you're in makes, because they know how to fix them and have all the parts.

    I was thinking of an MB 300SD because of fuel prices in MB 6.9 at 14 mpg @ $4/gal approximately is $4 for 14 miles...yikes! Even $3 for 14 miles is a killer...seems to me at .25 cents a mile you could hire an economy car and come out all right in the long run.
  • echapman1echapman1 Member Posts: 7
    You're probably right on the Austin mini, yet, I'm 6'2", wife is 6' and we have two little boys. The math just doesn't work well. I saw the MB 6.9 and it is decent. Original owner is a well-heeled older Brit who just lost a leg. Apparently, he can't drive well anymore and wants to ensure that "the car goes to a good home." Car was bought new and serviced at a local, very posh, Mercedes dealership. Has lots of paper on it (including new tires, a recent factory rebuilt transmission and a £7,000 suspension bill). Mechanically -- a sound 143K mile cruiser. Body -- a few rust spots. The Gent is looking for £3,000. I offered £1,500. Bottom line, if he bites I'll buy it and enjoy it. Otherwise, I'll rent here and find something nice next year in the U.S.

    Sorry to take up so much of the groups time with this, however, your time and expertise were much appreciated. Thanks, EWC
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    Mr. Shiftright, your point on the diesel is well taken. Sometimes we in the U.S. forget that our fuel prices are low compared to most of the rest of the world.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    And that's why there are so few diesel cars in cheaper to run that gas automobiles.
  • oldjunkloveroldjunklover Member Posts: 7
    Glad to see Mr_Shiftright is still around. I didn't see any of your posts in sedans, and thought we'd lost you.

    I made several comments in the sedans topic earlier this year when I first bought my 1981 MB 300SD about it's dismal power. I liked the car otherwise, and (somewhat) on my recommendation, a friend bought one very similar to mine -- except that his engine had been rebuilt 80k miles ago (mine is still original at 230k).

    I asked him what he thought about the power. "Seems OK. I've got to watch it when I pass someone on the highway. It'll cruise past 80 real easy."

    Surely he's kidding, I thought! I'll ask his wife. She'll tell me the truth. "Seems OK" she said.

    I just couldn't take the mystery, so I asked him if I could drive it around the block. He said "sure". Then, with about 550 lbs of passengers inside, I took the wheel. To my surprise, his car drove like a gasoline powered car. Surely it had twice the power mine has.

    A local Mercedes shop told me that my car has typical power for a car with "that many miles on it." Another mechanic friend told me that diesels are VERY sensitive to performance loss due to blow-by. I assume he's right.

    So here's my point. My mechanic friend says he has re-built 3 of these engines before, and has offered to re-ring mine for 20 hours of labor charge. From the gas engines I've rebuilt, that seems reasonable. We'll leave the engine in the car, just yank the head (and have it done separately), pull the pistons, hone the cylinders (hopefully that's all), replace the rings and put it back together. Don't fool with the bearings except to check them (and of course, make sure we keep grit off them during cylinder honing).

    Two questions:
    1: Since you used to work on these things, do you have any particular cautions about this plan?
    2: What do you think of zero gap rings as a replacement for OEM. In theory, that seems like the way to go. As each of the ring segments wear and the end gap opens, the ring segment above or below it is there to make sure no leakage occurs. I'm old enough to know however that theory and reality don't always coincide.

    What do you think?

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think there is certainly some risk involved, digging into an engine with that many miles on it. What if the mechanic finds a scored cylinder, or a bad crank, etc...then what are you going to do? The rebuild is worth more than your car in that case. But certainly he's right, at 230K the power in your diesel is undoubtedly much less than normal.

    And aren't you going to do a valve job? That means expensive machine shop work, and very expensive parts prices.

    I guess if the car is really really nice otherwise, it may be worth it, but you and the mechanic should plan a budget and also some "what if?" scenarios, where you just might want to stop and button up the engine and leave it like it was. If you end up putting $5,000 in the engine, you might be able to find a nice replacement car for that amount.

    So I'd say plan this thing out and keep your eyes open and you'll be okay no matter what you do.
  • oldjunkloveroldjunklover Member Posts: 7
    The head is a for-sure. I had already gotten local pricing on a simple valve grind / seat grind. Assuming no valves need replaced, about $230. And yes, they know it's a mercedes. It doesn't scare most of the machine shops I've contacted. Most of them even know how to locate after-market parts if I need them.

    So you don't have an opinion on the zero-gap rings? I thought perhaps from your racing days you might have had some experience with them and...

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    No, I''m sorry I really don't know anything really useful about them other than the theory. I usually put in what the factory puts in...if they lasted 230K miles, that says a lot. When you're dealing with the monstrous compression ratios of diesels, you don't want to be experimenting, seems to me.

    I don't see how a head could be rebuilt for $200 though. Just the guides alone is a pretty big job, then there's cleaning and magnafluxing (check for cracks) and planing and new guides and seals and labor for all that plus a gasket set...I'd say more like $600....but maybe I'm thinking California prices here.

    When it comes to opening up old engines, I am genetically disposed to thinking the worst possible scenario, so don't mind me.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well, again, it's all about a matter of having a good plan, a good mechanic, and a few alterative positions so that you can pull the plug without breaking the bank.

    Basically, your plan is sound enough and with any luck you should do fine. You just need to think about things like this: Okay, the mechanic pulls the head and sees that your valve are wobbling in the guides, so they won't hold a seal very well, which means you'll have blow-by and new valves won't seat all that well, so less power over you press in all new guides or ?????. And do you plane the head flat or just slam it back on? And gee, aren't you going to re-core the radiator to better cool that "new", "tight" and friskier engine? And what about new belts and hoses while you're in there?

    So you see what I much do you want to accomplish and for how long?
  • ljhowardljhoward Member Posts: 3
    Have long loved the looks and 300-plus HP of the SL500. Am seriously considering a '94 or a '95 version of this model with around 60K miles from a pre-owned Mercedes dearship. I know NOTHING about cars--can anyone advise me on the wisdom of this investment? Thanks in advance.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Well they're great cars, but not investments if you're using the pure sense of the word (i.e., expect them to gain in value). They will behave like a used car and lose value as they grow older, and, if they behave like the older V-8 SLs, will not become collectible.

    However, they are a luxurious well-built car--more of a GT car than a true sports car. You can't hardly beat Mercedes build quality no how.

    Of course, I trust you won't mind if I slighly shake the Mercedes mythology by warning you to have this car checked out thoroughly, as no car made by human beings or the robots who obey them will ever build a totally trouble-free car. And in the case of a Benz, you don't want to be replacing major components, as the cost will kill you.

    So choose a well-maintained car with a known history. If a fast luxury cruiser, a "gentleman's express", is what you want, as opposed to a lean and mean sports machine, this car is an excellent choice.
  • ljhowardljhoward Member Posts: 3
    Mr. Shiftright--I'm new to these boards. As I scanned them for info recently, I came across your posts time and time again. When I posted my question, I really hoped you'd respond. So thanks! Your response is great, and exactly what I was starting to suspect. In the end, I'm not enough of a car buff to be buying a used luxury car.

    I instead opted for an Audi S4. With 250 hp, it'll give me all the oomph I'm after. First I went to the local (Palo Alto) dealership, and dealt with first being completely ignored, then getting lots of attitude from its sales staff. They made it seem like they were doing me a huge favor by allowing me to pay $2,500 over MSRP for this car. Yeah, there's a long waiting list, but they promised they'd call if a cancelled order ever came in.

    Instead I got a brochure off the shelf, went home, and ordered the car from The long wait is still there, but no car salesman's attitude to deal with. Your assistance was invaluable--perhaps I'll be able to buy a NEW SL someday. Thanks again.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yep, there's a lot of peace of mind in a warranty, there's no getting away from that fact.
  • jbradbjbradb Member Posts: 39
    You answered some great questions for me on a different classic topic which my wife deleted, so i can't find it.

    Anyway, re the Benz 280SE coupe/cabrio, do the expense issues apply as much as the 6.9 u speak of here? Were'nt the '70-'71s more hand-built than earlier models? But, does this issue apply mainly to the fit/finish of the cabin and not the mechanics? does the hand-built issue apply to sedans of the same era? do u think the 3.5 engine would be a better buy ($ aside) vs. the other inline 6s as far as cost and reliability?

    Thanks for your obviously knowledgeable responses.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The idea of "hand-built" is really a best, modern Merecedes after the early 1950s are in some parts "hand-fitted", but one could say that about a Corvette, too. Mercedes is a mass-produced car done to high quality standards, and this is why it's still highly profitable, while companies like Rolls Royce were practically hand built and pretty bad because of it. So don't let "hand-built" equate with your mind with quality--quite the opposite is often true.

    That being said, by 1970 Mercedes had a lot more experience with making reliable cars (again, not the same as build quality, which was always pretty high with Benz), so the little V-8s aren't as difficult or prone to trouble as the big Eights were in the 600 class cars of the 1960s & early 70s. Less complicated, to be sure.

    But you can still drop a bundle into a 3.5 coupe or cabriolet, since parts are expensive and labor isn't cheap, and with a car like that you want things done well--you're not going to put a vinyl top on it that looks like it came of a '64 Mustang, and the upholstery (which is often NOT leather but looks like it) also needs to be done tightly and neatly...a kit won't work.

    So to restore a 3.5 well you have to pay for a lot of custom work done by specialists. The local gas station shouldn't rebuild the engine, either, because tolerances are much tighter than domestics, and tragic mistakes can be made.

    But I like these cars because they are perfectly modern and can be used daily, unlike many of the earlier Benzes, which are marginal on today's highways.
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    Don't most of the early 70's 280SE's have the 4.5L engine? Prior to the 116 body anyway? I know that once the 116 body came out, the model designations followed the engine size-such as 280 for the 2.8L single or twin cam, 450 for the 4.5L. The exception of course was the 6.9 which had the 450 badge besides the 6.9 script. I've seen a few 3.5L cars, but I always thought they were brought over by the owners from Europe. What's the true story, anyone?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    The 3.5 V-8 is the M116 engine used in the 280 & 300 SEL and SE, 1969-1972. Then the 280s went up to the 4.5 M117 engine. Also the 350SL uses the M116 3.5 engine. This engine was available in the U.S. as a regular production US car.
  • jbradbjbradb Member Posts: 39
    Again, ty for putting it into perspective!
  • fairhill9fairhill9 Member Posts: 1
    Convertible/hardtop, great condition, trying to get a rough idea of its value. I've gotten #'s that range from 10K to 25K. Which end of this wide spectrum is closer to the truth?
    Thanks in advance to anyone that can give me any guidance.
  • bubukittybubukitty Member Posts: 96
    I live in the S.F. Bay Area and these cars are really popular here. I love them myself and would one day love to have one. Because of this, I always look at what they are selling for. Usually I have seem super clean cars with great mechanical, paint/body and interiors asking in the mid to high $20's. There is a dealer south of San Francisco that handles a lot of SL's with super clean cars that asks even more than this. Cars that are still clean, but with more tired paint and interiors I have seen asking in the high teens to low 20's. Seems to me the most desirable model is the 280 SL, with the 230 and 250 SL models usually asking less and getting less dollars. The 280 SL was the most sophisticated of the SL's and the last of the series, thus go for more. Seems to me that if your car is very clean with good pain, body, interior with A/C and not super high mileage or in great mechanical condition, you could get in the mid 20's for it. I think $10,000 is way too low unless the car has a lot of issues to deal with to make it nice. IMO
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    All those numbers are correct...the value of the 280SL is strictly tied to condition, but at $25K it had better be a real jewel with no excuses or obvious flaws of any kind. Deduct 30% for a European car, and deduct for repaint, rust, mechanical deficiences, incorrect upholstery, door dings (aluminum doors are VERY hard to get right) get the idea.

    A $10K car would be a bit of a rat. Most clean 280SLs you see driven on the street are $16K-18.5K cars in real money. Top quality show cars can bust $30K.

    Still an appreciating collectible car that will stay ahead of the collector market in general. More valuable than the earlier 250 or 230SL, or the later 350 and 450SL V-8s.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    That's a very sensible rule of thumb, markman...I figure the same way!
  • burdawgburdawg Member Posts: 1,524
    What kind of repairs does it need markman4?
  • mbzvtmbzvt Member Posts: 5
    I have a friend who wants to get rid of a 1976
    Mercedes 6.9 . It is in pretty rough shape,has
    215,400 miles on it. The body is straight,but does
    have some rust.It runs,though the starter is inop
    right now.It would need a total restoration. It
    is a German market car,brought here to the U.S. as
    a "grey-market" car. Does anyone have any ideas?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yes, run away screaming as fast as you can! The car is practically worthless as is, and has little or no potential as a collectible. You can buy a nearly perfect US model for around $8,000. There is nothing so expensive as an old worn out Benz.

    In my opinion, this car is ready to donate parts to better automobiles of its type.
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