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Mercedes 380--450--560 SLs



  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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".

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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.

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  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    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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  • hscolnss1hscolnss1 Posts: 6
    I have an 82 560sl that was a gift to me from a family member in california. the day before I drive it back to Colorado I had to have the fuel pump and relay replaced. the service manager told me that they didn't make a 560sl in 82 and that it's a 380. I thought maybe the dealer had changed the plate to get more money for it, but after reading some of the history on this car from MB I thinking that because of the changes that had to be made ( it is a gray market) it may have changed the horsepower to a 560. Also can anyone tell me what the MPG should be for this vehicle. The car runs fantastic and I love putting it on the highway. The motor (V8) is strong and quiet.
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,770
    You must have a European (grey market) 500SL.
  • According to the owner's manual you should get about 24/25 mpg on the highway if the car is a Euro 380SL. (this figure is extrapolated from the mpg shown in Imperial gallons) The US version of this car, though pretty popular and a fine cruiser, was no speedster and only produced 155 hp. The Euro version on the other hand developed 204 hp, while I believe I'm correct in saying the 560SL developed around 225hp. The Euro 380SL is also a much rarer car than most 107's as most of the gray market cars coming into N America were the six cylinder 280SL together with a smaller number of 500SL's. Hope you enjoy it for many years to come.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Yes definitely not a 560SL in 1982. So maybe a 500SL or a Euro 380. We'd need to know the VIN to tell you more. An older Euro 500SL would be fun as it is a lot faster than a 380.

    I'd guess that around 16 mpg would be a realistic average if you do a fair amount of highway driving. Depends a lot on how and where you drive.

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  • hscolnss1hscolnss1 Posts: 6
    Yes the car is definitely a euro. and all the info I gathered states that it's a 380. I appreciate the info about the gas mileage. I plan on driving it on vacation this summer and what to calculate the gas expense. My driving is mixed Highway/city. I really enjoy driving it.
  • hscolnss1hscolnss1 Posts: 6
    Yes it is a european (gray market) car. A independent manhcanic told me that it was a 380.
  • hscolnss1hscolnss1 Posts: 6
    Being new to this, I truly appericate all the info. One thing I have noticed also is my climate control unit hasn't worked since I had a bad alarm system removed. Any suggestion? ( It worked fine before I had it removed.) I read over some of the pass question and I noticed one referring to the headlights. I think the european lights look better than the two round ones. Oops, one more, some one was talking about checking the vacuum hose to cruise control, Is this hose difficult to get to?
  • modelajemodelaje Posts: 6
    :( Please help.

    1. How do you open the fuel door on a 1979 450 SL?
    2. How do you open the hood after unlatching the inside lever?

    Many thanks to all.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    The fuel door should unlock with the doors, if an open car is like a coupe or sedan. Just press on the right side, and it should pivot open.

    After unlatching the hood, lift up lightly from the grille, and a little tab should pop out - pull on this and the hood is unlocked. At least the closed cars I have owned operate like this.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Often this grill tab breaks off, so you might have to kneel down to see it if it's just a stub. The dealer still sells these things.

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  • modelajemodelaje Posts: 6
    Thank you very much. It took a little bit of prying. But it opened.
    I put a lot of WD-40 to the spring. Now its working fine. :)
  • modelajemodelaje Posts: 6
    Thank you very much!
    The lever is inside the top right space of the Mercedes Benz Star ornament on the grill. Use the left hand to pull lever.

  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    Was your car idle for a long period?

    79 was towards the end of the 450SL run, I think those ones are less troublesome than 1975-77 models.
  • modelajemodelaje Posts: 6
    Hi guys.

    I am back with another question. I attempted to remove the hard top, unlocking the 4 locks, 2 on the windshield and the other 2 near the door. But the top seems to be attached in the rear at midpoint. But I couldn't find any other release lever to unsecure the rear one. Any ideas?

    Thanks again for all your help.
  • bgruberbgruber Posts: 8
    There is a lever under the larger lever behind the driver seat on the side of the back storage space that needs to be pulled one way or the other. This is under the lever that releases the back of the top. First you release the large lever with the knob and next the smaller one. At least this is how it works on a '73.
  • modelajemodelaje Posts: 6
    Hi Guys>

    Anyone knows where is the fuse box?

    Thanks for the info.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
    I just looked this appears to be under the A-pillar on the passenger side.

    I found this image online
  • modelajemodelaje Posts: 6
    Thank you very much.

    It was where you said it was.

    Many thanks for your help. :)
  • fintailfintail Posts: 41,920
  • I'm looking at a 1980 Mercedes 450SL Roadster V8, body in perfect shape, softtop less than 2 years old, miles 145,000. Mechanically it seems good,. Transmission has been rebuilt and no obvious fuel leaks. Seats could stand to be reupholstered. Asking price is $7500 Does this sound like a fair price? Thanks
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