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Older mercedes

I am looking at a 1985 - 380SL with the American motor any advise?

Don’t buy it. If you want an old SL, get the later 560SL, much improved in almost every way.

Older Mercedes and BMW are about the only choices Thundercloud left out of their wish list for a future “static display”!


Do you have deep pockets?

Seriously, the purchase price might be reasonable. But these cars are high maintenance.

Have you ever driven one, for any extended amount of time?

They handle terribly and are uncomfortable, unless you’re very small . . . I’m talking short AND thin

You wouldn’t believe the atrocious fuel economy . . . some trucks do better. And it REQUIRES premium fuel

That said, if you want the classic good looks, and the rest doesn’t bother you, go for it

By the way, if you care at all about the AC, it’s not that easy to work on, and it should be converted to R-134a, if it hasn’t already been. If there are any leaks, it’s going to be expensive to repair. If your evaporator hasn’t already been replaced, it’s probably already leaking. The labor to replace it is well over 20 hours. That’s because the car was literally built around the evaporator

You’d be well off to pay a mechanic to check out the car. That means making sure everything works, including the AC. Remove the hard top, so that you can put up the soft top. It probably needs work. Make sure the mechanic drives the car, street, highway, etc. Insist that he puts the car on a lift. You might be surprised at what you find. Have him take a close look at all of the mounts and flexible discs.

If there are are a lot of leaks, that would be typical. If you buy, put cardboard under the car

Be aware that this vehicle has an enormous front subframe. Any repairs, which require its removal . . . . oil pan reseal, control arm bushings, etc., . . . will be very labor intensive

Unless the previous owner has done all of that stuff, it’s very likely it is now needed

What is this american motor you speak of?

Did you perhaps mean aluminum motor . . . because that’s what’s in this car

Anything made between 1981 and 1989 are better left where they lie…These are The Dark Years of automotive technology and emissions controls…

These are great cars but they can cost lots to fix if not maintained well, even well maintained you’ll find some expensive parts but if you want the look then partner up with a Mercedes Club or mechanic that knows these cars to help find the best one out there that you can afford. Probably have to pass on a few before finding a decent one but it’s worth it to spend a little more for the better car. By american motor I assume you mean one that isn’t a gray-market euro model?

I have a 1984 380SL for going on 18 years and it’s been a good car. Mine hasn’t been all that “high maintenance” and it handles well. Thanks to the internet there are good places to get parts should the need arise but yes, they cost a bit more. Finding a good (non-dealer) mechanic goes a long way. As with any car, a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic is in order, especially when they’re this old. It’s interesting how many of these cars I still see being driven regularly.

Here’s a good place to get some high quality parts

Please don’t anybody flag this as spam, as there are some regulars on this forum that have or work on European cars . . . myself included

Appreciate the post. I only smell spam from newcomers when they boost oddball sites.

@steve63 The one you own has been a good car for you because I expect you’ve kept up on the services needed over the years and used quality parts. Buying one you don’t know the history of can lead to problems that could be costly. A well maintained example like yours with a documented service history would be the one to seek out. These make great regular drivers when cared for.

These are great cars for tooling around with the top down on a nice day and not caring what anyone else thinks. They have a solid feel and some of them may be dependable. You also won’t have to worry about collecting dings, rust. and scratches, since they are not classics. Just be sure to take your gold neck chains, your open button Hawaiian shirt, and your chest-toupee.

Much depends on what you want, and how much extra money you have to spend on repairs you may need.

I repeat. Do you want to make a small fortune? Start with a large fortune then buy an old Mercedes.

And if you want a tiny fortune . . . start with a large fortune then buy an old Jaguar

Friends sold their XJ-6 when the monthly repair bills exceeded the monthly payments…OUCH!

My next door neighbor had 3 Jaguar XJ6s. OK one was a 1984 (correction: 1975) coupe with a 383 Lingenfelter 450 hp. They were all daily drivers. He is a master mechanic who also rebuilds and tunes Rochester fuel injection. When he went on a 2 week vacation I was given one of the stock XJs to drive. It was great. When cornering I could feel it squat down. If you do not have the expertise to maintain or repair a vintage Jaguar or lot’s of money run away.

Those exact SL may not be treasured as collectibles, but they are still imposing and classy. For years the pagoda-roof models were lightly collected, probably because most weren’t very powerful, but once a few celebrities bought them they became red hot. I always thought they were underappreciated. Such a pretty car! They look so light and simple gliding down Sunset Blvd. The greater weight and complexity of the seventies SL didn’t add much that I value, though I always like the SLC coupe variant. The back seat of those is a strange place to be, with that big louver blocking off most of the rear side glass.

If it is a hobby car, the cost to repair it is not as important. People spend on hobbies all the time without a huge concern for how much it costs. It’s an amusement cost, and should be budgeted accordingly.

These SL’s are now old enough to be considered collectable if in great condition. The problem from what i’ve read is that there were so many on the market that kept the prices down. As a occasional driver it shouldn’t matter that much how much you spend on repairs and upkeep as long as it’s within your budget/means to do so. Saw a pretty nice one of these the other night that looked like it was used regularly but well taken care of.


Which SLs are you talking about?

The ones from the mid 70s through the late 80s are still quite common, and the most pristine version might fetch $15000 - $20000

But the ones from the early 60s through early 70s are pretty rare now, and the prices are far higher