Just happened to have read the following post from SL Digest right before checking here tonight. Quote:
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2003 05:33:40 -0600
From: Bob Smith <email@example.com>
Subject: [SL] My *New* 380SL
I posted questions here a few weeks ago about replacing control arm bushings. I decided to hand the car over to someone that knew what they were doing and had all right tools... and just have them go through everything on the front and rear suspension. The front got new sway bar and lower control arm bushings. The car had been in a minor front end collision before I bought it. One of the places where the sway bar bolts to the body had been broken and never repaired during the subsequent body work and painting. That was repaired. The steering box has had a minor leak ever since I've owned the car... just enough to keep those control arm bushings constantly soaked in fluid.
I'm sure that's why they had deteriorated so badly.
The verdict was to go for a rebuilt unit rather than try to reseal this well worn unit. The rear got new shocks and springs to correct a hefty amount of sag and overly soft ride. I had put new shocks on the front earlier this year. Subframe mounts, ball joints, other bushings were all deemed to be in good condition.
Whoa Mamma... what a difference all that made. I really feel like I'm driving a new car. Dead quiet again... no creaks, groans and rattles. Steering is tight and true. The swaying and severe understeer is gone. The rear end doesn't squat several inches just because I move from neutral to drive. Slight braking doesn't cause a nose dive. I no longer feel like the slightest bump or dip is going to cause me to bottom out.
The front end work cured various steering ills but it seems that
springs and shocks on the rear made the greatest difference in the overall character of the car. If you've been putting off doing this type of work to your car (as I have for a couple of years), don't.
Merry Christmas to me!
End quote. FWIW--I've also seen a number of posts on similar issues improving markedly following replacement of worn bushings; a search of the site under "bushings" might shed further light. My own car drives well with tight, precise steering and very stable, predictable handling; it's a bit harsh over bumps but I think that's a combination of bushings that haven't been done yet and the Bilstein HD shocks (rather than Bilstein Comforts) that went on it last spring. Overall, it helps to remember that MB got over $60K for a new one of these and sold plenty of them, which would suggest both ride and handling ought to be pretty decent for a touring-oriented two-seater.
Good luck with it!
'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition
'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)
SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)