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Old 08-18-2007, 09:38 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 96
Ready to Buy 86-89 560SL

I am selling my 1992 400E in favor of an SL that my wife enjoy driving as well her only requirement is a red one.
couple of questions after driving 2 of them today:
1988 with 154K they wanted 11K I offered 9K, no deal yet. Car was very tight, good brakes.
There is a hard shift from 1st to second in my 400 this is normal any comment on the 560?
She said the AC was just serviced, yet I could not get it to get cold, is there a compressor switch somewhere?
Is 154K the end of life for these?
There was a rough idle, but good acceleration, car has been sitting, feels like it needs a tune up, wires look tired.
all dealer service records were included, all sched. maintenance done, both tops in great shape, needs interior help, both fuel pumps just replaced.

Is there anythign else I should look for, check?

Thanks in advance,


1992 400E 164K
2001 ML 320 74K
1997 F150 105K
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Old 08-18-2007, 10:34 PM
Walrus's Avatar
Registered User
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: NE Alabama
Posts: 551

You don't indicate where you are, so the market may be quite different than I am used to. 10K will net you a cherry 560 in the SE with 100+/- kmiles. You have to buy with your head, and not let your heart get the best of you.

154K is not tooooooo many miles, but be advised, any 560 is at least 18 years old. Rubber, fabric, mechanical joints, hoses, electrical wiring all are getting tired by this time. Pay particular to service history on the fuel system and timing gear/chain/guides. The climate control systems are noted for potential problems, especially the vacuum pods used to handle the air.

The 560, and other benzes, take off in second gear unless nailed at WOT. Tranny's are not noted for being problematic, but search and you can find posts on adjusting the harshness of the 2-3 shift-point via the modulator.

Oh, on the climate system... These units were reported to be marginal at best when new... Don't expect too much in hot, humid climates.

Best news is that near 100% of anything ever needed is still available, and most even from the dealer. Many other speciality shops offer OEM and repro parts reasonably, but I recommend a deep pocket book or a lot of DIY accumen... Not a lot of dealer knowledge on these old dogs out there, and service can nickle and dime you to death otherwise (especially diagnosing the fuel system and climate control system).

For what it's worth, look at and see what they have available in the cars for sale listings... this may give you an idea of value. also, if you subscribe, they will send you a "boot camp" buyers' guide to the 560 and links to many articles are there.

good luck, and happy hunting.
RM Smith
1988 560SL

"Where is it again that we are going, and why are we in this handbasket"?
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:05 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 96
Thanks for the info, I am near Annapolis, MD. There are several on the market with prices ALL OVER THE MAP. I am in no hurry, so I have time to research. I do all the work myself, boat mechanic in a previous life and rebuilt my share of engines, etc. (did I mention I hate bodywork!) Now its just for fun. Phil has been an increadible resource for our 01 Ml and I am sure when I need it for our 92 400E. The SL site looks good.

This forum seems much more active than the that I have been a member of for a couple of years. Look forward to sucking you all dry of valuable info!


92 400E 164K
01 ML 320 74K
97 F-150 105K
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:40 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
My '87 has 171K on it, with reasonable but not obsessive maintenance. It's a blast to drive, and it's been trouble-free in the 2 1/2 years that I've had it.

In the DC area, $10K should get you an almost immaculate car with less than 100k miles. I would walk away from any car with an obvious AC or mechanical problem unless it was an obvious bargain. Craigslist has a lot of cars and a 560 pops up once in a while.

In your price range, it's worth getting a pre-purchase inspection, or at least getting the car on a lift and checking for rust and the condition of the suspension rubber.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 08-19-2007, 03:17 PM
Jim B.'s Avatar
Who's flying this thing ?
Join Date: May 2006
Location: N. California./ N. Nevada
Posts: 3,611
Women are very fussy about colors, so pay heed to that rfequirement. I guess either Signal Red or Cabernet, it will have to be. But, there were quite a few signal red ones sold. Lots of women got them when new, and regarded them as fashion accessories. Not very many were the owners only cars either, so not that many got really thrashed or driven hard. But that isn't to say they were all well looked after and maintained.

If maintained well, the transmissions should last to about 250,000 miles without problems. These are nice, robust, sturdy cars with 227 hp, and drink premium fuel. They look good even today, and parts are readily available for them.

Check all the records for what has been done on this one. Not in the owners manual, but regular maintenance at 100,000 miles or so would include getting a new timing chain, tensioner and guide rails, and especially urgent or advised at this time and mileage if it has not yet been done. The upper chain rail guide when new is white but over the years hairline cracks can develop in the plastic, and the old ones look root beer brown. When they let go, (most often on the left side) it's not pretty.

More tips about the 560 engine, and used Mercedes buying in general are here:

I co wrote that with the site owner back in 1999 but a lot of it is still pretty valid today, though not the prices obviously..

You may need to buy a hardtop hoist or hardtop stand for it, after you get the car. Just a thought .
1991 560 SEC AMG, 199k <---- 300 hp 10:1 ECE euro HV ...

1995 E 420, 170k "The Red Plum" (sold)

2015 BMW 535i xdrive awd Stage 1 DINAN, 6k, <----364 hp

1967 Mercury Cougar, 49k

2013 Jaguar XF, 20k <----340 hp Supercharged, All Wheel Drive (sold)
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Old 08-19-2007, 05:35 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 96
Thanks Guys,

Bought one today in Vienna, VA. 157K, at 105K whole top end rebuilt, timing chain guides etc. 1" thick service history, mainly AC complaints. new exhaust fuel pumps etc. The interior is nice, the exterior needs some TLC, no major rust, couple of surface spots. Tight suspension and steering good mechanical maintenance. Should be a solid base to work with!



92 400E 164K
01 ML 320 74K
97 F-150 105K
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Old 08-19-2007, 05:59 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 18

Pictures please......I'm sure your wife is preparing a special Sunday dinner.
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