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Old 10-25-2007, 09:59 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 14
What to look for?

I recently jumped into the world of Benz ownership, I purchased an 83 300SD 2 months ago. Now I am thinking that I need to purchase and SL as my next Benz. I have a few questions to get started.

1. Are there any known major issues with these cars, any year/model I should avoid?

2. What in your opinion is the best year/model to purchase?

3. About what price range should I expect to pay for the answer to #2 (I realize this all depends on the year/condition I choose)

4. What areas should I pay close attention to when looking/driving these cars (IE - thay always rust at a certain spot, or they always make a certain noise, etc.)

Other important facts for my situation.

I am a wrench-head "newbie", but don't mind digging in to figure things out, so I want to learn how to work on any car I purchase.

I am thinking I want to purchase an SL no newer than 1989 in fairly decent shape, but also want some challenges to work on as well.

Thanks everyone for your opinions. I have a feeling this is going to be a long process to find the right mix of value/challenges.

1983 300SD
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Old 10-26-2007, 09:43 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 211
That's a loaded question.
There are lots of "good" examples of 107 SLs going back to early 70's to late 80's.
Personally, I think the best is the 560SL (since it was the most recent version of a very long production run).

Typical problems are:

1. Climate Control - not just AC. The day the car was built the AC wasn't very strong - so don't expect it to cool you down very quickly and even less so in traffic. Mercedes used rubber diaphrams to control air flow and over time those deteriorate, resulting in no air coming out of the center vents. The fix is worse - there are 4 (I think) diaphrams that need to be replaced and one is IN the heater box buried deep in the bowels of the car (you have to take dash out to fix- there in lies potential to crack dash).

2. Rust in blower motor housing, soft top storage compartment and spare tire storage.

3. Timing chain - not an issue, but need to be aware they have a tendancy to break/skip sprockets/ etc at around 100,000 miles (about 50,000 on the 380 model). Just make sure you get the upper rails, tensioner, cam oilers, etc replaced around those mileages.

4. Overall condition of body will be evident - paint should all be bright and ALL body panels should have a sticker showing the VIN of the car. No sticker means paint and/or body work....not a deal breaker, but should reduce price and/or raise flags. Hood, fenders, trunk, quarter panels and bumpers all have VIN tags.

5. Soft top - rubber seals just deteriorate over time and the design of the top is murder on the materials when top is down - it folds in about 4 places to get into the inspect carefully and/or plan on replacing top AND seals every 3-5 years or so.

6. Hard top is not a problem, but it is awkward to deal with. I would HIGHLY recommend a garage mounted hoist.

7. Transmissions aren't really an issue IF they have been serviced. Drive car - hard shifting or "slippage" are indications of problems. Real main seal has a tendancy to seep/leak.

8. Injectors. Like all things mechanical, age is not good. Most of the SLs (if not all) have a fuel distributor and injectors. They can (and will) become clogged causing hestitation and rough idle. SOMETIMES this is caused (in my case) by a bad coil. Smell oil it will smell like gas if injectors are leaking down...not end of world, but plan on repair. Injectors, isolaters, o-rings, etc.

9. Front suspension is full of bushings and rubber if it feels sloppy (keep in mind all Mercedes are very "tight" feeling cars) then you will probably need to have front suspension re-sealed.

10. Electrical. These cars are old and get gremlins. Don't expect everything to work consistently. Like people, some days are better than others......

The 107s are great cars....but they can get expensive to maintain. They MUST be driven.....otherwise the seals go and things fall apart. I just sold mine with 102,000 in great shape for $10,000 (including hard top hoist).

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Old 10-28-2007, 08:22 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 14
Wow - that is a lot of information, thank you very much for the starting list.

Now on to do more research
1983 300SD
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Old 10-28-2007, 08:50 AM
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 2,506
The best of the best are the 1986-1989 560SLs. They have the most powerful engine, the best suspension setup, they're reliable, and they're the newest ones out there (less age-related issues).

Mileage is not as important as care. Take some time to look at a lot of SLs before buying any of them - even a good one. After you look closely at 10 of them, you'll start to see what to look for. I'd skip the dealer purchases and scower for a private party sale - preferably a one-owner. Fewer hands means fewer tinkerers.

- Brian

1989 500SEL Euro
1966 250SE Cabriolet
1958 BMW Isetta 600
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Old 10-28-2007, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: NC
Posts: 2,995
The one thing you will have to remember is that the cars are 20 years old. Most of the things you will have to do to get it in shape are essentially one time events. However for most cars that old there are alot of those one time events that just never got done.

Once all in shape they become extreamly reliable.
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Old 10-28-2007, 10:07 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Central PA
Posts: 14
How easy are these cars to work on by yourself? I am finding that the Diesel I have is fairly easy to do things myself (with a lot of help form here). So if I can figure an SL out after I purchase, that would be very beneficial.
1983 300SD
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