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Old 02-21-2008, 02:31 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 263
Help for a newbie - looking at 380SL

I was hoping someone out there could help this newbie out. I normally hang out on the Diesel board as I have 300 SDL. But I have the bug now, and I am looking at an 84 380 SL. Unfortunately I haven't the foggiest idea what to look for in this type of car.

The car was supposedly a single owner car. It has 65k on it. Also, the car has a few "cosmetic" issues - hail dents in the hood and a non-functioning hard top latch were mentioned.

Of course I will also take hints on how to search for old threads - I realize these repeated requests can get tiring.

One other question - I have no idea how to value this car. Is it possible that it is worth $8500? That is the asking price.

86 300 SDL - Vesuvius

96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke

Last edited by mowoc; 02-21-2008 at 02:38 PM.
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Old 02-21-2008, 09:54 PM
cth350's Avatar
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Long Island, NY
Posts: 3,859
not if the hood needs a repaint it isn't.

An SL is prone to rust like any other mercedes. BUT, it is extremely sensitive to it at the four corners of the rockers, so keep your eyes open and don't let pretty fool you.

The alloy motor is expensive to rebuild, so make sure there are no unexplained engine problems. And don't rely on the seller to do the explaining.

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Old 02-22-2008, 08:43 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Greater Metropolitan Beaverdam VA
Posts: 2,873
your 380SL

The 380SL is a fine car. The 1984 has a double row timing chain like the 560SLs. That arrangement is more durable than the single row chain on the 1981-1983 models. The 380SL has noticeably less power than the 560SL but you get much better fuel mileage. The basic engine is
capable of a very long life if properly maintained. It can approach deisel-like durability.

I think $8500.00 is at the high side of average for that car but condition and maintenance records are the key. If no records are avilable, I would recommend having a trustworthy mechanic check it over including removing the valve covers to check the condition of the chain and associated plastic parts for the tensioner, chain rails and cam oiler. A thorough check could cost as much as $500.00 including replacement of some small odds and ends such as injector seals if needed. If a complete timing chain and oiler replacement is required the cost could be at $800.00. This is a small price to pay if you really like the car and want to sleep well. A fresh double row chain and it's pieces should be good for 100k miles.

The car is a vacuum-rich environment so be prepared to trouble-shoot those systems that are vacuum controlled.

If you do your own work, you already know that access to many components is limited compared to your sedan.

If power is important and fuel mileage not a factor, go for a 560SL if you can afford the additional $5k or so. They are the last and best of the breed.

Hope I helped.
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Old 02-22-2008, 09:50 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Central Ky
Posts: 6,154
8500 should bring you a mechanically sound and body sound, minor blemish car. Mileage is not as important as maintenance history, I agree with all other said, pay attention to power ? IF that is your desire look at a 560 or 450
GOod luck
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Old 02-22-2008, 03:07 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Posts: 439

Has some real good ones on there...also refer to and gauge the vehicles value prior to speaking to a seller. That way he knows you know whats going on. Although there are some examples that are worth maybe more that the guide mentions, but the average (middle price is a good place to start negotiating) - down that is...I have purchased over 10 SL's for personal use over the years and they have been mostly 450's with a few 560's thrown in for good measure. I have located a very very nice white / blue 560 SL located in hollywood fla for 6000. The car looks impecable, and short of touching it this is a deal and I would make the 380 my last choice in a SL. Double timing chain or not. Let me know if you want me to forward the info for you.

Timothy Evans
CELL 310 990 6780

1985 380 SL
2010 CL 6.3 AMG
*2009 CL 550 Sport 4matic
New addition-1984 380 SE
Newest Edition 1986 300E AMG
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Old 02-24-2008, 08:04 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
Man, 8500 is all the money for a 65K 1984. For that you should get a near-perfect zero rust car.

So in addition to what's been said:

- Be sure all functions of the climate control work
- Make them fix the hard top, take it off so you can put the soft top up and inspect it, as well as the hatch seal, latch, and compartment for rust, and the paint for signs of damage from hard top remove/install
- Drive the car with the soft top up preferably on the freeway to check the seals and wind noise
- Pull up all of the carpets and look for we floors or signs of moisture
- Check the spare tire well for water and rust
- Pull up the cover behind the seats and look for rust spots
- Check the dash for cracks, be sure it's original and not a cover

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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