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  #1  
Old 03-10-2008, 08:57 PM
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Engine serial number location

I'm driving a couple hundred miles this weekend to go look at an 84 500SL. I've spent some time on the phone with the seller pre-qualifying my trip, and figure that if the car really is what he says it is I'll probably be driving it home.

It is a grey market car, obviously, but actually has had almost nothing done to it to convert it for the US market, just the speedo. Looking at the photos I noticed that it does not have the spoiler. When I asked the seller about this he stated that he never knew it should have one. This car supposedly has original paint, so I would think that if the spoiler had been removed there would be some evidence of that. The seller has owned the SL for 10 years, and had purchased it from his neighbor that also had it over 10 years.

I figure I should probably take a look at the engine number to make sure that it really is a 500. I'd prefer not to remove a bunch of stuff if not necessary, so I'm hoping someone will point me in the right direction.

Actually, my main concern with this car is the fact that it hasn't been driven much the last 10 years. The seller states that he has put about 5000 miles on the car himself, with a lot of them coming the first year. If he put 2500 miles on the first year that only leaves about 300 miles a year for the next 9 years; hardly more than a tank of gas per summer. Supposedly it has been run every year.

Thanks for any help!


Phil
Sunny Courtland, Minnesota

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  #2  
Old 03-10-2008, 09:54 PM
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Location: Falls Church, VA
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The engine number is on the block at the rear of the left cylinder head.

You are probably aware that this will be a challenging car for many reasons. It's probably not going to be a great learning experience. Parts, specs, figuring out what was done to federalize it, getting it smogged, and finding someone to work on it, for starters.

Good luck.
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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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  #3  
Old 03-10-2008, 10:14 PM
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I'm already a bit apprehensive....

I've always liked these cars, but I have been weighing out if I'm ready to dive back in to an older vehicle. It would not be transportation, purely a toy. In the 80's I restored a 62 Chev Impala SS 409 ragtop; always loved the lines on the 62's. I did a lot of the work on the car myself, but left close-tolerance items like physically rebuilding the engine and transmission to the experienced mechanics. Other stuff I didn't mind doing myself, but I'm not as young as I used to be (of course) and I do have a pretty full schedule. On the other hand, I have enjoyed working on stuff that I own.

I have read the "Things to consider before buying an SL" thread and I have to admit it does make me feel a little more cautious. I've been considering going with a late model Corvette (admittedly a different type of vehicle) but as I consider it I think the depreciation & investment vs the maintenance issue should be a wash....

This car is a Minnesota car, and has been stored every winter, so I don't expect rust issues, but I am aware that these cars don't like to sit. Actually, most cars or bikes don't like to sit. I've always liked the lines of the SL 107 series, and I have been drawn to the workmanship that Mercedes enjoyed during the era that these were built, but time takes its toll just as well as use.

I'm probably looking at about $8,000 when it's all done. Has the market gone really soft on the SL's, or this about right for a car that at least cosmetically looks very clean?

Phil
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  #4  
Old 03-10-2008, 11:54 PM
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The VIN would tell you what the car really is - a 500SL should be a 107 046.
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  #5  
Old 03-11-2008, 12:19 AM
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Thank you, that is much simpler
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  #6  
Old 03-11-2008, 07:20 AM
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In many ways, it's the best of the 107's - highest horsepower and small bumpers, manual heat, uncomplicated engines. But that comes with challenges.

- if you want to keep the car authentic, you will need the help of a sympathetic dealer parts guy. You can get some stuff through the online vendors, but factory-only stuff will need to come from Europe through a dealer.

- finding someone to work on it will be a challenge. Most shops don't like older cars, much less cars where they have to chase special order parts. If you can do your own work, that's a plus.

- getting it smogged. If you have to pass a three-gas test, you may be in trouble. Because of the higher compression and hotter cams, NOx is a challenge. Can you get a waiver if it doesn't pass? This is getting harder.

- conversion stuff. All of these cars had to be federalized. So you need to look closely at the catalytic converter, and how the oxygen sensor is wired up. Most of these were installed with after-market control units and support for those is non-existent. If you have to have a working system to pass emissions, this could be a real problem.

It sounds like you have found a nice car. But you may be better off with a US model as your first 107. There are plenty of cars around for that price.
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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 03-11-2008, 08:27 AM
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Any good mechanic can work on it; mine has no trouble with my 500. As for parts, that's easy too; the local MB dealer can get whatever you want. I haven't had a problem with that one. Smog test? That'll be your problem. Mine wouldn't pass a smog test under any condition - I can smell the fumes. However, mine's got the AMG exhaust - might be a tad too free-flowing for the government's rules.
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1989 500SEL Euro
1966 250SE Cabriolet
1958 BMW Isetta 600
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  #8  
Old 03-11-2008, 07:57 PM
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WADR, you are fortunate to have a pristine car that probably doesn't need much more than routine maintenance, and you must have a good dealer parts department.

The rubber hits the road when a serious repair is needed on a grey-market car, especially if it involves emissions.

In the DC area, it's getting tough to find independent shops who will, or can, work on any flavor of 107 much less the grey markets. There's one competent dealer still doing them, but if you have to ask you can't afford it.

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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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