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  #1  
Old 01-02-2009, 04:28 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 153
1991 300SL Refurbish or Replace

I am about to retire and plan to take many road trips to see the country and want to do it in an SL.

My 1991 300SL 70K miles is in excellent condition, except needing a new soft top, at this time with all mechanical and electrical systems functioning properly. Except for the instrument cluster, Heater/AC control unit, ignition coil, cap, and rotor, head gasket, injectors, hood pad, all lubrication fluids, fuel filter, and brake pads, rotors and flex hoses, all components are original to the car.

Having spent most of my live predicting and preventing unscheduled break downs on heavy industrial electrical equipment and systems, I find myself pondering the following:

Do I spend the time and money to refurbish the 300SL by replacing time and mileage sensitive components all at one time rather than waiting for each of them to fail or put the money towards a 2006 or newer V8 SL?

I would like to hear the collective wisdom of members of this forum.

Thanks in advance.
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  #2  
Old 01-02-2009, 04:42 PM
woolf's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Hertfordshire, UK
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My opinion is that if you have a choice, drive the car that makes you feel happy

AAA is there for a reason.

Hope you enjoy your retirement
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  #3  
Old 01-02-2009, 05:16 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Connecticut
Posts: 241
couldn't agree more

if you're retired and will be traveling for fun then who cares if you break down. fix up the 91 and enjoy.

when driving my 1987 300SDL i am happier then when driving my fathers 2001 S500.

This in my opinion is a similar trade off. Sure a newer SL would be faster smoother, and more reliable, but its all a personal choice. And i like the older one.

Drive the newer SL and then think back as to what your 91 was like and try to imagine what would make you more happy.

If you have any sentimental connection your current SL you'll want her with you on the travels. I see it as going on a trip with an old friend or a business associate.
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  #4  
Old 01-02-2009, 11:09 PM
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traveling in warmer weather I hope.

A 91 SL that's been properly maintained should be a very plesant experience.

-CTH
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2009, 11:56 PM
Skid Row Joe's Avatar
PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sldan View Post
I am about to retire and plan to take many road trips to see the country and want to do it in an SL.

My 1991 300SL 70K miles is in excellent condition, except needing a new soft top, at this time with all mechanical and electrical systems functioning properly. Except for the instrument cluster, Heater/AC control unit, ignition coil, cap, and rotor, head gasket, injectors, hood pad, all lubrication fluids, fuel filter, and brake pads, rotors and flex hoses, all components are original to the car.

Having spent most of my live predicting and preventing unscheduled break downs on heavy industrial electrical equipment and systems, I find myself pondering the following:

Do I spend the time and money to refurbish the 300SL by replacing time and mileage sensitive components all at one time rather than waiting for each of them to fail or put the money towards a 2006 or newer V8 SL?

I would like to hear the collective wisdom of members of this forum.

Thanks in advance.
If I were you, I'd sell the '91 SL for as much as it will bring. Next, I'd buy a 2005 SL500 pre-owned with less than 20K miles on it. They can be had in the mid to low $40K range. You obviously like SLs, and now is a great time to pick up an SL500 for reduced dollars. You owe yourself a new replacement car.
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  #6  
Old 01-03-2009, 05:25 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Milwaukee Wisconsin
Posts: 1,149
I have a 1991 300SL with about 110K miles. No major problems until about 105K when the smog pump failed. I wouldn't hesitate to drive your car since you have maintened it well. But, since the older 129's are worth so little in dollar terms, why not keep the 1991 and buy yourself the newer car for your travels? I personnaly prefer the looks of the 129's over the 230's.
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  #7  
Old 01-03-2009, 08:58 PM
82 380SL & 96 SL500
 
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Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 245
You can't make a logical assessment for this type of decision, because the logical decision would be to lose the SL and buy a Buick sedan.

Odds are that you've got an idea as to what you want to do, so go for it.

If it would help to hear some logic for doing that, let me know what you want to do & I'll be glad to give you some BS that will make it sound perfectly reasonable.

In any case, enjoy your retirement.

Alan
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2009, 03:21 AM
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Old dog - new tricks
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: East Midlands of the UK
Posts: 264
retire

Retirement is a state of mid - It's taken me about 6 years to get to the stage of not working - so don't expect an instant change.

re the cars - serious or not it's your choice!

Now you will have more time (or so you might think!)
A newer SL is not so much of a DIY project as a dealer project.
An older SL ( Pre 89) can be more home maintained (no so much tech stuff) as a newer one

My thoughts:

Get a new runabout for day to day driving ( or you may already have one)
Repace the 129 with a 107 or even an earlier one
spend a year doing ALLLLLL the bits you are worried about

Enjoy life

Cheers

Jim
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  #9  
Old 01-04-2009, 04:48 AM
88Black560SL
 
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Posts: 2,832
Quote:
Originally Posted by sldan View Post
I am about to retire and plan to take many road trips to see the country and want to do it in an SL.

My 1991 300SL 70K miles is in excellent condition, except needing a new soft top, at this time with all mechanical and electrical systems functioning properly. Except for the instrument cluster, Heater/AC control unit, ignition coil, cap, and rotor, head gasket, injectors, hood pad, all lubrication fluids, fuel filter, and brake pads, rotors and flex hoses, all components are original to the car.

Having spent most of my live predicting and preventing unscheduled break downs on heavy industrial electrical equipment and systems, I find myself pondering the following:

Do I spend the time and money to refurbish the 300SL by replacing time and mileage sensitive components all at one time rather than waiting for each of them to fail or put the money towards a 2006 or newer V8 SL?

I would like to hear the collective wisdom of members of this forum.

Thanks in advance.
70K miles in excellent condition accept for the top. Replace the top, change fluids and filters and drive.
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  #10  
Old 01-04-2009, 10:48 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Posts: 153
I appreciate all of the great comments and want to inject a few thoughts.

coleyjf,
I semi retired 5 years ago and worked more than before that time and must say you are spot on about some of us guys that do not know how to not keep busy. I have been able to perform most of the work on the 300SL with the help of this forum and the service CD.

Roncallo and woolf,
It is wonderful when problems can be quickly narrowed down to their simplest terms. We have taken long road trips in the past in the SL only getting on 4 lane highways when no 2 lane roads were available. I seem to worry more now about having a break down. In this time of cell phones, the AAA, and 800 MB help number a break down may be less a problem than when we took the long trips.

abiby,
Rather than a Buick sedan, how about an 06 Town and Country Mini Van? I have caught myself recently driving the T&C and leaving the SL parked. Must be something about gray hair!!

tecqboy,
I like your idea but my wife just laughed!!! I also like the R129 over the 230. The resale value of the R129 is what has me wondering if it makes sense to put money into it but to me the early R129 is a timeless design without all of the new high tech stuff.

Skid Row Joe,
That is the exact reason why I started thinking about refurbish or replace.

cth350,
We like to travel in the spring and fall. We did get caught in a snow storm in October while driving in northern PA. The R129 is a very comfortable and safe machine.

ggspeed,
I share your idea about connecting with the car. I owned a 1964 230SL and thought it had a much different feel that a 250SL I drove. I feel that the 1991 300SL is a sort of reincarnation of that 230SL feel with the in line 6 and just enough technology to make the car safer and more comfortable 113.
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  #11  
Old 01-08-2009, 07:57 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 27
I have been up and down the east coast several times in the last Three years in my 380sl and enjoyed it each time. The only time I had any problems was a voltage regulator. A very nice old man in Summerville SC rebuilt it for me for 50 dollars. Go for it and enjoy your retirement. I have been retired for 15 years
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  #12  
Old 01-08-2009, 11:35 PM
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Location: Wichita, Ks
Posts: 5,187
This is what I would do in your situation... Find the lowest mileage, newest, and nicest R129 you can find, then buy it...

Personally, I love the silver arrows.

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=u&car_id=221639660&dealer_id=1359774&car_year=2002&rdm=1231475335128&num_records=25&model=SL500&systime=&make2=&highlightFirstMakeModel=&start_year=1981&engine=&keywordsrep=&keywordsrep=&keywordsfyc=&keywordsfyc=&certified=&body_code=0&fuel=&awsp=false&search_type=both&distance=0&marketZipError=false&search_lang=en&showZipError=n&make=MB&color=&keywords_display=&page_location=findacar%3A%3Aispsearchform&min_price=&drive=&default_sort=priceDESC&seller_type=b&position=top&max_mileage=30000&style_flag=1&sort_type=mileageASC&address=67230&advanced=y&end_year=2002&transmission=&doors=&max_price=&cardist=1400

Its the perfect compromise... You get a car 11 years newer with 50,000 less miles on it. If the one owner has maintained it meticulously, and you can knock a little off the price, you would have the PERFECT car, in my opinion.

or you could take a vacation to Florida to take a look at this one... Cheaper price with Benz CPO warranty.

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.jsp?ct=c&car_id=256572811&dealer_id=1360291&car_year=2001&rdm=1231475335128&num_records=25&model=SL500&systime=&make2=&highlightFirstMakeModel=&start_year=1981&engine=&keywordsrep=&keywordsrep=&keywordsfyc=&keywordsfyc=&certified=&body_code=0&fuel=&awsp=false&search_type=both&distance=0&marketZipError=false&search_lang=en&showZipError=n&make=MB&color=&keywords_display=&page_location=findacar%3A%3Aispsearchform&min_price=&drive=&default_sort=priceDESC&seller_type=b&position=top&max_mileage=30000&style_flag=1&sort_type=mileageASC&address=67230&advanced=y&end_year=2002&transmission=&doors=&max_price=&cardist=1288
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1985 500SL Euro w/ AMG bits 130k
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  #13  
Old 01-09-2009, 06:40 AM
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Location: Greater Metropolitan Beaverdam VA
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retirement driving

I too am retired although working part-time at something I always wanted to do. Here is my opinion.

I would rather rely on a car that I have known and maintained for a long time. If you are thinking of buying preowned, it may take as long as a year of daily driving before you develop confidence enough to take such a car on one lap around America. If you buy new, such considerations may change but there is still no guarantee a new car won't leave you stranded. Your background should make you familiar with the "infant mortality" concept.

There are many things that one can do in the way of preventive maintenance as you know but for most major stuff, I am an advocate of the "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." school. There are exceptions of course. Timing chain maintenance comes to mind.

If you are confident in your SL500 and are capable of isolating faults and conducting minor repairs, I would assemble a kit of side-of-the-road-repair critical spares such as fuel pump relay, engine temperature sensor, etc. and go for the ride of your life with your existing old horse.

My plan is to do the same with my 560SL. See you on the road.
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