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Old 02-04-2002, 04:33 PM
Posts: n/a
Question Buying Tips...

I am considering buying a 1969-71 280 SL. I love the classic looks of the car and the open top. I have about $12K - $13K to spend and am looking for a car I can drive on nice weekends. I am a change the oil, brakes, wipers kind of guy but don't want to get into the engine.

Can anyone suggest what to look for when buying one of these cars and what kind of car I can get for that money?

I am trying to learn as much as possible about this model so anything anyone can tell me from specific problems it has to good books on this car or other places to find info. would be very appreciated.



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Old 02-04-2002, 10:11 PM
Aaron's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posts: 1,935
The biggest thing to look out for on the W113 SLs is rust in the chassis. The floorboards are a major spot, so are the headlight bucket areas. Check the trunk floor as well. Doors, trunk and hood are all aluminum so make sure they are straight and dent-free.

As for mechanicals, the old 130 straight sixes are known to use oil. Typical useage is about 1 quart per 1,500 miles. Pretty much all of them use some oil, so you really will never escape that. Automatic transmissions shift hard, which is pretty much the norm, and manuals should have smooth gear engagement and a good clutch feel. Brakes are good, and pull the car down straight and true.

Convertible tops are expensive to replace and if the original hard top is included, that is a big bonus, but beware, if it has any rust, it will be a very time-consuming job to repair correctly.

Interiors are pretty long-lived, but again, they can be big bucks to put right if they are tatty. Also, check to make sure the windshield wipers work, because the car is pretty much built around the wiper motor (get my hint?). Also check the heater blower motor, check the smoothness of the heater levers and if the car is equipped with the under dash A/C system, check it for operation. An original radio is also a plus.

The VIN # on the 280SL will begin with 113044

Good luck!
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Old 02-05-2002, 09:56 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
In your price range, you are at the very low end of the market. You may find a decent car that needs some work, but be very careful to avoid the endless money pits lurking out there.

Good luck
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 02-05-2002, 11:10 AM
Registered User
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 387
I echo Chuck's sentiments. If you spend another few $K, you'll save it in the long run. Aaron is dead on with rust. A rusty 280SL can be a money pit. Go see as many as you can, and get educated. Try not to buy one on ebay, unless you've seen the car or had someone else look at it. Pictures, especially digital pictures, lie. Automatics are generally much less expensive than sticks. 5 speeds are VERY desireable. Don't limit yourself to the 280 - the 230 and 250 are virtually identical, with similar performance numbers. Most feel the 230/250s handle better because of suspenstion changes MB made for the 280SL (greaseless fittings). Hard tops, in most areas of the country, are rarely used. They are supposed to add $1000 to the value of the car, but rarely bring that.

There's no 230/250/280SL club out there, but quite a few in the 190SL Group have these cars as well. You can try posting your inquiry on our Forum (we use the same vBulletin software) Parts are fairly easy to get, and fairly inexpensive (realitively speaking). K & K ( makes the sheet metal and has new great parts availability. Sam at Eurocars also specializes in these cars along with 190SLs. He has occasional cars, and lot's of decent used parts.
Bill Streep
San Antonio
'57 190SL (toy)
'08 S5500 (mine)
'09 CLK550 (wife's)
'06 SLK350 (daughter's)
'11 GLK350 (daughter's)
'03 CLK310 (spare)
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Old 02-06-2002, 02:58 PM
Jim B+
Posts: n/a
I'd suggest you buy a copy of the

Mercedes Benz Buyer's Guide by Frank Barrett, available for under $20 at most chain bookstores or thru the web.

The book distinguishes between the various SL models, gives pros and cons to each, and stuff you need to look out for no matter what old Benz you hanker for.

I'd agree with everything said so far...and add that a lot of companies are manufacturing aftermarket mechanical and body parts for these cars. Would also suggest you join the MBCA, for the magazine, the classified ads (parts and cars), and the specialized dealers and shops that cater to SLs.
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Old 02-10-2002, 03:05 PM
Posts: n/a
Here are links to a couple of 230/250/280SL groups on the web:

1969 280SL

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