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Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, Convertible
#403 of 518 Buying a 560 SL?
Jun 11, 2009 (3:28 am)
I am considering a pre 2003 Mercedes SL. Iíve tried to absorb all the info on the forums so here is what I think (newbie to old cars) Iíve learned:
With a reasonable budget (less than 15k) the 560SL is the best (vs older or newer), medium mileage (less than 100k), check service records, and have it inspected by a certified mechanic. So here are my questions?
I want a daily use, fun to drive, reliable car. What is the better model, engine and year to look for? What specific history should I review for before I conclude itís worth paying for an inspection? i.e. timing change replaced?, a/c changed, flushed what? Can you give me the top 5 problems?
Would it be better to stretch and get late 90ís SL?
Any other advice or reference sites about this type of purchase would be appreciated.
#404 of 518 Re: Buying a 560 SL? [bwatersl]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jun 11, 2009 (7:13 am)
I'm sure everyone here has some good advice for you--my two cents is that yes the 560SL is the car you want; but I'm not sure you're going to find a really perfect one for under $15K. The basic rule is "don't buy an SL with needs" and "buy the best SL you can afford--no fixer uppers".
#405 of 518 Re: Buying a 560 SL? [bwatersl]
Jun 11, 2009 (7:34 am)
Buy the nicest one you can possibly afford - for the cheapest Mercedes often turns out to be the most expensive. Look for old records, and if you know a reputable shop, it is very worth it to have them go over it. A lot of the individual problem areas are centered around specific engines and years. I will say that on a decent miles car, timing chain is seldom an issue.
I think a nice enough 560SL can be had for 15K. Not a low mileage time warp, but something that has been shown care. I could have bought a very nice 88 560SL with about 70K miles on it about 5 years ago, in a color that matched my W126, for about 15K IIRC. It was taken care of and had no needs.
A 90s car will be in the same price range - even the very last 2000-2002 models aren't bringing much more than 20K now. Off and on there were 6cyl variants of these sold, even a 5 speed 300SL in the early years, maybe in 90-91. One of those would probably be cheaper to take care of, but there would be some sacrificed performance.
Beware of 90s (R129) models that show any kind of neglect - I have noticed a lot of run-down ones lately, they seem to be attracting the type who can't or won't do the required maintenance. And for that platform, run away from the V12 cars - running costs are very high and there's not much extra benefit.
For specific advice, MB specific forums like MBworld and Benzworld might get you more responses.
Jun 11, 2009 (10:29 am)
The idea of some sort of an SL as either a hobbycar or a daily driver is a good one, but you have to decide what characteristics you want in this car. A 560SL is an excellent car in so very many ways, but by today's standards, it is by no means a performance car and is completely different from the later models. Those SL's that came after offer a far higher performance, but tend to be rather more expensive in regard to upkeep. A good 560SL is certainly not an expensive car to maintain (bearing in mind its pedigree and what it is) and spares are still readily available. The build quality right through the production time was very high and with the right treatment - a little TLC and regular maintenance - the car will run for ever. I doubt if such can be said of the SL's from 1990 and on. Their heavy reliance on electronics can make them extremely expensive to fix and although they are nice looking cars in their own right, they do not have the eye appeal of a well kept 107. I personally don't think they are as comfortable either though in fairness, with automatic tops etc they are undoubtedly more convenient. One final thought: although there are a lot of 560SL's out there and they will probably never command the kind of price the rarer 113 goes for, they are no longer depreciating whereas the newer ones still are. Whichever way you go I hope you enjoy your SL.
#407 of 518 Re: Freshairfiend [freshairfiend]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jun 11, 2009 (11:36 am)
thanks for those comments freshair. Good advice.
I would like to add, though, that the last years of the 560SL show pretty darn good performance figures. These cars are considerably quicker than earlier SLs and can even beat the later 500SL. With the right car and right driver, you are easily in the 7 second category with this car, and perhaps high 6s with an extreme brake/gas launch. And handling is much better than earlier SLs as well.
Only "downside" is that your gas mileage isn't going to get much better than maybe 16 mpg.
#408 of 518 Re: Freshairfiend [freshairfiend]
Jun 11, 2009 (2:41 pm)
That's very correct on 107 vs 129 - the older car has significantly less electrics to break, and will probably prove to be more durable with less fiddling around needed - MB really did know how to build cars in the 80s. I still am often tempted with going back to a nice W126...and may keep a 107 or something around for sunny days...they are both cheapish cars anymore.
Jun 12, 2009 (8:42 am)
That's interesting. I had no idea that the late 560SL's were that quick. I have driven a friend's '88 a few times, though only in cruising mode, and although quite responsive, I never felt it had more than a bit of an edge on my '85 280SL, but I guess with a little more lead in the foot it would react differently. You alluded to gas mileage though and that rule rarely changes - the faster you drive the more gas you will use and none of the V8 SL's are specifically known for economy.
#410 of 518 Re: Reply to Mr Shiftright [freshairfiend]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Jun 12, 2009 (7:03 pm)
Oh you have a European 280SL with the 6 cylinder? I think the 560SL would easily outperform it, yes. But maybe not from 0-30 mph. It takes a little while for that truck to get moving.
Jul 10, 2009 (9:29 am)
I have an 82 560sl that was a gift to me from a family member in california. the day before I drive it back to Colorado I had to have the fuel pump and relay replaced. the service manager told me that they didn't make a 560sl in 82 and that it's a 380. I thought maybe the dealer had changed the plate to get more money for it, but after reading some of the history on this car from MB I thinking that because of the changes that had to be made ( it is a gray market) it may have changed the horsepower to a 560. Also can anyone tell me what the MPG should be for this vehicle. The car runs fantastic and I love putting it on the highway. The motor (V8) is strong and quiet.
#412 of 518 Re: 82 560sl [hscolnss1]
Jul 10, 2009 (9:37 am)
You must have a European (grey market) 500SL.