1985 Mercedes-Benz SL Review from North America

1985 Mercedes-Benz SL 500 5.0 Liter V8

Year of manufacture1985
First year of ownership1985
Most recent year of ownership2003
Engine and transmission 5.0 Liter V8 Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 8 / 10
Comfort marks 5 / 10
Dealer Service marks 2 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 4 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.4 / 10
Distance when acquired0 miles
Most recent distance165000 miles

Summary:

Great style and quality in a classic body

Faults:

Leaked freon from air conditioner (fixed).

Transmission needed repair at 100,000 miles.

Convertible roof needed replacing from cracking (2x!)

Ignition starter replaced.

General Comments:

I have owned this car since new and purchased it in Switzerland in 1985. It was great on the autobahn and the 500 V8 engine is superb.

The car is now in the USA (I imported it) and has a catalytic converter and only one exhaust running from it (euro models have two) and stell reinforced in the doors. It passes emissions with a little help from the mechanic. I still have the euro lights and bumpers and rear deck spoiler. I personally prefer the european bumpers, as they are the original design for the 107 body.

It is a great car and people still ask me if it is for sale. It has that great aura from being a car featured in so many films (my car is black on black and looks kind of like the 450SL in AMERICAN GIGOLO, without the US bumpers). With 160,000 miles I am always worried something is about to go wrong, but so far it has been great. Sometimes it just stops dead! But it starts again. =)

I have a GREAT mechanic so that is why I am keeping this car so long (almost 20 years). Repairs are really expensive and I am used to $1500 when I have work done. It hurts sometimes, but the car drives great.

I am shocked by the low resale of these cars now (I purchased it for $45,000 in 1985 and now it is worth $7,500 at the most, I think) but that makes it a great car to buy for someone that wants a vintage Mercedes. The build quality is outstanding and solid. It is trully a mechanical car. Looks great with the top down, and there is not all the electrical stuff and relays that can go wrong like in the new SLs with their electric EVERYTHING (which I love...but the new SLs must be very expensive to maintain after the warranty expires).

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 7th September, 2003

29th Mar 2008, 16:45

I own a 1985 500SL...

Great automobile.

12th Oct 2008, 04:52

I have owned my 1987 500SL since around 1997, replacing a Jaguar E-type (XKE), and it has been a magnificent servant. It remains smooth, potent and seemingly unbreakable. Of course, for a car of this age, there have been occasional spends to keep the body work (silver with a blue detachable steel roof) looking as though it has just rolled out of a showroom, and the servicing costs have to be met. However, for the most part this has been routine and the only costly item was an electrical fault that developed largely due to lack of use.

The car still looks magnificent and gets used and shown. Often, I am asked how much it is worth. The answer is, I don't know and I don't give a damn because it is not for sale at any price. It has shared in many happy memories, and I hope I own the thing for another 40 years or whenever I quit my mortal coil.

I have owned several newer SLKs (used by my wife) and they simply do not compare to the old SL in terms of quality or presence. my Bentley is an altogether different creature, fulfilling other needs, but the SL is staying in my ownership for the foreseeable future.

But a word of warning. Go for low mileage, full manufacturer service history. And be prepared to pay good money. There are cheap ones around, but they are potentially riddled with problems, not to mention rust.

23rd Jun 2009, 01:04

I have an '85 500 Euro and it is a truly superb car. Manual top is a PITA, and it consumes oil worse than a Saudi sheik. However, these are very small prices to pay for a $10K car with Riviera chic. If you want an ultimately fashionable ride with no intent of putting over 5K annual miles it is perfect. Also that 5 liter 280hp engine is nothing short of spectacular, and the torque is truly stump-pulling.

Great car except for the god-awful, must be done in perfect sequence top that does take a while to figure out. One of the best values out there, and you will never encounter another while in it, priceless!

Average review marks: 5.4 / 10, based on 1 review