1981 Mercedes-Benz SL 380 SLC from North America - Comments

7th Oct 2010, 11:37

To inspect your chain, open the oil fill cap on the passenger side cam cover. Using a flashlight and a dental mirror you can see the gears on the front of the cam shaft. If there are two, you have a duplex chain; if one, simplex.

The going price for these cars: 1981-1985 SL/SLC will be around $6-8000. Low miles is no indication of value; it only means the car was not driven. For a car this old, what is wanted is maintenance records.

No matter how well it has been maintained, some things are going to need to be replaced. Anything made of rubber or plastic will have aged, and there is a lot of each. The suspension is loaded with rubber components, essential. The vacuum system is critical as it controls the engine and transmission and it has a lot of plastic.

Replacing and repairing these items is not cheap. The whole front end will have to be disassembled; the drive train will have to be removed; the engine opened up. These heavy maintenance requirements are what keeps the prices down: the car is cheap to buy but expensive to operate.

However, new parts are widely available and if you are a DIY-er you can save a lot of cash. Once done, they're done.

I own a 1984 380SL which sat unloved for 6 years. I got it for free by inheriting it. After $8,000 in parts and $10,000 in labor over the last two years, I have a beautiful MB that runs and feels and looks like it is brand new. I feel I can put 50,000 miles on it with nothing more than oil changes.

So be aware of what you face when buying an old SL. They are strong enough to go 250,000 miles or more, but maintenance is the key. Get one cheap, put a little love in it, and you will have something really special, a car that brings joy wherever it goes.

11th Nov 2010, 17:52

I purchased a 1981 380 SLC about a year ago, and have put on it about 4,000 miles. I still LOVE it! A little slow on the acceleration, but once it reaches 2,500rpm, it just wants to go. GREAT car.

18th Apr 2011, 13:42

I work for the Salvation Army in Houston Texas and we just received a 1981 380 SLC in borderline fair condition with 160,000 miles. It runs, but looks like a restoration project.

I need help with pricing or any good information would be helpful. 713-425-8751.

12th Jun 2011, 22:39

Mine (81 380SLC) gives me 12 miles to the gallon in the city and about 19 on the highway.

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