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    Auction Finds

    A classic ’83 Mercedes 380SL

    I was doing my walk-through at a new auction house when I came upon something that really caught my eye. A sleek, green two-door Mercedes convertible that was speaking to me. And I heard it: In a flash, I saw myself styling around my neighborhood in this classic car.

    It looked to have been cleaned and polished, and it glistened there in the morning sun. It … was … nice.

    The Mercedes 380SL at auction looked to be in good cosmetic condition.

    The auction folks had removed the hardtop and laid it out carefully on the pavement nearby. So I had an unobstructed view of the interior. The seats were a bit ratty and had splits in a few places (the previous owner apparently spent a lot of time behind the wheel). I know nothing about engines, so I wasn’t sure about the condition under the hood.

    The tag on the window gave me some information:

    ’83 Mercedes Benz 380SL



    Orig. British Racing Green

    121 K miles

    New front end, new air, new brakes

    and all 4 calipers, new battery and more!!!

    The mileage seemed way high, even to me.

    A full view of the sleek Mercedes 380SL.

    But I would’ve loved to have taken it out to see how it handled, but that wasn’t likely because I wasn’t going to bid on it. I wasn’t even sure if the auction house was making that offer to potential bidders, but I was certain that an interested buyer would have carefully inspected the car.

    The 380SL, from what I found in my research on the web, was made from 1980 to around 1985 or 1986. It had a 3.9-liter V8 engine and an automatic transmission. A two-seat roadster with hard and soft tops, it sold in 1981 for $39,000. By 1984, the SL was being sold for $43,820.

    The car had a major issue that one owner – who bought his new in 1983 – riffed about on his website. The car was made with a single timing chain that tended to stretch over time, causing problems that resulted in high repair bills. At one point, according to several sites, the company provided a double-chain retro-fit for the car. Several car enthusiasts suggested that you take a look at the timing chain before you buy, and another listed other things to look for when considering a purchase.

    The seats inside the Mercedes 380SL were a bit worn.

    I wasn’t around when the 380SL was auctioned, but I found several selling on the web – in the colors of blue, gold, red and silver – from around $12,000 to $20,000. Those that included mileage were under 50,000 miles. The most gorgeous of them all was a red one that the dealership had knocked down to $18,900.

    If you bought that Mercedes and wanted to get your young child acclimated early to a convertible, I came across two play cars at another auction. They had the customary steering wheels and tires, but they required foot power rather than horsepower to move. They were not exactly the 380SL, but a child with a little imagination could make them into any car he or she wanted.

    Two play cars ready to be sold at auction.


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