$6,750, Is This 1983 Mercedes 380 SL A Solid Deal?

$6,750, Is This 1983 Mercedes 380 SL A Solid Deal?

The seller of today’s Nice Price or No Dice 380 SL claims it’s driven frequently enough to be considered a regular sight on San Diego roads. Let’s see if it’s priced for us regular folk to drive.

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Roller coasters, scary movies, and bloody video games all have one thing in common. Each allows us to enter a world of peril or adventure without the actual threat of bodily harm. It’s the sizzle without the tainted steak. The 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus that came under our adjudication yesterday represented the polar opposite. It was a sensible and seemingly sturdy family car that offered nothing when it came to thrills or chills of any sort. Its only modus operandi involves getting its occupants home safely and in modest comfort. Could that position as basic transportation plus a little more be worth the $6,699 asked for it? Well, according to those of you who voted the Dodge to a 60 percent Nice Price win, it most certainly might.

Yesterday’s Dodge was designed under the auspices of German car maker Daimler’s ownership of Chrysler. Little, however, of that marque’s legendarily stout build quality and engineering made it into the model. Truth be told, by the turn of the 21st Century, even Daimler’s own Mercedes-Benz models were starting to show signs of cost-cutting and related build quality issues.

Two decades prior, things were vastly different, and that’s just when this 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380 SL was constructed and sold. Many consider the R107 SL series not just one of the best cars ever built by Mercedes but generally one of the best-built cars in the world. Solid, sturdy, and long-lived both in production years and to this day as a desirable classic, the R107 has staying power belied by its diminutive size.

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That’s not to say all R107s are created equal, and this 380 SL is perhaps the least equal of them all. Offered from 1981 through 1985, the 380 SL replaced the 450 SL in the North American market, offering the smaller, less powerful edition of the M116 V8 in an effort to improve fuel economy and emissions. The downgrade is noticeable on both paper and on the road, with the 155 horsepower 3.8 giving up fully 35 horses to its brawnier predecessor. To add insult to injury, the 3.8 also employed a less durable timing chain design. That has gained a reputation for excess wear, ending in potentially catastrophic engine failure. There is a fix to the issue, but it’s neither cheap nor particularly easy to do.

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The ad for this 380 SL doesn’t provide much in the way of description or history, so it’s impossible to tell what sort of shape its M116 might be in. The seller does note some recent maintenance work but, again, doesn’t go into detail. On the plus side, the ad does claim the car to be regularly driven and to have a clean title and current registration with a passing grade on its smog test.

Image for article titled $6,750, Is This 1983 Mercedes 380 SL A Solid Deal?

Aesthetically, there’s some oddness going on as well. Overall, the car looks solid, with the English White paint showing no major issues in general. It’s the details that don’t seem to add up. The fender lips and bumpers have both been painted in what looks to be bed-liner black. That crinkle-coat finish is something more expected on a set of slippery steps than on the fender arch of a Mercedes roadster. Why would someone do that? Is it masking some sort of bad rust repair or other bodywork boogers? Mercedes Centra wheels wearing new tires underpin the oddly-sprayed arches, offering something to counter that strange feature.

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Image for article titled $6,750, Is This 1983 Mercedes 380 SL A Solid Deal?

Also to be considered in the plus column are the two tops, both of which are shown erected and each looking to be in excellent condition. The interior beneath also looks to have held up well, another hallmark of classic Mercedes quality. The ad notes 155,000 miles on the clock and touts the inclusion of a set of aesthetic-improving European headlamps. All that comes at a set price of $6,750 with the admonition that low-ballers need not bother to apply.

What’s your take on this worst-of-the-best R017 and that $6,750 asking? Does that seem like a fair deal despite the car’s flaws and somewhat strange paint trim? Or, is that too much to overlook such downsides?

You decide!

San Diego, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Don R. for the hookup!

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