NEW! Award 96: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SLC – Sold?

by | Jan 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

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February 6, 2023, Update – While this “Classifind” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not be sold yet.  For now, we’re labeling this ride “Sold?” However, we will keep an eye out for an updated listing. In the interim, please reach out either by email or call Rudy directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

January 4, 2023 Update – After a one-month pause following the expiration of their last Craigslist ad, the seller of this ’81 Mercedes SLC380 we’ve been tracking the sale of since February 2022 posted a new ad. After trying to sell the car initially at $50,000 and then eventually lowering their ask to $35,000, the seller now has their price set to $30,000 or the best offer. Unfortunately for the seller, their asking price remains about ten thousand higher than the current Condition #1 market values.

November 14, 2022, Update – While this “Classifind” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not be sold yet.  We’re labeling this ride “Sold?” until we come across a fresh listing.

October 7, 2022 Update – After a two-month pause following the expiration of their fifth listing, we came across a new Craigslist ad for this rare Mercedes 380SLC we’ve been tracking the sale of since February of this year.  After unsuccessfully trying to sell their Mercedes at $50,000 and then $45,000, this time around, the seller is now asking $35,000. While a step in the right direction, this asking price is still averaging $15,000 above several price guide estimates.

August 21, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” unless we come across a fresh listing.

July 10, 2022 Update – The seller just replaced their expiring fourth Craigslist ad with a fifth listing. In it, the pictures, description, and lowered asking price of $45,000 all remain the same.

June 9, 2022 Update – The private seller replaced their third expiring listing with a fresh Craigslist ad. In it, their still-too-high asking price of $45,000 remains in place.

April 30, 2022 Update – The private seller replaced their expiring second listing with a third Craigslist ad in as many months. This time, they lowered their ridiculous asking price from $50,000 to $45,000. While a step in the right direction, the revised lofty asking price remains well above our typical pricing source guides.

March 30, 2022 Update – We just confirmed the private seller of this 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380 SLC replaced their expiring Craigslist ad with a fresh listing. The description, pictures, and ambitious asking price of $50,000 all remain the same.

Just about every car ever made has certain model years to avoid. In the case of the Mercedes-Benz R107, the 1981 through 1983 model years are the ones to avoid for two reasons. First, the new-for-1981 3.8-Liter V8’s single-row timing chain was notorious for failure. Second, the car’s maze of vacuum control lines needed to make the climate control system function properly is so complex that even the best Mercedes mechanics can’t repair them anymore. Fortunately, the private seller of this rare 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SLC, originally listed in February 2022 in Queens, New York, confirms that both systems are functioning properly. Unfortunately, the private seller’s asking price is completely out of touch with the current market condition of these cars.

Currently offered for $30,000 (the original ask was $50,000), comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their 380SLC priced $10,000 higher than this guide’s #1 “Concours” appraisal of $20,200.  Even worse, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask is $12,000 higher than this guide’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $18,000. Bring a Trailer only managed to achieve $12,500 on this 1981 380SLC offered by the original owner in 2019. Finally, the website confirms sales in the past five years averaged only $18,890, with the highest sale of this one-owner, all-black example that RM Sotheby’s auctioned for $47,600 at Amelia Island in 2020.  We point out that the car is a well-documented all-original example, including the stereo, and the price shown includes that auction house’s ten percent buyer’s premium.  Given the seller setting a price that is completely out of touch with market reality, we have no choice but to give the private seller our latest “NEW!” (short for “No Effin Way!”) Award. To the seller’s credit, he does indicate he’s negotiable on price. Armed with the information above, you’ll need a lot of negotiation to prevent overpaying for this ride. We predict we will see several price reductions on this 380SLC before someone bites.

Mercedes-Benz launched the R107 SL Roaster and C107 SLC Coupe in North America for the 1972 model year.  Replacing its “Pagoda Roof” W113 predecessor, the R107 remained in production in various forms (based mainly on the power plant under the hood) through 1989.  The R107 and C107 took the chassis components of the mid-size Mercedes-Benz W114 model. They mated them initially to the M116 and M117 V8 engines used in the W108, W109, and W111 series to make a wonderfully luxurious and adequately powered roadster.

Unfortunately, U.S. safety and emissions take their toll on R- and C107s headed for America.  In 1974, Mercedes engineers lengthened the front and rear bumpers by eight inches front and rear to comply with new five-mile-per-hour damage-free regulations. While European versions continued providing adequate power, R107 and C107 cars exported to the US came with do low compression 4.5-liter V8 engines to meet stringent US emissions requirements.  US models sold from 1976 through 1979 used the Bosch K Jetronic system, an entirely mechanical fuel injection system.  Then in 1980, US cars came equipped with Lambda control, which varied the air/fuel mixture based on feedback from an oxygen sensor. Even worse, the smaller-engined 380 SL replaced the 450SL from 1981 to 1985 in the U.S., making the 380 SL the least powerful of the US market R107 roadsters and C107 Coupes.

The CarJamTV YouTube Channel provides this history of the Mercedes-Benz C107:

While there’s no denying this 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SLC may be among the best remaining examples, it’s simply not worth the thirty thousand dollar premium the private seller expects.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“For sale, is my 1981 Mercedes Benz SLC380 in pristine, excellent condition. As you can tell the car is very well maintained as well as garage kept throughout most of the year, under a car cover and on a trickle charger.

Car recently had the timing chain done as well as timing chain guides, valve cover gaskets, spark plugs, hoses, distributor cap, etc. Top end was refreshed up! There was nothing wrong with the motor, it was done as preventative maintenance. Coolant was drained and filled with new Mercedes Benz coolant from the dealership. Aftermarket fans wired to a brand new OEM Mercedes Benz radiator as well as a new thermostat which keeps the car running right around the 80 to 85 degrees Celcius. Car runs at optimal temperature with no leaks, drips or overheating. Car also has upgraded disk brakes front and back with calipers and stainless steel brake lines. Stops a lot better from the old style drum brakes that were on it! Car has an alarm system, an aftermarket radio with new front, and rear speakers. I also bought two small size speakers (sub woofers) that I was going to install but never did (in the back) to give it that little kick in bass it needs. It also has a brand new battery in the trunk with a brand new box. Seats are in great condition with Mercedes Benz style seat covers with the logo. Everything inside the car works including Heat and AC. Has the routine oil change done to it as well as the yearly inspection.

Overall, the car is in excellent condition for being low mileage. Always driven on warm, sunny days! Never in bad weather: snow or rain. Car is driven by an older gentleman. I’m selling it because I do not drive it anymore or as much as I would like. Thus, would like to sell it and hopefully bring it a new home where it will be driven and enjoyed. The car sits in the garage most of the time and has no use for it anymore. I would like for someone to take care good care of it as it is an antique classic from the 80s. They do not make these cars anymore and finding an SLC especially in this great of a condition; low miles and garage kept is very difficult. Lots of stuff has been done to it and if I am forgetting something, I apologize! I normally write things down in order to remember and document what has been done to it.”

Yay or Nay: Do you agree with our market assessment of this 1981 Mercedes-Benz 380SLC?  If so, comment below and let us know!


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