Original Owner: 1985 Mercedes Benz 380SL 41K Survivor – $22,500

by | Jun 2024 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Topless Thursday

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Since starting this website, one of the eye-openers for me has been just how many R107 Mercedes-Benz SLs are available for sale on any given day. Produced in several iterations (back when Mercedes still labeled their cars based on engine displacement) from 1971 through 1989, the R107 is the second-longest series ever produced by Mercedes.  The two-seat, open-top configuration often has non-car enthusiasts labeling the R107 as a “sports car,” however, the automatic transmission mated to a leisurely 3.8 Liter (and later 5.0 Liter) V8 makes the SL more of a leisurely, fun weekend getaway car for two with room for their luggage.

Despite no shortage of Mercedes SLs for sale on Craigslist on any given week, the vast majority I come across often need at least one item of deferred maintenance attended to.  These are complicated cars to maintain and most buyers tend to be people who do not maintain their own cars but rather rely on their local Mercedes specialist.  Thus, Mercedes SLs can be an expensive car to maintain properly and as a consequence, many budget-minded owners forego fixing the convenience options (the complicated vacuum-controlled HVAC system is a prime example) who wind up making excuses when the time comes to sell.

There are exceptions to every rule, and this Nautical Blue Metallic over Gray Leather 1985 Mercedes Benz 380SL for sale, first spotted on Craigslist in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in June 2024, is a one-owner, 41K original mile benefitting from proper maintenance.  The first thing I look for when evaluating an R107 Mercedes SL is the state of the car’s climate control system. The original owner of this example notes that they spent nearly five thousand dollars in 2023 to resolve an air conditioning leak that required replacing their car’s compressor, expansion valve, receiver drier, A/C pressure switch, O-rings, A/C temp switch, and O-rings as part of an apparent conversion from R12 to R134a.

Currently offered for $22,500, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask aligns with this guide’s six-month results for all Mercedes-Benz 380SLs produced between 1980 and 1986.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls above this guide’s #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $18,000. As far as we’re concerned, the $4,500 premium for buying a one-owner, well-maintained example with only 41K is worth it as it’s not often examples like this come up for sale, especially on Craigslist.

Mercedes-Benz produced the R107 two-seat SL Roadster from 1971 through 1989, with models denoted by engine displacement. Throughout its eighteen-year production run, two-thirds of R107 SL production ended up in the hands of well-heeled U.S. buyers. My research indicates all non-gray market SLs imported by Mercedes-Benz into the U.S featured V8 engines mated to automatic transmissions. Equipped with a 3.8 Liter variant of Mercedes’ M116 V8, the company sold the 380SL version of the R107 from 1980 through 1986 model years.

Many consumers flocked to the 380SL because of its classic long hood and short deck proportions, which typically define a personal luxury automobile. Most SLs sold in the U.S. featured two tops: a manually operated canvas cloth folding top and a removable hardtop heavy and bulky enough to require two people to remove it properly.

All 380SLs sold in the U.S. featured leather interiors, power windows, air conditioning, and a high-end audio system. Mercedes-Benz’s attention to detail is evident in the fit and finish of the cabin, where everything from the switchgear to the upholstery exudes quality and craftsmanship.

Under the hood, U.S. bound 380SLs featured a 155 horsepower 3.8-liter V8 engine producing nearly two hundred foot-pounds of torque.  Paired with Mercedes vacuum-controlled 722.4 four-speed automatic transmission, performance centered on providing GT-style cruising rather than all-out sports car performance.

The MotorWeek Retro Review YouTube Channel provides this vintage review of a 1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL:

Based on the pictures and description, this Nautical Blue Metallic 1985 Mercedes Benz 380SL for sale appears to be a well-maintained, low-mileage, survivor-quality automobile offered by the original owner. While the original owner notes their SL has just under 41K original miles, they also commented in their ad description that the odometer gear set has been replaced.  German cars of this period are notorious for having the plastic odometer gears fail, so we’re not surprised to learn the original owner had the gears replaced.  As long as the original owner has the documentation to confirm the low mileage before and after the odometer replacement, there’s no harm/no foul in our book.

This is easily one of the finest 380SLs I’ve come across on Craigslist in the past five years.  If you are serious about buying this 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL for sale, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their Mercedes R107 featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

In addition to the quality pictures, the original owner provides this excellent detailed description:


In the fall of 1984, my wife and I ordered the most beautiful car in the world, at least to us, a soon-to-be-released 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380 SL, Nautical Blue Metallic with a gray leather interior. The purchase was completed on the last day of 1984. The Mercedes-Benz 107 style, which was in production for 17 years, is one of the most iconic cars of the 20th century. The 1985 is considered the sweet spot of that run.

SL’s were very popular in the 70s and 80s, even at extraordinary prices. I paid just south of $50K, about $142K in today’s dollars. At any given time, there are many nice, but usually high-mileage, SL’s for sale, but there are only a few amazingly well preserved, 1-owner, low-mileage SL’s on the market, if any. This is one of them. At only 41K miles, you have well over 200K great miles left. Remember, the SL was designed to race in and win the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

Here’s the basics on the SL. It’s a 1-owner with a clean Carfax (available on request for serious buyers). powered by 3.8L V8 high-performance engine with dual timing chains, automatic transmission, removable hardtop and an almost new soft top (convertible), original nautical blue metallic paint and gray leather interior, automatic climate control, power antenna, power windows, central locking system, power right rearview mirror, power steering, full-size spare, tool kit, and the original radio/tape cassette player.

Our everyday cars are high-tech marvels with every convenience, even driver assist on highways. In stark contrast, the SL “Benz” is German engineering’s best attempt to give you the ultimate thrill in diving. It excites every sense the moment you start the car and hear the power of its high-performance engine.

Why only 41K miles? Upon purchasing the SL, we were a three-car, two-person family. For two years, we drove the SL on several amazing cross-country trips and on long drives into the Pocono mountains racking up 17K miles. Then came two quick kids and we were in the minivan/SUV business, only driving the SL enough to keep everything working, less than 1K/year.

It has been garaged since I purchased it, the last 33 years in a climate-controlled garage.

After 39 years, we are downsizing, and the SL is ready to meet its second owner. From the images you can see, it is almost showroom new, but time takes its toll on everything, including cars. The SL has had a few minor age-related problems and they have been fixed. Of course, regular maintenance (oil, filters, etc.) was performed.

In 2003:
• Front brakes replaced
• Sensor replaced
• Front brake rotor(s) replaced
• Front brake pads replaced
• Brake rotor(s) replaced

In 2017:
• New soft top installed
• Wipers replaced

In 2023 (this work was $4,838.27):
• AC leak involved replacing A/C compressor, expansion valve, receiver drier, A/C pressure switch, A/C O-ring (3X), A/C temp switch, freon, retrofit kit, mono valve kit.
• Odometer gear set
• Bulb (instrument)
• Replaced rear shifting bushing

The soft-top, which truly is like new, the tires and the battery have fewer than a thousand driven miles.

At this point, this exceptional Mercedes 380 SL continues waiting in a climate-controlled garage for its new owner.

Show or go: What would you do with this survivor-quality Mercedes 380SL for sale? Please comment below and let us know!


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