Hard to believe though it may seem with today’s plethora of topless options, back in the early 1980s your selections were quite limited. Bucking the belief that the convertible would be killed off, Volkswagen emerged with a Rabbit Cabriolet that featured a massive rollover hoop for protection. Porsche entered the fray in 1982 as well, bringing back the cabriolet model that had been missing since the 356. But the only choice if you wanted a luxury convertible was the Mercedes-Benz SL. From 1971 to 1989, this car was the undisputed king of open-air motoring, and for good reason. This weekend, I walked by a Buick Cascada and thought “Wow, that looks cheap”. Though the 1980s were accused of being the era of rampant consumerism, the reality is that it was a very narrow window of incredible products. In the 1970s, for a new car to last a few years and maybe up to 100,000 miles was semi-miraculous. Yet suddenly in the 1980s we as consumers were presented with a number of cars that would run for three times that amount with little difficulty. They started every time, were mechanically well engineered and even got reasonably good fuel economy. It was the brief period where the engineering overtook the penny pinching accountants, when cars were made well and to a standard that would last. By the 1990s, cars had become much more disposable again – the reality of keeping a car company afloat, unfortunately. But looking through the photos of this 1985 380SL, I happened across the sticker bearing the signature of Gottlieb Daimler. The sticker is a bit worn and peeled around the edges with a slight discoloration, but on that sticker are the words “a DAIMLER-BENZ product”. That meant something in the 1980s, because these were simply the best engineered and constructed cars in the world. You were buying one for a lifetime of service, not two years of commuting. They were expensive, but they were the benchmark by which all others were measured. I still remember when the Cadillac Allante debuted in 1986, aimed to compete against this very car. Now, by that time the R107 was 15 years into production and probably 20 years from original sketch, so it was pretty tired as designs go. But Car and Driver compared the two and walked away saying that the Mercedes-Benz was still the car to get. You know what? They were right, because here we are 31 years later and this 1985 380SL still looks lovely, fresh and ready for top-down action:
Engine: 3.8 liter V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 107,000 mi
1985 Mercedes 380SL
Amazing survivor car, rust free and impeccable underneath. Owned previously by an elderly man who stored the vehicle inside during the winter.
The car comes with both the factory hard top and a beautiful soft top in excellent condition.
Everything functions as it should and the air blows cold. 9/32 tread depth on nice Michelin tires.
A complete intake manifold update has been done using all Mercedes Benz parts. The fluids and filters were done in 2015 as well.
The car needs nothing, and the only negatives are the cracks and split on the driver’s seat and any small blemishes on the paint mostly due to spillage from years of refueling.
The car presents very well and I can honestly say pictures do not do it justice so please if you are interested come and take a look!
The car is located in Parma, Ohio
Contact: Todd at 216-570-3375
I believe the color is Diamond Blue Metallic, and coupled with the darker blue interior/top combination and Bundt alloys it’s a classic look. Condition overall is very nice with the disclosed exception of the driver’s seat which needs some tear and stitching repair and a lightly discolored plastic rear window. Both tops are included, everything is reported to function and the car comes with the historic records of the gentleman who obviously loved this car. The current seller also does a great job in the picture gallery above documenting the condition of the car throughout and underneath. 1985 was the last year for the 380, which would be replaced with the 420SL in 1986. The later 380s received the updated double-row timing chain on the M116 V8. Prices on R107s have been heading steadily upwards but the 380 remains generally more affordable than the later 420 and 560 models; Hagerty places average value at $14,000 with top models near $30,000. While not presented as or claimed to be a Concours example, this very tidy and well shown 380SL is a great opportunity to get into a classic, well built R107 and have a occasional top-down car without breaking the bank.