Looking at buying a 1987 mercedes 560sl. It has 120,000miles. Body in great shape. 1st question: Am I about to inherit an extremely expensive maintenance nightmare? I plan to drive this car, not just on Sundays. Also, what should I look for as potential warning sign before purchase?
yes....buy a Toyota~
the convertible is neat...you may just check the "blogs" for ownership of this car to see exactly what you're in for...not knowing where you are storing this car...if convertible....will need the usual such as exhaust if in the salt-belt~
the age makes it so that ALL rubber parts have started degrading....cracking and need to be replaced....like body mounts for example...one might just replace ALL vacuum lines with silicone ones (ten times the cost, but will not degrade~
If you can afford to get a later year (starting with 2001) with the Hard Top Convertible - I think you will be much happier in the long run. That being said IF properly maintained, these cars can last a very long time. BUT, things still happen and are usually expensive when they do. Regardless of which model you get - three important service records are Oil changes, Brake fluid changes and Transmission fluid changes. Unlike many other cars, these Mercedes have a much more frequent (and important) service interval.
I have a 1980 Mercedes 450SLC with over 300,000 miles on it, and have to tell you. Mercedes does have this wonderful for being a car that will last as long as you own it. I believe this is true as I drive this car at least 5 days in a week. However, it will not maintain itself and ALL suggested, recommended and required HAVE to be done. No exceptions. It's a wonderful car, and I've owned it almost all of it's life. It was left to me to and I knew the owners very well. It came to me with ALL service records. You will have to replace some stuff, gaskets, wiring, exhaust the usual things you'd have to/should do with any vehicle. If a light comes on, go directly to the dealer. It's telling you something. If you hear a noise that isn't consistent with what you're used to, don't keep driving, if it's really odd, depending on where you are, have it flat bedded to an authorized MB dealer. Yes, I know they're expensive, but if you get someone who doesn't know what they're doing, it can/will cause problems down the road. A tip. Never let a Mercedes get ahead of you maintenance wise. Anyway hope this helps. PS: This car may not have all the doo dads the new ones do, but it has personality, and you can't put a price on that. However, that's part of the reason why they are so $$$ to keep in good shape. Hardly any onboard diagnostics etc. Remember, computers and cars together were just starting, and were not reliable a lot of the time; the Cadillac 468 is a memorable example. This why you need someone who know the car. They didn't have plug and play back then.
I have an 89 560 SL for 6 years now. If you are moderately handy, you can keep up on the maintenance and not terribly expensive if you shop for parts. But there is no price on the looks, thumbs up, compliments that I get when driving it.. And it is probably the most comfortable "sports car" that you will find.
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