In the long-lived production saga of the R107 Mercedes SL, the all-alloy V8 380 SL may have had a relatively short run but served as a lighter version to its predecessor, the cast-iron engined 450 SL. At the time, it was the second-highest power-rated R107 in the pecking order, combining the lush delivery of a V8 but offered a significant cost saving over the 500SL. With better fuel economy than the more powerful car, it actually held its in own in the performance stakes and the sacrifice in performance was minimal.
This nicely presented 380SL is a solid example of the earlier type of the R107 but still benefits from the ongoing development that Mercedes poured into the car throughout the ‘80s. Complete with its factory hardtop and the desirable rear seat option, this 1984 example is a robust and perfectly usable base for some summer cruising. The car is realistically priced and finished in a very appealing metallic Lapis blue paintwork and the eye-catching Bundt alloys, it still cuts a smart perception of prestige, elegance and respectability.
Not much is known about the car previous life, it appears to be a genuine UK car, still sporting a Brighton Mercedes dealer sticker and comes with its data plate intact. The car has seen exceptionally low miles in recent years, not covering much more than 1000 miles a year on average. The vendor is an SL specialist and has years of experience in seeking original and solid examples. It shows evidence of maintenance and upkeep, with several cosmetic items having seen replacements and has the benefit of recent paint.
The cars history and paperwork are currently in the process of being hunted down, and the owner is hopeful it will be obtained in time for the sale but it will come with a V5 slip. The vendor didn't want to unnecessarily add another owner to the vehicle, so the next owner will need to apply for the full V5.
The interior is in decent order but would benefit from some cosmetic fixes, all made easier thanks to the excellent parts situation for the R107 models. The fetching MB-Tex sports check seats are in good shape and retain their form. The combination of vinyl and cloth has resisted the years well, with just the base of the driver's seat fabric displaying a worn patch. All of the other seats, including the expensive optional factory order back seats, are in good condition.
The carpets are clean and have been well preserved with minor signs of age in places. It also comes with a full set of its original Mercedes mats. There was a small build-up of water observed in the driver's footwell, but the dampness does not saturate the carpet or mats, suggesting the potential cause has not quite reached the terminal stage yet. The boot carpet is good and shows very little evidence of use. The door cards are in good shape with a minor tear observed on the driver's side being the main distraction. The rear hood cover has a little loose leatherette material, which will need a little glueing but nothing more.
The dashboard has developed some cracks on the top of the padding otherwise marring a well-presented facia. There is a little wear observed elsewhere, but the veneer wood finish is in decent condition. The dials and controls are in good working order, with the gear lever and steering wheel in good fettle. The car comes with a period Alpine tape/CD player. The electric window lifts are functional. The headlining from the hardtop is in good condition, with no signs of wear or dampness.
The main structure is solid, inner wings and boot well looking good. The subframe appears to be good, the area around the heater blower showing some surface rust. The plate that covers it will be fastened by the time the car is handed over to the new owner. The floor pan looks decent on the most part with evidence of repair work in the past. The rear section of the outer sills has minor corrosion possibly pointing to a non-structural section on the off-side, which have been flagged up as an advisory in previous MOTS.
The body is in good shape with flush fitting panels and no obvious distortion or damage. The car has one minor dent under the fuel cap, but otherwise remarkably free from everyday dents and knocks, the quality of the metalwork thickness still shining through. The rest of the body is level, with no major impediments. The lower ribbed panel work is good, with a few minor underpaint bubbles evident on both lower side of the rear arches. The rear valance components have been recently treated to replacement parts courtesy of the SL Shop. There are minor bubbles below the off-side rear lamp.
The metallic lapis blue paintwork complements the angular handsome lines of the R107 nicely, and the finish is good throughout, with even coverage and a decent lustre. The front wings show small signs of imperfections under the paint on the front leading edge. The bonnet has a couple of stone chips, but otherwise, the car is free from significant paint issues. The car has seen recent paintwork.
There are a few marks on the hardtop, with a patch of bubbles evident on the lower C pillar on each side but overall it is in good condition. The release catch to tighten the hardtop will need a minor adjustment, but the mechanical operation is otherwise good. The soft-top fabric roof is in good condition, with no significant rips or damage. The rear glass is uncracked with no evidence of yellowing. It retracts and raises well, with no issues. The roof well behind the rear seats to store the canvas roof is solid, with the odd patch of water collecting in places.
The headlamps and front fog lights are operational and are in good condition with no signs of water ingress. The off-side rear lens shows a repair, but otherwise in good order. The rubber door seals show typical signs of wear in places with a little disintegration in places but retain their purpose. No water was noticed in the boot. The chrome trim is in good condition, with the front centre bumper trim being a new item. In terms of chrome imperfections, the bonnet top chrome grill has a minor dent, the boot chrome embellisher has minor pitting and the off-side rear bumper where it meets the rear arch has a little damage. The rubber trim on the bumpers show a little wear, but are in good condition.
Condensation was spotted on the windscreen, but the rest of the glass is free from misting or chips. All four Falken tyres date from 2014 and are in good condition with even tread. The 14" Bundt alloys with all four centre caps are in good shape show typical signs of age but relatively unscathed for 37 years old items. The spare might well have its original tyre still on it.
The engine runs well, its 3.8-litre V8 engine still providing a smooth euphonious noise and accelerates nicely with no evidence of smoke or popping when pressed. The car starts on the button and ticks over nicely, and the engine doesn’t appear to produce any clacking noises. No dashboard warning lights came up during the start up and no issues with the coolant temperature. The engine didn’t show signs of leaking, with no seeping oil or coolant noticed. The radiator is in decent condition and is said not to cause any issues. The exhaust functions as expected, with no blowing or issues with the manifold and has seen attention to the mounts. The auto gearbox is in good working order, with no reports of slipping and engagement and is said not to leak. The brakes are in good condition and said to work well, with no juddering or issues with their use around town. The ride is said to be good, with no evidence of scuttle shake suggesting a solid chassis. The owner has stated that the steering has no significant play.
The compact angular design still looks good and maintains a strong presence particularly with the hood down. The car, with its timeless and attractive blue finish and decent presentation, offers the typical panache and style of the breed. Its compact size, cushioning ride and well throughout interior ergonomics makes it one of the easiest classic V8 roadsters to live with, which goes some way to explain the cars ongoing popularity. With a solid base and smartly presented exterior and interior offset with a handful of issues, it is a perfect opportunity to experience a DIY-Friendly open-top V8 cruiser with a good club support at a reasonable price.
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