8,500 Genuine Miles: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL Convertible

It is hard to believe that someone would buy a car like this 1981 Mercedes-Benz 500 SL, use it for about a year, and then park it. Believe it or not, that has been the fate of this car, and as a result, it has managed to accrue a mere 13,587km, or 8,500 miles, over the past 38-years. It is now looking for a new home, so this could be your opportunity to own a classic German Autobahn-Stormer. Located in Wylie, Texas, you will find the Mercedes listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN of $20,000, but the option is available to make an offer.

The Merc was originally part of a large private collection (209 cars!) and was delivered new in Mexico. It was then brought to the southern USA around 10-years-ago and has spent the intervening years parked in a carport. It is finished in Manganese Brown, and while it might not be everyone’s favorite color, brown was a strong and popular choice on cars in the late 1970s, through into the 1980s. The factory hardtop is painted to match. It isn’t clear what state the soft-top is in, but if it has remained folded since 1982, getting it to open again without tearing could potentially be a problem. The body itself looks to be straight and free of rust problems, while the comprehensive photos of the vehicle’s underside reveal little beyond some minor surface corrosion. The paint itself has plenty of minor blemishes, and it isn’t clear just how many of these would respond to a buff and polish. I suspect a repaint will be on the cards at some point.

The interior of the SL is nowhere near as healthy as the exterior and will require some pretty major restoration work. This has the potential to be an expensive proposition, as all of the seat covers will need to be replaced, the original factory radio/cassette player is missing, the carpet is faded, and a number of plastic trim pieces are damaged. That creates quite a long shopping list, and as I said, that part is not likely to be cheap. However, being a Mercedes, the interior does come loaded with some nice comfort items. You get climate-control air conditioning, power windows, electrically heated seats, power locks, cruise control, and a rear window defogger.

Lifting the lid on the engine bay provides both good news and bad. The drive-train is original, meaning that the engine is the 4,973cc V8, which produced 237hp when new. This power was sent to the limited-slip rear end via a 4-speed automatic transmission. In addition to power steering, the SL also features 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS. That engine was enough to propel the Mercedes to a top speed of 140mph, meaning that it really was a car that was happy to cruise on the German Autobahns. Now the bad news. The SL doesn’t currently run, and the owner has made no attempt to get it running. It appears that the engine may not have been started since 1982. That will mean that the fuel system is going to require a complete flush as a starting point, but given the complexity of these engines, there may well be a lot more work to come before the Merc is ready to fire a shot in anger once again.

In 1981, Mercedes-Benz only produced 899 examples of the 500 SL Convertible for worldwide sale, making this a fairly rare car. However, this relative rarity doesn’t equate to particularly high values today. The 1981 cars don’t come onto the market that often, but when they do, prices of around $25,000 will land a buyer a fairly clean example. A truly pristine, low-mileage car will sell for around $10,000 more. With those sorts of figures in mind, it will be interesting to see just how quickly this car sells.


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  1. Winnipegcarnut Member

    That’s Collins Brothers Jeep, of GMG “fame”.

    Like 3
  2. Bakyrdhero

    Looks like it wasn’t an easy vacation for this Mercedes. I like the brown with the BBS? Rims.

  3. JohnD

    Don’t believe the miles

    Like 12
  4. Steve R

    Without documentation to back up the sellers claim, I wouldn’t stake my, nor this sites reputation by parroting that it has low mileage. Saying the seller claims it has x,xxx miles is different than backing up their assertion by proclaiming the mileage is genuine, as worded, the header endorses the sellers description.

    Steve R

    Like 3
  5. Oregon_Guy78

    Hmmm doesn’t look like a convertible to me as stated in the heading. As says it’s a hard top too

    • Ken Tilly UK Member

      It’s a removable hard top. It’s easy to tell the difference as the distance between the rear of the door and the edge of the wheel opening is about 4 to 5 inches greater on the coupe than the convertible. I have had several of these SL’s and the hard top is unbelievably heavy requiring at least 2, preferably 3, people to remove it or else use the block and tackle device that was supplied with the car when new. At least it’s a 500 SL and not a 450 as the 450 was a dog in comparison to the 500.

  6. Rodney - GSM

    This is a big problem child. There is no good news here. 20K? More like 2K.
    It doesn’t run. Repeat. It doesn’t run. It only speaks German. Did I mention it doesn’t run?

    Like 5

    This Collins guy is a tool, and not the box full of the German kind it will take to fix this car.

    Like 3
  8. Jason

    That is simply not the interior of a car that has only been driven 8,500 miles.

    Like 3
  9. Bruce

    To all the sun can damage even Mercedes Tex seating and leather over time with just partial hours of the day getting sun. But cleaning out this fuel system will be EXPENSIVE and a major pain in the ass. But also all Fluids, Grease and Oils, if not stored properly the antifreeze could have eaten up the block and radiator, all hoses, tires any rubber part exposed or in the engine compartment. Last do you really want to drive it with brake fluid and lines that old. Good luck stopping more than once. And do not forget a complete new set of tires, It all adds up.

    I agree this is closer to a $2000 car than a 20 K car. While not used or dented the car still needs a complete restoration to be a driver. The only thing is you might not need to paint it all the rest need to be done. These are touring cars and not sports cars. They are complex machines and there is so much under the hood and dash to check, inspect and or replace.

    Like 3
  10. VWBussEd

    I can sum this car up in one word…. RUN!!!!!

    Like 1
  11. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Wylie, TX and a jeep in the background can only mean one thing – another Dennis Collins ad on BF.

    One of the editors here must live on this website, or on Dennis’ payroll.

    There’s plenty of better stuff out there.

    Like 2
  12. theGasHole

    Hey my Granada key won’t fit into the door lock….oh, silly me, I’ve mistaken a Benz for my Granada yet again.

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