At the doctor’s for a check-up
OWNER Samantha Snow
I’ve owned my 1989 #Mercedes-Benz-SL
R107 for almost two years now and I wish I could find the time to drive it more. Because it was bought from a senior member of The Mercedes-Benz Club I’ve never really had it checked out properly, and during a chance meeting with Sam Bailey, owner of The SL Shop, based in Warwickshire, he mentioned that I should get the car inspected so that I would know exactly what I have got.
The company offers a health check that provides a 300-point report of the car using a traffic light system: green for ‘good’, amber for ‘might require attention soon’, and red signifying ‘get it sorted now’. It costs £594 including VAT for R107s like mine and, as The SL Shop’s Bruce Greetham lifted my car on a garage ramp to begin his inspection, I was a little nervous about what might be unearthed.
The first part of the examination covers brakes, suspension and steering. Unless the car is used on a regular basis, brake calipers can seize and the squeaking noise from my front brakes signified that the pistons inside the calipers were on their way. The options are either to renew or rebuild, and both are fairly expensive – £491 for a new caliper, £200 for a refurb.
Fortunately my master cylinder and brake discs were all OK. The front suspension is complex and there are a lot of bushes and rubber components that will perish over time, all of which are critical to the car’s handling and ride comfort. The engine subframe bushes also play a key role in reducing scuttle shake, especially when the hardtop is off. Fortunately it was a green light for mine.
However, the offside front shock absorber is leaking and will require replacing at the next service. The quality of the tyres makes a huge difference to how the car drives, but mine is on Michelins that are apparently as good as you can get.
My 107’s engine bay looked pretty much concours to me but Bruce picked up a few issues. Timing cases tend to weep oil on 300SLs and mine is no different: it’s a small leak but labour-intensive to fix, taking up to three hours. The coolant also needs renewing. It’s often forgotten about, but its condition is important because it contains a corrosion inhibitor to prevent waterways furring up.
Despite my car being one of the last 107s to be sold in the UK, it’s showing rust in the nearside passenger footwell where it meets the sill and this needs further investigation.
Bulkhead corrosion is one of the most expensive problems to put right on a #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R107
and can cost thousands, but mine has been treated with seam sealer to prevent further deterioration. The whole car had already been entirely Waxoyled underneath in black, too, including the inner wheelarches where, annoyingly, you cannot now see the paint colour of the car.
At the end of the inspection – which covers much, much more than I can describe here – comes a road test. Bruce reported that there is some play in the steering, although it’s not too bad. A refurbished steering box would cost £474 and another £373 for labour. He also picked up on the hardtop release cable, which looks like it has been repaired poorly.
This is important because if the cable fails it will be impossible to release the hardtop. Chalk up another £72 for the cable and £107 for labour at the next service.
Despite a list of things to do that’s rather longer than I’d have liked, Bruce cheered me up by saying that generally the car is in excellent condition and that, if he were to put it up for sale in his showroom, it would be at around the £35,000 mark.
That puts the cost of the inspection into perspective. In my opinion, it was well worth doing because I now know everything about the car and how I can improve its condition over time. And I’ve learned that I need to drive it more!
Left and below More frequent driving will prevent the brakes from seizing, one of several faults revealed by The SL Shop’s check-up.
‘DESPITE MY CAR BEING ONE OF THE LAST 107S TO BE SOLD IN THE UK, IT’S SHOWING RUST IN THE NEARSIDE PASSENGER FOOTWELL’