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    The last affordable #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R129 / #Mercedes-Benz-R129 / #Mercedes-Benz /

    The rise and rise of Mercedes SLs continues unabated, almost right across the sporty drop-top’s back catalogue. The original 300SLs are largely static in the very expensive bracket, but nearly everything else from the 190SL onwards has seen growing interest of late.

    Even the Nineties-era R129s, which have until now been a kind of entry-level access point to classic SL ownership, are starting to chase after their R107 predecessors – also on the up. The #V12-engined #600SL is leading the way. There aren’t a lot of those to choose from and the best are now topping £20k. But the V8 500SL and all the (cheaper to run) six-pot models are picking up too, with good ones that struggled to make five figures a few years ago starting to trade in the teens.

    After highlighting SLs in one of our ‘To Buy Now’ features almost a year ago we could say we told you so, but the game is still on – the price rises show no sign of letting up yet.
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    At the doctor’s for a check-up

    CAR #1989-Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Convertible-R107 / #1989-Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Convertible / #1989 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Convertible / #1989-Mercedes-Benz-300SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz /

    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.

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    1971-Mercedes-Benz-280-SL Gooding & Co, Amelia Island, USA 9 March / #1971-Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 / #1971 / #Mercedes-Benz-280SL / #Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz /

    It’s dark red with Cognac MB-Tex vinyl, a hardtop and a new soft top. It has the desirable four-speed manual ’box and Becker Mexico radio. The body was restored ten years ago, the interior was refreshed more recently. It looks to be a solid example and a good driver. So, what is it worth? We’ve seen this phenomenon before, the sudden price spike followed by a settling-down in value, and it’s been happening a lot with the W113 ‘ #Mercedes-Benz-Pagoda ’ SLs built from 1963 to 1971. The spike usually happens at a high-profile auction, where lots of potential bidders see it and it takes hold, for a while. Great examples of the SL reliably sold in the $50,000-60,000 range for years, then suddenly they were making over $100,000. One year later, they were back at $60,000-80,000, less for 230s and 250s, more for 280s. What has happened?

    Simple economics. It’s a supply-and-demand issue. Higher prices not only bring more attention to the make and model, they also bring more cars to market. The car that was not for sale when it was worth ‘only’ $50,000 might just be for sale when the seller is reasonably expecting twice that price. More examples will also get restored as it becomes more financially viable. Supply goes up but demand remains the same – or edges up, at best.

    Right now we are in that second part of the sales cycle. A large number of W113s are on the market so values are a bit down, especially for examples less than pristine. It’s time to take advantage of the market and buy on the dip. As for our Cognac SL, it sold for a good-value $66,000. Point proved.

    Dave Kinney is an auction analyst, an expert on the US market scene and publishes the Hagerty Price Guide / BRIAN HENNIKER
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    / #1965-Mercedes-Benz-23SL-W113 vs. #1977-Mercedes-Benz-350SL-R107 / #1995-Mercedes-Benz-SL320-R129 / #2000-Mercedes-Benz-SLK230K / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-R170 and #2003-Mercedes-Benz-SL55-AMG-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz-R170 / #2000-Mercedes-Benz-SLK230K-R170 / #Mercedes-Benz-SLK230K-R170 / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-350SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-350SL / #Mercedes-Benz-R129 / #Mercedes-Benz-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL320-R129 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL320 / #Mercedes-Benz-SLK230 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113

    It’s not always possible to live your life by the sentiments in song lyrics, but choosing the right car can help…

    Whenever I find myself driving a #Mercedes SL, the chorus to Joe Walsh’s Life’s Been Good lows around inside my head. Ignoring the fact that the song is a satirical play on the challenges of being a rock star, my brain hijacks that lyric and easy-going vibe because it crystalises the overwhelming sense of wellbeing that I absorb from the well-hewn cabin, confident surge of power and predictable dynamics. What’s remarkable is that for each generation of #SL from the Seventies R107 onwards, life doesn’t have to have been exceptionally good for you to afford one now. #SLK aside, these were all mightily expensive cars when new, and even the baby SL was no one’s idea of a bargain. Fortunately for us, their prioritisation of civilised and swift touring over hardcore sporting pretensions has allowed them to be gently overlooked by the market, and that includes the ‘ #Mercedes-Benz-Pagoda#Mercedes-Benz-230SL-W113 . I won’t make the case for it actually being cheap, but compare it to a Jaguar E-type Series 1 and you’ll see what I mean.

    So, curiosity got the better of us – just how much Mercedes SL wellbeing can you buy for how little, and which variants of the numerous generations are looking better value than the rest? Our student of the market, Russ Smith, went after the answers with his usual terrier-like zeal, and came back with more than he expected. This is a man who lives under the spell of zesty Italian sports cars, but he returned enthusing about how much he’d enjoyed pushing the SLs through some testing sequences of corners, dips and crests.

    I expected the younger guys in the office to be less excited, but reined dynamics and the power of the three-pointed star resonate strongly with new generations of enthusiasts whose expectations of painless car ownership are rather higher than ours. We can’t expect SLs to remain such good value for ever.

    In the meantime we can rewind Life’s Been Good and play it out once more.

    Enjoy the issue.

    Across several generations, the Mercedes SL has always offered luxury, reliability and panache. These variants are the best value
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    AMG SL55 – the hero car to buy now / #Mercedes-Benz-SL55-AMG-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL55-AMG / #Mercedes-Benz-SL55 / #Mercedes-Benz-R230 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R230 / #AMG

    At launch, and with the 155mph speed restrictor disabled, the supercharged 493bhp SL55 had the distinction of being the fastest automatic car you could buy, capable of hitting 186mph on the right autobahn. Of course back then you had to pay the thick end of £100k to buy into the game, so such selfshifting speed didn't come cheap.

    Secondhand, the SL55 has got a lot cheaper, but our thinking is that these #Mercedes have finally reached the bottom of their depreciation slope and values are on the way back up. You can still pick up something leggy for £12k, but anything remotely good will be in the mid-to-high teens now. In fact really special examples are now being snapped up by specialists and offered in the mid-twenties or more. Those dealers may have to hang onto them for a bit, but they know which way the wind is blowing and the SL55 is heading for nailed-on modern classic status. So those will be the prices people are paying very soon.

    We’re just saying, right, but if you don’t want to miss the boat, now looks like a very good time to acquire one of these handsome and potent machines.

    Once around £100,000, now just a fraction of that. But prices are rising again.
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