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    Cool cruise. The ultimate version of the R107 roadster, the 5.5-litre 560SL launched in #1986 , was never sold in European markets, and most went to the US. Rich Truesdell tried a lovely example in California Images Rich Truesdell.

    Classic roadster 560SL

    “One of just 5,351 produced for the 1989 calendar year, the 560SL was in exceptional condition, nicely broken in with just 87,000 miles”

    The R107 #Mercedes-Benz roadster enjoyed the longest production run of any passenger car in the history of the marque, from 1971 to 1989, assuming of course we discount the utility G-Wagen. With the frantic pace of change in today’s automotive world, it is impossible to imagine a single car, from a major manufacturer, being produced fundamentally unchanged, for 18 years. But to put things into perspective, the handsome R107 was built from the height of the Cold War to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is a remarkable story.

    And the R107, along with its longer companion, the C107 coupe, was produced in more than a dozen different variants to satisfy markets around the world, in six- and eight-cylinder versions. And of course it should come as no surprise that the United States was one, if not the most important overseas market for this, the most sporting model in the Mercedes- Benz line up.

    In the late 1960s, when the car was conceived as a replacement for the W113 Pagoda, the influence of the all important US market affected its design. At the time it was thought that impending roll over regulations would legislate the traditional convertible out of the marketplace. This was not lost on the product planners at Stuttgart, even as far back as 1968 when the replacement for the much loved W113 SL was first deliberated over.

    The discussion centred on if what would become the R107 should have a targa style top, or a cloth top and removable hardtop. In the end, the decision was made to go the traditional route, the US market be damned. This is attributed to the staunch support of Hans Scherenberg, then the Head of Development who said at the time, “The SL gave me great pleasure, but also caused me great trouble. This was no easy decision for us.”

    At the same time, the board discussed offering a companion four-seat coupe, a decision that would be initially postponed. One group within Mercedes-Benz management supported building a sporting coupe based on the upcoming W116 S-Class platform, but this was ruled out because such a model would take several years to design and develop. According to the official Mercedes- Benz history it was Karl Wilfert, then the head of body design in Sindelfingen, who developed on his own, a coupe proposal based on the R107. At first it was rejected by the board of management but the determined Wilfert managed to push through his idea of a sporty coupe.


    Ultimately the R107 based tin top was introduced as the C107 SLC and built from 1972 until 1981 – just half the SL’s lifespan and, with 62,888 examples manufactured, a mere quarter of the roadster’s production.

    Beyond the consideration of the US market, safety was a major goal of the R107 programme. While it can be said that the R107 would combine the mechanical components of the mid sized W114 with the larger engines offered from the W116, the R107 programme offered safety innovations of its own especially with regard to further development of front and rear crumple zones.

    The backbone of the R107 series featured an independent frame floor unit with a closed transmission tunnel and box shaped cross and longitudinal members, which used sheet metal of different thicknesses, further improving performance should the car become involved in an accident.

    The fuel tank was moved to a position above the rear axle, to minimise the possibility of it being ruptured in a rear end collision. The R107 was not simply a shortened and reinforced saloon floor assembly, as in the W113, but was in essence a unique platform. Once the decision was made to go the soft top route, the determination was made to reinforce the A-pillar surrounding the windscreen, to a degree not previously attained. In the end the A-pillar was designed with 50 per cent more strength than before to provide occupants with some protection in a roll over accident.

    The interior also benefited from many passive safety innovations, a hallmark of the cars developed under the direction of the legendary engineer, Béla Barényi. The father of modern passive safety, Barényi saw to it that the interior of the R107 bristled with innovation. The previous hard dashboard made way for an innovative sheet steel design that was designed to yield on impact. In addition to generous padding for the instrument panel the knee area was also foam padded.

    The polyurethane foam padded, four-spoke steering wheel absorbed crash energy more efficiently than previously. With a fresh look that owed little to previous interiors, the R107’s cockpit was Mercedes’ first modern passenger compartment and served as a precursor to those that would follow, especially for the upcoming S-Class. At the time of its launch in 1971, the R107 was an immediate hit worldwide.

    But back then few people would have predicted that its production run would last almost two decades. Over that time, the US would see five presidents occupy the White House: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and finally – for a short time – the first President Bush.

    In the US the first R107 launched was the 350SL but this was a little confusing, as under the hood was found a 4.5-litre V8, the smaller engined version deemed insufficient for the US market. This was due in part to the 1970 US Clean Air Act that strangled all engines in the effort to reduce tailpipe emissions.

    What also distinguished the US SLs from their European counterparts were their round headlights, as a result of the US mandates in place at the time the R107 was introduced. This didn’t stop many US owners from installing Euro style single headlights to give their SLs a distinctive look over the years, and even though the headlight laws changed in 1975, SLs destined for North America sported round head lights to the end of production in 1989.


    In the 1970s and 1980s, the R107 SL defined the marque in the US, establishing Mercedes-Benz as the car that was engineered like no other in the world, its benchmark advertising tag line of the era. In its day the R107 was the choice of many A-list celebrities, especially in Hollywood and became a pop culture icon, appearing in dozens of movies. The 560SL appeared in autumn 1985 for the 1986 model year, for sale in the US, Japan and Australia, coinciding with a minor facelift for the R107. Its 5.5-litre V8 came with a standard fit catalyst (three years before this became mandatory in Europe), hence power was 227bhp compared to the 238 and later 296bhp that the non cat, European spec version of this engine gave in the S-Class saloon and coupe. Its derestricted potential is one reason many R107 fans in Europe feel cheated that it was never sold there.

    That it spanned the transition of cars like the almost delicate W113 Pagoda to the tank like R129 that followed is a testimony to the inherent excellence of the original design, conceived at the end of the 1960s. But as the R107 departed the scene in 1989, in the US, Mercedes- Benz faced new challengers, first from BMW, then from Lexus. But it’s impossible to imagine either marque, no matter how successful, producing a car that could match its longevity.

    Owner’s view

    California resident Michael Mendonca already owned an R107 450SL when he bought his 560SL
    To track down a late example of the 560SL, one of 49,347 built over a four-year production run, Classic Mercedes looked west, all the way to sunny southern California to find this car, a final year 1989 model owned by financial planner Michael Mendonca. But this 560SL is neither his first nor his only Mercedes-Benz SL.

    “I waited until relatively late in life to own my first classic car,” says Michael who at one time worked in the marketing department of the famed Ford Mustang tuner, Saleen. “It was a 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SL, which I still own. I enjoy the 560SL quite a bit, but still use both these cars as second and third vehicles. I liked the car ever since having seen the movie American Gigolo with Richard Gere back in high school.”

    One of just 5,351 produced for the 1989 calendar year, the 560SL was in exceptional condition, nicely broken in with just 87,000 miles, and talking with Michael about how he acquired the car illustrates how easy it is to find such a good example in the US. “I actually wasn’t looking for another SL since I owned the 450, but the 560 was in such great shape and the price was right that I could not pass up the deal. I enjoy also that the cars are considered classics and I can get classic car insurance on the cars, which keeps my overhead down.”

    “I attend the Cars and Coffee show in Irvine, California on a regular basis and saw the car for sale,” relates Michael. (Cars and Coffee is the legendary yet informal car show held every Saturday morning at the former headquarters of Ford’s Premier Auto Group that once included Aston Martin Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo). “A friend of mine wanted the car but could not come up with the cash so I grabbed the car from who turned out to be a really nice guy. The owner happened to live in the same city I reside in, which made the purchase quite easy.”

    “I’ve owned the 560 about a year and a half now and usually take it out for a drive once or twice a week,” says Michael in a follow up interview when we photographed the car several weeks later. “I especially enjoy the car in the spring and summer.”

    Michael Mendonca drives his SL for pleasure, on classic insurance.

    “The United States was one, if not the most important overseas markets for this, the most sporting model in the Mercedes-Benz line up”

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #Mercedes-Benz-560SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SL / #Mercedes-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SL-USA / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes /

    Engine #M117 5,547cc #V8
    Power 227bhp @ 4,750rpm
    Torque 275b f t @ 3,250rpm
    Transmission 4-speed automatic, RWD
    Weight 1,715kg
    0-62mph 7.7sec
    Top speed 139mph
    Years produced #1986 / #1987 / #1988 / #1989
    Number built 49,347
    All figures from Mercedes-Benz

    Above. SL’s cabin is a neat fit, but is beautifully finished and with lovely tan leather.
    ABOVE LEFT. The warm, sunny climate in southern California suits the R107 perfectly.
    Twin headlamps and rubber edged bumpers mark out the North American R107s.
    Chromed wheels more more popular in the US than in European markets.
    Above. SL’s dash is a masterpiece; outside temp gauge is in place of the middle vent.
    ABOVE right. US emissions tuned V8 had 227bhp, way down on European spec 5.5-litre.
    ABOVE far right. This 560SL was a great find, barely run in having covered just 89,330 miles.
    The boot, or should that be trunk, looks quite small but you can pack a lot into it.
    ABOVE LEFT. Original Becker Grand Prix radio/cassette is still in place and looks fantastic.
    ABOVE right. In reality the R107’s rear seat is a very luxurious fold down parcel shelf.

    “In the US, the first R107 launched was the 350SL but this was confusing, as under the hood was found a 4.5-litre V8”
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    The V8-hammer: 5.6-liter, 279bhp, from 7500 euro in fair condition #Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126. The SEC front section is massive and stylish. King lettering on Alu-Haube, forged Fuchs wheels in channel cover design. Functional instruments, not to exceed are lavishly equipped center console with #Becker-Mexico . The enormous pulling powerful 5.6-liter V8 developed 279 hp.

    Before the debut of the 500E was the 560SEC the overhaul Ammer of Mercedes. The outside and inside stresses discreet luxury coupe, thanks to rich displacement is both relaxed cruising and brachial bite.

    Lunch is soon, but the high fog has still not fully cleared. At a dismal failure street in the east of "Warzburg" park in the 560SEC with the engine running, small white exhaust circles around the dual exhaust pipe give it away. The eight-cylinder engine is running with a 600 rpm, we must make an effort to listen to. We are in Auto lean on a rendezvous with the top model of the SEC series agreed. Two men in the large circle work trousers coupe, a cleans the washers, and the other takes on the chrome parts the last drops of the washer. Almandinrot acts in this asphalt tristesse as dark as Barolo in the bottle, later it is the sun light.

    Instead of instructions there is confidence: With an affirmative "know" if the vehicle registration through the open frame enough. The extra wide door is filled into the castle of the driving belt feeders, servile the wide black band. Even if the engine is not at temperature, on the way to the gas station he shakes the condensation water from the exhaust, the tachometer displays 281 322 kilometers.

    It is by no means a Concours car, this large, elegant coupe in the rare color, but you can feel and sense that it once as a new car was a charming beauty. The Mercedes designers Bruno Sacco and Joseph Galli places villages brought it was already the end of the 1970s in its timeless form, ten years it was built from 1981 to 1991, the 560he came first with the gentle 85er-face-lift, a few playful smoothed.

    The deep black leather has the body heat is not admitted, IT CREAKS with every movement, the oil pressure is okay, the reserve indicator lights. Of at least 10.5 : 1 gets compressed V8 100-octane petrol provided that he was the evil spirits flee. Point 12.09 pm the sun breaks and the SEC loses its to maturity. Now he dumpelt out of town with 1500/min stoic.

    He now knows that I do well with him my that length from the penetrating power of his 279 hp wants nothing to do with. I ride him like a 230 CE, he thanked me with soft, yes the imperceptible switching process gen. The more power of 27 hp compared with the 500he he has a new crankshaft with significantly more stroke due to what 5.6 liters result.

    S-Class coupe with SL face the tachometer jerks not violent, it weighs gently. Faster than Tempo 80 goes just didn't. I wish that my own counter up to the beautiful line of the Coupé in the slide past to enjoy. But I look forward toward the horizon, where the vineyards, start on the long, ruby red shiny hood.

    At its end is not a star in sight because the SL-style in oversize on the radiator grill logo. With its instruments has signalled to me the SEC wellness mode, the tank is half full, the needle drops hardly, how should you then roles. The Becker Mexico remains switched off. The engine murmurs quietly in the background, a dense carpet of sound, the luxury cars and heavy sounds, but by no means a sound that you stirring. Remain the emotions on the 560 SEC on Form and feel limited?

    It is conveniently located in the large cars, is positioned at the front man baronial, the center armrest unfolded, the right arm was based. Only a few tiny corrections to the ingenious seat silhouette on the door trim and the location is perfect. Surrend quietly moves the head restraint is something that the backrest slides a piece. The cruise control and speed limiter clicks clean, I put it to 110, which are just 1800 rpm. When 1990 incredible 160 000DM top-SEC is he as standard, as air conditioning, rear head restraints and the tone-setting headlight wipers. An exact parallel to the six point nine, the over- #Mercedes in the 70s. Without cat had the 560 SEC 300 HP, only then would the coupe an assassin. The vines back closer to the streets are narrow, winding uphill and downhill. It is amazing how agile the heavy coupé in the closed curve angel touch. The steering feels good, it has hardly any game. But the suspension is showing its age, especially the level of regulated rear axle filters the ground waves only moderately.

    But even as new cars rolled off the 560 SEC according to auto motor and sport-test considerably shorter than its more docile brothers 380, 420 and 500, tribute to the high-performance. We had him, the S-Class model, urgently the superior room-link axle must treat. Nice for a W201 190D Operator not on the four times as expensive coupe may levy. In the middle of the dense vines gespinst shocks me on a mile-long two-lane straight, a dead branch, cut off from the ring road. From the dead, as called, now I want to know it.

    60 in the fourth level adopts the SEC, I then the accelerator pedal slowly. Even without the hard back of the Trigger Kick-downs, rushes the coupe vehemently to the front. Rapidly accelerated the tacho needle marks for 80, 100, 120, 140. Only at 3500 rpm does the V8 angry his staccato voice. In the leading wind ropes hiss post past until the almost right-angled left curve on the horizon the arrogant puts an end to drive. Crackling in the exhaust line rolls of 560. It pleased him to be nurtured, now we go sit back.

    Servile belt feeders, nappa soft leather seats, the center console as a bar: the coupe is a wellness lounge

    conclusion so far I thought, a 380 SEC suffice to make stylish and sophisticated V8 continue to enjoy. Finally he also has plenty of performance. But a day with the 560 SEC instructed me a better. The flagship model is still wonderful. Many extras are series, and the time for gentle, time brute engine offers an outrageous desire full power experience.

    Nice atmosphere in burr walnut veneer with black leather handle in and a heaven as in the boudoir.

    The Mercedes-Benz 560 SEC, C 126, year #1990

    FACTS & FIGURES engine type M117, water-cooled 8-cylinder #V8 -engine, a cylinder angle of 90 degrees, the front longitudinal, bore x stroke 96.5 x 94.8, 5547cc displacement, performance 279bhp at 5200 rpm, max. torque. 428 Nm at 3750rpm, compression 10.5 : 1, two valves per combustion chamber, actuated via a chain-driven camshaft per cylinder bank and the towing lever, hydraulics Valve clearance compensation, cylinder heads and engine block made of light metal, five crankshaft bearings, mechanical and electronic. Injection #Bosch KE-Jetronic, map-controlled electronic ignition, closed-loop catalytic converter, Olin holds 8 liters engine power transmission four-speed automatic torque converter transmission, limited-slip differential (ASD), rear-wheel drive chassis and body Cx (Cd) 0.35; self-supporting steel body, hoods made of aluminum, the front double wishbone, coil springs and a stabiliser, hi. Diagonal swing axle, coil springs, hydropneumatic level control, servo recirculating ball steering, disc brakes, forged aluminum rims 7 J x 15, tires 215/65 VR 15

    Dimensions and weights Wheelbase 2845 mm, length x width x height 4935 x 1828 x 1402 mm, weight 1750 kg, Fuel tank 90 litres

    PERFORMANCE AND CONSUMPTION Max speed 155MPH, 0-62 in 7.9 seconds, MPG 19

    Construction and pieces all Mercedes C 126 from 1981 to 1991: 74 060, 560 SEC: 28 929 copies of purchase advice

    / #Mercedes-Benz-C126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC / #Mercedes-Benz-560SEC-C126 / #M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117 /

    Many SEC are strained much driver cars. This is in old age by maintenance jam noticeable. Even the moderate rust protection is a problem.

    Body-CHECK
    ■ The condition of the jacking points, the rear wheel arches and the bottom of the screen frame is representative of the body of the coupé. All three are lots of rust, one should not buy. Also the condition of the interior is important for dark colors like olive or cream there is no substitute more, this is unfortunately also for the cult, but wear joyful pinstripe velour.


    Technology-CHECK
    ■ The legendary ruggedness of large Mercedes technology is in old age of their borders. A typical defects of the light-alloy V8 engines M116 and M117 are the fragile plastic runners of the timing chains, which can break, what capitals engine damage. Therefore you should replace it as a precautionary measure, it cost about 1200 Euro. Vulnerable are also idle speed actuator and flow divider of the #Bosch-KE-Jetronic , whose defects by start-up difficulties and irregular running of the engine, but also speak to marodem ignition cable dishes in addition to distribution. The automatic gearbox should the switching points are correct and no slipping of the converter with high switching speed can occur. If the rear axle is hard and feels poltrig, the spring balls of the level control is defective.

    Prices for introduction 9/ #1985 ( Mercedes-Benz 560SEC C126) 133,608DM classic analytics-price 2016 (000/4800 State 2/4) 22.000 Euro

    SPARE PARTS
    The location is typical of the brand, engineering parts are fully and rapidly available. But the Mercedes models can on the sub-sector. Coupe-specific equipment and trim parts are very expensive. After production from Hungary or Romania often do not have the same level of quality as the former original parts.

    CLUBS AND specialists in the #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class / #Mercedes-Benz-S-Class-126 / Club e.V., Michael Sterl, old citizens Strasse 29, 04617 Rositz (Thuringia), tel. 98/803 03 44 73 08, www.S-Class-club.de Car House Wildermuth, MB-partner, Steinheimer Strasse 1, 74321 Bietigheim-Bissingen, Tel. 071 42/60 34, www.wildermuth.mercedes benz.de cult mobile with star, Jens Schiwy, Walter Bertelsmann-Weg 2, 27726 Worpswede in Bremen, Tel. 01 76/ 84 03 08 83, www.cult mobile.de


    Weak points
    1 fender and standing plates
    2 front wheel arches (Lenkkhebelber.)
    3 front axle photographs
    4 skirts, jacking points
    5 Doors
    6 wheel arches, rear side parts
    7 rear screen frame
    8 timing chains slide
    9 Flow Divider KE-Jetronic
    10 level control
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    MERCEDES 1001 SEL THE GOLD STANDARD / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #V8 / #M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117

    Never heard of a 1001SEL before? Well read on to find out what the utimate pimp-Mercedes-Benz is all about. Captains of industry, despots, drug dealers – that’s who you expect to see behind the wheel of an AMG SEL, right? So what’s a Birmingham pharmacist doing in this gold-plated retrobarge? Words: Daniel Bevis. Photos: Dan Sherwood.


    I’m not your typical pharmacist,” grins Arfan Talib. “I guess you could call this a legal drug dealer’s car.” And that’s about as bold an intro as you’re likely to find in the retro car sphere.

    You need to be bold to drive a car like this, of course, it very much goes with the territory. The W126-generation S-Class was the brashest statement of 1980s CEO drama and dictator chic it was possible to buy in the 1980s, and its impact hasn’t diminished a micron in the decades that have since passed. The imposing flagship, particularly in #LWB form as we see here, is a brutal, girthsome thing that will have no truck with words like ‘frugal’, ‘sensible’ or ‘value’. It’s a big car for big personalities.

    Interestingly, however, a guiding principle of W126 development was to integrate Mercedes-Benz’s new ‘Energy Program’: lightweight materials and countless hours in the wind tunnel made the car as frugal as it could possibly be. An improved ride and superior handling were also key elements, and a bafflingly broad array of engine options helped in Mercedes’ aim to retain the ‘world’s best-selling prestige luxury sedan’ title whilst also appealing to a more diverse audience.

    But enough of that tommyrot. This is a 1001SEL, the top of the tree, and the Energy Program can go hang. You see, the 560 (which is hidden underneath) was the big dog, the 5.5-litre V8 model, but in an era when money shouted, too much was never enough. A ‘1000’ badge or something of that nature was a sort of in-joke for Mercedes-Benz aficionados; companies such as Trasco, Chameleon and Robert Jankel Design would modify W126s for discerning customers, basing the nomenclature on the principle that ‘a 1000SEL is twice as good as a 500SEL’. There are no hard-and-fast rules regarding what a 1000 or 1001 is because it’s an ethereal concept; if it’s modified and opulent, you can call it a 1000 if you so wish… and if you want to go further beyond that, why not spec yourself a 1001, or a 5000, or even a 10000? The width of the bootlid is the limit, really.

    “I’m a serial petrolhead and a massive fan of eighties cars,” Arfan explains. “I’ve owned this car for a couple of years now, and I had to recommission it as it had been sitting unused for quite a while before I bought it. I had it trailered up to The SL Shop in Redditch, who had worked on my old AMG 560SEC, and set them loose on it. All the fluids, filters, plugs, leads, sensors and gaskets were changed, drain holes unblocked, brakes unseized, and the delaminated windscreen replaced, with any body corrosion found along the way being eliminated and Waxoyled.” As is so often the way with cars of this vintage, the thing still refused to start after the engine had been refreshed, but Arfan’s speculative punt on a second-hand £500 ignition module paid off, and the thunderous 5.5-litre motor rumbled into life.


    Its AMG heads and cams give it a fair lick of urgency, and that leads us to an interesting chapter in the M-B/AMG relationship… The development of the W126 all occurred some time before Mercedes-Benz (or rather, DaimlerChrysler) took a controlling interest in AMG in 1990; before that, AMG Motorenbau und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH had operated as its own independent entity – an engineering firm specialising in tuning primarily Mercedes-Benz products. So unlike today, when it’s possible to walk into a Mercedes-Benz showroom and choose from a variety of official AMG models, it was more the case that an AMG W126 was a bespoke affair, looked on kindly by M-B but by no means officially sanctioned. They were hugely popular though, with AMG offering tuning options and body kits for all W126s – saloons, coupés, even limousines – as well as an ostentatious wide-body kit for the coupé.


    The AMG catalogue offers a rather boisterous look for the exterior of Arfan’s SEL, the skirts and spoilers making an already imposing car seem more than a little intimidating. “The body was treated to a full two-stage machine polish, and detailed over the course of two days to bring the original paint back to life,” he says. “The leather trim was all washed and refreshed too, and the engine bay was detailed by hand.” The level of fastidiousness really is quite phenomenal, and the interior is just about as plush as Richard Branson or classic-era Alan Sugar could have hoped for: heated seats all round with reclining rears, electric window blinds and curtains, a Motorola carphone for barking at minions with, and a Nakamichi stereo to drown out the tedium of the paupers outside.

    If there’s one thing that characterises this car above all else, it’s the stance. And we’re not talking ‘stance’ in the modern sense of millimetrically-precise fitment of arch-busting rims, but rather the timeless menace of a car sitting aggressively over beautifully finished wheels. It may seem like a contradiction in terms to talk about hunkering down a luxobarge limo into a more sporting gait, but it’s been pulled off to perfection here.

    The SEL came with the option of hydropneumatic self-levelling suspension, and Arfan’s modified his system to allow the car to sit lower on its Bilstein dampers and AMG springs – a neat and subtle touch, one for the Benz nerds to enjoy. And the crowning glory of the setup is the rolling stock. “I had the AMG wheels split open and refurbed, with the lips polished,” says Arfan. “The centres are colour-coded to the body, and the OZ fasteners have been gold-plated to match the badges.” And what would a car like this be without gold badges? What’s the point of rocking a row of zeroes on the bootlid if they don’t glint offensively in the sunlight?

    “This project has also provided a great outlet for me to bond with my father, and a lot of it is thanks to him,” Arfan enthuses. “It’s something we both enjoy, and also a chance for me to give something back to him and let him enjoy a car he had missed out on in his day, as they were too expensive while he was bringing up a young family and putting me through my education.


    It means a lot as it’s the sort of car he’d have dreamed of back in the eighties, but could never afford as they cost more than a house. It was a car he always admired, and it was actually one of his old bosses who got us acquainted with the owner of this SEL. You see, the car was originally unearthed by one of its previous owners who I managed to track down via forums; he’d found the car on a caravan site in Derbyshire looking sorry for itself and unloved, but studded with AMG goodies. When he trailered it home and started tearing into it, he discovered that it was no ordinary 560SEL, but in fact bore all the hallmarks of being a genuine AMG car; everything’s stamped with the correct markings, the V8’s a lot more potent than stock, it all seems to be legit.” This is where we came in, of course, with the car rescued by Arfan from another prolonged slumber, his old man’s contact greasing the wheels.

    “My initial plans for it were just to get the thing roadworthy, but I’m a bit obsessive about detailing and I can get carried away,” Arfan laughs. “I love having gleaming bodywork on all my cars, regardless of conditions; when I start cleaning my car in the morning, it can take all day.” You can see how that would be a particular problem with the SEL as it’s such a vast machine – surely the sheer acreage of steel would be enough to make him hanker for something more modest instead, like perhaps an SEC coupé? “Ah, well I’ve got a 560SEC already,” he says. “I wanted to have the key W126 models of the era, a matching set if you will, so there needed to be an SEL on the driveway. I love it too – it’s luxurious, it has a lot of presence, and it has real gangster appeal!” Well yes, you can’t really argue with that, can you?


    This all represents the latest in a long line of retro aspirations for Arfan, which makes the build all the more meaningful. Starting out with Japanese cars, from a kaleidoscope of Hondas to some extremely lairy Mitsubishi Evos, his overriding admiration for the three-pointed star has seen these affections coalesce into something more old-school as well as a hobby to act as a strong family bond. “It was always my plan to get into classic cars, as I preferred the way they look and drive, and they feel less plastic than modern cars, with less complications of sensors and electronics,” he asserts. “This car is more of a garage queen at present, only coming out in good weather and for weekend drives – and for special occasions, like shows or weddings.” And this makes perfect sense.


    With a collection of cool cars, why not keep the chairman of the board on its pedestal? Its specialness is what makes it what it is, so that’s a thing that needs to be maintained. Particularly if it takes all day to clean it. “I love seeing people’s reactions when I’m out and about in the SEL,” Arfan continues. “I guess most people are confused about what type of Mercedes this is due to the 1001SEL badge, and I get questions like ‘Is this a 10-litre?’. And this sheer curiosity it creates is what makes the car stand out more - oh yeah, and the V8 noise through the Remus pipes is pretty disruptive!”


    One thing’s for sure – there’s aggression simmering away behind that brash exterior that more than cashes the cheques written by the golden badges and broad, squat footprint. Just remember, Arfan isn’t a gangster, he’s a pharmacist. If he’s rolling through your neighbourhood, he’s not there to create mischief; he’s probably just got his dad reclining in the back, fielding business calls on the carphone. This thick slice of no-nonsense muscle is shrouded in a wellcut suit and, like a footballer who’s been to Ozwald Boateng, there’s nothing particularly subtle about it – but at the same time, it’s like a millpond: all seems serene from outside, but there are dangerous currents beneath. Just as an AMG SEL should be.

    “I love seeing people’s reactions… I guess most people are confused about what type of Mercedes this is due to the 1001SEL badge”

    Tables and curtains? Now that’s just showing off!

    There’s no denying that this SEL V126 is properly pimp.

    Specification #Mercedes-Benz-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-W126 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-AMG55-V126 / #Mercedes-Benz-1001SEL / #Mercedes-Benz-500SEL /

    ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 5.5-litre V8, AMG cams, AMG heads, #Remus stainless steel exhaust system, fourspeed automatic transmission.

    CHASSIS: 17in #AMG 3-piece split rims with body-coloured centres, gold-plated #OZ fasteners and polished lips, 245/45 (front) Dunlop SP Sports and 265/45 (rear) Falkens, lowered AMG self-levelling hydropneumatic suspension with AMG springs and #Bilstein shocks, stock SEL brakes.

    EXTERIOR: AMG Series bodykit with SEC bumper modified to fit, colourcoded bumpers and chrome strips, gold-plated badges.

    INTERIOR: Cream leather heated seats with integrated walnut picnic tables, AMG leather steering wheel, AMG MPH dials, AMG wood trim option, reclining rear bench, electric window blinds, blue curtains, retro Motorola car phone, Nakamichi stereo system.

    THANKS: “I would like to thank my father for helping me source the car, and also the continued support he has given me in my crazy car projects since my days as a student”

    Stonking 5.5 V8 is an absolute beast.

    The ‘1001 badge is a kind of ‘in joke’ for Mercedes aficionados.

    “The body was treated to a full two-stage machine polish, and detailed over the course of two days”
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