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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.

    ‘DESPITE MY CAR BEING ONE OF THE LAST 107S TO BE SOLD IN THE UK, IT’S SHOWING RUST IN THE NEARSIDE PASSENGER FOOTWELL’
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    CAR: #Mercedes-Benz-500SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-500SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R107 / #Mercedes /

    Run by Graeme Hurst
    Owned since August 2015
    Total mileage 125,722
    Miles since acquisition 2622
    Latest costs £826

    Expertly fettled R107 Merc is now a regular for jaunts out in the country, here in the West Coast National Park. Inset: wornout parts, including tie-rod.

    PANZERWAGEN TOURS THE CAPE

    South Africa has long had an affinity for the three-pointed star, mainly because the cars have been made here over the past 60 years in what was, for a long time, the only Mercedes plant outside Stuttgart. The East London facility churned out most models from the 1950s onwards, but hit its heyday with the W123 and W126 series. We also built R107s and SLCs. About 1900 were assembled here and a further 530 were imported from ’1971 to ’1987, so they were rare and pricey, which made them hugely aspirational.

    Even more so when the TV series Dallas featured a red 450SL as the everyday wheels for Bobby Ewing (played by Patrick Duffy). By the early ’80s, no golf club car park or five-star hotel forecourt was complete without one.

    Fast-forward 30-plus years and, after a dip in values following the success of the R129, the R107 SL is becoming more sought-after. That was the impetus for a late-night trip across Johannesburg by partner Rob to clinch the deal on this Lapis Blue 500SL which, fortuitously, appeared on Gumtree the day that he was up there for work.

    Purchasing a car at night is best avoided, but Rob had been sent plenty of high-res photos and was able to view it in a well-lit garage. Just as well because the seller – an older gent who had cherished the Merc for 10 years – was inundated with calls while Rob test-drove the SL and later leafed through the extensive history. A deal was done and the vendor was trusting enough to release the car while the cash was still winging its way via electronic transfer into his bank account. A few weeks later I was in Jo’burg for work and could take stock of the new purchase before transporting it by train down to Cape Town.

    Any concerns we may have had about the night-time deal quickly evaporated because the R107 is in lovely condition, having had a full respray and retrim 10 years ago. An original car might have been preferable, but our harsh climate takes its toll on paint and leather, plus this SL was priced keenly – partly because the hardtop wasn’t finished (it’s in primer). There were some niggles, such as doors that didn’t lock because they’d been tampered with, but a local locksmith sorted those before cutting some new keys. I also had to source a second-hand ‘Mexican hat’ 6.5J Mercedes alloy to replace the missing spare.

    Where it doesn’t niggle at all is on the road. The 4973cc #V8 boasts plenty of effortless oomph with a turbine-like power delivery that’s rewarding to explore on clear roads. As a 500, our SL is an import – only the earlier ones were made here. Confusingly, the paperwork says it was a CKD model but the speedo is in miles, so it’s likely to have been a UK-bound order that was diverted.

    Back home after a 26-hour train ride – which, at R3000 (c£170), cost less than the fuel bill for the 1000- mile journey – the first task was a set of 205/70R14 tyres because the rubber was from 1991! Then it was off for a roadworthiness test, which threw up a few advisories – the most serious of which was a worn out tie-rod end.

    Wanting that sorted and the car given a ‘once over’ service, I booked it into JFT Motors. This is my new favourite garage mainly because owner Allan Ketterer is a classic fan but also because he has an oldschool, hands-on approach that includes hand-written invoices.

    Allan was complimentary about the car, but did add a few items to the list, including new front brake pads and hoses. He also changed the pinion seal on the diff to cure a small leak and replaced the thermostat, which was opening sluggishly.

    More alarming was the need to weld a crack in the front subframe where it connects with the nearside lower control arm. The suspension had to be partially stripped to get access, but it was a chance to confirm that the fault wasn’t down to accident damage, which it wasn’t.

    Subframe cracks are apparently common, which Allan says is due to the 500 engine being too heavy for the chassis. The rest of the R11,000 (c£600) bill was for a tune-up and headlight adjustment. That was last May and the SL has been on the button ever since, with regular trips through the winelands to enjoy the performance while pretending that we’ve travelled back in time to an oil-financed Texan lifestyle!

    THANKS TO JFT Motors: 0027 21 696 2600; www.jftmotors.co.za

    ‘The R107 is becoming more sought-after, which was the main impetus for Rob’s latenight trip to clinch the deal’

    Offloading 500SL from the rail container. Car was retrimmed for its previous owner. The Merc’s 5-litre V8 is in rudest of health. Lapis Blue paint is a top-quality respray.
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    BOLDER BENZ: A 450 SL BECOMES A 140-MPH SUPERCAR

    True To Its Roots
    With double the power of a stock Mercedes-Benz 380SL R107, and restyled using factory pieces, the R 107-based #DMS 4.7 is a glimpse into the ’80s that could have been. Words And Photography By Jeff Koch / Illustrations Courtesy #Neil-DeAtley

    Original concept illustrations showing the front, rear and side of the proposed DMS 4.7. The stunning finished product strays little from the illustrations, down to the color and wheel style.

    Neil DeAtley had issues with the Mercedes-Benz-380SL-R107. Considering Mercedes’ great motorsport history, much of it achieved with cars called SL — the race-winning and technologically advanced 300 SL gullwing, the W198 roadster models, the delightfully chuckable W113 series — the 380SL R107 of the early 1980s stood firmly at odds with that history. With just 155 emissions- strangled horses under the hood, and pushing two tons at the curb, the SL managed to be neither Sport nor Leicht (Light) as its name suggested.

    Neil himself was working on making some of his own history with the machine dubbed by wags as the panzerwagen. Racing historians among our readers may recall that DeAtley Motorsports won the 1983 SCCA Trans-Am championship in a pair of Camaros driven by David Hobbs and a young Willy T. Ribbs. What fewer will recall is that, for two arduous seasons before championship glory showered laurels and champagne and sweetmeats upon him, Neil ran a single-car Trans-Am effort using the R107 Mercedes SL as his steed, the number 45 on its doors and the late Loren St. Lawrence as his driver. It was an entirely independent effort, with no factory backing for what was then a not terribly high-visibility series.

    The ’1981 and ’1982 seasons were rough going for DeAtley Motorsports, and there wasn’t much glory in it. The team’s best start was second at Road America, though they only completed eight laps. Its best finish in 1981 was at Trois Rivieres, starting 15th and finishing in 8th, taking home a cool $1,000 in prize money. The ’1982 season was stronger, perhaps thanks in part to an influx of sponsorship cash (see sidebar), finishing half of the eight races under its own power: as high as 7th at Sears Point and a career-best 6th at Road America. If nothing else, the DeAtley Motorsports crew back at the Salem, Oregon, works had learned what it took to make an R107 perform at or near the front of a pack of much newer cars that were, in the main, lighter and better suited for on-track derring-do.

    But there was another issue at play. Neil owned Columbia Motors of Kennewick, Washington, in the early 1980s, one of the Pacific Northwest’s larger Mercedes dealers. He had a vested interest in moving metal; anything that prevented him from doing that was a concern. The 380 SL’s sitting in his showroom did not reflect even a whiff of his race team’s efforts. While hot five-liter versions of the SL stayed home in Europe (and occasionally strayed stateside, thanks to gray-market importation loopholes), the light-duty 380 SL became the unofficial cars of Ladies Who Lunch in America’s swankier metropolitan power centers.

    Also, by the mid-’80s, the R 107’s early ’70s style looked positively fossilized. Today, we can natter on about the SL’s style, throwing terms like classic and enduring, but they’re just euphemisms. The R 107’s shape had not significantly changed, beyond bumpers, since its early ’70s introduction; aerodynamic efficiency was an ’80s buzzword, and the SL was designed in an era when such things were not taken into consideration. Many wondered why Mercedes was taking so damned long to update its hearty perennial, the SL. Neil DeAtley was one of those people.

    Unlike the contemplative many who stroked their chins and pooh-poohed the reality before them, Neil did something about it. That something is the machine you see here: the DMS 4.7. A fully functional prototype for a low-production SL meant to be sold through his dealership and beyond, the DMS 4.7 was a clean update, using Stuttgart parts; it made you wonder why Mercedes couldn’t execute its own facelift with such aplomb.

    Neil started with a 1975 450SL off his dealership lot. The blunt face of the R 107 was smoothed back to something far more in keeping with the style of early ’80s Mercedes. Out went the four round sealed-beam lamps and bumper jutting out nearly a foot in front of the body; in came a more aero-friendly vision, utilizing a contemporary Mercedes SEC grille and headlamp/turn signal units. The hood and front fenders were based on Mercedes originals, but had extensions that were seamlessly hand-formed in steel. New fiberglass front and rear bumper covers were carried down the side of the car visually with new rocker panels. Trim was largely either blackened or painted body color (grille and wheels aside), in keeping with the then-fashionable ’80s monochrome vibe. Slather it in hooker-lipstick red, and you can’t help but look.

    With looks like that, there had better be the guts to back it up, and luckily there were. The four-and-a-half liter iron-block V-8 was bored out to 4.7 liters, and was given the usual array of hot rodding tricks: a port-and-polish job on the factory aluminum cylinder heads, forged Arias pistons that (in combination with the worked heads) bumped compression to 10.5:1, a set of high-lift cams, and tubular headers. These items alone were said to nearly double the power of a stock 380SL — 297 horsepower. Away went the mandatory automatic transmission, and in came a slick-shifting Getrag five-speed. Noted racing photographer Pete Lyons saw 138 MPH behind the wheel, and (in his Car and Driver story) claimed there was more left when he had to back out of it. Put up against a contemporary 380 SL, with its terminal velocity of 115 MPH, the promise of 140 sounded pretty good.

    The suspension was sharpened up as well. Bilstein gas shocks and adjustable anti-roll bars front and rear joined with higher-rate coils (420 pounders in front, 320 pounders in back) to help lower the ride height three-quarters of an inch and to prevent acceleration squat, brake dive and rolling in the turns. The rear suspension arms were altered at their pickup points, so that camber change would be minimized. Brakes were fourwheel Lockheed discs: 13 inches in front, 11 inches in the rear, although production models would have used standard calipers and more aggressive brake pads. Sixteen-inch V-rated Goodyear Eagle tires (sized 225/245) were fitted to Centra wheels, seven inches in front and eight inches wide in back.

    The cockpit was also massaged to contemporary standards: power Recaro buckets, leather-trimmed to match the rest of the interior; new door panels featuring accents made of Zebrano wood; Wilton wool carpeting; the finest Alpine stereo system the mid-’80s had available; a leather boot for the five-speed’s closethrow shifter. What price exclusivity?


    Well, about $75,000 in 1985 dollars, which sounds slightly less mad when a new 380 SL was in the $43,000 range and the engine work alone ran to $15,000. Alas, as is often the case with such flights of fancy, the DMS 4.7 didn’t sell. Two were made, and Neil himself retains this example in his extensive personal collection of Mercedes models (roughly two dozen postwar three-pointed stars light up his garage).

    It’s clearly Mercedes, clearly ’80s, and has more than a whiff of AMG about it, even though the famed tuning house had nothing to do with its creation. It still wasn’t light, pushing 3,800 pounds at the curb, but there was no doubt that the Sport part of the SL’s moniker had returned to the equation. A legacy of the DeAtley Motorsports contribution to the Trans-Am wars? Absolutely, although we suspect that the race car was more famous, and got more visibility, than the DMS 4.7. Today, with three decades of hindsight at our disposal, the DMS 4.7 looks like the missing link between the R107 and the 1990 R129 — a high-performance ’80s Mercedes SL that never was. It makes us wonder what might have been.

    Weekends were made for… Trans-Am racing?

    With its privateer 450SL R107 effort, DeAtley Motorsports ushered in an innovation that didn’t get a lot of credit at the time: bringing big-name sponsorship to a Trans-Am car.

    Recall that the factory Trans-Am teams of the ’60s didn’t sticker their cars up like a NASCAR racer, rather using only contingency sponsors and manufacturer graphics. This clean-flanked approach remained through the Trans-Am series’ privateer ’70s. In 1981, DeAtley Motorsports entered SCCA Trans- Am in its privateer Mercedes-Benz 450SL. The late Loren St. Lawrence drove that car for the entirety of the 1981 and ’82 seasons.

    But something changed toward the end of 1981: For the last three races of the 1981 season, the formerly white SL was now black, and sported foot-high lettering for Michelob beer across each door, and the hood. The livery remained in 1982.

    Now, who can say which came first, but according to St. Lawrence’s obituary (he died in 2014), he was hired as the director of motorsports marketing and sponsorship for Anheuser-Busch in 1982. It cannot be a coincidence that a Michelob beer sponsorship appeared on the side of the DeAtley SL starting in late 1981, and running clear through to the end of the 1982 season. Can it?

    There’s no mistaking the cabin for a Mercedes, although it looks a bit more welcoming to the serious driver, thanks to the leather-covered power Recaro chairs and the manual shifter poking up through the console. Real Zebrano wood inlays added an extra touch of class.

    The engine looks stock enough, but the usual hot-rod tricks—an overbore, hotter cams, porting and polishing the heads— brought the DMS to within spitting distance of 300 hp.

    TECHNICAL DATA / #1975 #Mercedes-Benz-450SL-DMS-4.7-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-450SL-DMS-4.7 / #Mercedes-Benz-450SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R107 R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 /

    Engine SOHC #V8 , iron block and aluminum cylinder heads
    Displacement 4,679 cc (286- cu.in.)
    Horsepower 297 @ 5,500 RPM
    Torque N/A
    Compression ratio 10.5:1
    Induction #Bosch-K-Jetronic fuel injection
    Gearbox #Getrag five-speed manual
    0 to 60MPH N/A
    Top speed 138+MPH*
    Overall length 178.4 inches
    Overall width 70.5 inches
    Overall height 50.5 inches
    Wheelbase 96.9 inches
    Curb weight 3,800 lb.
    *Source: Car and Driver, February 1985
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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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