1989 MERCEDES 300SLView vehicle description
The Mercedes SL R107 range finally ran out of steam in 1989 after being in production for a scarcely credible 18 years. This is a remarkable production run when you consider that it remained largely unaltered after breaking cover in 1971.
Always more of a sporting grand tourer than an out-and-out sportscar, the SL was available in eight different flavours. Both manual and automatic gearboxes were offered along with a vast range of engines that spanned the range from the 2.8-litre straight-six with 182bhp and 176ft/lbs. of torque all the way through to a thumping 5.6-litre V8 for the greedy – and lucrative - American market.
All were supplied as standard with two seats and a folding fabric roof, while an optional hardtop gave almost saloon-like levels of civility and two small rear seats were also available. Thus equipped, the convertible SL was a truly all-purpose, all-season family car.
This 300SL only weighs 1,560kgs, enabling the modest three-litre, 187bhp straight-six engine to push it to a top speed of 130mph, which is mightily impressive for a car that was designed for comfort rather than speed.
Documented as first registered in May 1989, four months before production of the venerable R107 ceased, this is a 6-owner car with around 125k miles covered and is believed by the Mercedes-Benz Owners Club to be one of the last 500 produced.
It is recorded as having previously been registered overseas but from what we can see from the paperwork and option codes it appears to be a UK-specification car. There is, however, a Workshop Directory for Asia dating from 1989 in the car’s file.
Little is known of its first two owners but in 1991 it became the property of PI Underwriting of Rochford who owned it for three years before being bought by a lady from Beckenham, Kent. She enjoyed the car for a decade before passing it on to her son who lived in Tonbridge. He kept it for three more years meaning that it was in the same family from 1994 to August 2007.
The next owners - number six - are our vendors from Tunbridge Wells previously and now Gloucestershire who have continued to cherish the car for nearly 15 years.
So the story goes, it was the wife’s 50th birthday present. They were standing at a railway station and saw the SL go by and she said “There goes my dream car”. It just so happened that the husband knew the owner (and his mother) and persuaded him to sell them the car.
Although cherished and kept garaged - wearing an “auto-pyjama” cover - that hasn’t stopped the SL being driven regularly and reliably. They have toured all round Britain and a dozen or so countries in Europe between 2007 and 2013, including Alpine passes like the Col de Bonette, Stelvio Pass and Gotthard Pass. On one such ascent, with the roof down in the sunshine, they met a snow plough coming down. That should have been a clue to what they’d find at the top - namely 4-inches of snow - but the SL carried on and got them through.
They’ve also visited drier, warmer countries reaching southern Spain and Portugal and southern Italy, and also to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Stuttgart. The vendors report that in all these journeys the car always started first time, never missed a beat nor even had a flat tyre. Faultless is the word they used.
They haven’t used the SL so much in recent years and have something a bit more modern to tour in now so it’s time for “Old Babs” as they call her to find a new owner.
On the Outside
The exterior is finished in Diamond Blue Metallic, with a matching removable hard top and a dark blue folding soft top. The hard top seems to be well painted with no apparent rust. The soft top is a little creased, likely due to being stored folded, but otherwise in good order.
The paint and bodywork generally appears to be in a great condition for the age of the car, inevitably with the occasional blemish and just a little discoloration under the rear bumper around the exhaust. But scrutinise the detailed photographs yourself, it is a cracking looking SL.
This era of car still sported a good amount of chrome brightwork which presents well, with rubber trim to protect the more vulnerable side rubbing strips and bumpers.
The car sits on standard fit 15-inch flat face light alloy wheels, all shod with Dunlop Sport tyres dating from 2011. We like to see matching tyres of good quality on classic cars, it’s something of a clue for us that a car has been looked after, regardless of cost.
On the Inside
The interior of the car is largely clothed in Royal Blue leather, which is showing the pleasant shine and creasing commensurate with the car’s mileage but with no apparent damage to the seats or door cards. This SL also has the optional factory rear seats, although any full-grown passenger wouldn’t want to ride too far in them.
Whilst Mercedes of this era make a lovely purposeful clunk when they’re pushed shut, the doors on this example need a rather firm shove to close them - maybe down to the hinges being a bit tight or the door rubber repair standing slightly proud.
The blue dash top and surround looks to be in good, undamaged condition too and the wood-veneer across the dash trim and centre console appears intact with none of the cracking that these models often show.
The radio is a modern retro-look unit with CD/MP3 and USB capabilities but the original Blaupunkt Montreal head unit and its mounting cradle have been retained should a future owner wish to reinstate it.
Continuing the blue interior theme, the carpets and overmats match the seat colour and appear clean and tidy.
Of note was the CTEK charging cable connector, emerging discreetly above the pedals. This is wired into the battery up front to allow it to be kept on a smart charge whilst garaged. The vendors are including the charger with the car.
Under the bonnet, the engine bay is tidy and honest-looking with just the occasional sprinkling of surface rust here and there on the air filter housing, radiator top and slam panel for example. Nothing to be concerned by though and there appears to be no bulkhead rust, which can be an issue on the R107.
The undersides of the car appear undamaged with older underseal across most of the floor and structural, suspension and steering components showing nothing more than road dirt and light surface rust in places. The exhaust system also looks intact.
In the rear, the boot carpets and linings appear in good, clean condition with no apparent damage or staining. Under the floorboard is a full size spare with just a small patch of rust in the wheel-well. The boot also contains the detachable wind deflector, indoor “auto-pyjama” car cover and folding hardtop stand.
Although in the service booklet, the PDI and initial services are stamped by the garage of 1950’s racing driver Jim Russell - who had a Mercedes franchise until the early noughties - there are no details completed. Perhaps a former owner traced the car back there and asked them to apply their stamps retrospectively. What we do know is that the DVLA has an import marker on this UK-specification car, so perhaps it was bought from the UK for delivery abroad.
The remaining stamped services reflect long-term ownership periods and loyalty to trusted Mercedes-Benz dealerships and specialists for servicing.
Mar 1992 - 16,820 - Alan Day Mercedes-Benz, London
Mar 1994 - 22,394 - a/a
Dec 1994 - 28,440 - SG Smith Mercedes-Benz, Crystal Palace
Jul 1995 - 32,765 - a/a
Jun 1996 - 39,704 - a/a
Apr 1997 - 48,648 - a/a
Dec 1997 - 55,519 - a/a
Apr 1998 - 59,173 - a/a
Feb 1999 - 65,968 - a/a
Oct 1999 - 72,127 - a/a
Jul 2000 - 77,164 - a/a
Jun 2001 - 83,203 - a/a
Jun 2003 - 94,978 - Rawsons Mercedes-Benz, Tonbridge
Feb 2012 - 113,064 - The SL Shop, Stratford-upon-Avon
Apr 2014 - 116,585 - a/a
Jan 2015 - 118,354 - a/a
The history file is a large one, with numerous MOT certificates, inspection reports and invoices dating back to the mid-nineties including extensive work by The SL Shop in 2018, since when it has covered maybe 1000 miles. It also includes the owner’s manual, duplicate service book and “Verdeckhebel” hood levers.
The 300SL has a current MOT with no advisories, valid until November 2022.
What We Think
As we’ve already suggested, the car reportedly drives faultlessly, pulling through the gears well and behaving like the “Grand Roadster” that it is. The vendors drove the car from Kemble to Didcot to drop it off to us - again without issue.
We see plenty of R107s changing hands through The Market - and for good reason - they are a great classic purchase; durable and reliable and relatively cheap and easy to service and maintain. The fact that they are effortlessly elegant, reminiscent of their ‘60s predecessors, means they will always find favour with buyers of any age looking for a bit of Stuttgart style.
Their values, however, vary widely not only depending on the mileage and condition as you’d expect but also on the engine and colour combinations. We believe this one will fetch somewhere between £20,000 and £25,000; which seems a tiny sum to pay for such a cherished and beautifully maintained car.
Whatever the particular variant of Mercedes-Benz R107 SL, if it’s in good order like this one there’s no wrong choice - just something to suit pretty much any budget.
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- Location: The Market HQ, Abingdon, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 124687
- Chassis Number: WDB 107041 2A 101986
- Engine: 3000
- Gearbox: auto
- Steering position: RHD
- Colour: Diamond Blue
- Interior: Blue Leather
- Estimated Price: £20,000 - £25,000