1986 MERCEDES 500 SL R107-seriesView vehicle description
The Mercedes SL R107 range finally ran out of steam in 1989 after being in production for a scarcely credible 18 years. What makes this all the more remarkable is that it remained largely unaltered after it first broke cover in 1971.
Always more of a sporting grand tourer than an out-and-out sportscar, the SL was available in eight different flavours thanks to 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. Both manual and automatic gearboxes were available.
All were supplied as standard with two seats and a folding fabric roof, while an optional hardtop gave almost saloon-like levels of civility, a sleight of hand the optional rear seat helped achieve. Thus equipped, the convertible SL was a truly all-purpose, all-season family car.
This 500SL’s 4973cc, 237bhp V8 engine also boasts an impressive 296lb/ft of torque, which is enough to push it to a top speed of 140mph after passing 60mph in just under eight seconds, which is mightily impressive for a car that was, you’ll recall, designed for comfort rather than speed.
This delightful Mercedes-Benz 500SL is finished in Arctic White and navy blue leather, a colour combo that might just be our new favourite. Supplied by Normand-Cruickshank of Bristol in April 1986, it is MOT’d until May 2023, something it achieved with no advisories, something it’s done for the past three years.
It’s also got a new navy blue soft-top and, as a late galvanized model, is free of the sort of rust that you’re probably used to seeing in your search for an SL R107. The bulkhead’s water-tight too, and it’s had a lot of money spent on it to bring it up to the condition you see here.
With just two owners from new (the last since 1987 at that!), its specification includes a rear seat and a factory hardtop. Being offered by a well-know and highly respected Mercedes-Benz specialist, this is an SL you can buy with your head and your heart.
On the Outside
The bodywork has been refreshed only recently with the removal of a few minor dents (#313) and yet, impressively, it’s still got its original windscreen, which is no more than you’d expect of a car that’s lived a gentle life on the Isle of Wight.
The refurbishment included having all four of the 15-inch OE alloy wheels – including thr all important centre caps - professionally renovated. Four new 205/65R15 Michelin EnergySaver+ tyres were fitted in March 2021 too, so they’re still like new.
The vendor is even more fanatical about the need for matching, high-quality tyres than we are. He agrees they’re an infallible sign of a caring and mechanically sympathetic owner who is prepared to spend the appropriate amount in maintaining their car properly rather than cutting corners where they can.
Their presence does not, of course, preclude the need for a thorough inspection - something the vendor would welcome, by the way – but it does give you a shortcut into his attitude towards maintenance and repair.
Recent work aside, Mercedes used to be known for the quality of its cars and SLs like this show why; with brilliant shutlines and panel gaps, the superiority of its construction is obvious, even now.
As is the care it’s received over the years. For example, as well as its general condition, the two hood spanners are still with the car, as are the original stainless-steel numberplate holders. The vendor has fitted the correct wiper arms too, despite the cost. He’s a self-confessed perfectionist and wanted to present the car properly, to pay homage to the car’s previous owners by displaying it to its best advantage.
And it does look stunning. Black door rubbing strips and the factory boot spoiler help break up what might otherwise have been an expanse of white, and the limited chrome trim is excellent.
The SL’s folding navy blue fabric roof is new so therefore fits well, and can be raised and lowered with ease. It’s free of damage and is backed up by a factory hardtop. Painted Arctic White to match the rest of the metalwork, as you can see in the photos, it’s in good shape and fits very well indeed.
In fact, there are no dents or other damage that we can see and only a few light stonechips here and there.
Problems in need of your attention are few. If you were to have the hardtop repainted to rectify the scruffiness you can see in slides #78-81 we couldn’t accuse you of being unnecessarily fussy. That said, the headlining is very clean, so we think the damage has been caused by incorrect storage rather than abuse.
On the Inside
New walnut burl was fitted to the centre console in February of this year, with recent sunvisors also being sourced at a cost of £136 (plus £78 for the clips…); that this work has been carried out shows his meticulous nature and the seller’s determination to get the 500SL looking as good as it possibly can be.
It’s got the useful rear seat option too, plus working air-conditioning and factory cruise control. A period-correct Blaupunkt Casablanca radio-cassette player sits in the dashboard and it even still has a M-B first aid kit. There’s a tool roll in there as well (with some none-OE tools) plus an alloy spare wheel, a jack and a warning triangle.
And yet, as nice as it is to have all these original bits and bobs (and you only get these with the most carefully curated cars), like the exterior, it’s the overall quality that impresses.
The leather seats have that curiously firm yet springy feel that’s unique to this era of Mercedes. They’re in great shape and only gentle cracking and fading shows their age. If you wanted to refurbish or recolour them this would be straightforward but most would consider it unnecessary.
More urgent would be rectifying the cracking handbrake cover (#195) and sorting out the crack on the dashboard (just visible at the base of the binnacle in #169). Both are, along with some sun-fading on the seats, a corollary of its life on the Isle of Wight, a place that might have allowed it to live a quiet, slow life but did bombard it with sunshine. #swingsandroundabouts
However, even these two issues are driven more by the quality of the rest of the interior rather than because they’re especially problematic or noticeable.
As you’d expect of a two-owner-from-new example with a relatively low mileage, it’s got an impressive service history logged:
• 19.09.1986 and 1,073 miles – service by Normand-Cruickshank of Bristol
• 18.04.1988 and 3,847 miles – service by Esplanade of Newport, Isle of Wight
• 17.06.1989 and 6,007 miles – service by Esplanade of Newport, Isle of Wight
• 21.05.1990 and 18,543 miles – service by Bonchurch Garage, Isle of Wight
• 07.03.1991 and 23,479 miles – service by Bonchurch Garage, Isle of Wight
• 10.03.1992 and 30,581 miles – service by Bonchurch Garage, Isle of Wight
• 08.06.1994 and 37,199 miles – service by Bonchurch Garage, Isle of Wight
• 15.09.2009 and 66,639 miles – new oil filter and fresh engine oil by Bonchurch Garage, Isle of Wight
• 14.05.2018 and 93,200 miles – new oil filter, fresh engine oil and engine oil flush by Autobarn of Godshill Park Farm
• 17.07.2020 and 94,200 miles – new engine oil by Charles Ironside Ltd
In addition to the standard service work, there are invoices for the following recent maintenance:
• 17.07.2020 and 94,136 miles - £2,783-worth of work carried out by A/C Engineering of Chertsey for the MOT. Please see slides #322 and #324 for the full details of what was done.
• 06.04.2021 and (unknown miles) – nearside front jacking point welded, plus paint offside front wing.
• 08.04.2021 – new central locking pump supplied and fitted
• 05.05.2021 and 94,255 miles – rear exhaust section fitted plus having the steering box reconditioned by SS Motors, an independent Mercedes-Benz specialist
• 18.05.2022 and 94,433 miles – a new crankshaft sensor was fitted by SS Motors, an independent Mercedes-Benz specialist
• 30.05.2022 and 94,507 miles – a new brake master cylinder was fitted by SS Motors, an independent Mercedes-Benz specialist
There are many more invoices for parts than just these, so please take the time to read through them to understand just how well curated this example is.
The vendor reports the Mercedes is “mechanically perfect” and “drives very nicely, with a lovely gearchange and none of the harshness you sometimes get with the V8 engine”.
The engine bay is neat and tidy without being obsessively so. I might be tempted to give it a bit of a clean (the top of the washer bottle is grubby, for example, and there’s the remnants of a paper sticker on the air intake…) but I can be a bit weird like that.
The underside is – and you’re ahead of me there, aren’t you? – very, very good.
It comes with a stamped service history book, the owner’s handbook, wallet and book pack as well as some old MOT certificates and tax discs, and a few other instruction booklets.
It also has a current V5 registration document showing just the one former keeper (two in total) plus a Haynes workshop manual.
What We Think
The R107 Mercedes-Benz SL is a staple of the classic car world for many reasons, not least its durability and reliability. It’s also easy to service and maintain, and the fact that it is so effortless elegant doesn’t harm its cause any.
And yet, despite its many attributes, it’s still very reasonably priced.
Take this one, for example. In a very good condition, it’s also got a low mileage, a great service history, and has had just two keepers from new, including the same one on the Isle of Wight for the past 35 years.
It also sports a brilliant colour scheme, making this one of the most attractive examples we’ve had through our hands for a while.
This makes it a little hard to estimate, though; at the lower end it might go for as little as £25,000 but if it went for £10,000 more I don’t think any of us would be surprised, would we, especially when you consider that a Ford Focus could easily set you back far more.
Nor does the good news end there because while your modern car will shed money faster even than the current rate of inflation, the price of good Mercedes R107s has yet to take off in the way we expect them to in due course, so we still think this should be a safe place to put your money in the medium- to long-term.
It really is worth coming along to see in person; the photos show the car accurately but they can’t demonstrate the intangibles that make this one so special. Please contact us to make an appointment. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; we are open weekdays 9am-5pm, to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
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- Location: The Market HQ Abingdon, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Trade
- Odometer Reading: 94000
- Chassis Number: WDB1070462A046327
- Engine: 4973
- Gearbox: auto
- Steering position: RHD
- Colour: Arctic White
- Interior: Navy Leather
- Estimated Price: £25,000 - £35,000