MERCEDES-BENZ SL R107 REVIEW

The R107-series SL was unveiled in 1971, presenting luxury-hungry buyers with stylish interiors, bigger engines and sharper, more contemporary bodywork. Mercedes-Benz’s renowned build quality quickly becomes apparent from the moment you close the door with a satisfying clunk. The 107 chassis was also an incredibly long-lived member of the Mercedes-Benz family, remaining in production until 1989. After four decades, the R107 SL is still a fashionable and popular vehicle, so prices have remained strong. Find a good example and you should have a surefire investment in the long term.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR

BODYWORK

Mercedes-Benz built these cars accurately, with very careful attention to how every item fitted in relation to another. Thus all external body sheet metal should fit precisely, with even gaps between any adjacent panels – the same goes for the bonnet and boot lid. Uneven gaps hint at removal, accident damage or worse. 
Check where the wings are bolted to the inner aprons. Mercedes-Benz painted the cars after the front wings and doors were already attached, so all the bolts should be body-coloured and bonded with paint to the panels. If not, then this is a sure sign that repairs have been undertaken.
Post-1986 cars were the best rustproofed SLs, while pre-1976 versions – built before wax injection was introduced – are the most likely to suffer. Check for rust in the sills, box sections, jacking points and floors. Front and rear valances and wheelarches are also problem areas. Be sure to assess the windscreen – it’s bonded in – as well as checking rubber window seals for perishing. All panels apart from the front wings are welded on, and most are available from Mercedes-Benz. You can get pattern equivalents, but they often need extra fettling before they will fit satisfactorily. Accident damage is also a possibility, so carefully inspect the front chassis legs and inner panels to see if they’re rippled. 

ENGINE & GEAROX

Engines should be capable of racking up 300,000 miles, and oil changes every 6000 miles will help prolong an engine’s lifetime. Also check whether regular coolant changes have taken place – it is vital that proper antifreeze with the correct inhibitors has been used, in order to guard against internal corrosion. 
Blue smoke suggests worn valve stems, so changing them every 75,000 miles is recommended, along with the timing chain and tensioner. Keep an eye on the temperature gauge – if the radiator has become clogged up with silt then the V8s will run hot. Camshaft wear is another common issue on cars that haven’t been looked after properly, resulting in a clicking from the engine. If this has happened then the cam followers and possibly even the chain will have been affected, too. 
Automatic gearboxes are the most common choice. Earlier cars have a fluid flywheel that can become temperamental when engaging first gear; from 1975 onwards, a torque converter was used instead. With all ‘boxes, check for excessive noise or difficulties when engaging gears. A vibration from the transmission indicates worn propshaft couplings. Replacement exhausts can be expensive, so look for bodged ‘dual’ systems – if there is no balance pipe between the front downpipes on V8s it will run rougher. Mercedes-Benz used a different firing order to most American cars and the balance pipe helps tuning as well as smooth running. Stainless systems last for much longer, but due to the lighter gauge metal they are usually a bit louder, so consider this before you buy.

SUSPENSION

Loose handling is usually down to tired shock absorbers, although bushes also deteriorate noticeably, especially on high-mileage cars. Worn subframe mountings can also seriously affect handling, especially on the more powerful V8 models. Steering dampers also deteriorate, as do power steering boxes, most commonly after 90,000 miles have been racked up. Beware of fitting aftermarket alloy wheels – they may look good, but bigger-than-standard items can really affect the feel of an SL and how it drives.

INTERIOR AND ELECTRICS

Four different trim options were offered over the years: leather, MB-tex, cloth or vinyl. Cloth is the least durable, followed by vinyl, leather and finally the über-resilient MB-tex. Seat covers in the latter are available quite reasonably, and even original pattern ones in leather are not too bad, so any typical tears or split seams in the driver’s seat need not be a deal-breaker. The hood should be a good quality padded one; while there are cheap vinyl replacements around, they look just that – cheap.

 

OUR VERDICT
If you’re after a stylish, sharp-suited roadster to potentially use all year round, then look no further. The R107 SL was improved continuously throughout its 18-year lifespan, with the result that the later the car, the better it is – run-out models from 1989 are most buyer’s top choices. SLs are rarely cheap to buy and the repair bills can be eye-watering, but they do make up for this by remaining a solid investment. The golden rule is to buy the best car you can afford. Happily though, once you’ve found the right car for you, R107s can be enjoyed in much the same way as a modern Mercedes-Benz, with all the reliability you’d expect in that regard but with infinitely more character and personality.

Recently Added

A4 silver 2.8 quattro 008Sponsored Ad
2000
£2,295
A4 2.8 Quattro Sport Tiptronic
  • 89,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1086837
Audi A4 2.8 Quattro Sport Tiptronic Saloon
28
07860 215636
View details
P1240077Sponsored Ad
1994
£16,995
  • 2,998
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1082720
** NOW SOLD ** 1994 Rover Mini Cooper 1.3 SPI in British Racing Green with a white roof, mirrors ...
23
07967135037
View details
1968 wolseley 1300 automatic farina grey 1Sponsored Ad
1968
£6,995
  • 27,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1093015
1968(F) Wolseley 1300 Mk1 4-speed automatic. Farina Grey with Reef Blue leather interior and wood...
24
01277 365415
View details
1998 bmw z3 1.9 convertible arctic silver 11Sponsored Ad
1998
£4,295
Roadster
  • 40,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1050921
1998 BMW Z3 1.9i Roadster convertible in Arctic Silver with Black leather interior, 5-speed gearb...
13
01277 365415
View details
1Sponsored Ad
£2,795
  • 17,300
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: DIY1100054
12 months MoT, VGC, throughout drives excellent, this is a nice P38 and sensibly priced. Fully do...
6
07860527820
View details
Dsc 0378Sponsored Ad
1966
£24,500
289
  • 99,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 LHD
  • Refcode: TA1089177
The Ford Mustang was the original Pony car and was introduced in April 1964 which came in two var...
14
01424 870600
View details
47364 1Sponsored Ad
1988
£Auction
320I E30
  • 113,000
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100070
The BMW E30 was produced by BMW from 1982 to 1994. The initial models used the Coupe body style. Fou
6
02381 247 805
View details
47476 1Sponsored Ad
2010
£33,995
  • 28,500
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Automatic
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1100069
With only 28,000 miles on the clock, and beautifully presented in the combination of Frost Blue w...
5
01798 849 279
View details
46008 1Sponsored Ad
2015
£POA
90
  • 0
  • Transmission 69197354786223e29b85070a0695cc247a4c2b215c743673c2d02e864b4cd687 Manual
  • Steering ca68a9643bbb915d30839040f432af59e679db8cf98e23a4378cbef2ed805059 RHD
  • Refcode: TA1096570
2015 Land Rover Defender 90 Autobiography (RHD) for sale in London Unused Delivery mileage only F...
32
0208 226 3044
View details
See All Classic Cars for Sale