Yes, it is still possible to pick a tatty, high-mileage example up for less than £10k, but at that level you really do need to know your way around the cars and be on your guard for what can be expensive bodywork repairs. The dreaded scuttle rot for example can involve so much labour to rectify that it soon negates any savings you may have made by buying a project in the first place.
All of which makes this one an interesting buy. As usual with Avantgarde’s stock, it’s a remarkably low-mileage example but priced below the level you’d expect for an SL with this little mileage. Despite that, it’s a good-looking example of the breed and the Signal Red exterior certainly looked pretty clean and straight when we drove the car. The car has received plenty of work from previous owners who attended to some bodywork issues and apparently generally tidied the car up during their ownership so that today it really does look very presentable. It comes with the usual SL hard-top and has the bonus of the rear seat too, which makes all the difference to the usability of these cars for family duties. The service and handbooks, first aid kit and tool kit are also present and correct.
The interior is the familiar Mercedes-Benz cloth check pattern and that rear seat benefits from proper seatbelts too. We usually find ourselves driving SL’s with the top down but on this occasion we kept the roof up and can report that the black hood seemed to be in good condition.
ON THE ROAD
A mileage of 42,000 is absolutely nothing to a Mercedes of this era and as you’d expect it drove really nicely on our limited test run. These cars take some getting used to, with the steering wheel very close to the dash and the throttle pedal having an unusually long travel, which means you have to push it harder than you initially expect to make decent progress. Once you’ve acclimatised though, the Bosch-injected 185bhp straight-six twin-cam in the 280SL is a willing unit and can make decent progress when asked. The SL though isn’t a car to go tearing about in, more a classy cruiser and for that the 280 is perfect, with the bonus of far better economy than the V8 engine.
As an entry into the world of SL ownership this car is a safer bet than taking a chance on a really cheap example. With the known bodywork issues covered, the car is ready to use and enjoy. The low mileage makes it a good bet for long-term ownership too and if the prices of SL’s continue their upward trend then it’s not a bad investment either.
Top speed: 124mph
Gearbox: 4-sp auto