MARKET TRENDS – CLASSIC MERCEDES-BENZ SL’S

MARKET TRENDS – CLASSIC MERCEDES-BENZ SL’S

Posted by Glenn Rowswell on 1st October 2018

MERCEDES SL PAGODA
The Pagoda was born from a project to improve the 190Sl, and developed into a whole new project as it became apparent the 190 would be long in the tooth before its update was released. Popular then and now with the sort of people you find in the gossip columns, it has endured as one of the coolest cars in the business. Launched in 1963 as a 230SL, the 2.3-litre six was replaced in 1967 by a 2.5-litre, and again the following year with a 2.8. By the time the Pagoda series was replaced by the R107 in 1971 it had earned itself a place in the history books.

While the 230SL and the 280SL each have their devotees, the 250SL tends to be a bit of an unloved child in the middle. It’s neither the original lightweight sporting version, nor the powerful, poshed-up GT from the end of production.

Following a dip in 2016, values have been steadily rising – and are once more above the level they had reached by 2015. It is likely that this trend will continue, with modest gains achievable within the next couple of years. Average values presently rest at around the £120,000 mark, though of course there are several excellent cars which command in excess of this and a number of average cars which have been cheaper. These cars are unlikely to reach the values of the 190SL and 300SL, but inevitably there will be a return for a canny buyer.

MERCEDES SL R107
The R107 was the car that took the SL truly upmarket. Unlike its predecessor, it had thrown off most of its sporting pretensions in favour of becoming a fully fledged GT car. And rightly so, because it was a method which served Mercedes well for the best part of two decades. Launched in 1971 as the 350SL, the range broadened over time to include the six-cylinder 280SL and V8s up to and including the 500SL in the UK – and the 560SL in America.

Most usable of the bunch is the late 300SL six cylinder, though many find the purity of the early 350SL V8s more appealing and desirable. The 500SL is currently the most valuable model; the market finding the larger engine and better specified cars the easiest to resell. The least valuable SL derivative is still the SLC – stretched by 12 inches, this coupe effectively took the position of the S Class coupe for a generation.

R107 values have been rising for the last five years and continue to rise on a steady trajectory. Four years ago the best cars were commanding £20,000, while the average is now far closer to thirty with good cars pushing £45,000. This upward trend is likely to continue as Pagoda values continue to climb; those who have been priced out of the latter market will find early R107s the ideal substitute. SLCs are still relatively inexpensive, and values are about four years behind those of the equivalent roadster. A nice SLC might still struggle to fetch £25,000 at auction.

MERCEDES SL R129
Launched in 1989, the R129 SL was softer and smoother still than the previous model. By now, the car had moved firmly away from its sporting past and become a true GT in the mould of Jaguar’s XJS. Launched as a 300SL six cylinder, a 24 valve 300SL-24 and a 500SL V8, the range expanded in 1993 to include the flagship 600SL. The range was renamed in 1993 to match the new naming strategy at Mercedes, with the range revised to SL280, SL320, SL500 and SL600.

There was also a rare AMG derivative; the SL60 AMG. Based on the SL500, it featured revised suspension, a 6.0 V8 producing 375bhp, and several other tweaks to transform the soft SL into a truly sporting machine. Subsequently, Mercedes developed this into the rare SL72 AMG, later sold as the SL70 AMG. This used a Pagani-developed V12, later extended to 7.3 litres for the SL73 AMG. The final AMG model was the SL55 AMG, produced from 1997-2001 using the same engine as the E55 and S55 models.

Values are rising, with average prices breaking the £10,000 mark around the end of 2015 and staying there. Averages now are around £15,000, with good examples regularly fetching over £20,000. It should be noted that AMG models are worth significantly more, but their scarcity means that we have no data for their values. As values of R107s rise, R129 values will inevitably increase to fill the gap – most desirable is the 5.0 SL500, while the market is less keen on the V12 owing to scant extra performance and additional running costs. The best bargains to be had are the six-cylinder cars – 300SL, SL280 and SL320.