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A motoring icon and one of the most desirable classics sports cars from the 80s; a 1985 Mercedes 380SL Convertible Classic Sports Car with full service history & long MOT

At a glance:
1985 Mercedes 380SL 3.8 litre V8 automatic
Totally original and unmodified specification
Full Service History
144,675 miles
Astral Silver bodywork
Blue cloth and MB tex interior.
MOT until April 2021.

 

The model:
The Mercedes-Benz SL, manufactured since 1954, derives from the German Sportlich-Leicht, ‘Sport Lightweight’. The SL designation was first applied to the 300 SL, often referred to as the "Gullwing" and has since spanned six design generations. These R107 versions were produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1971 through 1989, being the second longest single series ever produced, after the G Wagen. They were sold under the SL (R107) model name as the 280 SL, 300 SL, 350SL, 420SL, 450SL, 500SL and 560 SL. The R107 replaced the W113 ‘Pagoda’ SL-Class in 1971 and was replaced by the R129 SL-Class in 1989.

The SL variant was a 2-seat convertible/roadster with standard soft top and optional hardtop and optional folding rear seats. Volume production of the first R107 (the 350 SL) started in April 1971 alongside the last of the W113 cars. From July 1974 the SL could also be ordered with a fuel-injected 2.8L straight six as the 280 SL. The final car of the 18 year running R107 series was a 500 SL painted Signal red, built on August 4, 1989; it currently resides in the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart.

These cars are from the era of legendary German engineering, optimum build quality and money no object attention to detail. Built in a time when Mercedes-Benz was truly and uniquely synonymous with “quality”…

The R107 was the choice of the rich, famous, rogues and royalty alike and these cars still ooze charm and character, and understated, refined class.

 

The history of this car:
This car will first registered to a gentleman from Bournemouth, and has 5 owners to date, many of who are documented in the full service history.

 

The specification:
The car is presented in Astral Silver with blue mohair hood, blue checked upholstery and matching silver hard top. The car is also fitted with the original Blaupunkt radio.

The later models from the 1980s benefited with a range of improvements added to the range during its lifespan, such as better chassis protection from wax injected sills, so the mid 1980s cars are much better than the 1970s ones.

 

Mileage:
144,675 miles, an average of roughly 4,500 miles per year.

 

Service history:
Masses of service history, the original Mercedes maintenance booklet is stamped up to 120k, with receipts for subsequent servicing. A two inch thick folder of bills and receipts accompanies the car.

On the road:
This car drives exceptionally well for its age, a real grand tourer for effortless cruising, perhaps to Le Mans, Monaco or Milan. No, it’s not like Downton Abbey with a steering wheel, it drives very well and beats the ride of many much newer cars. The refined burble of the V8 makes this car a gentle giant and even after over 30 years, these cars will still outpace most modern traffic, are effortless to drive, start and stop as well as many modern cars. The sound of this car is awesome. The V8 rumble will be guaranteed to put a smile on your face every time to touch the accelerator. The car surges smoothly as it should and has reserves of power for effortless acceleration, and due to the lighter weight of the all alloy engine this car is more nimble and agile than many other SL models.
According to official estimates, they can get around 20-22mpg which for a V8 of this size is pretty good. Even by modern standards this is a quality car and motoring legend. It still draws admiring glances wherever it goes and often starts many conversations.

 

Engine:
Many consider the 380 as having the best engine in the SL range, giving the best balance of displacement, weight, fuel consumption, reliability and performance. This car is fitted with the all alloy 3.8 litre V8 which is much lighter than the 420, 450 and 500 iron block engines. Still very powerful, but more economical than the thirsty 5 litre and far more powerful than the mean 280SL 6-cylinder unit. A superb balance of silky smooth power and economy. Later models such as this also had the improved duplex timing chain.
The engine starts first time, pulls strongly and these engines are everlasting if maintained with correct servicing.

 

Transmission:
The 4 speed automatic gearbox (not the earlier 3 speed) is very smooth and changes exactly as it should.

 

MOT:
The car has recently passed the MOT with no major issues, and has an MOT until April 2021

 

Condition:
The car is incredibly well made with real German quality feel as you would expect from a Mercedes from the era of legendary build quality. Everything is solid and well-engineered, even 32 years after leaving the factory. The floor and structure are very sound, and far more solid than some you might see on other cars. The driver and passenger foot wells and floor have been undersealed with no signs of corrosion evident.

In general, the only thing which sets the car apart from mint examples (other than the price) is that there are mostly cosmetic. In my opinion, it is a good solid reliable classic, which with a bit of finessing, could be improved which would only increase the value. There are no tears or rips in the seats, just a gentle patina of age with some light wear. The seats are still firm and amazingly comfortable.

You can use it and drive it regularly as it is, or you may wish to return it to concours condition little by little.

Pricing:
The car cost around £30,000 new in 1985, whilst the average house price in 1985 was £35,000, so realistically that would make it roughly a £200,000 car in today’s terms.

Classic Germanic engineering back in a time when the emphasis was only quality rather than cost. When launched they costs almost twice the price of an e-Type. A nice early e-Type roadster will set you back at least £200k, whilst the best SLs can be picked up for less than a quarter of that. That means the SL is a bargain, and this means that surely prices will continue to rise.

According to Classic Car magazine: The SL is starting to ascend in value and the days of grabbing a bargain are fast diminishing. Decent cars cost around £9000+ with good examples commanding £18,000 - £35,000+ depending upon spec and condition, although many specialists reckon this is just a guide and cars nudging £50,000 - £60,000 will become more common. Many predict these cars are going to rise sharply in value over the coming years, as they have trebled in value in the last decade. This car is £14,950 which is a very fair price for a legendary automobile in such good and readily useable condition.

 

Conclusion:
This is a great example of the rare and desirable sporting classic, a really well-built and entertaining drop-top that puts a smile on your face every time you drive it. Even after 27 years it has a quality German car feel, drives exceptionally well and seems just as solid as the day it rolled off the production line. Perfect for making the most of those rare sunny days in the winter, or summer.

It draws admiring glances all the time, and is often a topic of conversation with people you meet when you park. It has oodles of charm, character and style. These cars are a worthwhile investment and are set to only increase in value as a modern classic and a motoring icon. Legendary build quality means that these cars, if maintained, will last forever...

AUTOMATIC - 1985 - 3.8 V8 - 144,675 MILES - £14,950

MERCEDES-BENZ 380SL

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