• Original, unrestored condition
• Cherished by a single owner for the last 12 years
• Detachable hardtop
• Large history file
• Owned by an international sportsman
Sharing its name with the famous ‘Gullwing’ Mercedes of the 1950s, the 300SL badge returned in 1985 to bolster Mercedes’s line of high-class sports cars of the 1980s and 1990s. When the R107 was retired after 18 years of production with few major changes, it was replaced by the R129, which burst onto the scene with up-to-the-minute styling.
As per Mercedes tradition, it was very luxuriously appointed; ostensibly a roadster with an electrically-operated fabric hood and colour-matched electric tonneau cover, it was also issued with a manually detachable hardtop which allowed it to be transformed into a rakish coupé.
Development of the R129 models began in 1984 using a shortened version of the W124 saloon’s floorpan, but it was not until the 1989 Geneva Motor Show that it would be glimpsed by the public. The five years of development were well spent, and Mercedes’s designers and engineers did a phenomenal job of integrating a host of advanced technology into the car.
One such cutting-edge feature was the suspension’s Adaptive Damping System, and it also featured a concealed, automatically extending rollover bar and a multi-link axle. The power-operated windows, seats, mirrors and convertible roof were all standard fitment, and an interesting design detail was the seatbelts, which were built into the seats instead of being anchored to the body shell; this had never been seen before on a production car.
An array of different mechanical specifications gave rise to an extensive variety of models, running from SL280 to SL600. The 300SL version of the R129 was made from 1989 to 1993 and was distinguished by its 188bhp M103 sohc, 12-valve straight-six engine of three-litre capacity.
The history of this 300SL can be traced back to its first owner. It was registered on 30th June, 1993, as K970 JNO and sold new through Mercedes dealer Waterhouse Ltd of Chelmsford to a Mr. W. Garner of Wickford, Essex. It remained in Essex, until the vendor, who is the sixth owner, acquired it in 2009.
The vendor subsequently applied for the private registration H8 YPA, which is to be supplied with the car. After covering around 12,000 miles, the vendor has very much enjoyed his ownership of the car but is reluctantly selling it as he lacks the time to enjoy it.
The 300SL is supplied with an extensive paperwork file, which, in addition to the V5, includes a wealth of MoT certificates dating back to 1997. Of course, there is also a current MoT certificate valid until 8th July, 2022, and showing no advisories.
Further paperwork includes the vendor’s purchase invoice from the Magnum Trading Co. (U.K.) Ltd. of Finchley, and an additional invoice for work performed by the same company in 2009. In total, invoices for parts bought and services rendered run to over £1000. There is certification from the D.V.L.A. pertaining to the car’s change of registration, and also details of the Tracker security system installed in the car.
As ever, the most interesting material is to be found in the original Mercedes-Benz leather folder. This contains a selection of booklets including the Mercedes-Benz Workshop Directory Europe 1993, Touring-Guarantee, Owner’s Manual, U.K. Dealer Map, warranty handbook, United Kingdom Sales/Service for Passenger Cars and Commercial Vehicles booklet, and an SL Sports Cars sales pamphlet and price list, although this last item actually postdates production of the 300SL. Importantly, the car retains its original Maintenance Booklet which shows that it was serviced by a dealer annually until 2003, and subsequently received professional services in 2009, 2014 and 2019.
The Mercedes boasts a lovely interior of typically luxurious standards. The handsome cream leather is accentuated by a walnut centre console, and the dash is a tidy, uncluttered affair in spite of the car’s luxury status. In addition to the various heater and air-conditioning settings, the main feature of the centre console is the Mercedes-Benz radio and CD player, which we believe to be the original unit.
The interior is generally in very good condition, although unfortunately there are a couple of prominent splits in the leather of the driver’s seat. Other than that, the leather sports a few cracks and creases as are appropriate for a 28-year-old car, and the passenger seats have all lasted very well, especially in the rear.
The carpets, dash, centre console and doors are all very well presented, with only the slightest signs of cosmetic wear.
This 300SL is a pleasure to behold in its eye-catching Signal Red, which reflects the vogue for bold colours in the early 1990s, and it has evidently been cared for very well over the duration of its life, although there are a few cosmetic defects which are to be expected at 28 years old. There is some obvious paint damage on the front valance, around the offside fog light, where the paint has cracked and flaked off, and there is a light scuff mark on the offside corner of the front bumper.
Some bubbling has occurred on the nearside front wing just above the bumper, which has resulted in a few small holes appearing in the paint finish, and there is a patch on the offside rear wing by the boot lid where the clear coat has started to peel. Other than those flaws, the car presents very well for its age. There may be some very subtle scratches in the paint, but it still looks very good.
In most cases, the exterior glass is in very good order, but unfortunately the offside fog light has evidently been hit by a stone at speed which has resulted in the lens cracking, and a piece of glass falling away. As mentioned previously, the R129s all feature a convertible soft-top and removable hard-top. As can be seen, the hardtop appears to be in very good condition, but we were unable to inspect the soft-top.
Keen Mercedes enthusiasts will note that the car is wearing desirable 16-inch Lorinser D93 wheels. Lorinser has been a specialist Mercedes tuning company since 1976, and the wheels would have been purchased as an extra-cost accessory. The condition of these reflects the rest of the car; they are generally presentable, but a few light scuffs are apparent on close inspection.
Overall, we would describe this is a car which is fundamentally sound, attractive and immediately usable, although one which would benefit from some cosmetic improvement when the opportunity allows.
When we saw the car, it started easily, ran quietly and pulled away effortlessly, so we believe it is all in very good mechanical order. The MoT certificate issued in July did not raise any advisory points, so it ought to be in excellent order from a safety perspective.
With a three-litre straight-six producing 188bhp, the car has plenty of power for when its needed but, with an automatic gearbox and power steering, it should be quite docile in traffic.
With its neat and uncomplicated appearance, the R129 design has aged very well and does not look dated, even though it is over 30 years old.
That is even more true in terms of its technical specification, which was so advanced at the time that it is still not all that far removed from what one would expect from a modern car. In essence, this is an attractive car for weekend cruises, especially in the summer, but it is practical enough to be used any time.
The vendor has derived a lot of pleasure from the car during his 12 years of ownership and has formed quite an attachment to it, but he believes it needs an owner who has more time to care for it and enjoy it, and we would agree that a loving owner is exactly what it deserves.
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