CURRENT BID: £14,750
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2003 Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG

Guide Price: £8,000 - £10,000


﹒Thumping 476bhp V8 AMG
﹒Stacks of history and paperwork
﹒Major suspension overhaul
﹒Cost over £100,000 when new 

The Background

When Mercedes-Benz replaced the R129SL in 2001, it brought the model bang up to date.

The new R230 model was not only sleek and stylish, but it added new technology in the form of advanced electronics such as Mercedes-Benz’s Active Body Control (ABC) system. It also introduced the company’s trademark electric folding hard top to the model, which had debuted four years earlier on the SLK.

It was a strikingly handsome car but also a very expensive one. At launch, it was offered only as the 386bhp SL500 but at the end of 2001, Mercedes-Benz introduced the supercharged flagship model - the SL55AMG .

Even without options, the 476bhp SL55 AMG was an extremely expensive car, retailing at over £95,000. As soon as you touched the options list, it was very easy to tip this over £100k, and that's what this car cost knew. 

The R230SL set new standards for Mercedes-Benz in terms of dynamics and handling. The company was competing in Formula One in conjunction with McLaren and the British company played a hand in helping develop the new SL, which was dynamically leagues ahead of its R129 predecessor. Its suite of features included an advanced electronic system that worked with the ESP and body control systems to make it one of the finest handling cars on the road.

This 2003 example has covered less than 84,000 miles from new and despite having passed through the hands of several owners, it's been impeccably well maintained, as can be proven by the comprehensive stack of bills and paperwork included with it.

Being the AMG, it's probably the most collectable R230 model and can be bought for a fraction of the price it cost new. With sensible miles and all the major jobs done, it looks like terrific value as well as a safe investment.

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The History

For the first few years of its life, this car lived in the North-West and was the company car of a business’s managing director. 

During that period, it was maintained by a Mercedes-Benz main dealer and the service book is stamped by the dealership up until 2008. After that, service book pages  show that it’s been serviced every 10k miles of its life, either with a Mercedes main dealer or Mercedes Specialist.

The current owner, a Mercedes-Benz enthusiast, purchased the car in 2018 and has enjoyed it for two summers, but is selling it to make way for another Mercedes-Benz purchase. During his ownership, the car has been specialist-maintained and carefully looked after.

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The Paperwork

As well as a full V5 in the current owner’s name, the car comes with an MOT valid until April 2021, which it passed with no advisories. 

It also comes with a stack of bills generated between 2013 and the present day. Within them is a receipt for a complete overhaul of the car’s ABC system, which is brilliant when it works but an absolute headache when it goes wrong. The refurbishment bill for the ABC system alone came to over £3,500. 

There are also a series of bills for regular servicing and repairs including a recent radiator and replacement hydraulic suspension pipes .

The original Mercedes-Benz book pack is also present, containing the handbook, service book and audio guides.

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The Interior

The red leather seats and door cards are not for the shy and retiring, but the colour scheme works perfectly alongside the SL’s silver paint work. 

Aside from a small amount of seat bolster wear and a similar amount of wear to the leather on the gear selector, everything is in superb condition. The air conditioning works perfectly as does the radio and multi-way electric seat adjustment .

This is an incredibly well-equipped car and it brings with it a sense of occasion, through details such as the AMG badges woven into the seat fabric and its distinctive red seat belts. 

The desirable up spec panoramic roof is operated by a central switch, which can raise or lower the roof in less than 30 seconds. The roof is a masterpiece of engineering and is still in perfect working order.

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The Exterior

We happen to think that silver is by far the best colour for an R230SL, especially the AMG model with its motorsport connections. 

Being an AMG, there are some delightful details, such as the chrome AMG-branded exhaust tips and the two-tone alloy wheels. 

The paintwork is in incredible condition. There are no scuffs or scratches, but the occasional marking of car that has seen nearly 2 decades of life. Indeed, it also has all the hallmarks of a car that had been properly looked after throughout its life. There are no signs of corrosion on top or underneath the car and it still looks bright and clean despite being over 17 years old.

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The Mechanics

The highlight of this car is of course its 5.5-litre V8 supercharged engine, which looks almost as fantastic as it sounds .

Careful and regular servicing has ensured that the unit is still in very good health. It starts on the button, idles smoothly and sounds terrific, especially with the induction shriek from the supercharger. 

Critically, the biggest bill that any SL55 AMG owner will face has been taken care of by a previous keeper who has not only had all of the hydraulic pipework replaced but has also had the ABC system fully overhauled by a reputable Mercedes-Benz specialist. 

Over £3,500 was spent renewing the ABC system, which controls such elements as the car’s braking, damping and steering behaviour. As a result, it drives exactly as an SL should and there are no scary warning lights on the dashboard .

The regular maintenance this car has seen throughout its life means that it still feels fresh and eager today.

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The Appeal

We probably don't have to explain the appeal of an SL55 AMG in general, as when it was new it was one of the best cars in the world and in many ways it still is.

From that thumping V8 to its curvaceous yet imposing good looks, this generation of SL is still one of the finest looking sports cars you can buy. The flagship AMG model only serves to make it even more desirable, while the recent maintenance that this car has had means that it should be relatively trouble-free for its next owner. 

Right now, the R230 SL represents incredible value and we can't see them getting any cheaper . Indeed the colour, specification and maintenance record of this example make it as much of a sensible investment for the future as it is a high performance car that you can get in and enjoy today. 

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.

Vehicle specification
  • Year 2003
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model SL55 AMG
  • Colour Silver
  • Mileage 83,500
  • Engine size 5439
  • Location Suffolk
Bidding history
60 bids
  • jcparis £14,750 22/10/20
  • Carclas•••• £14,500 22/10/20
  • jcparis £14,250 22/10/20
  • Burrowe•••• £14,000 22/10/20
  • jcparis £13,750 22/10/20
  • Burrowe•••• £13,500 22/10/20
  • jcparis £13,250 22/10/20
  • Melap S•••• £13,000 22/10/20
  • Melap S•••• £12,750 20/10/20
  • philip•••• £12,500 20/10/20

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