∙Incredibly low mileage ∙One owner ∙Full service history ∙Lots of desirable factory options
‘The best, or nothing’ – a slogan adopted by Mercedes-Benz in recent years, embodying the brand’s founding principles. M-B has always strived to provide something a little extra beyond the mundane, and that tri-pointed star has come to symbolise quality, luxury, and lifestyles centred around the premium. The evergreen SL model line has always thrown these values into sharp focus, and the new-millennium generation of the SL, designated ‘R230’, was an intriguing proposition indeed. Developed in parallel using two distinct methods (the physical development occurred with 1:4-scale cars, the virtual used the pioneering ‘CAVE’ supercomputer processing technology), the new-for-2001 SL was the product of over five years of work from an improbably massive team of people. Offered with a wide range of V6s, V8s and V12s, this was the quintessential open-top grand tourer.
In 2008, the R230 received a significant facelift, and the model we have here is one of the first examples of the evolution. Exterior changes included new lights, bumpers, grilles, wheels, and the electric roof mechanism was revised and made quicker in its operation. The interior received softer leather trim and various detail changes, and the big news was the transmission: SLs now had the new 7-speed 7G-Tronic automatic gearbox with Sport mode. And in the case of the SL 350, as we have here, there was a new engine too – the M272 all-aluminium 3.5-litre V6, with forged internals, variable-length intake, continuous VVT, and a balance shaft for smoothness. The result was an effortless 312bhp, wrapped up in a luxuriously trimmed and fully-loaded roadster.
We now arrive at this car’s most intriguing feature. You see, the R230-generation SL went out of production in 2011, being replaced by the R231 which is still in showrooms today – so it’s not possible to stroll into a dealership and buy a brand-new R230, they don’t exist. This car, however, is arguably as close as you’re likely to get, as it’s covered a mere 9,435 miles in its life. No, that’s not a typo – since its birth in 2008, the SL 350 has notched up an average of 725 miles a year. Incredible, isn’t it? Its well-to-do owner had access to other vehicles and simply used this as an occasional runabout. It’s always been properly serviced and looked after, has been kept clean and tidy, is all-original, and represents something of a time-warp. So if you fancy a throwback to the time of the Beijing Olympics, Ashes to Ashes, Euro 2008 and Amy Winehouse, this is the trapped-in-amber roadster for you.
That extraordinarily low mileage is all verified by the documentation in the history file. There’s a sheaf of receipts and invoices here outlining all of the servicing and maintenance work that’s been carried out over the years – most of it is from Mercedes-Benz main dealers in Ascot and Slough, along with handwritten receipts from Hewitts of Wimbledon. The car has clearly been maintained in a no-expense-spared fashion (it previously wore a three-digit private plate which the seller was offered £150,000 for and refused, which helps to illustrate how there would have been no scrimping on the bills), and an interesting detail is the presence of the original new vehicle invoice from Mercedes-Benz of Slough: this shows us all of the spec options that were ticked, including the Airscarf, Parktronic, panoramic glass roof, media interface, and tracker. (Interestingly, this order sheet lists the paint colour as Obsidian Black Metallic – the owner evidently changed her mind on the paint shade, as the chassis and engine numbers all match this car as does the full spec.) All of the original manuals and handbooks are present, as well as the V5.
The interior is generously equipped as standard in an SL, but this one benefits from a lot of optional extras above and beyond the stock fare. One of the most desirable options is the Airscarf, a fully-adjustable ventilation system for directing warm air toward the back of your neck when you’ve got the roof down. The car also benefits from the media interface, telephone pre-wiring and Bluetooth module, as well as a factory-installed tracker. In terms of trim, the owner specced black leather, walnut dash and door inserts, and black velour overmats. The SL also has the Parktronic system. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into making the interior eminently usable, as there are storage cubbies hidden everywhere – the armrests in the doors pop open at the touch of a button, there’s storage below the seats, and lidded bins in the space behind. The underseat cubby on the passenger side houses the original first aid kit. As you’d expect of a car with such low mileage, it’s all extremely fresh and tidy in the cabin, with no undue wear, scuffs, scratches or missing trim.
Inside the boot it’s equally tidy, with the warning triangle hidden away on the left, and under the carpet we find the unused space-saver spare wheel and inflater.
Silver is a classic choice for an SL, and it suits the lines of the facelift R230 very well. The paintwork is in excellent condition throughout the car, with no stone-chips or scratches and just a couple of very, very minor scuffs to the lower edge of the front bumper. The owner specified the Panoramic Glass Vario Sunroof, which was a £1,225 option, and this is all in perfect working order. It’s also very entertaining to watch as the roof is raised and lowered, with the bootlid hinging up from the rear and the glass hardtop folding itself away – it all happens in sixteen seconds. The optional 18” 5-spoke wheels are in generally good condition, with a little minor kerbing and one mismatched centre cap, all of which would be very simple and inexpensive to rectify.
The light lenses and window glass are in good order, and all of the correct trim is in place. Overall, it looks like exactly what it is: a quality roadster that’s barely been used.
It’s a compelling package in this car, offering the perfect blend of smooth wafting and sonorous grunt, depending on how relaxed or aggressive you choose to be with the throttle. Thanks to that highly-advanced all-aluminium V6 motor, there’s oodles of torque to exploit, and the engine is perfectly mated to the slick 7G-Tronic transmission.
Given the mileage and the thorough service history, it’ll be no surprise to you that there are no gremlins to worry about with this car. It drives wonderfully, everything’s working as it should, and it’s recently been serviced. The SL has never had an advisory on an MOT (aside from a possibly over-zealous tester in 2015 noting that the factory-fitted undertrays and engine covers obscure the view to certain components, which is hardly cause for concern!), and the seller will furnish it with a new MOT before sale.
The term ‘time-warp’ gets thrown around a lot, it’s true. But it really is unusual to find a 2008 car that looks so much like we’re still living in 2008 – the amazingly low mileage of this car, combined with the thorough and fastidious nature of its servicing and maintenance, means that it’s not at all hyperbolic to call this a time-warp example. In all-original spec (and highly-specced from new), it offers all of the performance and luxury that you could wish for from an SL, along with a remarkable freshness that you just won’t find with other R230s on today’s market. It begs the question, is it really worth going to Mercedes-Benz and shelling out £80,000 for a brand-new SL? Much of that splendour and cachet is available here for a mere fraction of the price…
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