1965 Mercedes-Benz ‘Rally’ SL – Classified of the Week

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By Chris Pollitt

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again; there is something so right about a classic car that is still used in anger. And many would argue there is little more angry in the motorsport world than rallying. It’s tough, it’s aggressive, it’s relentless. To be a rally car is to be at the top of the motorsport game.

The thing about rally events, however, is that the format is often misinterpreted. You say rally, and naturally the mind’s eye conjures up images of top-flight WRC cars flying through the Finnish forests or through the dusty, rocky stages of Portugal. And your mind’s eye would be right, but it would not be complete in its rendering. Why? Because rally events are often more about endurance than they are about “6 left, 200, don’t cut”.

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That leads us onto this week’s classified of choice; a 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL ‘Pagoda’. A classic car that is more familiar with the lawns of showgrounds outside country houses than it is the mud and dirt of a Himalayan mountain road. But sure enough, the latter location is where this particular SL is most comfortable. Mainly because it has, quite literally, been there and done that.

Classic cars have no desire to perform like modern WRC cars. Instead, they rally in the endurance sense. It’s big business in the classic car world, with all manner of cars being converted to undertake journeys consisting of thousands of miles off the beaten path. Taller suspension, knobbly tyres, bigger brakes, safety kit, long-range fuel tanks and so on. Kit that has been fitted to this SL.

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Endurance rally cars aren’t built for speed, which is handy as the the 2.3 litre engine here isn’t exactly a hot rod. However, it is unerringly reliable and solid, as is the rest of the car. These old Mercs might be classics, but they are also solid, tough, strong machines that are capable of far more than idle Sunday drives. This ’65 SL proves that. It’s not a car with some harnesses and big tyres. No, this is the real deal, a time served endurance rally competitor. It’s done the Samurai Challenge, the Classic Safari Challenge and the Himalayan Challenge.

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The SL was then refreshed in readiness for the 2019 Peking to Paris event, but in the end the owner took his Bentley (nice for some!). As such, the SL was prepared, but its rally career has come to a pause. But that’s where you come in. This drop-top rally endurance classic could be yours. It’s not cheap at £79,995, but look at the ad and you’ll see why. This is a proper, bona fide bit of rally equipment. All it needs is for you to take it on its next adventure.

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