1988 MERCEDES-BENZ 420SLView vehicle description
1988 MERCEDES-BENZ 420SL
The R107 version of the Mercedes-Benz SL remained in continuous production for an incredible 18 years. The thinking behind it must have been, if you have got a great product that sells well to an informed and enthusiastic fanbase, why change it?
The car caused a sensation when it was launched in 1971. Clean simple lines, powerful engines and the legendary Mercedes build quality were undoubtedly a recipe for success.
The SL was more a grand tourer than an out and out sports car, but that’s not to say it was slow. The more powerful V8-engined cars were swift and could happily cruise the derestricted autobahns at three figure speeds for hours on end.
Manual and automatic gearboxes were offered, but most buyers preferred two pedal driving.
There was the option of a hard top, which when fitted gave the SL saloon car like civility. Many owners never removed them, which is a shame as the car looks just as good with the soft top deployed.
Towards the end of the R107’s production run in 1985, some new engines were introduced. The 215bhp 4.2-litre V8 replaced the ageing 3.8 and came equipped with the now standard 4-speed automatic gearbox, this combination may well be the sweet spot in the range, with power aplenty yet with reasonable economy too.
Figures recorded at the time suggest a 0 to 62mph sprint time of just nine seconds and a top speed of over 130mph. Respectable figures even today. All this power, yet the frugal could be expected to average around 24mpg in ideal conditions, whatever they may be.
In total, R107 generation production numbered around 237,000, but only 2,148 of these 420SLs rolled out of the Sindelfingen factory, making this car a relatively rare beast.
This 420SL was first registered in April 1988, a time when the likes of S’Express were tearing up the charts - remember them? Happily, the lifespan of the R107 has been somewhat longer than theirs.
The car is being sold by the widower of the car’s fifth owner, a lady from Sheffield, who bought the 420SL in May 1997. As it was a second car in the household it didn’t get used a great deal but they managed to add around 45k miles to it over the two and a half decades.
On the Outside
The exterior of the SL is finished in Arctic White, a colour that has had its ups and downs in terms of popularity but which is having something of a resurgence in recent years, and we think it suits the clean lines of the R107 rather well.
The overall condition of the paint and bodywork looks good - the body having been repainted at some point fairly recently in the car’s history. The panel gaps and shut lines are generally OK but maybe the doors could do with a little fettling at the hinges to line them up better. There are small patches of surface rust appearing along the sill seams, particularly around the jacking points, but no damage to the metalwork that we could see.
The removable hardtop is in the same Arctic White as the body and appears to be in the same overall condition as the rest of the car, with no evident damage or corrosion.
The folding roof is in a dark blue fabric that is now a little faded but appears to fit tautly across the frame. Given the creases on the sides and slight creasing on the rear three quarter plastic windows, it has probably spent most of its time folded away under the tonneau panel.
The bright work is generally fair with just a light pitting across most of the trim. There are also a few nicks in the rubber strips, particularly around the front bumper
The SL sits on its original 15-inch flat-face light alloy wheels, which look in good condition with just the occasional scuff on the rim and a little bit of lacquer peel around the bolt holes. All are shod with Davanti DX390 tyres dating from 2018.
On the Inside
The interior is upholstered in dark blue MB-Tex leatherette, with checked fabric on the seat facings and door card inserts. This, along with the wood veneer on the centre console and dash trim is a classic and desirable R107 look.
As far as we can see there is no damage or undue wear to any of the upholstery but the dashtop has a few cracks that would need addressing.
The +2 rear seats were a factory option but don’t offer particularly comfortable accommodation for anything more than a short run. Everything looks very original inside, right down to the Blaupunkt Melbourne cassette radio.
The carpets appear in good order and the headlining of the hardtop appears clean and intact, but there are a few patches of water staining and spots of mildew on the drop top lining.
Under the bonnet, the engine and ancillaries carry the patina of use without having been jet washed or detailed in readiness for sale. It won’t win a concours like this but we prefer to see an engine bay in its everyday state so that what you see is what you get. And we can see a recently replaced radiator and a new battery. We can also spot a bit of duct tape on the air intake flexi pipe.
We haven’t been able to inspect the undersides of the car, but we understand that it had some welding done in recent years - believed to be on the sills. There was nothing untoward in this regard pointed out at the most recent MoT, but should bidders wish to ask specific questions on the condition underneath they should use the ‘Contact Seller’ option.
The boot is lined with the same colour blue carpeting as the interior and all looks clean and in good order. The boot lid itself seems in good condition with little to no rust on the hinges and latches. The rubber seal around the opening is functional but is looking a little tired in places.
The 420SL has a current MoT valid until June 2023, which it passed after fixing the windscreen washer, the hazard light switch and an ABS fault.
Despite the majority of R107s having historic vehicle status and exemption from MoT testing, this example is still a few years off from being a true classic.
The history file isn’t extensive, but there are a handful of receipts for work done in the last few years including a new radiator, battery and an overhaul of the brakes.
The car comes with two sets of keys.
What We Think
The Mercedes-Benz R107 SL is a stalwart of the classic car scene. Alongside the MGB it is probably the make and model of car that we see most of coming through The Market. And for good reason; they are a well made, stylish and comfortable classic cruiser with timeless appeal.
This particular one is in a very good, usable condition and is one of the youngest you will find, giving you all the improvements made during the long production run butwith the look and feel of a classic.
Values of R107s vary hugely, from several thousand for a project up to high five figures for one that’s been well sorted and restored from nose to tail by a specialist. We think this rarer 420SL example, with its highly original interior, will sell for between £13,000 and £17,000, at which price you can’t really go wrong and can happily tinker as necessary to gradually improve and add value.
Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with the vendor in Sheffield; to arrange an appointment please use the ‘Contact Seller’ button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.
Please note that there is an Auction Premium of 5% of the hammer price (plus VAT in UK & Europe only). Fees are minimum £600, maximum £6,000 (min Euro 720€/max 7,200€ & US$ min $500/max $5,000).
All vehicles must be collected within 7-days of the auction end. Storage fees of £180 + VAT apply (per car/per week) thereafter.
IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst Bonhams|Cars Online always strive to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings, we cannot claim they are complete analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer the opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle prior to bidding, and we encourage bidders to take advantage of this. We do look at those vehicles which are delivered to our premises for sale, but this gives our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional. We do not formally test drive the cars.
Please also note that localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.
Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using cameras with standard microphones, which often result in inconsistent sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.
Please note that all sales are 'sold as seen' (Caveat Emptor) and that, as is normal for all used goods bought at auction, a return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and ensure you inspect a vehicle you are interested in, to decide what it is BEFORE bidding.
Want to know how Bonhams|Cars Online auctions work? Take a look at our FAQ'sView FAQ's
- Location: Sheffield, United Kingdom
- Seller Type: Private
- Odometer Reading: 127000
- Chassis Number: WDB1070472A084961
- Engine: 4196
- Gearbox: Auto
- Steering position: Right-hand drive
- Colour: White
- Interior: Blue
- Estimated Price: £13,000 - £17,000