Mercedes SL's ... my story so far.

Back in August 2021 I bought a classic Mercedes R129 series 300SL, the red car in the picture above. It was cheap and basically sound, and I knew it would need some work doing, but it turned out to be a bit of a disaster. First off the ignition switch failed, then the roof hydraulics started leaking, plus a dozen other things needed fixing, so for the year I kept it most of the time was spent in a local specialist's garage. Eventually I gave up and sold it to a chap in Dublin, and I wish him well with continuing the restoration. I liked the car, but it needed more attention than I was able to give, just part of the story of owning a complex 30 year old classic car.


I then started looking at some newer ones, 15 to 20 year old R230 series cars, but everything I saw was disappointing.  Then I happened upon a 2016 R231 series SL400 for sale at my local MB dealership, much more expensive than I had planned, but out of curiosity I arranged to borrow it for a few hours to see what it was like. Quite literally within the first few hundred yards I was smitten, this was more like what I had expected an SL to feel like, and by the time I handed it back I was determined to buy it ... and I did!

As I write this, the SL is locked in the garage as winter up here in Scotland means the roads are caked in salt, so I am keeping the car off the roads until the weather improves. I have however thoroughly enjoyed the couple of thousand miles I did in it before salt season started, and I have learned it has a unique attraction. 


It is a very fast car, with over 360 bhp from the 3.0 litre V6 twin turbo engine, but unlike almost every other fast car I have owned or tested, it does not goad me into always driving it fast. Indeed under normal circumstances it feels entirely comfortable to cruise effortlessly at legal speeds, safe in the knowledge that if you do need a tad more grunt, all it takes is a  gentle poke on the throttle. I was lucky enough to test drive an AMG GT some years ago when it was launched, and I vividly remember it had the same Jeckyl & Hyde feeling, you can read my thoughts here. The SL400 feels like it's little brother to me. 

Roll on springtime, and salt free roads, so I can enjoy my SL again!

All words and photos copyright to John R Hunter