Mercedes SL R107: Hollywood favourite turns solid classic

Mercedes-Benz SL (R107)
Mercedes-Benz SL (R107)
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As everyday classics go, the Mercedes SL is about as unburstable as it gets. The R107 model introduced in 1971 replaced the Pagoda model, which is now highly sought-after and correspondingly expensive, but the second generation SL roadster is more than capable of daily use all year round.

It’s not hard to see why, either, when you look at it. The R107 comes from a time when Mercedes’ build quality was the best in the world. Made from high-grade materials throughout, the SL has an air of solidity that means it still feels modern in today’s traffic while also offering the classic looks and style you expect from a drop-top Mercedes.

All that hewn-from-billet quality didn’t come cheap when the SL was new and it was very much the choice of the wealthy. Film stars flocked to the SL and anyone who was someone in Hollywood had an SL for carefree wafting through Los Angeles.

No wonder, then, the SL soon carved out a TV and film career of its own. One of its most famous roles was as Bobby Ewing’s car in Dallas, while Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers ran a couple of SLs while solving mysteries in Hart To Hart.

All of this glamour has stuck with the SL and it’s one of the cars to have avoided a period of being a cheap used car. It has glided seamlessly from new Benz roadster to modern classic and now full-blown classic car. This doesn’t mean you’ll struggle to find an example now, as the SL sold strongly during its 18-year production life and there are plenty left.

It also helps that Mercedes offered the SL with a broad spread of engines, ranging from the 2.8-litre six-cylinder model all the way to the brawny sophistication of the 560 and its 5.6-litre V8. Another advantage the R107 has is that Mercedes changed it very little during the car’s life cycle, so owning one is very much down to personal choice of colour and engine. A mild revision in 1980 introduced a five-speed automatic gearbox in place of the previous four-speeder, but all SLs drive with refined grace.

The downside of all this refinement is the SL is no sports car. It will hustle through corners if forced, but it’s much happier to proceed at a more relaxed pace. Driven in this way, you get the full R107 SL experience of comfortable ride, supreme mechanical smoothness and that feel-good factor of driving a Hollywood A-lister’s car that still cuts a dash to this day.

Running costs are reasonable and offset by rising values, while any faults should be easy to spot. Treat yourself to a cared-for R107 SL and you’ll wonder why you didn’t make the move years ago.