ADS ON TEST: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

by Richard Mason |
Published on

Cherished during long-term ownership on the Isle of Wight, this £29,950 Mercedes is in excellent condition, says Richard Mason

1986 Mercedes-Benz 500SL
This smart SL has been gradually refurbished by its owner since 2002 ©Classic Cars magazine

Apart from its first ten months, this is a one-owner car. Its ownership documents, which include original pre-delivery inspection and build sheets, show that it was supplied new by Normands-Cruickshank Ltd of Bristol to The Barrie Payne Group in Bristol. Its last change of ownership was on 18 May 1987 to a man in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight.

There are eight service stamps to 1994 (at 37,199 miles) in the original service book, then a gap until 2009 (66,639 miles) when the car was serviced by Bonchurch Garage in Ventnor. After this, the service history gets patchy, but vendor Charles Ironside has spent about £6200 getting the SL up to scratch after buying it in 2020, with receipts for new suspension, a full service and other sundry items.

On the move

The engine bay is generally pristine

This SL starts easily with a typically muted Mercedes V8 burble and timing chain rattle – the chain will need checking in just over 5000 miles’ time. The four-speed auto ’box changes smoothly and progress is effortless. Recent work on the steering box is evidenced by good responsiveness at the wheel. The ride is smooth and free from clonks, and the brakes are reassuring. The cruise control activates with a simple flick of the column-mounted stalk.

The paintwork has a deep shine with no orange peel or tiger stripes. The side-trim mouldings fit nicely, although there is some slight overspray. Panel gaps between the bonnet and wings are perfect, with no signs of the notorious bulkhead corrosion. Wheelarches are all solid and there’s no visible rust on the top of the front wings, a common problem. The rear deck where the hard-top sits is free from scratches. The rear spoiler was recently replaced, while the 15-hole, 15-inch alloy wheels are flawless.


Interior is pretty well preserved

The hood looks new, though not an original Mercedes item, its clear plastic windows giving good visibility, and the hard-top is in good order. A (non-original) wind deflector lives in the boot. Fade on the blue leather driver’s bolster could easily be remedied without much expense using DIY kits. Less easy to repair are minor cracks on the top of the black dashboard, but it’s unusual to find an R107 without them. The dashboard instrument needles are partially faded but easy to repaint. There are no signs of wear on the refurbished steering wheel, while the wood veneer is intact and a modern radio is fitted. Functioning air conditioning by Diavia has been fitted. The door cards are solid and the electric windows operate well.

The bonnet opens correctly and has intact sound insulation. There are no signs of oil or any other fluid leakage in the very clean engine bay. The coolant in the original header tank is blue – the right colour for the era – although the tank itself is dark-stained. A replacement would enhance an otherwise pristine engine bay. The front slam panel is straight and rust-free with correct stickers. The original windscreen, as evidenced by the Mercedes star, is unmarked – a sign of its quiet life on the Isle of Wight.


Engine 4973cc V8, ohc, electronic fuel injection Power 245bhp @ 4750rpm Torque 294lb ft @ 3200rpm 0-60mph 7.7sec Top speed 135mph Length 4580mm Width 1791mm

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