We enjoy the Mercedes-Benz 350 SL and put it fully to the test
1 DailY DriViNG You could happily use one of these cars for anything – the long commute or a crawl through traffic. A slightly, but not worryingly heavier throttle than you might expect hardly changes the picture. Motorways wouldn’t even cause the tiniest concern because the SL was one of the best-built and safest cars of its day. Erecting the hood is a straightforward job involving a couple of levers, visibility is excellent with the hood up or down, and parking is easy because the turning circle is reasonably tight. If there’s a drawback to using one regularly it’s that you’d do well to top much more than 20mpg with even the lightest of right feet. 2 iN tHE sErViCE BaY The SL is beautifully engineered and relatively straightforward to work on. Engines are capable of chalking up enormous mileages, but the oil should be changed every 3000 miles or so. The good news is that just about every part you could ever need – even body parts – is still available from specialists and sometimes Mercedes-Benz dealers. A handful of more obsure electrical items are scarce but can usually still be found. Firms such as Berkshirebased Silchester Garage will carry out any work you need. There is also an excellent network of US-based suppliers – unsurprising, given that most of the 237,000 cars built went there. 3 oN tHE sHoW CirCUit A 350 SL would command respect at any event, and draw more than a few envious looks. The engines looks as impressive as the rest of the car, so get that bonnet up at shows. People will be impressed to know that you can get one of these R107s for a fraction of the frankly ridiculous amount of cash you’d need to part with for one of the preceding ‘Pagoda’ models, despite still having many of the earlier car’s finest qualities. There’s no need to even ask whether an SL would be a good companion on a road run, though you might spend longer than you’d like in lay-bys waiting for the rest of your group to catch up! 4 tHE loNG WEEKEND This strict two-seater may have a reasonablesized storage area behind the seats, but we doubt that this could be adapted to accommodate even the scrawniest child. The boot is substantial enough to swallow plenty of luggage, however, there’s easy access to the spare wheel and the headlights are well up to modern night-driving standards, so covering long distances after dark should be safe and relaxing. And if you can’t live without your modern in-car gadgets, the specification of this SL extends to such luxuries as electric windows, twin-speed windsceen wipers and hazard warning lights. 5 tHE B-roaD Blast Okay, you might not take your R107 out for a B-road blast in preference to your Lotus Elan or Mazda MX-5, but it certainly has the power to excite – that 200bhp V8 will whisk you from 0-60mph in less than ten seconds. The power-assisted steering offers decent involvement (the king-sized helm rather less so), too, the suspension is very well set-up and Mercedes-Benz engineers knew exactly how raggedly someone would have to drive to really get the tail to flick out; your nerve will have disappeared long before then. The brakes are good, too, and the car is fairly easy to place on the road – it’s not as massive as you might think.
Main dials are grouped neatly together, though lesser gauges on the left can confuse at first glance.
interior is a masterpiece of careful planning and functional design, though it’s a strict two-seater.