We en­joy the Mercedes-Benz 350 SL and put it fully to the test

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - DRIVING -

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.

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