Mer­cedes-Benz SL 320

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - THIS WEEK - Nathan Chad­wick

ENGINE 3198cc/6-cyl/OHC POWER 221bhp@5600rpm TORQUE 232lb ft@3000rpm MAX­I­MUM SPEED 148mph 0-60MPH 8.4sec FUEL CON­SUMP­TION 21-27mpg TRANS­MIS­SION RWD, five-speed auto MoT 12 months from sale ODOME­TER 44,606 miles


The 3.2-litre straight-six fires up to a whis­pery idle. Mov­ing away there’s no lurch­ing, hes­i­ta­tion or de­vi­a­tion from what Sin­delfin­gen in­tended. Per­for­mance is strong, with good torque – it feels just as quick as when new. The steer­ing is feath­erlight, though it firms up prop­erly in the corners when prod­ded. The sus­pen­sion is com­pli­ant, with no strange rat­tles or vi­bra­tions. The five-speed au­to­matic gear­box moves through its ra­tios seam­lessly, and kick­down – though hardly new-car quick – per­forms in the cor­rect man­ner, while slip­ping into sports mode sharp­ens the gear­box’s re­sponses. The brakes are strong yet pro­gres­sive too, with ex­cel­lent pedal feel.


Given this car is now in its 20th year the over­all pre­sen­ta­tion is ex­cel­lent, with even paint and per­fect shut­lines. How­ever, there are a few very mi­nor blem­ishes. There’s a mi­nor nick above the pas­sen­ger’s side rear light, and slight marks around the pas­sen­ger’s side hard­top lock. There’s also some mi­nor lac­quer peel around the rear near­side whee­larch, plus a smat­ter­ing of stonechips on that el­e­gant snout. The re­fur­bished al­loy wheels wear Miche­lin tyres, with an ex­cel­lent level of tread. We couldn’t spot any fog­ging in the head­lights, and all the rub­bers are ex­cel­lent. The glass sec­tions are free from cracks too.


The cabin is su­perb, with only light wear as be­fits a ve­hi­cle with so few yearly miles. A lot of Mer­cedes-Benz of this era have wrin­kles or cracks in the cen­tre con­sole wood, but not here. The only ev­i­dence any­one’s sat in it for a pro­longed pe­riod is some light creas­ing on the leather. All the con­trol sur­faces are free from marks or rub­bing, and the car­pets are in beau­ti­ful con­di­tion. This car lived its life in Jer­sey so it’s per­haps easy to see why the usual wear and tear that might come from longer jour­neys have passed this one by. The roof goes up and down per­fectly, and there are no rips out­side or in­side.


The engine bay is clean and well pre­sented, and all the flu­ids are up to the max­i­mum mark. It’s largely been ser­viced ev­ery year at Mer­cedes-Benz main deal­ers, the last stamp be­ing from April 2018. Look­ing at the re­ceipts, the last big ex­pense came in 2016, for a fresh wind­screen and new lower steer­ing knuckle joint. It’s clear that this car’s been very well looked af­ter.


The V8 R129 SLs have been grow­ing in value strongly, and the six-cylin­der cars have been fol­low­ing. That’s not sur­pris­ing, con­sid­er­ing that they’re quick enough and bet­ter on fuel. This one has had a gen­tle life so far, and has been treated to dot­ing care when needed.

In­te­rior seems hardly used and wood has lasted well.

Six-cylin­der engine will be more fru­gal than the V8.

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