Own­ing the Mercedes SLS

Classic Cars (UK) - - Driven -

Al­berto Ce­fis has owned sev­eral Mercedes-benz 300 SLS. ‘De­spite its prove­nance this car is not very dif­fer­ent to the oth­ers – me­chan­i­cally it is both re­li­able and easy to work on. When I bought the car, I com­mis­sioned a me­chan­i­cal over­haul that would en­able the car to achieve 100 points at a con­cours, as well as mak­ing it as re­li­able as pos­si­ble. That cost me €80,000 (£67,525), and in the fol­low­ing five years I cov­ered about 10,000 kilo­me­ters (6200 miles), with just one rou­tine ser­vice. There has only ever been one me­chan­i­cal is­sue, and that was af­ter a 10-hour, non-stop drive to Le Mans in very hot weather. The heat had par­tially melted the spark plug cov­ers, and be­cause of that the plat­inum points had burnt. Two hours’ work from a good me­chanic fixed the prob­lem. That was the longest jour­ney I’ve made so far with the car, a stint of four days and 2600km, in­clud­ing lap­ping the Le Mans cir­cuit and driv­ing through the cen­tre of Paris. Mercedes still pro­duces all the re­place­ment me­chan­i­cal parts we need and, yes, they are ex­pen­sive – but they’re in the same league as spares for a mod­ern SL. How­ever, if some­thing were to hap­pen to the body or, worse still, the in­te­rior, that could be trou­ble­some, be­cause ev­ery­thing on the pro­to­type is dif­fer­ent from pro­duc­tion cars and would need to be made from scratch. When I broke the right-hand in­te­rior door han­dle, I fixed it with a 190 SL com­po­nent. For­tu­nately, it is sim­i­lar and it works per­fectly. My wife and I love to drive this car – the sound and the power are un­beat­able. I love it too much to no­tice any blem­ishes, although I’ll ad­mit that, as noted in an in­ter­nal memo from 1955, you can smell fuel when the tank is full!’

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