Practical Classics (UK)


Stuart Mathieson tells us about his 1987 500 SL


1 How long have you owned your SL?

‘I bought my car nine years ago – it was my first SL and I have no intention of changing it for anything else! This is my only car, too. I drive it around regularly and it lives happily on the street where I live!’

2 What attracted you to the SL?

‘I had looked at cars such as the Jensen Intercepto­r, but with the SL, I knew that I would be able to just get in the car and drive for hundreds of miles without worry. It is the looks first and foremost though for me, especially with the soft top down. That rear deck, surrounded with elegant pieces of chrome… it is a beautiful car, yet still very usable.’

3 So, an SL makes a good daily driver?

‘I think you can be more aware of any issues when you drive a car regularly. I would personally be wary of cars that have been put away for six months in the garage. It might protect the car from the weather but not from wear, necessaril­y. Seals, hoses and other ‘hidden’ items deteriorat­e. I think they’re better when regularly driven. I used to use mine for business travel all over the UK.’

4 Are these cars DIY friendly?

‘I do all my own servicing except the air-conditioni­ng system. Difficult jobs involve a ramp, so for that, I tend to rent a ramp! The V8s don’t have much space under the bonnet. Engine oil, filters, brakes aren’t hard to do, but you must have a certain level of knowledge and attention to detail. They’re robust, but you can’t expect them to survive on their own! Things like replacing the rubber seals is vital, as is keeping the drainage holes unblocked if, like me, you keep your car outside.'

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