2 tops, well-maintained, service records, great colors,
- Location: Macedonia, Ohio, United States
- Condition: Used
- Make: Mercedes-Benz
- Model: 500-Series
- SubModel: 2dr Roadster
- Type: Convertible
- Trim: Base Convertible 2-Door
- Year: 1988
- Mileage: 144,344
- VIN: WDBBA48DXJA082074
- Color: Yellow
- Engine size: 5.6L 5547CC V8 GAS SOHC Naturally Aspirated
- Number of cylinders: 8
- Fuel: Gasoline
- Transmission: Automatic
- Drive type: RWD
- Interior color: Brown
- Vehicle Title: Clear
1988 Mercedes-Benz 500-Series 2dr Roadster description
If you look through our SOLD inventory, you’ll see quite a few R107 Mercedes-Benz SL convertibles. Why? They’re fantastic hobby cars. As the last of the truly engineered Mercedes-Benz automobiles, they were built up to a standard, not down to a price, and the engineers decided what was right, not the marketing department. As a result, they’re virtually indestructible and they drive great, even 30 years later. They were astoundingly expensive when they were new and as convertibles, they often lived only in warm weather, so most remain in excellent shape. In short, if you want a hobby car that looks like a million bucks, is a blast to drive, remains easy to service, and doesn’t cost all of your kids’ college tuition, an R107 SL is an excellent choice.
For many enthusiasts, the SL to own is the end-of-the-line 560SL, which offered a host of welcome upgrades, not the least of which was a burly 5.6 liter V8, a big step up from the previous 3.8 liter mill. The experience is more like a German Mustang than executive express, with massive torque available under your right foot, making these cars feel very fast indeed. The styling remained the same classic shape dating back to 1972, but when you get it right, why mess with perfection? Even the big rubber bumpers that the Feds insisted they add have aged rather well, because the SL has become a staple in the automotive world. This particular SL wears a lovely coat of Light Ivory paint, a sunny, upbeat color that suits the SL just fine. It’s not aggressive and it’s not cheap-looking, but on a roadster like this, it works very well. This car has been owned for decades by an engineer, one of those guys who is fussy about maintenance and takes care of his hardware, and it shows throughout. The paint has a great gloss, the doors still open and close with that incredible Mercedes-Benz THUNK, and there’s no sign of the dreaded tin worm, because this was a fair weather toy only. It does appear that the hood and lower portions of the body have been repainted at some point, but the color match is quite good and the car has a very uniform, all-of-a-piece look. Even the chrome and rubber bits remain in great shape.
The tobacco leather interior is a beautiful complement to the ivory bodywork, a sophisticated combination that gives the SL its upscale flair. Standard leather upholstery was one of the 560’s most noteworthy upgrades beyond the engine, and you’ll be pleased to learn that the seat covers in this car have been recently replaced with OEM replacement pieces. As a result, the seating is firm and all-day comfortable and look great with just some light scuffing along the high-traffic area at the driver’s outer bolster (which could probably be erased with some polish). The wood trim you see is real walnut, not some plastic veneer, and that giant leather-wrapped steering wheel is the most substantial helm this side of a steamship. You’ll love the way it feels to get behind the wheel. Once you’re there, you’ll get a full array of big, round, easy-to-read gauges to monitor the engine’s vitals, including a fuel economy gauge that’s fun to watch race into the red as you mash the throttle. This car carries its original Becker AM/FM/cassette stereo radio and power antenna, both of which work properly, as well as power windows and locks, automatic climate control (the blower motor is a little noisy), and even a remote mirror for the passenger’s side. That temperature gauge in the center of the dash is original, not an aftermarket part, and reads external temperature, a feature that Mercedes engineers apparently decided their flagship just couldn’t be without. The carpets are luxuriously deep and protected by Mercedes-Benz embroidered floor mats and the package shelf behind the seats is beautifully appointed. In fact, even the trunk is upholstered better than the interiors of most production cars, and includes the original spare, tool roll, and first aid kit. Overhead, there’s a recent brown canvas convertible top that folds and stows easily, plus a matching hardtop that was standard equipment on all SLs. And yes, the car does include the hardtop stand and cover, which you’ll appreciate the moment you remove the hardtop and wonder where the heck you’re going to store it.
But the real reason folks pay a premium for the 560SL is under the hood, where you’ll find that musclebound 5.6 liter V8. On paper, its 227 horsepower and 279 pounds of torque don’t seem all that impressive but on the road this car feels like it could accelerate forever. Related to but not the same as previous iterations of the V8, it has a reputation for outstanding reliability and performance and it seems to defy time and mileage if properly maintained. Fortunately, this car has been properly maintained, as the two-inch-thick book full of maintenance records will attest. It spent its life in the service of the aforementioned engineer, who had a rather lengthy commute each day. His company provided a car, but he found that he much preferred the SL as his vehicle of choice for long highway cruises (who wouldn’t?). Nevertheless, it runs like a car half its age, always starting quickly and settling into an even idle with no headaches. It pulls with unexpected ferocity on the road, although you’ll need to give the throttle a pretty good boot to get the transmission to start in first gear rather than the default setting of second. It is tidy under the hood with no signs of substandard workmanship or neglect, and the receipts would indicate that whatever the car needed, it received. It remains ready to go at a moment’s notice and as other R107 owners will attest, mileage is far less important than maintenance, because these engines are virtually indestructible.
One of the other reasons this car is such a superlative highway cruiser is the 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission, which, combined with the 2.47 rear gears, means that you can effortlessly cruise at speeds that require jail time in six different states. Autobahn bred indeed. The transmission shifts smoothly and almost imperceptibly when you’re just tooling around town, but a good shove at the accelerator results in a quick downshift and a big whack of torque to hurl the car down the road. The suspension is all independent, of course, and neatly balances comfort and sport, making the SL feel agile but never rough. Brakes are big discs all around and 560SLs featured ABS, a big safety plus. The undercarriage is clean with normal signs of use, but this car has not been used in winter weather, so major rust-through is a non-issue. Traditional Mercedes-Benz alloys are fitted and wear recent 205/65/15 Toyo performance radials.
Prices are on the move for the 560SL, with some sources predicting as much as a 10% annual gain on values. This is an excellent way to get into an affordable SL with all the style and performance, and ride the wave as it’s happening. It’s also one of the most trouble-free and appealing hobby cars you can own, and your neighbors will think you’ve hit the lottery. Don’t worry, we won’t tell them just how affordable this SL really is!