We love a car with history, and often that means a good story too. One thing we particularly enjoy is a survival story, and this old 500SL is a good example.

And here’s another thing, this is a 1985 Mercedes SL500 For Sale!

With nearly quarter of a million R107 SLs built between 1971 and 1989, there are still plenty out and about.

It can be difficult to pick the best, but as with all older cars looking for the best specification, lowest mileage and history, both in terms of servicing and ownership, are key. Lots of boxes ticked here, then!

33 years of Desert life – 1985 to 2018

This LHD car has an interesting provenance, ordered from the factory for delivery to Bahrain on 21st January 1985 – an expensive top of the range car heading for the dry climate of the Middle East. At that time the 5 litre V8 was the most powerful version of the car available, figures published by Mercedes-Benz claiming 0-60 mph times of 7.4 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph. Extras ordered included Leather MB-Tex seats, an electrically controlled door mirror, Becker Europa radio cassette, heat insulating glass and climate control, of course.

Mercedes 500SL for sale
Styling it out at the Club

The current owner who was a diplomat at the British Embassy in Bahrain bought the car in January 2002 from another member of the expat community who was a senior DHL executive. With bills from the local Mercedes agent dating back to the 1990s, the car was in fine shape and showing a mileage of 68000km.

Mercedes 500SL for sale

With only 1500 miles of paved road in Bahrain – the car saw little mileage in almost perfect conditions. A road map still in the boot confirms the lack of options for serious mile crunching!

Nevertheless to owner enjoyed it until promotion took him to India in 2005. The car remained in storage in Bahrain and was only used on annual visits to the country until he decide to repatriate it in 2018. The odometer had failed later in 2002 (the original remains in the boot at 68289km) and a new one was sourced direct from Germany. This showed 16400km when it arrived in the UK in March 2018. The total mileage equates to just under 53000 miles.

This low mileage achieved in a desert climate explains the extraordinary condition of the body of the car. Whereas most SLs will have required serious remedial work due to corrosion, this remains free from the malaise. To find a car this unmolested is rare indeed.

Indeed the owner opines that the only welding on the car is the result of a misunderstanding on the Alba roundabout in 2004, resulting in a minor repair to the front right bumper and support.

On return to the UK the car was registered with new plates and has had 2 MOTs. It has had mechanical checks, fluid changes etc, and used sparingly before being placed in climate controlled storage, which is where it is today.

The condition of the car totally reflects it’s life so far, extremely solid, with only a few marks to the paintwork – It had a total respray with original MB paint in 2017. The interior has survived the sun well, although the carpets have suffered and there are a couple of cracks to the veneer and dash top. The original radio is still on board and working, although the electric aerial needs looking at. The folding hood is in good shape, (although the rubber seals have suffered in the heat,) and the hard top is present.

There are photos available on request showing details of the remarkable condition of some of the known problem areas for cars subjected to life in less kind climates.

The R107 series SL cars are a popular choice as a classic, as they look as good today as ever with classic Mercedes design and dependable mechanical underpinnings. Eminently useable and safe on today’s roads, but with overtones of elegance, power and luxury.

Lesser engined examples restored by specialists often sell of well in excess of £40000, and given that these cars will have had to be substantially rebuilt due to corrosion this probably under-represents the actual restoration costs. This amazingly original example, needing little expense to make perfect should a new owner wish, is on the market for just £23000.