Bruce’s Cars – Fintail Sit Rep

Mercedes 230 Fintail Restoration Update

You won’t find many Mercedes 230 Fintails being restored, but SLSHOP’s Bruce Greetham is midway through an impressive restoration which is due to finish in 2019.

In common with many purchasing decisions, Bruce first spotted the Mercedes 230 Fintail while trawling the internet one evening. While his dream had been to find a Pagoda SL, the Fintail represented a much more realistic option from a financial point of view.

Bruce recalls: “I had wanted to own a 1960s classic Mercedes for some time. The dream of the Pagoda SL was well out of reach, but the 230 Fintail caught my eye. I quite fancied it.

“I wasn’t sure at the time what I was going to do with it. But it was different. I had owned coupes and roadsters, but hadn’t had a nice big saloon before. I thought that it was a great family car to use – picnic basket in the back, dog in the back, touring the Cotswolds!

“It’s something quirky and a bit different.”

So, Bruce took the plunge, and upon taking delivery of the Fintail, was relieved at the condition he found it in. No corrosion or water damage – a benefit of a former US import that had spent much of its life in the dry climate of Arizona. Instead, the car just had general dents and scratches that are consistent with any used car.

Restoring the Fintail

One thing which Bruce was keen to change during the restoration was the colour. The car arrived with him in its original ‘horizon blue’; a very pale and non-metallic shade of blue which he didn’t much care for.

The interior was light beige and lacked any extras. Thousands of Fintails had been produced, many of which for the taxi trade in Berlin, and so extras were quite rare on these models.

This Fintail was also a left-hand drive, had a four-speed column gearbox and lacked any power steering. All of these factors contributed towards it being a difficult car to drive. Not to be deterred, Bruce started work on restoring it.

Bruce jokes: “What it was that attracted me to the car is questionable!

“My first thought was ‘what am I going to do with it?’ But I soon got into the restoration and the first question was about the colour. I had been to couple of classic car shows and seen a lot of the 60s cars painted in a colour called ‘anthracite grey’. I really like it – it’s similar to a gunmetal grey and looks quite classy”.

The Fintail was painted with the ‘172 Anthracite Grey’ and was stripped down. Bruce’s intention is not to take it to any concours events, but instead to enjoy it and create a nice usable car.

In addition to the new colour, the chrome was taken off the car and restored while the interior also required an overhaul. With grey paintwork, red was chosen as the colour for the interior following many SLs from that period.

The Fintail today

Today, the Fintail remains in storage with some work still left to complete before the restoration can be marked as finished.

The engine requires some significant work still from a mechanical point of view, including an overhaul of the carburettor. However, there is a schedule in place for the car to be completed early in 2019.

Bruce explained: “The next step is to take it out of storage and schedule the work into the correct order. It will be done over the winter months, starting in November and running through until February, 2019.

“It has been booked for a wedding in June next year for a member of the family, so there is a definite target in place. I’ll take it on some local road trips in Spring to get comfortable with it and also try and take it along to a Mercedes event which celebrates 60 years of the Fintail in 2019.”

Read more about Bruce Greetham’s car history here