In our Autumn 2019 Market Review we discussed the strength of the Mercedes-Benz brand and the enduring appeal of the SL; and how this has insulated the three-pointed star from market fluctuations. With Brexit uncertainty and a General Election, 2019 certainly had its fair share of challenges for the classic car industry – many key players found 2019 to be a difficult year.
As Europe’s leading Classic Mercedes-Benz SL specialist, our market position and unique stock offering allowed us to weather the storm that caused others to falter. Perhaps it’s our industry leading warranty, our reputation as the SL specialist or our highly experienced and always busy workshops, but we’ve been kept busy and vibrant thanks to our band of loyal customers and a steady stream of new friends.
We’re pleased to report that in 2020 the year has opened with a renewed vigour and enthusiasm. In the first few weeks of 2020 we found homes for a respectable number of quality classic Mercedes-Benz cars, a range of different models from across our showroom offering.
The increase in demand for classic cars is being felt across the industry, with the classic motoring press hailing the ‘Return of the buyer’. Although we had noticed a decrease in the hysteria from the heady days of 2015/16, we had never really felt an absence of buyers (as was reported for some marques). The stability, reliability and inherent value in the Mercedes-Benz brand means it resides in the centre of the ship, experiencing less of the pitch and plunge felt by other areas of the market.
What some called a downturn we always considered to be a realignment of prices, felt as the investors and speculators entered and then exited the market.
If the confusion and uncertainty of 2019 was keeping buyers from buying then it has most definitely subsided, witnessed in a marked increase in enquiries and conversations around high calibre classic cars. There is a real buzz in the market, an excitement that seems to be felt across the board. Our parts staff are reporting an increase in deliveries, a trend that seems to be universal based on conversations with others within classic car parts supply.
SLSHOP’s SportLine brand continues to grow around the world, with these completely custom R107 SLs finding customers in the USA, Greece and the Middle East as well as here in the UK and in South Africa. We are particularly excited about the very first SportLine 560SL, destined for New York. More details on that build will be coming soon.
Classic Mercedes-Benz R107 SL Market Update
The ever-popular R107 continues to inspire confidence, with prices remaining steady across recent years. Exceptional, low mileage ‘late’ cars are still commanding the highest premiums, however we are seeing a refreshed interest in earlier cars – possibly attributed to the increase in Pagoda values. Steel wheels and chrome trims are more popular than ever, and as always our advice is to buy the car you love and want to drive – then get out there and use it.
These early cars are nudging their way into the ‘no tax no MOT no emissions restrictions’ bracket, which is further bolstering their popularity and explains why time and again these cars find buyers in capital cities.
If further evidence of the stability of the R107 as a classic car and as an investment was needed; then it came in the form of a January 2020 blog by Classic Driver. Their round up of the Top 10 Collector Cars of 2020 featured 10 classic cars, each championed by a different industry expert. Waving the R107 SL flag was none other than Dietrich Hatlapa of the Historic Automobile Group International (HAGI).
Our showroom offers a mixture of early and late cars, covering the smart darker shades of the late 1980s and the iconic beige and golds of the 1970s. There’s something for every taste, and we love seeing the variety across the 18 year R107 production run.
Signal Red remains in high demand, though we find unusual colours and trim levels never stay in the showroom for very long.
Classic Mercedes-Benz W113 Pagoda SL Market Update
As we reported in Autumn 2019 the 230SL, 250SL and 280SL are still enjoying a surge in interest. There has been a realignment of prices with the Pagoda, which is no bad thing for a healthy market. The sale price of a high calibre Pagoda remains high due to the sheer expense of turning an average car into an exceptional one, meaning excellent cars are always in demand. Good quality cars that drive well and look the part continue to find buyers at the fastest rate, with owners looking to really experience these capable tourers. This is an adjustment in a market where interest seemed to lie purely in the ‘show car’. We expect the trend of the Driver’s Pagoda to continue in 2020, although finding high quality and original cars is becoming noticeably more difficult.
Over the Christmas and New Year period we have placed four Pagodas with new customers, and taken on a number of cars for rectification work. We continue to see a good number of ‘restored’ cars arriving at SLSHOP to be finished or to be completed properly, often when it comes to the final set up of the way the car drives and handles. Sometimes this is because the restorer lacked the expertise to finish the mechanicals, but more worryingly we have seen cars that looked to be rushed. This trend is a little concerning – in some cases customers have spent large amounts of money elsewhere unnecessarily, highlighting the importance of using a company you know and trust with a good reputation with a given car.
If you are considering a Pagoda, our advice would be to act fast to secure a car you love.
Classic Mercedes-Benz R129 SL Market Update
From our corner of the market, we are seeing an increase in demand for the very best R129s. Although for the last few years these cars have been in ample supply, we are starting to see a change in the wind. Where popular car sales websites previously hosted pages and pages of R129 SLs for sale, there is now a marked decrease in overall supply of cars of any calibre. Finding the very best and most exceptional cars is absolutely key. The V8s are popular as ever, and an increase in column inches dedicated to the R129 across the classic car media in recent years seems to be driving interest and values of the very best cars.
Like with the R107 we are also seeing an interest in earlier cars. Orange indicator examples have more of an old school feel, but finding one good enough to wear the SLSHOP stamp of approval and take a place in the showroom is a difficult task.
Very good R129s are now up to the £30,000 mark, with special edition cars and AMG models a rung or so higher up the ladder.
Silver and Blacks are dependable, especially when mated to a V8 engine. High specification and low mileage a must.
Other Classic Mercedes-Benz Models Market Update
As the Modern Classic movement continues with it’s unstoppable wave of momentum, general interest in the back catalogue of Mercedes-Benz cars of the 1980s and 90s is on the up. In 2019 we sold a number of exceptional examples of both the C126 Coupe and W140 Saloon, both low mileage and both significantly above the market average for these cars. An analysis of the page views for both cars on our website and partner sites is the proof in the pudding for just how popular these cars are. The Smoke Silver 560SEC was one of our most viewed cars of 2019.
Much smaller and more affordable than the big S Class cars is the R170 SLK. The usability of this first-generation Roadster makes it the perfect second (or third) car, and when we offer quality examples for sale they almost immediately leave the showroom in a hurry. The 1 owner T registration example we hosted recently was sold within a day of appearing on sale, evidence if ever it was needed that Mercedes-Benz convertibles are in as much demand as ever.
If the start of 2020 is anything to go by, then we can expect a superb year for classic Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts as the weather improves and the days lengthen.
Our showroom currently hosts the finest selection of classic Mercedes-Benz cars anywhere in Europe, each one a chance for you to get behind the wheel of a whole new world of automotive experience.
We continue our quest to get the right client behind the wheel of the right car. With our events calendar packed and the workshop in full flow, there is much to look forward to through the rest of 2020.
Thanks for reading, we hope to see you soon.