Does your classic car consistently function as a car, or is it a driveway ornament with an unpredictable personality?
When we talk about mechanical reliability, we don’t just mean the engine. Do your locks work as they should? Does your roof go on and off in the correct manner, or does it stick and bind? Does your handbrake work adequately or do you rely too much on leaving your car in gear? How well do your windows operate, are they slow and noisy or is it exactly as Mercedes-Benz intended? There is more to reliability than just an oil change.
When it comes to the Mercedes-Benz and the R107 SL, reliability goes with the territory. All Mercedes-Benz engines from the R107 era, particularly the later 300SL, 420SL, 500SL and 560SL are renowned for their longevity – but good maintenance is the backbone of reliability and dependability. The statement ”they’ll endure years of neglect” is not one you should be proud of…
Even the most robust and dependable engines can become unreliable and unpredictable when neglected. Time and poor maintenance are not your friend.
How do I ensure the mechanical reliability of my classic Mercedes-Benz?
It might seem like an obvious answer, but good maintenance! Follow the service schedule laid out by the manufacturer, stick to the correct oil change intervals, whether that’s by the miles or by the months. Changing fluids, filters, plugs and leads at the correct intervals will prolong the life of your engine. Have the timing chain checked by a specialist, and make sure you know that the engine is generally in good health.
Outside of the engine bay there are simply things that can be done to ensure your car stays mechanically sound. Keep on top of any rust, even consider a good rust proofing and rust prevention service. Keep moving parts lubricated and greased, clean your car down after a run on salty roads and never put it away wet without good ventilation.
It’s incredible what a bit of underseal, some WD40 and a small amount of fettling here and there can do for your classic car.
A modern car would come with a service plan, a maintenance schedule and all manner of bolt on products to ensure mechanical reliability, so treat your classic car the same way and it will look after you. Don’t forget, documenting all the work you carried out is equally important for yours and any future buyers piece of mind – recording the work could be the difference between a rewarding return on investment and a disappointing one.