As we write in March 2022, you could be forgiven for thinking that the classic Mercedes-Benz market was heading down a rocky road; the whole market could be considered to be at risk from a trifecta of negative influences – the economy, political dynamics of the world and people’s individual lifestyle changes. But embrace these obvious issues, which the classic car market most certainly has, and a clear trajectory reveals itself: The love and desire for the Mercedes-Benz brand (amongst others), shows no signs of abating.
This Market review takes a slightly different format, looking at some of the commentary made by industry experts since January, with insight from our own experiences and data.
The year started positively for the SL as Hagerty’s end of 2021 Bull Market list featured the 230 SL Pagoda as one to watch in 2022. We assessed this in detail in our last market review which you can read here. More recently, Hagerty’s John Wiley made several other predictions for the year, asserting that the ‘age of the barn finds’ is over due to labour and parts shortage, as well as changes in ‘baby boomers’ priorities. He also asserted that online auction sales will double by the end of 2022.
RESTORATIONS REMAIN AN OPPORTUNITY
While it may be true that fewer people have the appetite for home restorations, there are still plenty of specialists in a position to take on this work. SLSHOP run a training scheme for apprentices, enabling the flow of knowledge from our older craftsmen to younger ‘up and coming’ experts. Similarly, we are one of the largest suppliers of replacement parts for classic and modern classic Mercedes-Benz SL models. There’s no shortage of parts from our perspective, particularly as we manufacture a whole range of Exclusive Mercedes Parts for models from the fifties and beyond.
There is still a high demand for the very best W113 Pagodas, but these projects require a particular type of invested owner. Where R107 SLs are concerned, we are seeing a younger demographic of owners who are seeking an R107 project for a different purpose entirely: Rallying. Since the summer of last year, SLSHOP has been working on three different rally projects, with several more arriving from overseas. These tend to be early R107 models that are in need of minor TLC, allowing owners to invest in performance upgrades rather than new panels, chrome etc.
GROWTH IN THE DIGITAL SPACE IS OVERDUE:
We’ve all become more accustomed to the online purchasing experience, enabling the array of online auction houses to grow exponentially. SLSHOP welcomes this transition and has developed a dedicated MarketPlace for ONLY classic and modern classic Mercedes-Benz models. What makes this offering stand out is that owners can either choose to sell their car for free or opt for our Appraised Service, which involves an inspection by our craftsmen.
Appraised Listings receive a report from our Workshops to give buyers confidence in the vehicle, enabling the seller to command a higher sale price. Unlike other auction platforms where buyers are entering into the unknown, our Appraised service gives an honest reflection of the calibre of a vehicle.
In Bruce’s words, ‘’we’re not new to this territory. We’ve sold over 1000 Mercedes-Benz models from the 50s through to the 2000s and almost all of these sales started at our digital doorstep. MarketPlace is just the next chapter in our role as guardians of the Mercedes-Benz community.’’
SO, HOW IS THE MARKET LOOKING FOR THE CORE SL MODELS FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE?
The W113 SL
Since the beginning of the year, the Pagoda market has remained strong, with the 280 SLs in right-hand drive and automatic form garnering the most interest. This variant now sits almost entirely into the investor sphere – a movement that is steadily causing price increases to cascade downwards to the two other Pagoda variants.
As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Pagoda, the 230 SL and 250 SL offer attractive classic cars to both enjoy and gain from financially. The former is increasing in popularity, especially as individuals realise the entry point for the same looks and sixties swagger is much lower. Where the 250 SL is concerned, buyers need to focus on condition and invest in the right car – despite being rarer due to low production numbers, the 250 SL doesn’t quite carry the same appeal as the 280 SL. Choose wisely with both the 230 SL and 250 SL to gain spiritually and financially.
The R107 SL: Late or Early?
The wide variety of R107 SL variants offered over its 18 years of production, gives investors and enthusiasts a whole host of options and opportunities. The 300 SL has become the star of focus, with more good calibre vehicles available in a selection of colours and specifications. The post-1986 R107 SLs remain the most sought after, but a pre- or post-1986 500 SL in good condition with low mileage is going to command a higher value. Investors in this variant have become extremely prudent, making more calculated decisions around the 500 SL’s upside potential.
The earlier pre-1986 R107 SLs are sitting up to 20% lower than the later models, making them an extremely good opportunity for enthusiasts to enjoy this era of a luxury convertible. It is important to consider the condition of these vehicles, as most examples have only seen investment due to sentimental value rather than as investments. If you find a high calibre example, it could be worthy of keeping in the family and enjoying for many years.
The Last of the Over-Engineered SLs
The R129 is over thirty years old and often gets labelled as a modern classic – even by our own teams. But in fact, the R129 SL is further into classic car territory than we think –an easy misconception given the amount of technology this vehicle offers. We’ve seen a surge in enquiries around this model, with a 50/50 split of seller and buyer enquiries last month, evidencing the start of increased movement of vehicles in the market.
If you’re considering entering this era of SL, the six cylinders are more flexible and offer top-down daily driving without the expenses associated with the eight-cylinder models. If you’re seeking more of an investment vehicle, consider the early V8 or the special edition models such as the Silver Arrow or Mille Miglia editions. The future of the R129 SL though, like the R107, lies in the latter years of production. The years 1998 – 2001 are the years to focus on – these are more refined and will undoubtedly be more appealing in the future.
The Bedrock of Market Values
Ultimately, the value of a classic Mercedes-Benz is dictated by the quality of the vehicle. The attention paid to servicing and maintenance, as well as the associated documentation, is pivotal in retaining and maintaining the financial security of a classic car. To make this element of ownership easier, we’ve created a servicing and maintenance plan to take the hassle out of annual servicing. CARE is a monthly investment plan which prepares you for future servicing works while giving you subsidised parts and labour.
So, why not join CARE and let us focus on your vehicle’s maintenance so you can focus on enjoying it?