As the days become longer, a vibrant light is glaring down on to classic Mercedes arena, with only a portion of vehicles forming in the centre. One vehicle steals the central point above all others. The subject of many international publications, the classic Mercedes in question was restored over 18 months and carefully documented by Nigel Boothman for Classic Cars Magazine. A front-cover feature published in the summer of 2021; the epic restoration piece covers how we averted a dreadful destiny for a beloved 420 SL that SLSHOP Directors truly believed deserved to be saved.
ABOUT THE 420 SL
Enthusiasts familiar with the 420 SL will be aware of the small numbers of this variant ever offered by dealerships around the world. Time was a major issue – launched in 1986 as a replacement for the 380 SL, the M116’s last tweak would come just three years before the R107 morphed into the R129, resulting in very few 420 SLs being produced.
Similarly, by 1986 the world of Mercedes owners had come to view the 500 SL as the better of the R107 SL variants, without really knowing what the difference was. Little push of the 420 SL was made by the marketing gurus at MB, and so buyers weren’t sure why to choose a 420 SL over a 500 SL.
The net result was only 2,148 420 SLs leaving the production line over the last three years of the R107 SL’s life. A disappointing figure considering how special the 420 SL really is. Nevertheless, where the choices of others have misinterpreted the opportunity presented to them, space opens for willing enthusiasts to acquire something unique, usable and ultra-cool.
THE CLOCK STRIKES 4:20 SL
As we know a 420 SL is a rare beast, but one that has been restored with religious fervour is a different tier. The time, love and skills required to revive a vehicle that would have taken years to design in the first instance, is something that only the best can achieve.
The story begins with a call to the Parts team with the offer of a bundle of parts from an unfinished project. The offer quickly morphed into something larger – the unfinished project was indeed a full project vehicle that had been undertaken by a gentleman who was sadly no longer able to complete it due to illness. Upon assessment, it was established that the restoration work of the bodywork had been quite good for a home-based operation. The engine had also supposedly been refurbished.
But this left us in a tricky spot. How far do we take this project? With customer restorations filling up all the space in our Workshops, the prospect of another big R107 SL restoration was causing shock waves through the business. But given our passion and commitment to these cars, we had to set sail.
WHAT DID IT ACHIEVE?
Charting the full course of the restoration is something that has already been penned by Nigel Boothman of Classic Cars Magazine. You can read this here. Instead, this article outlines the beautiful result of the painstaking process several Craftsmen went through to create this machine.
The exterior was repainted in the contemporary and sophisticated Anthracite Grey Metallic (172) – one of only five colours to be offered by Mercedes-Benz for the full duration of the R107 SL’s production period. This colour blends beautifully with the contemporary car scenery, but most people don’t realise that the grey colour schemes you associate with modern cars actually began more than fifty years ago.
With those strong determined German lines coated in Anthracite Grey, you notice the exceptional work done to ensure the panel gaps are symmetrical all around and to factory measurements. The same is evident with the lighting units and exterior trim – all fastened to the car with accuracy. An achievement by our team of craftsmen who know the specific dimensions and fit of each body panel on the R107 SL.
A similar level of exactness was ensured within the interior. At some point in 1985 or 1986, the shape of the perforations used with leather set upholstery changed from circular to diamond. The interior was re-trimmed to reflect this factory change and give the 420SL credibility when parked alongside an all-original example. With the dark exterior, the cabin needed to be vibrant and so we elected to use Cream Leather (275) for the upholstery – a tone of leather synonymous with basking in the sunshine.
With air conditioning, electric windows, cruise control and a whole host of creature comforts, this is a splendid place to reside and an equally divine SL to drive. Nothing quite comes close to the luxurious comfort offered by an over-engineered Mercedes-Benz R107 SL. We have crafted this to perfection for an enthusiast with the same passion as us to enjoy this car. In tribute to the original owner who was unable to finish the project, it is only right that this 420 SL be shared with the world.
The current owner took possession of this vehicle shortly after we had finished the 18-month restoration process. They have not had the opportunity to make the most of this vehicle and would like to see it enjoyed by someone else.
To find out more about this vehicle, read the Classic Car Magazine feature or contact us today to book a viewing and test drive.