GERMAN BOOMERANG

$80,000

SREKO LORBEK gets excited when he starts talking about this car: “I had to buy it. It was first sold by 3 Point Motors in Fairfield, when we were across the road from them. The first owner then sold it to us and then we passed it on to the second in 1998. Then, a few weeks ago, a dealer sent us a photo of the keys, with our original tag still attached to it. We had to buy it.” That sounds like an expensive keyring.

Back to the car. It’s a late R107 chassis with a big boost in performance over the prior 500SL flagship, matched to improved rear suspension and a limited-slip differential.

And the car is just young enough to have ABS as a safety net.

The solid roof can be pulled away in favour of a soft top or nothing at all.

For the Euro enthusiast, this is a premium toy from a generation that shares much of the look of the Pagoda roof cars, without their sky-high prices.

John Bowe drove another example of this model months ago and had this to say: “I drove this one with the hardtop off because that’s how convertible cars should be enjoyed! There’s a hardtop stand that comes with the lid so it can be safely stored; the idea is this car can be used year-round. You use the convertible top when you need to during summer and refit the hardtop for winter to make it into a two-door sedan. It’s the best of both worlds and when you think about it, very sensible.

“It must be said this is not a pure sports car – it’s a cruiser. Mercedes engineers’ hands-on expertise with open-topped bodies and performance chassis in general results in a really solid-feeling car. It feels like a sedan to drive; a tight body-shell with a supple ride.

But it’s not a nimble sports car to be hustled around the mountains like a track-ready thoroughbred.

“None of that is to criticise it; this is very nice car.

They are an under-rated classic but, like many once-expensive cars, lack of maintenance can cause problems. Once cars such as these Mercedes SLs are in the hands of their fifth or eighth owners, their value has diminished and a new owner may cut corners. So it’s important to find a car that has been looked after by a Benz specialist or a Benz-trained independent. who has set up shop to look after older models such as this.”

This example shows 150,000km on the clock (not much for this model) and we’re told it comes with all the books and service records. Prices on SLs of this generation seem to be firming up, so there are many worse ways to spend your money.

Know your R107

SL Benzes were built from 1971 to 1989 and were a very successful model for the firm, with six and eight-cylinder variants, with auto and manual transmissions. Assembly was done in Germany, UK and South Africa.

In 1986, a new 560SL would have set you back the price of a decent house: $145,000.

MERCEDES BENZ 560SL

ENGINE 5547cc SOHC V8, 16v MAX POWER 169kW@ 4750rpm MAX TORQUE 373Nm @ 3250rpm TRANSMISSION 4-speed automatic WEIGHT 1619kg 0-100KM/H 6.8sec TOP SPEED 240km/h PRICE $80,000 ON SALE AT lorbek.com.au