When it comes to sports cars, Mercedes-Benz has a long tradition of forging a unique path. The revolutionary 300 SL pioneered the use of mechanical fuel injection and tubular space-frame construction in road cars, firmly establishing the marque as a technological powerhouse. Important as it was for the company image, the 300 SL was very costly to build and not sustainable for the long-term. The 300 SL’s successor, the R113 (230, 250 and 280 SL), shared a great deal more components with its sedan counterparts, yet it still fit the Mercedes sports car ethos; offering the style and performance expected of a traditional sporting car, yet with surprising levels of comfort and practicality.
In 1971, the 280 SL was replaced by an all-new flagship sports car, known internally as the R107. This new SL was designed in-house at Sindelfingen by Karl Wilfert and his team, who produced an understated yet highly sophisticated design. Mercedes-Benz’s obsession with safety led to a significant number of subtle design features that spoke to the intense level of detail the designers paid to every square inch of the car. This new Mercedes SL sports car was the strongest, safest, most thoughtfully engineered grand touring car money could buy. Mechanically, the R107 took a page from its predecessor, riding on a unique platform while sharing engines and suspension components with its sedan counterparts. The engine bay was designed to accept an array of engines ranging from a 2.8 liter inline six to a series of powerful V8s, all of which featuring Bosch fuel injection. Beginning in the 1986 model year, the 5.6 liter V8 from the mighty S-class sedan was shoehorned into the SL, transforming this comfortable GT car into a genuine 150 mph sports car. Despite the welcome dose of performance, the 560 SL managed to retain all of the luxury and comfort that clients came to expect of the SL. Today, the 560 SL stands as the most desirable of the line, with peerless build quality, a robust chassis, and nearly two decades of technological refinement.
The 1986 560 SL on offer is a beautifully preserved, one-owner car that has covered just 7,000 miles from new and presents in outstanding condition inside and out. It is finished in the lovely color combination of Astral Silver (DB735) over Burgundy leather (code 277), this beautiful SL was garage kept and used sparingly as a fair-weather weekend car. The previous owner purchased this car new at a Pittsburgh-area Mercedes dealer, initially registering it in their leasing business’ name. They loved the 560 SL so much, they decided to keep it and subsequently re-titled it for personal use. In conversations with the previous owner, we learned the Mercedes was always garage-kept and never used in the winter. Only on rare nice weekends in the spring and fall did they use the car, and when not driven long distances, it was regularly started and driven around the block to circulate the fluids. Even during times of limited use, the regular maintenance was tended to by the dealer or local specialists.
Thanks to the care it has received, this 560 SL is one of the best we have had the pleasure to offer. The original Astral Silver paint is in excellent condition and very consistent with this being a low mileage, unmolested car. The paint is highlighted by a subtle red pinstripe which ties in with the burgundy leather interior. The factory hard top and black canvas soft top are in excellent condition; however, the plastic rear windows of the soft top do show a bit of creasing, only from the fact that it was rarely if ever used. Original wheels are immaculate, wrapped with correct-specification Michelin MXV tires. Lights, lenses, chrome and plastic fittings are all in factory-fresh condition, and the doors shut with satisfying, vault-like precision.
The lovely red interior shows some light wear on the outer driver’s seat bolster, likely from the previous owner’s regular trips around her neighborhood to keep the battery fresh. Aside from that, the leather, velour carpet, and plastics are all in beautiful condition. The wood trim on the console and dash is like-new and free from the typical cracking and peeling that was a common issue on these cars. The factory-fitted Becker Grand Prix stereo/cassette player is still in its rightful place, which works as it should in conjunction with the power antenna. Lifting the trunk lid reveals excellent original carpeting in red, and the unused spare wheel is in place, complete with the factory tag still intact. The books and manuals are included in their original pouch, along with the convertible top tools, and even an original bottle of touchup paint. The first aid kit is like-new, and remarkably, the factory tool kit is still sealed in the plastic bag.
Underhood detailing is honest and in keeping with this being a fastidiously maintained, gently used original car. The gold-cadmium finishes are in good condition, and factory-applied labels and tags intact. Some maintenance and state inspection records are included, which reveal the car was serviced annually, and that the mileage is genuine. As expected, it runs and drives beautifully, feeling every bit as solid as the day it left the factory.
Given the practicality, performance, and durability of the 560 SL, it is rare to find cars that have covered so few miles. This car has been lovingly cared for by a single owner, and it represents an excellent opportunity to acquire a fastidiously maintained, showroom-fresh SL. This collector-grade 560 SL is outstanding in every respect and would be a worthy addition to any collection of modern classics.