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Mercedes 230 SL owners report

The Mercedes 230 SL is currently the longest residing resident of the Virtual Garage. This is mainly due to the all round quality of the car. It's an excellent summer car with it's easy to use convertible top and the renowned Mercedes quality makes it a dependable car for travel which can easily take all the travel gear of two. But what does it take to run this car over a longer period of time? Here is an ownership report which might help prospective classic car owner to understand what is involved in owning, running and enjoying a classic car.

W11304210008506 came to the Virtual Garage in the summer of 1995. It was bought over the phone (not that The Virtual Garage recommends this) after being checked over by a friend. This 230 SL was located in Seatlle (USA) and was in good condition. It's was and is an unrestored, well looked after car that hadn't been used for some time. The car originally came from Europe (European specification) but the headlights were changed to US spec. A hardtop was fitted to the car and the softtop was intact, but suffered from years of stowage and not being used. The exact mileage of the car was unknown, but judged at 220000kms.


The car was picked up in Seatlle and after a new battery was put in it got used immediately for an extensive holdall in the US raveling almost 10000kms from Seattle to California, Nevada, Utah and Oregon. The car performed well apart from a slight oil leak from the rear axle. This was topped up by a local service station and all vital fluids were changed. A tune up with new plugs and points kept the car running smoothly.


After the holdall the car was transported to Europe. During the winter the rear axle oil leak was rectified by replacing the oils seals. Since the axle had to be pulled from the car to do this I decided to change all the rubber rear suspension parts as well. The rear brake cylinders were weeping so they got replaced together with a worn front left tie rod. The parts bill for this came to € 420. All parts were purchased from the local Mercedes Benz dealer.

The summers of 1996, 1997; 1998 the car got mainly local use during the summer. Total mileage in this period was approximately 10000km. Only routine maintenance was done to the car in this period as well as some cosmetic work. The wood on the hardtop was refinished (I haven't used it once) and the wood finish on top of the dash was replaced. These parts were supplied by a German SL specialist for € 120. During this period some sloppiness in the cars front suspension was diagnosed as worn/old rubber parts in the front suspension but the tracking of the car was not affected. I decided to postpone repairs as another holiday was coming up...


For the summer of 1999 the car went over the Alps to Italy for a summer Holdall A stuck brake incident meant that the car needed some serious work during the winter. The front disc, brake pads and and brake lines were replaced. Since most of the front suspension was dismantled I decided to replace the rubber parts in the front suspension to get rid of the sloppiness. New Michelin whitewall tires and a stainless steel exhaust completed the winter repairs. The first really serious bill came to € 1550.


For the summer of 2000 the car got mainly local use but for the 2001 summer it was of to the French Alps for another holiday in the mountains. Before starting of a tune up with the first new sparkplugs and points since the US was performed. After six years of ownership the car still looks the same inside and out but the first very small rust bubble has appeared. The right hand steering tie rod will need to be replaced this winter.


Since the beginning I have kept a list of all the things the car needs. Most of these things are cosmetic and are on my list from day one: a new steering wheel (the finish is a bit cracked), a new radiator grill (the car never had one) and some small chrome pieces. Other thing were added to the list to make the car even better for travel: powered steering would be nice and doesn't seem to hard to install and a new soft top would keep wind noise under control when driving top up (only when it rains!). Total repair costs so far are € 2500 or € 416 per annum or € 0,083 for every km.

Mercedes Benz 280 SL for sale

A very impressive Mercedes Benz 280 SL is being offered for sale by a US reader of the Virtual Garage. This SL is completely original and should go to a nice home. The Virtual Garage has put up a page detailing classic. Click here to find out more.

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