Mercedes R107 Buyer’s Guide

What to pay attention to when buying a Mercedes 450SL, 280SL, 380SL or 560SL?

The Mercedes-Benz R107 SL-series is nicknamed 'der Pantzerwagen', the tank. Sticking this label on a sporty open two-seater, at the time the most frivolous thing Das Haus had to offer, is telling for its legendary quality. Especially because the letters SL stand for Sport Light. With an empty weight of more than 1500 kilos and a driving behaviour geared towards comfort, the R107 is more of a grand tourer than a real sports car. Introduced in 1971, the car remained in production until the end of the 80s. With a continuous production time of 18 years this is the second longest produced Mercedes of all time. The undisputed number 1 is the G-Class Geländewagen, which is still on the price lists today.

For years, the R107 series was considered to be the unloved child of the Mercedes classic scene. As with so many old prestige class cars, the image of a car is often based on the kinds of people who drive around with it just before the car reaches its lowest point in value. Or rather, the prejudice that sticks to these people. With third generation SL's, these were more often than average moustached men wearing a golden wristwatch, accompanied by a substantial bag of cash and a blonde lady dressed in panther print. Not exactly the types the average god-fearing Mercedes owner wants to associate with. With the passing of time, the R107 SL has fortunately shaken off its moustachian image and the car is now being judged on its merits. One piece of German solidity, wrapped in a chic jacket with a sober elegance. But is the R107 still as indestructible as its legendary image after 40 years? Now that the car has come of age as an emerging classic, we take a closer look at the most popular versions.

Mercedes 350SL and 450SL purchase tips

In recent years, the 450SL has been widely imported from the United States. Americans bought these large eight-cylinder two-seaters in great numbers, despite their substantial new price. In the US, the open Mercedes initially came on the market as 350SL, but the engine was considered to be too light in power. Soon the engine capacity for the American market was increased to 4.5 litres. After a year the type designation was also changed to 450SL. Initially the 350SL could still be ordered with a four-speed manual gearbox, but soon the much more popular automatic transmission became the only available transmission. A V8 SL with manual transmission is very rare and therefore also sought-after by collectors. The 450SL V8 engines are wonderfully smooth, credit to their high torque (286 - 325 Nm).

Mercedes 380SL and 420SL

The 380SL succeeded the 450SL in 1980. For the American market the power was drastically reduced, to about 155 hp and 260 Nm of torque. This makes it the least powerful of the V8 R107 versions and therefore also the least valuable. However, the build quality and reliability improved considerably compared to the previous SL's. So it will be easier to find a good 380SL. In 1985 the 380 was succeeded by the 420SL, with a slightly larger and stronger engine.

Mercedes 560SL and 500SL

Only supplied in the US, Australia and Japan and equipped with a monstrously large 5.6 liter V8. With 227 hp this car is less quick than its displacement suggests. The earliest 450SL's (pre-emission) with 225 hp come very close. The European markets got a slightly smaller top model: the 500SL. With 240 hp and more than 400 Nm of torque, this is the most powerful R107 Mercedes.

 

Mercedes 280SL and 300SL

The R107 SL with 6 cylinder in-line engine. Lighter and more economical than the V8 versions and not so much slower. These versions were especially popular in European markets. Due to grey imports, a few 280SL's ended up in the US. The latest version of the six cylinder is by far the most popular, not in the least because of the legendary type name: 300SL.

Technical issues

Mercedesses from these years of construction are generally considered indestructible. The youngest 107's have passed the age of 30 and the first versions are approaching the age of 50. So it is logical that the ravages of time can cause a number of problems, even with well maintained examples. Usually these are common age-related problems: leaking gaskets, oil seals and dried out rubber hoses are common, both at high and low mileage. Vehicles with low mileage (longer periods of inactivity) regularly suffer from a clogged injection system. In the worst case this means that the tank must be cleaned, with replacement of hoses, fuel filter, fuel pump, new or cleaned injectors and a rebuild of the fuel distributor. Problems are manifested by poor starting, irregular idling and incorrect fuel pressure values. Technical wear and tear parts are not overly expensive, although the elimination of a lot of overdue maintenance can be very costly.

Bodywork inspection

Although less dramatic than many cars from the 70s and 80s, Mercedes SLs, expecially the early versions, can rust heavily. Weak spots are the front fenders above the headlights and on the ribbed underside behind the wheels, sills and the rear fenders on the underside in front of the wheels. Floor panels are other common areas for rust through damage, as are the corners of the boot floor, parts of the chassis beam and crossmembers and the boxed section in the front wheel arches. Repair panels are available in abundance, at reasonable prices. Welding skills and time are a must if you intend to fix a rusty SL.

Interior

Many SLs are imported from the sunshine states of the US. Although a dry climate is good for preserving the bodywork, it is often disastrous for the interior. Typical SL ailments are cracked dashboards (for which repair panels are available), dried out and torn seat upholstery and dried out rubbers. Keep this in mind in the purchase budget and determine whether this outweighs the price of a car with an interior in good condition.

Restoring your own Mercedes R107 SL?

Because prices of the R107 have been on the upswing in recent years, it can be interesting for enthusiasts to buy a restoration project. The price difference between project cars and SL's in perfect condition gets bigger every year. If you are not planning to work on a project during weekends and evenings, it is wise to buy the best possible car you can afford, without any cosmetic work or overdue maintenance. When this work has to be outsourced, the costs soon exceed the value of the car, something that does not bother the skilled hobbyist. At Dandy Classics we regularly import Mercedes SL's from the US, both as a restoration project and in a good roadworthy condition. Check out the current offers here.

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Triumph TR6 Buyer’s Guide

The Triumph TR6 is undoubtedly one of the most distinctive classic British roadsters. This sports car has muscular looks, a real chassis and a lovely dark growling six-cylinder in-line engine. Former Top Gear presenter James May called the TR6 'the blokiest bloke's car ever built'. Be warned, this car is only suitable for tough men and women. The type that doesn't mind driving through a rain shower with the top down and replaces the contact points on a pub's parking lot. For all others: the car also has a convertible top and drives a lot nicer after the installation of an electronic ignition.

 

Triumph TR6 as 'poor man's Austin Healey'?


Thanks to the high production numbers (almost 100,000 have been built between 1968 and 1976), a TR6 is an affordable alternative to the Austin-Healey. The Triumph TR6 is even partly responsible for the big Healey disappearing from the stage. In the late 1960s, British Motor Holdings (the parent company of Austin, MG and Jaguar) merged with Leyland Motors, of which Triumph was a subsidiary. The management felt it was necessary to downsize the range of sports cars, in order to prevent internal competition. At that time, the Austin-Healey was at the end of its development cycle and could no longer meet the stricter requirements of the North American market. In addition, British Leyland already had a recently renewed six-cylinder sports car: the TR6. Thus the brand Austin-Healey disappeared and the TR6 survived the new business strategy. In terms of character, the cars are quite similar: both rear-wheel drive two-seaters, with a six-cylinder in-line engine and a four-speed gearbox with optional overdrive. Yet a Healey in terms of experience is a lot rougher and more spartan than the TR6 with independent rear suspension and a somewhat tamer engine (in US spec, with 2 Stromberg carburettors). Those who do not have the budget for a Big Healey, however, have the best possible affordable alternative with a TR6.

Drive train of the TR6

The six cylinder engines are solid and reliable. If properly maintained, these Triumph engines account for about 100,000 miles before it is time for an overhaul. Thanks to the simple construction, such a rebuild is relatively easy to carry out. The cylinder sleeves are removable and can be supplied new as a set with new pistons and piston rings. Worn out engines can easily be recognized by low oil pressure, high oil consumption and mechanical noises that do not sound healthy.
Gearboxes and differentials have a long service life with normal use and regular maintenance (clean oil of the correct type). Here too, however, it will be time for a rebuild at a given moment. In our workshop we regularly overhaul separate gearboxes and differentials for the TR6 and other Triumph sports cars.
The original mechanical fuel pump's rubber membrane will eventually fail, due to age and / or the effects of ethanol in modern gasoline. Read our article about which petrol to use in a classic car for more advice on this topic. New petrol pumps and overhaul kits are available in our webshop. These are known to be ethanol-resistant.
Fortunately, the TR6 is an easy car to work on by yourself. Parts are widely available for relatively low prices. Small technical problems do not have to be an obstacle to the DIY mechanic. It is much more important to find a car with a healthy chassis and a rust-free body. More information about technical weaknesses of the TR6 can be found in this blog article.

Triumph TR6 body inspection

As far as bodywork and chassis are concerned, there are only two possibilities: either you buy a car that has already been restored, or you buy a restoration project. The proverbial 'fixer' that only needs paint is an illusion. Even the youngest TR6 is now more than 40 years old and after 4 decades there are simply too many areas that can and will give problems.
If your budget is not sufficient for a well-restored car, but you also do not want to start a body-off restoration: be warned. Many cars that have already been refurbished can be worse under layers of paint and underbody coating than a rusty-looking project car. Multi-layer paint jobs are a guarantee for trouble: cured synthetic paints can 'work' with more flexible layers above them. The result is miniscule cracks, under which moisture can creep and rust can arise.

The TR6's most common weak points are the sills, bottom of front and rear fenders and the floor boards. Rust can also appear in areas where mud and dirt accumulate: around the headlight edges, around the inside of the tail lights and at the top edge of the rear wing. The rear of the boot lid and the battery box are also well-known sensitive areas. The chassis is prone to rust on the crossmembers (mounting points of the rear suspension) and the cover plate of the X-cross in the centre. Replacement sections are readily available, at reasonable prices. Keep in mind that structural repair of rust damage can only be carried out properly on a completely dismantled car.


Interior

The Triumph TR6 has an attractive, typical British interior with a wooden dashboard and a nice collection of classical instruments. The interiors will already have been renovated on most cars, as the original carpet and vinyl does not have eternal life. The triplex wood dashboard panels are known to disintegrate over time. All parts for renovating the interior are available. Make sure that the materials match the original specifications; Cars with custom-made upholstery, an aftermarket steering wheel and / or a shiny walnut wood dashboard are less desirable in our view than cars with an original interior.


Triumph TR6 classic cars for sale

At Dandy Classics we usually have one or more Triumph TR6 cars available for sale. We are particularly specialized in the purchase and sale of unrestored project cars. Our current stock can be found on the collection page.

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MGB aankooptips chroom rubber bumper

MGB buyer’s guide

The MGB is still widely regarded as the most popular british sports car. For a good reason, we think. The B combines elegant looks with good driving characteristics, reliability and serviceability. Thanks to its high production numbers, the MGB is still a very affordable classic car.

MGB aankooptips chroom rubber bumper MGB GT aankooptips

 

Which  MGB to buy?

With a production span of nearly 20 years, there are plenty of different versions available. Most distinctive are chrome/rubber bumper cars on one side, and roadsters / GT's on the other. Which car is most suitable really mostly depends on your personal preferences, expectations and budget. The most valuable are early pull door handle roadsters, especially with the desirable overdrive option. These have the most classic look, with their slated grille and metal dashboard. The early cars with their 3 bearing engines are more popular among purists, although the later 5 bearing engines offer improved durability. MGB GT's are generally more affordable than roadsters, although the gap is closing. The cheapest cars on the market are RHD rubber bumper project cars. Please bear in mind that the cheapest car will usually turn out to be the most expensive car in the long run. If you decide to take on a project, it would be wiser to invest in an earlier chrome bumper car.

 

Rubber bumper or chrome bumper?

This is mostly a matter of taste and budget. Personally, I think the rubber bumpers suit the B pretty well. They are part of automotive history and give the car a distinct seventies look. But there is more to it than looks alone. The rubber bumpers were introduced in 1974, to comply with the stricter US safety regulations. The impact-absorbing bumpers needed to be placed at a certain height, for which the MG engineers had to raise the car a couple of centimetres. Early rubber bumper cars have pretty bad handling, which was improved in 1976, when MG added a front anti-roll bar. Also, emission standards got stricter and stricter, forcing British Leyland to fit the outdated B-series engine with power-consuming emission equipment. Exhaust fumes were pumped back into the inlet manifold, leading to less polution and less power. While early MGB engines offer as much as 96 hp, the latest versions are closer to 80 hp. These engines also have smaller valves and lower compression. Removing the emission equipment improves power, but more significant increases are realised by replacing the single Stromberg for a double S.U. or single Weber setup. The rubber bumper cars can be converted to chrome bumper, but this is not very easy, as it involves cutting, welding and (at least partial) refinishing.

 

Body inspection

Most important on your buying inspection is the condition of the unibody structure. Especially the sills are prone to rust, causing a loss of structural integrity on roadsters especially. Be aware of signs of body filler, polyester, bad welding and high paint film thickness. Also don't forget to check the inner sills. Other weak areas are the front box section where the front wings are mounted. Front and rear fenders get crunchy at the lower parts, behind the front wheels and before the rear wheels. Roadsters in particular can get rusty floor boards, but replacement panels are inexpensive. Also, the rear wheel arches can be affected by tin worms.

Most MGB's will have had a respray at least once. This is not particularly bad, as long as you are aware that a shiny paint job can hide a lot of misery. Pay close attention to seams, panel fit and, if possible, use a digital film thickness gauge. A magnet can also reveal hidden areas with lots of body filler.

 

Technical inspection

MGB's in general have sturdy mechanics and are easy to work on. Focus on the mechanical condition of engine, gearbox and differential, as all the rest is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. Check the oil pressure on a cold and warm engine, be alert of mechanical noises (the pushrod engines can make a bit of tappet noise, which is unharmful) and if possible, check the compression. Although MGB gearboxes tend to be durable, they are likely to need a rebuild after 40 years of use and abuse. Check for rattling sychromeshes and noisy bearings. Service and wear parts are readily available and can be ordered directly in our webshop.

 

MGB restoration

These classics are relatively easy to restore by a skillful and persistent amateur. Mechanics are simple and straightforward and parts are easy to source and affordable. By definition, a restoration involves the complete strip down of a car, building it up with replacing or restoring every single part. The biggest challenge of a restoration is often the unibody structure. As most, if not all, panels can be bought, even the most rusty B can be brought back to as new condition.

 

MGB's for sale at Dandy Classics

We always have a number of MGB's in stock. Project cars, as well as good quality drivers. Take a look at our collection to see our actual stock.

 

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