43K Miles Of Excellence: 1988 Mercedes 560 SL

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In spite of Mercedes understated approach to style and engineering excellence, a car like this 1988 560 SL still makes a large palpable statement! This is a beautiful, 43K mile example and is equipped with both tops, a removable hardtop as well as the folding fabric version. Located in Laguna Hills, California, this two-seater can be yours for $34,900, OBO. Want to look her over? Availability is here on craigslist – thanks T.J. for this tip!

Speaking of California, I just got back from a trip to SoCal and was able to take a gander at the Beverly Hills Car Club, a dealer whose wares make regular appearances here on BF. As many of you know, it’s not in Beverly Hills but in east LA hard against a Union Pacific Railroad mainline subdivision. It’s one of those kind of places that you’d likely never find unless you knew where to look. It’s fenced and gated without the ability to peer inside. We went up to the speaker box at the main gate, made an inquiry, and were asked if we had an appointment. No was the answer that we told the disembodied voice (that we never did meet) on the other end of the squawk box, stating that we just wanted to browse. They said OK and let us in. What a place! It’s cavernous and seems to go on endlessly with annex after annex. Interestingly, no one who works there ever approached us. Anyway, what brought BHCC to mind is this 560 SL – it’s right out of their playbook. If you’re looking for something similar, or anything produced by Porsche, this is your place! I took a fancy to a ’91 560 SEC but it was an ephemeral fancy, and nothing more than that.

Known in Mercedesese as an “R107”, which covered the years ’71 to ’89 with over 300K assembled (including the hopped-up “SLC” variant), the 560 SL was only offered between ’86 and ’89. It was never intended to be a European market car, instead mostly being distributed in North America. Hemmings estimates that about 50K 560 SLs saw the light of day – that’s a pretty fair-sized number. Considering the condition and price of this member of that 50K club, the listing is a bit light. It does state, ” In great condition and well maintained “. OK, got that, and it looks it. There’s not much that I can say detail-wise as the images present a very sound specimen – finish, chrome, body, both tops, no complaints.

Under the bonnet is a 227 HP, 5.5 liter V8 engine that is said to, “Runs Great” – nothing regarding how this open-top drives but there’s no reason to assume an issue. The image of the engine isn’t close up enough for details but I have to admit, something would have to be really out of wack for me to notice it – as much as I appreciate these cars, they’re just not my mechanical forte. Hemmings further states that only a four-speed automatic transmission was available in this model.

The interior’s condition is right in stride with the exterior’s, it’s very clean, in sound condition, and in full possession of its Tuetonic bearing. While not comprehensively photographed, enough of the interior is visualized to see that the condition of the tan leather upholstery, black dash cap, and instrument panel warrant no demerits. Even the carpet looks footprint free without signs of outside dreck that often becomes inside dreck.

Like this one I do! I still think that I would prefer the SEC only because it has a backseat which still proves to be useful these days, but this SL would be my close second. This was about a $48K automobile when new so I’m not sure what to make of the $34,900 ask, does it seem reasonable to you?

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  1. Giorgio

    Terribly expensive to maintain.

    Like 10
    • Frankie 49

      Agree w/you but little went awry with this series of MB. Owned an 87, my son an 85. Bothe 380SL. His fuel was maliciously contaminated. $1300 later and a used fuel distributor was the fix. Otherwise fault free. Sold mine for several $ more than I paid for it.

      Like 3
      • Jack Quantrill

        Did you have timing chain trouble with the 380?

        Like 1
    • Finesy

      Totally agree. Had an 87 560SL and it was $$$$$$ for parts and service

      Like 0
    • Jay Maynard

      I have a 1987 560SL. Yes, it can be expensive to fix, but regular maintenance isn’t really any more expensive than any other classic car. When it’s running right, it’s totally worth it.

      Like 0

    i bought a 1984 380 sl. i spent a fortune on it and it never ends. all i read on here is sadly true. i start selling mine now

    Like 1
  3. TheOldRanger

    I’ve never been a Mercedes fan (mainly based on the people who drove them)… but I really like this one.

    Like 1
  4. Joe Haska

    Hell yes buy it, its reasonable and I will tell you why and I just found this out last night. My wife and I went to a neighborhood party it was in the early evening and a very nice casual get together. When we left home my said you drive, I said OK that means ,I drive my car, which means a Hot Rod, that’s what I drive.
    At first a few people commented on the car parked out in front, most positive and many didn’t say anything because they know me better than the others. As we broke down into our drinking groups guys in one area the wife’s somewhere else. The questions started. Clarification I live in a golf course community and I don’t play golf, EVER. SO, “What year is it? , “What make”, Did you do the work on it?”, “Really”, “Is it original?”, “Oh, I didn’t know that”. Then the big one and one of my all time favorites, have you ever been to Barrett -Jackson?
    After that it was definitely time to change the subject to something, I didn’t know anything about. Pretty simple. Golf was a major topic, I didn’t know there was so much to talk about hitting a little white ball in the grass. We moved on to sports with balls involved ,not cars. I was a little lost. No politics, no religion and no wife bashing, they were way too close, to be that brave.
    All of a sudden I perked up and we were back to cars. The topic was new cars, ops. I was lost again. When should you buy a new car? Should you trade the old one in? What’s the best SUV? Should you buy AWD? or 4WD ? What’s the difference? Is leg room more important than gas mileage? What is the best maintenance coverage? I really like my Edge,but it has almost 100 K miles, I am sure it is going to break down! My CRV is great I am going to get another one but of course electric! How much do you pay for a new car? WTF, that was me.
    So would I buy this “88” 560 SL for 35 K, from last nights experience , how about IAF heart beat! Stick a fork in me, I am done! Social engagements are fine, just know your audience ,if they are not car guys tread quietly and don’t be too serious. Remember, there’s a lot of people out there, that don’t get it!

    Like 0

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