1978 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (R107)


  • 1978 350SL modified to later R107 SL aesthetics and paint finish
  • Appears to be a low mileage example of the durable 194bhp M116-engined 3.5litre V8 SL
  • Body colour factory hard top included
  • Partly refurbished interior with desirable rear seat conversion
  • Attractive colour scheme featuring dark blue metallic bodywork with complementary mid blue leather interior
  • Tax and MOT exempt

The Appeal

The Mercedes R107 SL has become a staple of the classic scene because of its practicality, useability and understated style.  It is the classic that also works as a distinctive daily.  And with a huge range of trim, colour and engine combinations, there is a SL for virtually everyone.
This smart SL has the look of a later version, with its smart Gullideckel alloys, but it is actually an earlier 1978 350SL with the excellent M116 194bhp V8 engine that powered SLs throughout their long production life.  It appears to be a low mileage car with the advantage of a factory hard top to improve useability and it is usefully tax and MOT exempt.  There are a few cosmetic jobs to consider but it looks presentable and ready for stylish summer trips.

The History and Paperwork

  • First registered on 1st January 1978
  • 1 key
  • No MOT or service history at the time of writing
  • This is a 1978 350SL that has been modified to replicate the looks of a later 500SL

The Interior

  • Mid blue leather interior in generally good condition
  • Front and rear seats appear to have been reconditioned and finished to later R107 SL style
  • Optional rear seat fitted, possibly a conversion
  • Attractive 3-spoke blue leather Italvolanti steering wheel
  • Alpine CD system fitted
  • Veneers in good condition although wood on centre console does not match dashboard trim
  • Carpets generally in good, used condition

The SL interior is one of the car’s finest attributes, a sturdy, clearly laid out arrangement that could only ever be by Mercedes Benz.  The high quality materials are generally hard wearing and it is a comfortable and fairly spacious place to be.

The R107’s interior barely changed from its inception at the start of the 80s to the model bowing out in the late 80s.  However this 1978 SL is a blend of earlier and later models, the retrimmed mid blue leather seats appearing to following the pattern of later SL chairs.  They are in very good condition with only light creases and marks detracting.  There is a rear seat fitted: these were rare factory-fitted options and this one looks to be a conversion, but to a high standard.  There is a small stain on the base of the driver’s side rear seat and light creases across the front of both bases.

The dashboard is in good condition, just a scuff on the glovebox lid and mark on the dash top above the glovebox to be aware of.  The veneers are in generally good condition although the trim on the centre console does not match the dashboard.  It is also delaminating slightly in places.  There are marks on the central cubby holder below the handbrake.  The hazard warning switch is worn and there is a mark on the centre console trim in the passenger footwell.

The door cards are trimmed to match the seat and in good condition with just light marks showing use.  The passenger side map pocket has a scuff on the rear edge and the chrome trim holding the grab handle in place on this side is poorly fitted.  The speaker holes cut into the rear passenger area are empty and there is a loose wire running to the driver’s side one.  A trim panel appears to be missing on the right hand side of the driver’s footwell.

The carpets are generally good although the boot carpet is loose and has various marks.  The heel guard in the carpet on the driver’s side is worn through.

The Exterior 

  • Dark metallic blue paintwork with some swirl marks that would likely machine polish out
  • Factory hard top in matching colour
  • Modified with front and rear spoilers and Gullideckel alloys to replicate the style of mid-late 1980s R107 models
  • Headlamp wash/wipers
  • Quality Michelin tyres fitted with 15inch Mercedes alloys in very good condition

The R107 remained in production for nearly 20 years but changed little over time, that consistency and refusal to bow to passing trends being part of what made Mercedes of this period Mercedes.  The only significant change was to R107s built from the mid 1980s onwards which gained stylish Gullideckel alloys, a front air dam and other minor cosmetic changes that modernised the car’s handsome lines.
This car started life as a 1978 350SL but has been carefully modified to replicate the appearance of those later cars.  To the untrained eye the it is one, just the 1970s registration plate being the real giveaway.  This means that the buyer gets the aesthetic appeal of the later cars with the MOT and tax-free advantages of the earlier car.
The car is finished in smart dark metallic blue.  We were unable to verify if this is a Mercedes colour – it doesn’t obviously match any colour charts for this car – but it is nonetheless very smart, professionally done and matches the factory hard top.  The paintwork is generally good.  There are swirl marks throughout that would likely respond well to a machine polish.
Moving around the car on the front of the car the chrome trim surrounding the number plate is tarnished and there are light marks on the rubber section of the bumper.  On the offside the is bubbling on the leading edge of the front wing and the base of this panel behind the arch and again on the base of the driver’s door.  The rubber surround on the driver’s door mirror is also scuffed.  There is an empty accessory hole on the top of the rear wing and the side rubbing strip on this panel is also missing.  There is an area of touched-in paint on the offside rear corner of the bootlid.
The rear bumper has various scuffs and marks, albeit not significant, and the chrome number plate trim on this plate is also tarnished. 
The chrome trim on the aerial on the nearside of the car is tarnished.  At the front of the nearside of the car the leading edge of the wing is bubbling like the other side.  The edge of the scuttle vent behind the bonnet at the front of the car has small chips. Both chrome door handles are lightly pitted.
The blue fabric convertible roof is in good condition, but would likely respond well to a clean and reproofing regime.  The Perspex rear window has a significant area of misting and light stain marks.  The roof well appears to be in good condition.
The body colour hard top is in good condition, just some stone chips and marks on the roof to note.  One of the chrome trims is also slightly tarnished.
The underside of the car has a coating of underseal, which is peeling in a few places, and showing surface corrosion in various places.  There is also a dent in the front chassis leg on the offside.  There appears to be an area of corrosion on the front of the driver’s side footwell.
There is no MOT history with the car.  It is MOT exempt but in the absence of independent information a structural check may be a worthwhile investment.

The Mechanics 

  • Dependable M116 3.5litre 194bhp V8 Mercedes engine with apparently low mileage
  • Later 4spd automatic gearbox believed fitted
  • No service or maintenance records available at time of writing
  • No MOT history available to verify mileage

The V8 engine at the heart of this R107 was developed in the 1960s to power the firm’s growing range of cars and lived on into the 1990s.  That shows how good it was, a smooth, powerful unit that benefitted from the firm’s renowned reliability and durability.  It is an engine capable of high mileages and does not necessarily require cloth-of-gold servicing.

This car’s aesthetics indicate that it is a 500SL but it is in fact a 350SL, fitted with a 3.5-litre version of that M116 engine generating a very respectable 194bhp.  It is mated to, we understand, a 4spd automatic gearbox rather than the 3spd auto of earlier cars.

At the time of writing there was unfortunately no service history to verify the indicated low mileage.  The buyer may wish to check with the seller when the car was last serviced and factor any immediate requirements into the auction.


The Mercedes SL endured through two decades virtually unchanged because its intrinsic qualities were so good.  Comfortable, practical, relaxing and rewarding, it is the tax-exempt classic you can genuinely press into daily duties.  As a result values have been continuously on the rise for several years.
This 1978 350SL potentially combines the best of both worlds: the aesthetics of the later cars with the tax and MOT exempt appeal of the early ones.  It appears to be a low mileage car with evidence of work to the body and interior and has a useful hard top that extends its useability.  There is scope to improve but with a few additional checks completed it could provide a good value drop top for short or long summer runs.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1988
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model 350SL (R107)
  • Colour Blue
  • Odometer 38,467 Miles
  • Engine size 3500
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Town Enniskillen
  • Location Northern Ireland
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
19 bids
  • r-•••• £7,600 02/06/23
  • Co•••• £7,500 02/06/23
  • ki•••• £7,400 02/06/23
  • Co•••• £7,300 02/06/23
  • ki•••• £7,200 02/06/23
  • Co•••• £7,100 31/05/23
  • le•••• £7,000 31/05/23
  • cp•••• £6,600 31/05/23
  • le•••• £6,500 31/05/23
  • Co•••• £6,000 31/05/23

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