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Convertible Week: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300SL

Perhaps it was reasonable planning that Mercedes-Benz would only offer the R107 SL in the US market with a V8. After all, production of this vehicle spanned a period where horsepower was down due to increasing emissions regulations. Thus, for almost 20 years, customers stateside were deprived of a six-cylinder SL. However, for 1986, a storied moniker reappeared: 300SL. This version of the R107 had the M103 single overhead cam inline-6 that we saw in numerous E and S-class models in the US. Weighing less than the 5.6 liter V8 had its advantages and proved to be a great pairing for this roadster. We’ve seen a good amount of 300SLs make their way stateside now that all of them produced are over 25 years old. This example for sale in California has lived much of its life here, being imported at a time when entry of gray market vehicles wasn’t as stringently regulated.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 300SL on eBay


Year: 1986
Model: 300SL
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 97,600 mi
Price: $16,500 Buy It Now


European Market VIN WDB1070411A038655


This is a drive anywhere 29 year old nearly original, meticulously maintained car in phenomenal condition top to bottom. NO RUST OR RUST REPAIR EVER!

The 1986-1989 R017 was the last iteration of this venerable design, most importantly with all the upgrades and improvements brought along by the W124, W126 and W201 models of the mid 1980s. This included interior trim and appointments, door handles, seats, center console and numorous other features that were in line with the new cars including the larger front air dam. The HVAC control, Radio, Cruise Control, Steering Wheel, engine and transmission and 15″ light alloy 15 hole wheels were all variations of the W124, W126 and W201, again to keep this nearly 14 year old design inline with the new line up of the mid 1980s and to piggy back off the introduction of the W124 and improved W126 in 1986.

The 300SL is a European market model, IDENTICAL in nearly every aspect to the US version, the 560SL, with a couple of very desirable differences;

M103.982 6-cylinder engine that returns 18MPG–Identical to the 300E

European bumpers and head lights that give the car that sleek Euro look the Germans meant for it to have.

The headlights are height adjustable and fully functional, as are the headlight wipers.

This model does not have airbags or the thermometer in the center vent circle or a high stop light on the trunk.

Additionally, the 300SL was the preferred model in Europe, the 6 cylinder is substantially lighter than the 5.6L V-8 in the US models, making weight distribution between axles more equally proportioned, hence better handling, for a roadster.

This vehicle was imported by the original owner to Minnesota in late 1985. It was DOT converted in NJ and shipped to Minneapolis in early 1986. The conversion changed the speedometer to miles and modified the exhaust to meet US emission standards of the time. The car was repainted in 1998 or so by original owner maintaining the original 147 white and then it was sold to a couple in 2001 that had no idea what they bought and I promptly rescued it in 2002 and have rubbed it with a diaper ever since.

I have complete mx records from my tour of ownership.

All systems perfectly functional without exception:

Top engine overhaul in 6/2010 included:

Valve guides and seals, refaced valve seats and intake valves, new exhaust valves, all chain rails, front crank seal, all top and front cover seals.

The engine is as tight as new, NO leaks what so ever.

New AC compressor and seal conversation to R134a–tight and cold 5 years!

GDM Labs overhauled Cruise Amp and Actuator

Original European Radio

Seat leather is flawless

RE950 Bridgestone tires (15K miles)

New front and newer rear Bilstin shocks

Newer OE muffler.

Newer Brakes.

Battery 5/2010

Oil Change 2100 miles long 15W40 Valvoline

Also included, top stand, top cover and custom fit car cover.

300+ Photos on flickr-Click Link Below:

300+ Photos on Flickr

There are 3 very small cosmetic issues;
1) A small scuff on the top of the soft top, photographed
2) A 1/4 inch fold induced cut in the left rear vinyl opera window on the soft top, photographed
3) In the process of reinstalling the hard top at one point not too long ago, the connector for the rear defogger ended up under the top edge seal between the top and the soft top cover leaving a small dent, photographed.


The R107 300SL has always been one of my favorite classic Mercedes models. You get the style of the R107 without the running costs of the V8 engine. The M103 inline-6 was noted for its reliability and the 4-speed automatic is a good match for the engine, even though I would prefer the 5-speed manual option. Two years ago, we saw a 1986 300SL with 63k miles sell for $11,900. Given where 560SL prices are headed, $16,900 certainly isn’t out of the question for an R107. The mileage is a little bit on the high side for the ask, but it is a well-maintained example. Considering the increasing popularity of the R107, now is a great time to pick up one of these Euro market roadsters.



  1. Aaron
    Aaron April 25, 2015

    Lovely example. I’ve always wanted an R107 300SL. If my stable weren’t already chock full of other ragtops, I’d be all over this in a heartbeat. Great price too. Only thing(s) I’d change are; 1. Prefer manual HVAC and, 2. Can’t stand white paint, although the red interior helps make up for it.

  2. Aaron
    Aaron April 25, 2015

    P.S. The heated seats are a nice touch. Very unique in an R107 of any flavor.

  3. Nick
    Nick April 26, 2015

    Looks great on the pictures, always had a weakness for white 107’s!
    What I think is quit odd; when I run the car though the MB database this was originally a dutch delivered car. This means that the manuels should be in Dutch. Also typicall that the service booklet is in French. Also the originall Numberplate from The Netherlands (xx-xx-xx) should be in the glazing, most possibly the front windshield has been changed, so the side windows should still have this number. Curious what the seller can tell about this. Regards Nick

  4. GWG
    GWG April 26, 2015

    Lovely car, although personally I’m not convinced it’s the right colour for a R107, even with the nicely contrasting leather seats. It’ll need some obvious investment, like a new soft top and taking care of the paint that’s oddly flaking off (see the detail pictures in the flickr link). I would have expected it to go for around 14k given the mileage.

    Shame that so few 300s that made it over – I find the engine the ideal combination of lighter weight and improved handling, while being cheaper to maintain and using less gas. It’s also a little less fiddly than the 280 twin cam that preceded it – and has the last series advantages, such as better seats and wheel arch protective plastic.

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