BaT NO RESERVE auction preview: Two owner, rare European model, substantially different from US model, only 66,000 miles, in great colors, 2 tops.
1985 Mercedes Benz 500SL
VIN – WDB1070461A026203
Exterior Color – Anthracite Metallic
Interior Color – Black Leather
Engine – 5.0 L V8
Transmission – 4-speed automatic
Current Miles – 66,175 miles (6-digit odometer)
Current Owner Purchase Date – 2008 with approximately 64,665 miles
Miles Driven Under Current Ownership – Approximately 1,500 miles
As well-established luxury performance manufacturing leaders in Europe, Mercedes-Benz was eager to build a stronger foothold in the US market in the early 1960s. Having made inroads with the 190SL and 300SL in North America, the 230SL was a huge leap in technology when it arrived. Light and sporty, the tradition of excellence continued as engine size increased and performance improved including disc brakes, V8 engines, and power assist features. By the 1980s the basic formula continued as luxury appointments combined with sporting features evolved into more powerful and impressive offerings. The 500SL was unique to the European market, offering a more powerful engine and lighter construction than the heavier detuned 450SL built for the US market. Additionally, the trim European bumpers created a very sleek and elegant body design over the larger North American regulated heavy and protrude bumper design.
The 500SL engine used in the European variant used a lighter alloy engine with a higher compression ratio returning about 245 hp, compared to the 222 hp of the 450SL. The 500SL was also geared higher, and with the 4-speed automatic transmission, could readily achieve higher top speeds, especially beneficial on the Autobahn. Performance tests for each car returned 228 kph top speed and 0-100 kph 7.9 seconds for the 500SL vs 203 kph top speed and 0-100 kph 11.2 seconds for the 450SL. Even when compared to the larger 560SL, introduced in 1986, the 500SL still outperformed the 560 in top speed and 0-60 sprints.
Contemporary collectors have grown to realize that these unique performance and desirable aesthetic features exclusive to the 500SL make these handsome original examples both rare and highly desirable to contemporary collectors and enthusiasts.
History and Build of This Car
This example was manufactured specifically for the European market finished in Anthracite (271) for both the body and removable hardtop and trimmed with black leather interior. A document accompanying the car outlines the options coded as delivered, further confirmed by the options tag affixed to the radiator support:
256 – Rear axle with limited-slip differential
440 – Tempomat cruise control
504 – Outside rear view mirror, electronically adjustable
570 – Folding armrest, front
581 – Thermoking air conditioner with automatic climate control
592 – Yellow fog lamps
621 – Export license plate
740 – Folding top, fabric black
The car was imported to the US by the original owners, residents of Indio, CA who retained the car until it was sold to the current and second consigning owner in 2008 Supporting two-owner history, a Mercedes-Benz data card and owner’s manual with dealer services outline the mileage and service history.
1986 – 17,408 miles, service at Silver Star Mercedes, Harbor City, CA
1987 – 24,160 miles, service at Silver Star Mercedes, Harbor City, CA
1988 – 27,722 miles, service at Silver Star Mercedes, Harbor City, CA
1989 – Oil change, Auto Haus Mercedes, Indio, CA
1990 – 36,085 miles, service at Auto Haus Mercedes, Indio, CA
1992 – 43.032 miles, service at Auto Haus of the Desert, Indio, CA
The final service stamp in the book is not dated but indicates 61,963 miles when the service is performed. The current owner purchased the car from the original owners in 2008. At the time of purchase, the six-digit odometer indicated 64,665 miles as recorded on application for title paperwork. In 2010, with 65,853 miles indicated, the current owner had the car serviced at Berkeley European Motors, Berkeley, CA replacing the front shock absorbers, both tie rod ends, a new center link, new center link shock, and a general service performed including transmission flush and service. In 2012, a set of BFGoodrich G Force 225/50-16 Sport Comp 2 tires were installed, and alignment performed. In 2021 with 66,166 miles indicated, Germany’s Best, Oakland, CA serviced the car including installing new drive belts, coolant and brake fluids flushed, distributor serviced and ignition timing set, and a brake booster hose replaced. In preparation for sale, October 2023, Germany’s Best performed a minor service, oil and filter change, and the brakes were inspected with 9mm rear and 8mm front recorded at 66,172 miles.
Today this 500SL presents in excellent cosmetic and mechanical condition throughout. Unlike many of these cars, which often suffer from neglected maintenance, this example is in surprisingly nice condition and has benefited from regular services under current ownership. The Anthracite metallic paint has been metered with a digital paint meter indicating low single digit paint thickness consistent with factory original paint. Surprisingly original throughout, the paint is glossy and representative of a well-cared for 500SL though areas of light scratching are notable on the trunk lid, various minor chips evident, a scratch is visible on the left front fender, and there are two 3-4” fogged surface areas on the trunk and roof. All opening features operate smoothly and shut lines reflect production quality and fit consistent with this era. The car wears a set of 15” vintage Exim “Mesh” wheels. These rare German-made wheels were a highly desirable upgrade when new including raised Mercedes-Benz tri-star center caps. The inside wheel mesh is painted black, and some curb rash is evident on each wheel. A set of BFGoodrich were fitted in 2012 and remain on the car showing ample tread depth.
The black leather interior is in excellent condition and is believed to be original throughout. The front seats are in particularly nice condition with excellent foam structure, soft perforated insert material and smooth surfacing. A small tear is evident at the lowest corner of the left side seatback and minor evidence of age can be seen on the driver’s side seat bolster piping. The original door panels, excellent black dashboard, lacquered wood veneer, and very nice center console are all consistently presented and properly detailed. One minor crack is evident on the lower corner of the inlaid wood console veneer. The instrument panel is in excellent condition with excellent numeric indication and operates properly as do the various controls. Importantly, the orange needles are very nice and not excessively faded. A contemporary Sony AM/FM XR7050 cassette stereo is mounted with a separate multi-control sound equalizer. The convertible top is in very good condition, raising and lowering with ease, nestled easily under the hinged hard-shell cover.
The engine compartment is clean and tidy with correct factory features in place and correct components and features. The AC system is currently functional, and the fans blow at various settings. The underside of the car is clean, dry, and in generally good condition having been properly maintained by the first and current owner. There is no evidence of structural compromise to the floor or suspension mounting points.
Having benefited from indoor storage and professional care, this car starts, runs, and drives exceptionally well. The overall condition and performance are refreshing considering the 38-year age. Acceleration and traction are excellent on local roadways and smooth on highways. The 5-Liter fuel injected V8 engine functions properly and reliably. Highway speeds deliver smooth operation, excellent stability, and rewarding driving experiences are even more enjoyable with the added rarity of the 500SL series European designation.
Items Included with the Car
This 500SL is accompanied by a body color hardtop, an owner’s manual package and case, selected service records under current/second ownership, a car cover, a set of black floor mats, a tool roll and tools, a jack and safety triangle, and two hardtop handle levers.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608