Owner: Christopher D. Smith
Location: Pinehurst, North Carolina
Purchased from: Leith Mercedes-Benz of Raleigh (summer 1989, new)
Purchase price: $63,000
Years owned: 29
Mileage: 24,537 original miles
My mother always wanted a Mercedes convertible. Back in the ’80s, we moved from Long Island to North Carolina, and she finally went to a dealer. I will never forget that summer day she pulled into our driveway. The car was a work of art.
For those first few years, she only drove it four or five miles per week, just around town with a handful of trips to the beach. But, eventually, the car needed work. At that point, nobody thought of these as classics. She told me she was going to sell it, and I said, “Yeah, to me!”
We made a deal where she gave me the car, and I agreed to fix it up, bring it back to new condition. I put new O-rings in the a/c system, and replaced the tires. The most major thing was a new top. The original was dry-rotted from being left down for about 15 years. But in this era, the top wasn’t power, so that was relatively simple.
Mercedes started building this generation SL in the early ’70s, and 1989 was its last year, so the car looks older than it is. But it doesn’t drive like an old car. With a 5.6-liter V-8, it has a lot of power for a two-seater. And when you hit the gas, the shifts are barely noticeable. It still feels like a luxury car. I know the prices for these are going up now. But I don’t ever want to sell it.
This appears in the September 2018 issue.