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Hart to heart in my 1989 Mercedes 300SL

By July 9, 2019 No Comments

Through our classic car agreed valuation process we get to hear about many impressive restoration projects. One such project was on a 1989 Mercedes 300SL owned by Susan Starkey.

It was back in October 2018 that Susan, from the East Midlands, decided to treat her 1989 Mercedes to some much-needed TLC. Susan had thought long and hard about the condition of her car; the body work showed signs of deterioration and she was reluctant to let it get worse – after all your classic car becomes part of the family.

Susan’s passion for cars started with her first car, a Fiat 850. But it was her husband Tim who inspired her to buy the first Mercedes 380SL back in the last 80’s. Tim has always been passionate about Mercedes cars and the pair were drawn to the cars classic Pagoda roof. Susan’s love of the classic SL shape came about after remembering Stephanie Powers drive the elegant classic SL in the 1970/80’s TV Series Hart to Hart.

Sadly, after six years, Susan had to sell the 380SL, her children came along and the child car seats simply wouldn’t fit in. Staying with the Mercedes brand, Susan purchased a Mercedes C180. “Still a great car but my heart was with the SL”, Susan tells us.

It was in 2000 that the pair finally harked back to their favourite model and found a Mercedes 300SL for sale. The car was purchased for £23,750 and a train trip was booked to collect the new member of the family.

The 300SL only had 12,000 miles on the clock. It was in immaculate condition with mushroom leather interior and Mercedes 199 blue/black paintwork.

19 years later Susan still loves the car. With close to 100,000 miles on the clock, it had never had a new clutch, gear box or any other major engineering work. “All I did was give her a service every year and bought a stainless-steel exhaust”, says Susan.

“I completed the Beaujolais Run for charity in her and she ran a treat. No problems at all and so comfortable for a long distance. A luxurious sports car, elegant and refined. Travelling to Beaune in France to collect wine at midnight! A great experience travelling alongside Ferraris, vintage fire engines and other enthusiasts”, says Susan.

Then in October 2018, the Mercedes was booked in for a full body restoration. The work was carried out by John Haynes Ltd, a Mercedes specialist garage in Goring-By-Sea in West Sussex. The garage has been going since 1964 and Susan was instantly reassured by their professionalism, dedication and clarity of estimate. Susan and Tim had looked at several specialists, but John Haynes instantly gave them a confident feel that the restoration work would be carried out to the highest of standards.

The car had a total bare metal re-spray, new front wings, sills and head light mounting brackets. The John Hayes team carried out structural and body rectification work which was not envisaged by Susan but thankfully was included in the estimate. Every single piece of rust was removed, treated and rectified. At the same time, a thorough overhaul of the steering column, mechanisms and running gear was carried out – to such an extent that Susan says the car now feels and drives like new!

The work too five months to complete. After many progress shots showing the work, Susan collected her SL. “To say I’m pleased is an understatement, she is back to her former glory. Her name oddly enough is Beauty. How apt”, says Susan.

Since the restoration, Susan has used her Mercedes SL every day and often strikes up conversation with people in car parks over Beauty’s performance and style. Over the years, the car has happily ferried boys to and from school. As time has gone on, the boys have grown into 6-foot monsters and Susan says she still manages to get two in the back and one in the front! This car is truly part of the family.

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