Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

| 17 Nov 2021
Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

An early memory is sitting in the front of my mother’s pristine Ford Anglia, passed to her from her father, driving down the motorway and looking out to see my father’s father, who owned an equally pristine Volkswagen Beetle.

Both are ‘everyman’ cars, but each is a design classic in its own right.

Another memory is helping my auntie and uncle at their garage, sitting on the counter handing out fanbelts or whatever customers needed, using the old-style cash register and accompanying my auntie on buying trips.

It always looked likely that cars would play some part in my life.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

My current classic is a 1981 Mercedes-Benz R107 280SL, bought five years ago from a dealer who trades mostly in TVRs.

My previous car, a 1991 5.3-litre Jaguar XJS V12, didn’t suit a relocation up to the Isle of Skye, and when I moved down to the Scottish Borders I was on the lookout for something a little more compact for the country roads.

The Merc is a divisive car, but I love it. The bodywork is in the original Inca Red with no visible respray, the interior is the original brown-and-orange tweed, and the soft-top is in era-defining brown.

Nothing has been touched on the car at all except for essential maintenance, so it’s an authentic model, which matters to me.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL
Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

Granted, it’s not the fastest engine you can find in an R107, but it still drives at a good speed and is sharp around corners.

I’m spoilt for choice given where I live, and have driven many of Scotland’s lesser-known excellent driving roads.

I have been on rallies throughout Scotland and England and was part of the local Borders Vintage Automobile Club, organising one of Scotland’s largest classic car events before bowing out due to work commitments.

My next trip, through Europe, is already planned, and I can’t wait.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

As someone who has been part of the classic car world from quite a young age, I’ve been surrounded by a certain demographic who tend to treat you in a particular way, so it’s good to see more diversity in clubs and at events.

My heroes include the women drivers who shone at Goodwood in its heyday, and we forget that role models play an important part in encouraging people to enter the classic world.

I have always been a ‘doer’ and I am now working on a classic car and motorbike event (I also ride an old 1961 BSA) that takes in the less-driven roads of the region, going from Berwick-upon-Tweed through to the Scottish borders.

It’s a potential stop-off on the way to the now oversubscribed North Coast 500 and adds a fresh spin to a tried-and-tested model, which should attract a more diverse demographic while keeping a level of exclusivity and quality.

Classic & Sports Car – Your classic: Mercedes-Benz 280SL

It is important to keep classic cars on the road and to encourage the next generation to do so: you can’t beat seeing a little girl or boy waving or smiling at your car and saying it’s cool, and hoping it will inspire them when they are older.

I am often asked if I would sell my Mercedes, but my answer is always no. There’s just something about my humble R107 that I like too much to part with it.

To bring it back full circle, not long after I bought the car I found a box of my old toys from when I was a little girl, and one of them was a Mercedes R107 in almost perfect Inca Red.

Inevitable, then, that I now drive a life-sized one.

Lead image: Peter McNally

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