Guest Article: In search of another Benz – Part 1

It’s only been a bit over a year since I sold Oskar, my 1988 300SE at the 2021 Shannons Autumn Auction. It was my father Oskar’s pride and joy, and I was keen to join the MBCV when I inherited the car in 2011. For many years I used the car as a daily driver, then later it was swapped to club plates, with the family enjoying many Club runs. Our kids now have grown up and although they appreciate the Mercedes marque, they’re less likely to participate in Club events, which led to the reluctant decision to part with it.

Oskar the 300SE ready for auction

Oskar the 300SE ready for auction

Moving forward a year, I had an itch to buy another classic. I attempted to justify the purchase, but in all honesty, I couldn’t really, apart from knowing that our cars had contributed to my mental wellbeing during COVID. I also knew Naomi wouldn’t say no, as she has two lovely classics, a Jensen Interceptor and Triumph Stag and can’t resist another exciting addition to the family.

We have always subscribed to the philosophy of owning cars that suit different purposes. Looking at the garage we have enough four door vehicles and no longer need to worry about carting kids around on Club events, so the focus turned to a two door Mercedes. In the last five years I’d seen values escalate for the Mercedes models I grew up with, so I started to think about the more recent Mercedes models, CLK (A/C208, A/C209), SLK (R170/R171). Initially I did look at the CLK, but as I own half a C209 CLK320 with our daughter, I didn’t want another 209 even if it was a convertible. I also thought about the R129 (for less than a minute), but values were way outside my budget.

Eventually I started to look at the SLK R170 as I’ve always been a huge fan of Bruno Sacco and loved the design queues of its elder brother, the SL, with its power domes on the bonnet and optional two-tone interior options. The two-part vario-roof was also a large plus for me (even though it does consume a large amount of boot capacity when down). Within 25 seconds you can enjoy the fresh air of top-down motoring or close it and enjoy the warmness of what could be described as a coupe. Our Stag is much more usable when we have the hard top on too, but we have to use a winch, so just flicking a button is a huge leap forward. The other bonuses are that the SLK will be club plate eligible in 2023 and it’s an approved vehicle for P probationary drivers (excluding the SLK32 AMG).

The SLK range initially consisted of the SLK230 Kompressor released Feb 1997, then followed by the SLK200 in Oct 1997. The series II was released in Jul 2000 with revised safety equipment (electronic stability control) and suspension. The SLK200 Kompressor replaced the SLK200 and the SLK320 was released, while Sep 2001 marked the introduction of the SLK32 AMG. The R170 sold until 2004, with Mercedes releasing Special Editions to mark the end of the line for the R170. It came with exclusive features including pleated seats in fine Nappa leather, special aluminium trim on the dash and console, stepped 5 twin-spoke 16-inch alloy wheels and a special grille finished in the body colour.

The good news I found was there were plenty to choose from in terms of colour and engine combinations, but on the downside, there are plenty of bad ones which appear to be dragging down the values of good ones. Initially I wanted to buy locally, but it quickly became apparent that I couldn’t find one in the condition and colour combination I wanted. The search turned to interstate where I identified a listing for a 1998 SLK230 in silver with the two tone, red & black interior. It’s always fantastic to connect with a lovely seller and in this case, he was more than happy to supply 11 years of receipts, listing all the work done and dollar amount spent. We are delighted to welcome Sally the SLK as the latest member of our family and a lovely way to keep my Mum’s memory alive.

Sally on her way to a new home

Sally on her way to a new home

Author:  Nick Gruzevskis is a member of the Mercedes-Benz Club (Victoria) and the owner of 1979 450SE, 2005 CLK320 and now an SLK230

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