By James Wong
Some of you keen followers of Lenspeed will realise from our Instagram feed (@officiallenspeed) that we’ve added some new cars to the fleet.
The Mercedes-Benz R107 350SL was the first ‘new’ car that came into the garage only a few weeks prior. Our search for a classic car was not one of necessity but of intrigue – these cars of the dying generations are for us to save lest they be lost forever with decay and wear. So I decided, why not keep a classic that will stay with the family for generations to come? My sister would probably shake her head in mild disagreement here but I think her disapproval would dissipate if we talk about this again a few decades from now. How many things in your life can you say to your children that you owned and that they can actually experience for themselves, first hand?
So why did we choose a early R107 SL, and one equipped with a V8 at that? To be honest, if our pockets are deep enough we’d have plonked for a W113 SL, but just look up the classifieds and you’ll quickly realise that these are certainly way out of reach. The 107 has more more reasonable value, although they are also indeed less valuable given their ubiquity. That said, hearsay does indicate that V8 models are rare in Singapore, and there could be less than a handful of these running about. I initially thought there are only two 350SLs, but a workshop confirmed later that there is still a 450SL running about. Rare stuff indeed.
Whatever it is, it was a difficult decision going for the early year SL as these were plagued with fuel injection and rust problems. But, given the tempting proposition of lower classic car taxes and the provenance of this particular model, we went for it over a late year 300SL going for similar pricing.
So far, I’ve only driven about 400km in this car and I have identifed a couple of issues to sort, which I left for a season when I had the time. Sadly, this was fast forwarded when the car was met with an unfortunate incident with a reversing van, which shattered one headlight and bent a front fender of the SL. I can’t remember the last time I was this furious, but life goes on and nobody was hurt, which is the most important thing. The car is undergoing repairs now but it’ll be ready tomorrow; I can’t wait to pick it up and drive it just before the year ends. At the same time it’s also getting its rear suspension fixed (it sat too high and with negative camber) and having its steering tightened, so I am looking forward to more precision in the drive.
More on the SL when we bring it for a proper carbon-clearing run across the causeway, but for now… Here’s a teaser on the next Merc addition (yes, it’s also got a V8):
A proper post on this beast soon, but here are initial impressions by our in-house racing driver Des (who compares it to his previous car, the 997.1 GT3):
“OK some very first impressions. The M156 simply cannot be compared to the GT3. Now I realize how highly strung that engine was. The Mezger at the right gear was always ready to fire with pure anger especially when the variocam profile changes.
The M156 is pure muscle. Lazy for a brief moment before it goes. And when it goes it doesn’t do so with an on boost feeling or race car potency. It just feels meaty and grunty. Gearbox is definitely outclassed by PDK but it feels more mechanical. I actually enjoy the fact that it’s not so clinical and perfect all the time.. Just adds character I guess!
The ride is firm but there’s quality that you can feel in the damping which makes it quite comfortable on an overall basis. If GT3 was a 10/10 on the hardness scale the C63 is a 5.”