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Record price for ’96 Mercedes-Benz SL500 after owner loses the key

12 April, 2017

Picture this: it’s 1996, you’ve just received your brand-new Mercedes-Benz SL500 and taken it for a brisk drive around a few blocks. 80-miles now adorns the odometer and you park it up to go about your business, returning to find the key has gone walkabouts. Would you then call it a day and never drive it again?

That’s exactly what the owner of this particular example did, and it recently sold for a record price 21 years later— £56,640 to be exact — by Coys at their Spring Classics auction at the Royal Horticultural Halls in London.  

Chris Routledge, CEO of Coys, said, “This is a fantastic price bearing in mind that a normal version of this car, with reasonable mileage, would probably be worth 20% of what this SL500 made today. An exciting sale and a new world record!”

The Mercedes-Benz SL500 R129 roadsters were produced from 1989 through 2002, featuring many innovative details for the time, such as electronically controlled damping and a hidden, automatically extending roll-over bar, electric windows and mirrors.

This is one of the more powerful and sought after M119 engined cars and also boasts a number of optional factory extras, including heated front seats, 6 CD multi-changer, upgraded radio and wood-leather steering wheel.

It’s far too nice to call a barn find … perhaps a time capsule, if you will? Either way, £56,640 is a staggering win for the owner.

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.