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The Magic Of The Classic Cars
How To Take Good Care Of Them

Benny If you follow articles on DriveArchive, or my DrivelArchive blog, you may know that I own an old Mercedes-Benz SLK 230 Kompressor R170. I’ve had it for well over 6 years now and it has brought me much joy and only a little pain of ownership. (to see a previous article, click HERE)

But to be honest I have many times thought of getting rid of it over the years, though two things have stopped me. One is that it is not currently worth very much. There are an awful lot of SLK about, though not many of my vintage have such a low mileage, just over 60k miles.

And the second thing is… it’s not worth much now (maybe under £1,000) – but will it be worth more in the not too distant future? Because, possibly, early SLKs may eventually be designated as a “Classic Car”.

My car (Benny) runs very well. Mechanically it is very sound - well, it is a Mercedes - it’s really only just run in! But it is 22 years old and at the time it was made Mercedes were going through a bad patch when it came to body build quality. The interior is remarkably flimsy and even mine looks worn – just look at higher mileage examples and you’ll see they generally look dreadful.

And then there’s the body. The paintwork on mine is pretty poor because the lacquer layer has largely come off and now the paint is exposed. SLKs are renowned for rusty front wings, and I certainly have two of them. If you look at the picture above, the door still has lacquer, but the bonnet and wings have not, see how they are faded?

The underside is not too bad, but could be better. So generally rust wise it's not too bad, but there's no doubt it does need a full respray.

I’ve put the car through 6 MOTs myself and it’s passed every time, but I know this can’t go on for ever. So, I’ve been considering taking it off the road and slowly restoring it to its former glory. In the intervening period it may gain Classic status (though how this happens I don’t really know) and then prices will go up and I’ll at least get my money back. So, how does this stack up as a plan?

How To Take Good Care Of A Classic?

Okay, well there are some obvious things I need to do. First is to get the car into the dry. I live in a really lovely house near the seaside that has one major flaw – no garage. So, I need to store it somewhere away from the salt air. I may even need to regulate conditions in this storage place.

I will need to remove the front wings and source new ones, which I know may be a fraught task to get good ones. I need to prepare the body for a full respray. I will probably have to remove the engine and mechanicals and get the rear suspension (which is quite a complicated setup on an SLK) looking a lot less rusty – so I will need to find a local classic car sandblasting facility.

I’ll need to get the alloy wheels sorted out, and the entire interior removed and put back so it doesn’t just fall off in use. Hopefully the electric roof will survive being unused for a year or two, though I know to cycle it now and again is a good idea.

The question is, can I do these things myself, or should I employ a classic car restoration service?

So I was thinking, could you lovely DriveArchive visitors help me out a little? If any of you have any words of advice on this topic, please enter them below, I would be most grateful, either positive encouragement and advice - or tell me I’m being very stupid and should not bother!

I’d be very grateful, thanks in advance. (See also Restoring Your Dream Classic Car?)


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