Why the £6000 difference? There’s the seller’s margin, of course, but the fact is that an auction, the basis of this valuation, is no place for a specialist vehicle such as an SL55. Down among the workaday Mondeos and in front of steely traders, it just looks like a money pit, and the valuation reflects that. Still, it’s a sobering exercise and shows why, when buying one, you should have your dealing boots firmly laced up.
Deal done, you’re in for a treat. Under that beautifully crafted aluminium body lurks a true supercar. AMG took the V8 from the SL500 and strengthened it in almost all areas to cope with the 55’s extra power, which is sent aft via a robust five-speed auto with paddle shifts. Some of that extra power came from mechanical changes, including an increased capacity, a faster-spinning supercharger and computercontrolled engine mapping.
The Active Body Control (ABC) suspension system serves up a firm but comfortable ride but it can leak and cause the pump to fail, expensively. The vario-roof should have turned the SL55 into a true all-weather express but for the fact that the seals on early models can let water into the boot, where it shorts the motor. Cars from 2006 had better sealing and you can upgrade earlier roofs. Those 2006 cars also got slightly more power courtesy of a faster-spinning supercharger and a larger throttle valve. Emissions fell, too, but road tax is still £535.
When it was launched, demand for the SL55 comfortably outstripped supply. For good examples, the same holds true today. Just remember to haggle – and haggle hard.
An expert’s view...
PAUL THOMPSON, MERCEDES-BENZ CLUB
“I bought my SL55 new in 2002. It has done 67,000 miles and, apart from needing new front struts, has never put a foot wrong. It’s not leaked at the roof but I know early ones are prone. Allowing the drain holes to get blocked with debris doesn’t help. If you’re looking at an SL55 for under £20,000, be very careful and have it inspected by an expert. Your ‘One we found’ looks interesting but I’d rather it was a private sale so you can gauge the owner.”
Mercedes SL55 AMG problems...
Check the supercharger’s separate cooler isn’t leaking. There’s a lot of plumbing around the engine so ensure everything is fluid-tight and rust-free.
Variable but usually every 12k miles. Brake fluid every two years, coolant every four, transmission oil/filter five.