Can you run a classic car on a shoestring – and even make a profit?

The headlining was bagging off the removable hard-top, one walnut trim insert was cracked, the driver’s seat bolster looked like it had been attacked, the engine’s auxiliary belt needed replacing, the paint lacquer had worn through in a couple of places and the hydraulic roof mechanism definitely needed attention if the grudging way it heaved into place was anything to go by.

All of this suggested in no uncertain terms that I shouldn’t buy it. On top of that, the 1992 Mercedes 300 SL 24V had a very sporadic service history. It looked to have been pampered by its first owner and mostly abused by the second, who then left it in a garage to the mercies of time and neglect. This was a risky purchase, and I knew it.   

But it drove well, and it was red with a cream interior – who doesn’t love that combination? – with only 60,000 miles on the clock and an achievable price tag.

Plus, I’d researched it exhaustively via the brilliant geek-fest that is the Mercedes-Benz Owners’ Club, and all of the bits that worried me – including dash lights that randomly lit up – seemed common faults with easy fixes. 

I wanted it with the sort of obsessiveness that has you checking the advertisement on an hourly basis to check that it’s still for sale, while you wrestle with the aeons old “I don’t need and can’t afford a classic car” versus “I really want it and I’m sure it’ll be an investment, really” debate.

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