The Mercedes SLR McLaren was no longer in the ‘flavor of the month club’ once the SLS AMG was released, but recently, they’ve been making a come back in the modern super car market.
I didn’t have a real appreciation for the SLR McLaren until a used, low mile example was brought into the inventory of the Mercedes-Benz dealership where I worked as teh internet sales manager, Sears Imports, here in Minneapolis. The general manager of the dealership bought it from an exotic car dealer in California, on a bit of a whim one Spring, figuring it would be a cool car to have on the showroom floor. And there is would sit, on the showroom floor, for close to 6 months. It was a 2008 Roadster model with Crystal Galaxite Black paint and Silver Arrow 300SL Red leather interior. It had just 943 miles on its odometer and it seemed ‘sale proof’.
I would walk by the SLR on the showroom floor and out of the corner of my eye I’d think it was a used SLK… what an insult to a car that cost almost 10 times as much as an SLK when new. I only put a few miles on the car… but they were memorable miles. The exhaust note was like nothing I’d heard before. The way the hood opens and closes must be one of the coolest things on any modern car. Only once the hood is open can you really gain an appreciation for how this car is put together, carbon fiber everywhere. It looks more like a prototype endurance racer than a street car underneath.
I eventually found a buyer after listing it on eBay. It sold for $275,000 in late August of 2012 and it was shipped across the country to its new owner.
Ever since, I’ve been trying to figure out where these modern Mercedes super cars fit in the market. As is typical of the most expensive Mercedes-Benz models, (CL class cars and 12 cylinder ‘65’ AMG models for example) SLRs depreciated quickly, as soon as they were driven off of dealer lots. Despite the fact they were the Mercedes ‘halo car’ of the early – mid ‘00s, they lost more than half their value in just a few years. As the SLS was introduced, with its ‘gullwing’ doors, the SLR was all but forgotten in our age of short attention spans. The SLS was half the price, or less, than the SLR and the SLS promised to be a much more ‘practical super car’ – if there is such a thing.
I’ve been watching Mercedes SLR McLaren sales in the market over the past couple of years and it didn’t seem like much was happening with them until recently, until the prices of other modern super cars began to climb. I thought I’d check in with someone who has recent SLR experience, a guy who is in the collector car trenches every day, Adolfo Massari, one of the ‘next generation car guys’ from LBI Limited in Philadelphia, PA. You see their ads in the SLML and other collector car publications offering everything from classic Mercedes to a Ferrari Lusso to the occasional pre-war American classic.
See Adolfo’s ‘Insider Take’ on SLR McLaren prices and the market in general by having a look at: this article he wrote for the March / April 2016 (Vol. 29, No. 8) issue of the SL Market Letter.
I can’t help but ponder the future of the SLS coupes and roadsters in the market when looking back on the SLR. Olson regularly reminds me that we are not in the business of predicting the future, we have no crystal ball, but current SLS owners often ask us what we think will happen to their cars in the future. As a matter of fact, in the past few months I’ve been asked about the future of the SLS from owners no less than 5 times. History would tell us that they will depreciate fast and hard, which is happening now. Eventually they will plateau and then just maybe, they will begin to appreciate. Preserved, low mile originals will lead the value pack. Just when might all of this happen? Well, you’re guess is as good as mine.