Not a lot of driving has been done in the SL65 since my last report. After initially buying the car as a year-round daily driver, I got underneath it back in October whilst it was up on the ramps at @jhd_ltd and was shocked at how clean it is underneath - you’d hardly believe it had done 50,000 miles. As a result, I decided I couldn’t expose such a rare and special machine to a harsh Scottish winter, where our roads are more or less covered in salt for 2-3 months solid. So, in early November, I decided to buy a cheap little Panda 100hp to use for winter (which you will see competing in the Hot Hatch War feature earlier in this issue) and tuck the big Merc up until spring. However, there are some SL65 updates to share.
You will note at the end of my last fast fleet report that I had spent in excess of £1000 in maintenance and repairs in the first few weeks of ownership….well that saga continues. The big V12 is currently with @jhd_ltd once again, with more investigation underway to get to the bottom of an intermittent power loss and very occasional random stalling, that has been plaguing my ownership experience thus far. Initially, I followed the advice of internet forums and replaced all 24 spark plugs and upgraded the intercooler pump. I was fairly certain the intercooler pump would fix the power loss issue, as it ‘feels’ to me like a heat soak issue - as if the turbos aren’t boosting properly in certain conditions. But this was to no avail and, frustratingly, once we had the front bumper off, we noted that the pump that was on the car was already the upgraded Bosch item that is recommended online.
So we are back to the drawing board; however, Jamie at @jhd_ltd thinks he might be onto something as he has found a couple of damaged vacuum pipes, and his diagnostic system is indicating that the car is running very rich. I have every faith that @jhd_ltd will solve this mystery - which the previous owner informs me that the Mercedes main dealer couldn’t on two separate occasions - and I’m hoping that when we finally get to the bottom of this and that both issues will be sorted with the one fix, as there’s a good chance they’re linked. Whilst it’s in, it’s also having a knocking ball joint replaced and the air con re-gassed. Only other plans are for a wheel refurb, when I think I might change the colour of the beautiful split-rims from black to anthracite - just my personal preference.
This is, unfortunately, the reality of running a 16 year old twin turbo V12 as a daily driver. Cars like this are wonderful when they’re in full flow, but they can also be incredibly fragile and expensive to maintain. So much so that just this week I had a ‘wobble’ and very nearly sold the car to make way for a 997.2 Turbo S. But the guys at RUSH had a stern word and reminded me that, although the Turbo S would no doubt be incredibly capable and far more ‘usable’ than the SL, it wouldn’t be anywhere near as special.
So to summarise, even whilst the SL65 is off the road and hibernating for winter, it’s still costing me a fortune!