Speed / May 2019

KRAFT'S GUIDE TO BENZ BARGAINS

In this new monthly series, we highlight great value yet wildly stylish automobiles, beginning with 1970s and ’80s Mercedes SL-class convertibles.

Regular readers of The Rake will be highly familiar with the Cifonelli-clad features of our friend, Alexander Kraft — owner, chairman and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty France – Monaco. As the legion followers of Alexander’s Instagram know, this sartorial adventurer and connoisseur of la dolce vita is also an enthusiastic automobile collector and aficionado. 

Interviewing Alexander several years ago, he expressed the opinion that making stylish purchases needn’t necessarily require an unlimited budget. One especially salient example he gave was in the area of cars, where Alexander counselled, “Instead of a new Honda, why not (buy) a vintage but well maintained Mercedes SL? Same price, but light years ahead in style, and an excellent long-term investment.”

The comment formed the inspiration for this new ongoing series, showcasing cars that are not only incredibly rakish, but also represent outstanding value for money. Thus it seemed only right to again call on our friend ‘Krafty’, and make the focus of the inaugural edition Alexander’s beloved W107 series Mercedes SL-class cabriolets, produced from the early 1970s through the late ’80s… And now often sold in good condition for anywhere between £15,000 and £30,000. (Which, as Alexander said, is less than the £35,000 price of a bland new Honda CR-V Hybrid.) 

The Rake: Why do you personally love contemporary-classic Mercedes-Benz W107 cabriolets? 

Alexander Kraft: First of all, they are associated with childhood memories — my grandfather, and later my father, used to drive the limousine version of this model, so certain common stylistic elements of that series like the interiors, the head- and tail-lights and bumpers are ingrained in my memory. I also saw this model in my favourite TV shows du jour, such as Hart to Hart or Dallas (Bobbie Ewing!), not to mention its iconic turn as Richard Gere’s vehicle in American Gigolo. On another level, these cars are the last that were truly hand-built at Mercedes, and one can tell that from the incredible build quality they exude. Finally, in comparison with other models (such as the Pagode) they represent, at least for the moment, spectacular value for money, although prices are now rising steadily.

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