Beatrix Hoppen (left) and Christiane Philipp have lost their hearts to their Mercedes-Benz SLs. Both are businesswomen, and both are active in the brand club along with their husbands: Beatrix in R/C 107 SL Club in the Bonn region, while the Philipp couple manage an automotive master workshop, with Christiane being in charge of the R 129 SL Club’s regional get-togethers in Ulm.
Beatrix Hoppen’s Mercedes-Benz 350 SL is an R 107 from 1972. Her husband discovered it 20 years later in response to an advertisement posted in a building at the port in Hamburg. Having taken the car apart with a view to a full restoration, the owner had subsequently aborted the project. Alois Hoppen bought the vehicle in knocked-down form, after which he rebuilt, restored and repainted it. Today, it is resplendent in petrol blue with a light leather interior.
At the photo shoot, the team meets two young female students from Munich, who are looking to enjoy a beautiful day at Walchensee in Werdenfelser Land. Silke Franke (left) and Nadine Meyer can’t believe their eyes: “Such cool cars. We’d also like a convertible, especially on a day like today!” The two young women marvel at the well-maintained interiors, the leather seats and door panels, the contrasting topstitching in the R 129, the wooden decor of the R 107. “And the colours of the paintwork are something really special,” says Nadine, full of enthusiasm.
Christiane Philipp has a weakness for unusual cars. Her first one was small, bright red and fast. Her SL 320, built in 2000, model series R 129, is also fast. And smart. And special: “I was looking online for an exciting SL. When I saw the color code 020 designo orange, I knew I wanted that one!” The combination of the paint color with black and orange leather turns a special car into an extremely rare one. Only three examples of the R 129 were manufactured. The first owner of Christiane’s SL was a doctor in Düsseldorf.
Silke Franke is fascinated by the gem that Christiane Philipp acquired in 2009. “But it’s not a classic, is it?” she inquires. No, an R 129 is not a classic in the true sense. To qualify, it would have to be 30 or more years old. A Mercedes-Benz classic car begins its career at the age of 20, initially as a young classic. This category includes the R 129, which was sold between 1989 and 2002. While older exemplars are already sought-after classics, well-kept younger vehicles still look almost like new.
An unequalled production run: The Mercedes-Benz R 107 was in the Mercedes-Benz model range for a total of 18 years. Its career began in 1971 with the launch of the new 350 SL. The six- and eight-cylinder engines of the first series up to 1985 had a power output of 185 to 240 hp, which was phenomenal at that time. In 1985, the range of engines was renewed, along with a slight increase in output. Its era came to a close in 1989 after the production of almost 240,000 units: SL record! Today, the R 107 is a sought-after classic.
When the R 107 was discontinued in 1989, it was followed by the R 129. This model series is the youngster among the SL classics, its history having begun with the legendary 300 SL Gullwing. There was also a 300 SL version of the R 129, its six-cylinder engine in 1989 having a power output of 190 hp. In 1993, new model designations were introduced, the abbreviation SL now coming before the displacement, with the 300 SL being superseded by the SL 320, which used its additional 200 cc of displacement to deliver a 41 hp higher output. From 1992 to the end of production in 2001, the SL 600 was available with a 12-cylinder engine rated at 394 PS.
Silke Franke and Nadine Meyer drive back to Munich in the afternoon in their small car. Meanwhile, Christiane Philipp and Beatrix Hoppen journey in their SLs through the stunning scenery at the foot of the Karwendel mountains for the final leg of the day. The invitation from Mercedes-Benz Classic Magazine to a summer shoot has had its rewards for the two women, as there could be no more beautiful a location in which to drive a roadster.