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1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL Paint Restoration

Sometimes it makes sense to repaint a vehicle who’s finish is long far gone from ever being its former glossy look. Other times its to change a color from someone’s previous failed approach to restore a vehicle, and so a repaint to its original color is in order. In either case the finish in question has been determined no longer suitable or in bad shape. In this detailers opinion, no paint can create a skin crawling feeling and face of disgust like a chalky and dull single stage paint. Crazing, oxidation, water spots and failed wax on, wax off residue can make for quite an ugly sight. This brings us to the story of a very special 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL that was brought to us by a client.

The Mercedes painted in a once  shiny Signal Red, was bought brand new and was bequeathed to the son by the once proud owner. So with a vehicle that has basically been a part of the family for decades, and was still being enjoyed by the next generation in the family, the decision was made by the owners to see what could be done to revive the now lifeless looking SL. The owner called us at SweetCars and made arrangements to have us check out the vehicle to see what could be done.

When the vehicle arrived, upon inspection it seemed to appear as if all hope was lost for this Mercedes and a repaint was already being strongly considered by the client. But after close inspection and using my Delfesko paint gauge, I could see that there was much life left in this old family roadster. So after consulting the client about what could be done on our part to bring back the car to life, the work was agreed upon and the client was excited to hear that it could stay original without having to repaint. So it was scheduled for its transformation.

On this vehicle, the paint was of course thin on some edges and every precaution was taken to not take away too much, but just enough to reach our goal of restoring the paint finish while preserving as much as possible. Since single stage paint is notorious for oxidation and to avoid the vehicle from becoming a chalkboard once again, it was decided to coat the vehicle with 4 coats of Ceramic Pro 9H and 1 coat of Ceramic Pro Light. So I grabbed my trusty RUPES Bigfoot LHR21ES and began meticulously paint correcting the finish. My prognosis was correct, this Mercedes was in dire need of an intense correction and not a repaint, which would have cost three times as much. The other expense avoided that was much appreciated by the owner was replacing the driver’s seat. The bolster was badly worn and donning some old sticky duct tape. I contacted our good friend Ryan Lamson at Revived Interiors and he was able to repair the badly worn bolster with his magical abilities.

The results were a transformation that was truly remarkable and we were sure that we would get a positive response from the client. When the client finally came in to see it, he immediately welled up with tears and the smile on his face confirmed that we had succeeded in our goal. Overwhelmed with emotion and surprise of the transformation, it was great to hear that it looked just like he remembered it back in the 80’s.

Here’s some pictures of the Mercedes, enjoy!


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