Restomod of the week: Mechatronik’s M-SL

By topgear, 05 April 2021

What is it?

Perfection, probably. German outfitter Mechatronik has been dabbling with old Mercedes-Benzes for over two decades now, and it was with this wonderful creation – dubbed the ‘M-SL’ – that it made its mark.

Indeed, it says as much. “It was impossible to foresee, of course, the success that this concept would bring to the company,” says, um, The Company.

In short, it is a ‘W113’ series Mercedes-Benz SL, quietly and subtly updated with a not-so-subtle V8 from a Nineties Mercedes, and lots of sympathetic tweaks to allow this classic shape to live an entirely new kind of life.

(Click HERE to read about our gathering of Mercedes-Benz SL roadsters: W121, W113, R129, R231)

Who builds it?

German modifications outfit Mechatronik. It started out in 1997 in Swabia as a three-man workshop, and now occupies 6,000 square metres north of Stuttgart. It’s staffed by a team of more than 40 enthusiasts who deploy lots of “creativity to ensure the synthesis of old and modern technology”. There’s even a trainee programme.

In short, they aim to keep the original shape – and charm – of the original Benz alive, but stuff in as much modern tech as the chassis and body will allow.

What’s been done to it?

Lots. Mechatronik will either source a base Pagoda for you – which it then fully restores – or you can hand over your own SL. The former allows for greater individual customisation, the latter – dubbed ‘New Tech’ – if you just want specific upgrades, and the original, unrestored bodywork.

The Really Big Deal here of course, is the insertion of a more modern engine. Out goes the Pagoda’s 1960s straight-six, and in comes Merc’s ‘M113’ 4.3-litre V8 from 1997. It’s 30kg lighter than the engine it replaces and offers a really very healthy 275bhp.

Each donor engine has to be a low-miler, gets a full inspection and overhaul, is tested over two days and then installed and matched to a five-speed Merc auto.

Anything else?

Lots. Mechatronik redeveloped the suspension, with KW Automotive shocks and springs all round (tailored to your individual requirements), a standard-fit limited slip diff, ABS, and bigger brakes pinched from a Nineties S-Class (ventilated discs, two-piston calipers) on the front axle.

You can choose from a range of exterior colours, and even spec in stuff like Bluetooth, USB connectivity, electric windows, heated comfort seats and air conditioning/sat nav. And lots of leather. Really, just open your wallet and say ‘make it so’.

How many are being built?

Mechatronik builds them to order, but will only ever do a maximum of five ‘complete assemblies’ a year (where they source the car and restore/modify it), and five ‘New-Tech’ cars a year.

Is it fast?

Yes. Fast enough, anyway. Apparently it’ll do 0-100km/h in 6.5s and top out at 210km/h. That you’re still reading this down here calls for another pic.

Next Slide Please.

How much does it cost?

A lot. But it all really depends on just how extensively you want it customised.

Why should I care about it?

Because this particular Merc SL remains one of the most beautiful cars ever built. Giving it a heart transplant and full body workout means it’ll live that much longer.

Can you tell me one more interesting fact about it?

The installation of the engine and gearbox is done in such a way as to allow owners to simplify its servicing, Mechatronik theorising that you should be able to take this gorgeous restomod into any Mercedes dealer for a once over.

STORY Vijay Pattni

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