I don’t have to tell you that car prices are absurd right now. That said, if you’re looking for a snapshot of the market’s twisted ways in 2021, you can find evidence in the unlikeliest places. Like an 11,000-mile 2009 Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series that just went for $405,000 on Bring a Trailer.
The Black Series was the top dog of the R230 SL lineage, as was the case with all of the Black Series models Mercedes introduced in the late-aughts and early 2010s. There were the SLK 55 and CLK 63 in 2006 and 2007, then the C 63 and SLS Black Series in 2011 and 2012. After that, Merc more or less put the Black Series name on ice, until the recent reintroduction with the AMG GT.
When new, the SL 65 Black Series demanded about $300,000, or some $60K more than a regular SL 65 AMG and roughly three times what you’d pay for a base SL 500. However, your “ordinary” SL 65 had about 70 less horsepower than the Black Series — a measly 604 HP — and weighed 550 pounds more. The standard SL 65 also lacked flared wheel arches, a delightful touch that distinguished the early Black Series models.
Only 350 SL 65 Black Series were made; out of those, 175 went to U.S. customers. This particular example of the twin-turbocharged, V12-powered coupe just sold for $100,000 more than its MSRP. With so few miles on the odometer and an extensive service history, some of which is detailed in the listing, it’s basically a new car:
The transmission valve body was replaced under warranty in 2011, the spark plugs were replaced and a differential leak was repaired by Mercedes-Benz of Salem in 2015, a coolant flush was performed in 2016, and the battery was replaced in 2019.
Still, if $405,000 strikes you as a lot for one of these — even considering its limited production run — history tells you you’re right. That’s because the three SL 65 Black Series that sold on BaT last year never went for more than $185,000. And out of that trio, two had fewer miles recorded than today’s example. The only meaningful difference I can see working in this car’s favor is that it’s silver rather than black like the rest, and when I imagine one of these, I tend to do so in silver.
The SL 65 Black Series is a noteworthy high-performance Silver Arrow, no doubt. But two to three times more than what you would’ve paid for one 18 months ago seems suspect.
Out of curiosity I wanted to know what the current going rate is for an SLR McLaren. In that car’s case, the hardtops certainly tend to sell for less than the roadsters. One went for $281,000 earlier this month, while a convertible finished in special-order Pearl White sold for $450,000. Otherwise, every SLR to hit BaT in recent years, excluding the rare 722 Edition, sold for less than that Black Series. And you can’t convince me that the SLR isn’t an infinitely cooler car, with its turbine wheels, Batmobile-esque proportions and sweeter interior.
So there you have it. If you paid $10K above sticker for a Telluride through gritted teeth at some point in the midst of pandemic car-buying hell, I hope it brings you some comfort that the folks trading limited-run Mercedes are overpaying, too.