Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the R107-generation Mercedes-Benz SL roadster was the preeminent automotive totem of success. But if every dentist and real estate broker drives an SL, is it really special enough for a major celebrity? Perhaps not. Which may be why Las Vegas showman Wayne Newton purchased this completely customized 1981 380SL. After years on display at the Wayne Newton museum, this unique creation is now going up for auction at the Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas sale taking place June 17-19.
The customization was carried out by Niko-Michael Coachworks of Long Island, N.Y., and the work was extensive. The factory soft top was replaced with a two-piece retractable hardtop. It stows under the reverse-opening, extended rear decklid, onto which the spare wheel is surface-mounted. All the body panels are custom, and the sweeping side bodywork features a gold-plated trim piece that incorporates specially-made door handles. The oversized rectangular headlights are moved inboard, and centered within the unique grille is an oversized Mercedes-Benz logo, also rendered in gold. Gold BBS wheels provide a finishing ’80s touch. The end result is barely recognizable as an SL.
The interior is stock, right down to the Becker Grand Prix cassette stereo. So, too, is the powertrain, which features a 3.8-liter V8 paired with a four-speed automatic transmission. “Mr. Entertainment” put fewer than 2,000 miles on this oh-so-Vegas roadster, and the car is claimed to have been always maintained during its years as a museum piece, so it should be ready to roll.
With the car crossing the block at no reserve, some new owner is going to be singing Danke Schoen come June. After cruising the Strip, we’d take this SL to the nearest Mercedes-Benz meet and watch people’s heads explode.