The heart won over the usual guidelines for buying a used car, but Scott Hutton's 1985 Mercedes SL500 has been worth it every morning he commutes to work.
When he purchased his car in 2010 from a Dubai second-hand car salesman, Scott Hutton was assured it had just been brought in from the Far East. However, the auto trader was at a loss to explain the 2001 Burj Al Arab sticker on the windscreen. Alarm bells might have been ringing in his ears, were it not for the louder twanging of Cupid's bow as the 37-year-old Glaswegian lawyer with Kilpatrick Townsend dreamily sized up the classic 1985 Mercedes SL500 5.0L V8.
"It was sitting in the forecourt with the hard top on when I saw it and I asked about the condition of the soft top, which the dealer explained was 'perfect' and, after I demonstrated how to remove the hard top, we discovered the soft top was covered in sand and had more holes than Swiss cheese," he exclaims. However, love is blind and, of course, Scott still justified the purchase, as there's less use for a soft top here in the UAE than somewhere with a less harsh climate.
He continues: "I think it's the most attractive car on the road. I don't remember seeing my first one, but I guess growing up in the 1980s I would have seen a few. I knew the car well from when I saw Eddie Murphy driving one in Beverly Hills Cop and it starred in the TV shows Dallas and Hart to Hart. I've always loved Mercedes and I think this remains one of their best. I admire even older styles too, such as the Pagoda, but it's a tad too rich for my tastes."
However, Scott remains quintessentially British at heart and could be swayed by a marque born back in Blighty. "I sometimes hanker after an E-Type Jaguar. A friend's father owned one when I was in my late teens. It was kept wrapped up in the garage and I only ever got to see it once, but it was stunning, resplendent in British Racing Green. It's a very different car to the Mercedes though, as I think of my SL as a modern classic. The E-Type is much older and I think you are getting into the realm of serious collectors who only take the car out on the odd occasion. I drive this car every day," he explains.
Admittedly nervous when he first saw the car, Scott was under no illusions that buying a classic car would be anything other than expensive, and has been proven right over the first two years of owning it.
"I've spent a fair bit to maintain it, but I would never consider modifying this car. I think it's great as it is and the only adjustments are to keep the engine and other moving parts in good condition. Just looking at it makes my daily commute to work an absolute pleasure. It's smooth and pretty quiet with enough guts to get you out of trouble, if required, and just loud enough to hear the V8 gurgle," he says.
Despite the refined elegance of the Mercedes, it doesn't exclude him from the chaos that too often ensues across the UAE's roads. A Land Cruiser, driven by a Moroccan on the way to Friday prayers with his family, hit him side-on. "After the collision he immediately left to drop his family off at the mosque. He proved to be an honest person and when he came back I carefully inspected the damage.
"I've heard this car referred to as 'the last of the Mercedes tanks' and they were clearly right about this solid little beast, which weighs close to two metric tons, heavy for a two-seater. The incident only put the smallest ding on my wheel arch, whereas every panel on the side of the Land Cruiser had to be replaced," Scott says proudly.
Having moved to Dubai with his wife, Emma, more than four years ago, Scott now has an 18-month-old son, Cooper, who waits for his daddy to pull up every day and seems to share the love for the SL. "When I come home, Emma brings him to the gate to wait for me. He can spot my car from a long way away and starts waving. It's very cute as he then climbs in with me and has a chat - maybe we will sit and speak in more detail about the car one day.
"He also insists on trying to pull the controls off the radio every time he gets in, which I'm pretty sure will just add to the costs of a classic at some point in the future," laughs Scott. It looks like this pretty little tank might just stay in the Hutton family for some time longer.