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Help us save Matilda

There's a lady in the CNET Australia family that's dear to our hearts and whom we're trying to save. Her name is Matilda and she's a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.

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Derek Fung

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There's a lady in the CNET Australia family that's dear to our hearts and whom we're trying to save. Her name is Matilda and she's a 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL convertible.

Despite being freshly minted in 1985, Matilda comes from a long line of SL roadsters and SLC coupes. This generation of the SL is one of Mercedes' longest lived car lines, with initial models rolling off the line in 1974 and production finally ending in 1989.

Update: We're really interested in and appreciate your responses as this kind of story is a bit of a departure for us...

Just to clarify, my line about "cash donations" was written with tongue firmly placed in cheek.

Anyone or any business that donates their time and effort will be properly acknowledged and given sufficient exposure on

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Like many a bod on Bondi beach, Matilda actually hails from the mother country. In this case, South Pool, Devon, on England's southern tip.

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3 of 21 Emily Baxter/CBSi

It wasn't brought into the CBS Interactive family until former editor of

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4 of 21 Emily Baxter/CBSi

Prior to her shipment off to the colonies Matilda suffered from a severe case of rust.

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A front fender lying on the ground, awaiting its date with the rust removalist.

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The metal rot had set in at the rear too.

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The door sills had also succumbed to rust.

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8 of 21 Emily Baxter/CBSi

With its doors removed, Matilda's rust is about to meet its match: a man armed with an angle grinder and possibly a few metal plates too.

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9 of 21 Emily Baxter/CBSi

A bit naked maybe, but Matilda's now mostly rust free.

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10 of 21 Emily Baxter/CBSi

After many hours of work, the metal rot has been banished.

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11 of 21 Emily Baxter/CBSi

With a fresh lick of paint, Matilda looks almost good as the day she first stepped out of the showroom.

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Fast forward to 2010 and Matilda's just failed her registration check-up.

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At first glance, it's not entirely obvious what she needs except, maybe, a wash.

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Saunter up a bit closer and there are signs of rust around the wheel arch lips.

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There's quite a bit of rust at the seat base too.

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In better days, Matilda's 3.8-litre V8 generated 160kW of power and 392Nm of torque, all of which was channelled to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic gearbox.

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In spite of her history of being slightly temperamental, Matilda made it to West Star Autos in St Marys without complaint.

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Despite running smoother than she has in a while, some of Matilda's electrics have taken permanent leave. The windscreen wipers, for instance, are stuck in this position; bouts of precipitation require MacGyver levels of ingenuity to overcome.

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As she was designed in the early '70s, the air-conditioning controls (bottom left) don't make much sense. So, it's probably a good thing it rarely puffs out conditioned air.

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According to West Star Autos, the prognosis for Matilda isn't good. Although the amount of visible rust isn't too bad, the metal cancer has worked its way throughout the car's body, even into the air vents. To get it roadworthy would require AU$15k, while a complete restoration might cost up to AU$40k.

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We're open to ideas and suggestions, not to mention large cash donations or volunteers.

Simply contact us via the comment section below. And naturally, as it's a Gen Y-er, you can follow Matilda's progress via her Twitter page — she may even respond if you're nice.

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