1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL 5-speed manual – REVISIT

The 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL equipped with a 5-speed manual that we featured last year has turned up once again. While 560SL prices start to soar, the time is ripe to explore other R107s for a potential value. If you want something unique, at least to the US market, this one is for you.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL on eBay

The below post originally appeared on our site November 11, 2014:

Continuing on the six-cylinder R107 theme, we’ll finish today with what is my favorite of the bunch, this 280SL with a 5-speed manual gearbox. Normally I’m a fan of the later six-cylinder R107s with the M103 engine like we saw above, but given this is a left-hand drive car with much less miles, I’m digging it.

Year: 1981
Model: 280SL
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 62,000 mi
Price: $24,500 Buy It Now

VIN: WDB1070421A010968

Up for sale is this well preserved R107 with a rare GETRAG 5 speed transmission. This car was imported through the European Delivery Program in 1981 and has had 2 owners from new. Some legwork was involved to bring the car into the US back then, one obvious reason for that extra work is the 5 speed transmission that this car is optioned with. When Mercedes transitioned from the W113 model to the new R107 they left US customers without the option of a manual gearbox. The European market cars also offered higher horsepower motors, more svelte bumpers, and the Bosch headlights that these cars wear so well. The manual transmission adds a simplicity to this model that hearkens back to the W113 cars, while still featuring the creature comforts that defined the R107 series – kind of the best of both worlds.

Finished in the classic Mercedes color of Anthracite Grey Metallic (code DB172), the car is wearing original paint and it still shows very well. Absolutely no areas with rust, filler or signs of bodywork. The paint finish is very nice for being 33 years old. Overall, the car presents extremely well. Tires are quality Toyos with good tread, the wheels are rare polished alloys, in my opinion a much better option than chrome.

The car drives excellent. Starts on the flick of the key and runs strongly, you’ll like the way this car drives. Ride quality is nice, steering and suspension are tight, the car handles very well. It shifts flawlessly, brakes well and performs reliably with no drama. The DOHC Six has an altogether different feel from the V8’s – somewhat more lively and sporting. The car has long legs, it’s rare that I find myself in 5th gear, this would be a very nice SL for long distance touring.

Excellent lights and lenses front and back. Bumpers show good chrome, the rubber insert is in great shape as well.

The grill, surround and star are all in great shape. The lower grills on these Euro 107’s were prone to warping and cracking, this one is in perfect shape with straight fins and no broken tabs. Windshield is terrific with no chips or stars.

Sighting down the sides of the car you’ll find zero dings or dents, this SL is arrow straight. Great panel fit throughout, the doors close like a bank vault.

The trunk is clean and original, it carries the factory jacking equipment, tool kit and a Pirelli spare that’s never been on the ground.

The interior of this SL is all original and very well preserved – no cracks, rips, or tears. The carpet is also in great shape, the footwells have always had mats over the carpet, I removed them for the photos. Also included are the sheepskin covers that protected the seats and a fitted car cover.

All switchgear is in good shape; heater, fan and ventilation controls work properly. The wipers, horn, signals, etc all work as they should. The radio and electric antenna power on with no issues. The dash is perfect with no splits or cracks.

Both power windows operate smoothly, the car was also optioned with rare heated seats. They work well and are a great addition for top down motoring in the Fall and Spring. The car has not been smoked in, ashtray and lighter are unused. All gauges work. The car shows stable operating temperatures and great oil pressure. Front core support still retains the factory sticker and data plate, both look like new.

Perfect jack ports and rocker panels from front to back.

The car is located in a garage in Los Angeles, California. Buyer is responsible for shipping. CLEAN Idaho title in-hand with CURRENT registration!

Everything equal, I tend to prefer the final R107s in the form of the 300SL, 420SL and 560SL, but this 280SL nails it for me. Sure, the M110 isn’t the most stellar engine that Mercedes has produced over the years, but the condition of this car, pleasant color and 5-speed gearbox makes this an irresistible package for me. If we were looking at a US market 380SL of the same vintage, we’d probably be eyeing around $15,000 to $20,000. Given the caliber of vehicle we’re dealing with here and the fact that it’s being offered at no reserve, I wouldn’t be surprised if this lesser engined SL reaches into that territory.


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  1. Beautiful car ! I’m sure there are some readers out there…. thinking….. that they could make this the perfect SL, by putting in a Corvette engine….LOL.

  2. I love this car. Perfect colors and love the small bumpers!
    What are the chances for appreciation on this model?

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