I’m certainly not a huge fan of the R107, and when it comes to beautiful and classic Mercedes-Benz models, it’s hardtop sibling – the C107 – probably isn’t on the top of anyone’s list. But it is an interesting car, and it has some unique history – including competing in the World Rally Championship before Audi redefined the category:
The Big, Bad, Automatic Benz That Took on the WRC – the C107
These C107s occupy an interesting spot in the marketplace; generally ignored, they offer a lot of classic Benz attributes without breaking the bank. And recently one popped up on Bring a Trailer with some neat modifications that really had me intrigued. So when a similar European-specification 280SLC popped up, I thought it was worth a look.
The US-spec C107 Mercedes-Benz SLC probably isn’t going to win any beauty contests. Mercedes had their hands tied with bumper and headlight regulations and probably knew people were going to buy their cars regardless, so they put a band aid on it and that is what we live with. In countries who didn’t have to live with antiquated regulations, things were much better. Slim chrome bumpers and flat headlights plus some engine and transmission choices that made everything just a little bit more exciting. Luck would have it, this is what we have today.
This is a 1980 280SLC that was sold new in Germany and imported to California some time ago. It has the M110 2.8 liter inline-6 paired with a 4-speed manual gearbox, a combo that is rare to say the least. This seems like a far cry from the lumpy V8 and sluggish automatic that was offered to the US buyers when new. Is this a Porsche 911 or E30 BMW M3? Of course not. It’s a car that wasn’t very attractive nor fun to drive and is now slight less of that. Right?
The majority of the time, I can ”figure out” a car pretty quickly. I usually give them a quick glance, form an opinion on them, then move on to the next interesting car. Not with this one. Not with this 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC.
It started out harmless enough. A listing for a $1,500 for a 280SLC. Naturally I’m intrigued by this. The 280SLC with the M110 inline-6 engine was never officially sold in North America so this was a big plus for me. Then I peeked inside and saw a manual transmission – things are looking even better. Yes, it’s pretty rough looking, but the extra parts the seller is throwing in with the car could make this deal worth it especially since one of the parts looks to be a real pre-merger AMG bumper. But when I really started to do some digging into this car I was just confused.
I go back and forth as to whether or not I like the C107. It was just a R107 with a fixed top, 14 more inches added to the wheelbase and some small rear seats. The biggest thing that really turns me off to this car are those window louvers. My eyes are always drawn directly to them and how awkward they look. I understand they needed to differentiate this car enough to sway buyers from the SL and probably couldn’t engineer a window regulator to fit in that space with a large piece of glass, but there had to be another design option on the table. Now that it’s 2017 and I very rarely even see a C107 in the wild, I’m starting to soften my harsh opinion on them. Today’s car, a European market 280SLC in Goldbraun, is certainly helping that cause.
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 107,500 mi
1980 Mercedes 280 SLC (Euro)owners manual in German all original second owner 107,500 miles. Good shape, runs fine, solid car. Was grandma’s car and always garaged and maintained. New tires, new transmission, new exhaust, only maintained by Mercedes dealers, no rust. No rust. No rust solid floors and no rust oh and there isn’t any rust $5,500
Having been accustom to the standard 450SLC with the giant diving board bumpers and those awful chrome wheel arches, this C107 is a breath of fresh air. The M110 twin-cam engine is no powerhouse with only a 185 horsepower, but it should be adequate for this car. Inside, the plaid cloth interior, manual climate control and Becker Grand Prix 470 radio are all welcome as what I think is an improvement over what came in the U.S. 450SLC cars. Outside the Goldbraun paint is very rare and look great with clean Bundts and those amazing slim European bumpers.
For $5,500, this is a really good price. If I wasn’t on the other side of the country I’d be on my way to check this thing out in person. For the price you can’t really go wrong given the seller says this is a two-owner car that was dealer serviced its whole life and doesn’t have any rust. This car probably needs the standard $500-1,000 in repairs when you buy it but I still think you’ll come out ahead on this car if you pick it up. I’m not suggesting the C107 is or will be any kind of collector car, but this specific car checks all the right boxes for a desirable car.
For as long lived as the R107 SL and C107 SLC were, Mercedes-Benz never offered these roadsters and coupes in six-cylinder form in the US market. That’s rather curious, given the fuel crunch that was in full swing during this cars production run. Plenty of private importers went and had a go, bringing the 280SL and SLC into the before legislators stepped in and curbed gray market imports. Now that all R107 and C107 models are eligible for import as they are more than 25 years old, one can take their pick from any number of six-cylinder SLs and SLCs out there for sale abroad. Luckily, this 280SLC for sale in New Jersey is already here, offering the classic Mercedes buyer something a bit different than your usual large-bumpered, sealed beam headlamp adorned SLC.