The offbeat Mercedes-Benzes are coming out of the woodwork this week. Following the 4-speed manual 280SLC we featured on Wednesday, here is a rare, V8 engined, 4-speed manual R107 SL. This 1980 350SL represents the last year for the 3.5 liter V8 before the switch to the 380SL with it’s 3.8 liter V8 engine known for timing chain reliability issues early on in the production run. The 3.5 liter V8 has 200 horsepower and a slightly higher compression ratio than the larger 4.5 liter V8 offered solely in the US. This 350SL for sale in Oregon is in amazing original condition and looks sumptuous in gold metallic over a very period brown interior.
1980 Mercedes 350SL. Rare in the US. 3.5L V8, 4 speed manual. Original paint, 54K original miles.
Up for bids is this rare Euro version of the venerable R107 Series – a 1980 350SL that was imported to US in 1984. Quite a bit of paperwork was involved to bring the car into the US, one obvious reason for all that work is the 4 speed transmission that this car features. When Mercedes transitioned from the W113 model to the new R107 they left US customers without the option of a manual gearbox. The manual transmission adds a simplicity to this model that hearkens back to the W113 cars, yet the car offers the modern safety features that defined the R107 series – kind of the best of both worlds. The European market cars also enjoyed livelier motors, more svelte bumpers, and of course the integrated one piece headlights that these cars wear so well.
The car comes with a complete set of EPA, DOT and Customs paperwork detailing the importation process, right down to the bill of lading from the Wallenius Lines ship, “Tosca.” The car was imported with 66,160 kilometers, or 41,109 miles. Once in the US, the car was brought in to Fairway Engineering to complete the legal conversion, including installing a MPH speedometer, which was specifically set at 41,109 to reflect the actual mileage. I have dated DMV paperwork that verifies this, as well as all of the car’s owner history, back to the first owner in Velbert, Germany. The car has had 3 owners, included are copies of the Bills of Sale each time the car was sold, a copy of the original German title, and a clear Oregon title at present. Always garaged, this car has been in the hands of dedicated enthusiasts from new.
The car is painted in rare “Champagne Metallic” code 473H. The paint is all original and still looking fantastic. Aside from a few minor scratches and door dings, the paint finish is glass smooth and the body arrow straight. The car shows no rust issues anywhere, no areas of past problems, the good thing about cars with original paint is that they’re an open book. Tires are Kumhos with good tread.
The bumpers add a look to this car that is just simply missing from the US market cars with their ungainly 5mph bumpers, this is the way these cars were designed to look. The bumpers are in good shape front and back with excellent chrome and no damage to the rubber moldings. All lights and lenses are in excellent shape on this car, clean and clear with no fading. The grill assembly is excellent as well, with no damage or broken fins. In addition, the lower valance and grills below the bumper are straight and true, these are prone to getting tweaked by careless drivers, not the case with this car. This SL has excellent panel gaps throughout, the doors close with a vault-like feel.
The car has some of the typical scratches you find around the perimeter of where the hardtop mounts, not very visible in the photos. The biggest flaw on the car is a scratch above the passenger side rear wheel arch. The windshield is original and is in good shape. The hardtop is in terrific condition, it transforms this car into a true all season vehicle. The 3rd photo shows the bottom of the hardtop, this is a common area to find rust, but not in this case. The soft top is original and still looking good. The OE “Wopavin” back window is clear and pliable, the top opens and closes with ease. All weatherstripping on both the hard top and soft top is in good, original condition.
The storage well for the top is clean and rust free. The perimeter weatherstipping is original and fantastic, with none of the wear or fraying normally found on the forward sections. The trunk contains the factory jacking equipment, tool kit, and safety triangle. Another spot to check on these cars is beneath the carpet on the right side of the trunk – no problems here. The interior continues the theme of low mileage survivor, it’s in excellent condition throughout and again, all original. The driver’s seat has the optional orthopedic adjustment. The aftermarket rear seat is useful for children, or adults skilled at yoga. Both sills are crisp and clean, along with the carpet, seatbelts and seat hardware.
All gauges work correctly including the clock, whick keeps good time. The radio does not seem to be getting power. The heater, fan and plenums all operate correctly – the car’s heater is very effective and makes top down motoring possible even at this time of year, at least here in Portland. The wood trim in the interior is terrific, entirely free of cracks or hazing. The fragile integrated speaker grills are both in great shape. The dash pad has no cracks or splits.
You’ll definitely like the way this car drives. The car starts easily and runs strongly with no smoke, leaks, or issues. The 3.5L V8 provides plenty of power, and delivers it in a more lithe and efficient manner than the detuned US market 4.5L V8’s. Please note that this is the last year of the 350SL, not to be confused with the 380SL, which was known for having timing chain issues. The car’s ride quality is very nice, steering and suspension are tight with no slop, this car handles very well. The car shifts flawlessly, with smooth and positive engagement. The car runs cool, shows good oil pressure, tracks straight, brakes well – it basically behaves as you would expect of a Mercedes.
The car comes with an owner’s manual in German, as well as an abundance of paperwork detailing its importation and owner history. The undercarriage shows no sign of rust and all 4 jack ports are perfect. No signs of accidents or past repair. The car has had recent exhaust and brake work, the oil is fresh and all fluids have been checked and filled – the car is ready for the road.
An original, low mileage US market 450SL of similar vintage might bring $15,000 to $20,000 at the high end. With the higher compression, smaller capacity engine and the manual transmission, this represents a bit more of a lively drive than the more relaxed 450SL. That could be a plus for some and a detriment for others. Personally, I’m a big fan of this car and love the idea of the manual transmission mated to the V8 engine, as most manual transmission R107s you see have the six cylinder engines. I’d suspect somewhere around $15,000 would represent a reasonable value.