1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL

Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered pretty much the range of SL products from the awesome 300SL Roadster Andrew found through yesterday’s Mineral Green R129 500SL. When it comes to the R107 model, the second longest production cycle for Mercedes-Benz (only outdone by the stone-age G), generally we spend most of our time looking at the more prevalent and popular 560 models. Seemingly synonymous with the 1980s, Signal Red SLs are often flanked by black and white models. But let’s not forget that the R107 was a child of the 1970s, and when you head back to the beginning of the production cycle the colors become fittingly bell-bottomed. Suddenly, the red, black and whites are replaced by cream, browns, and greens – and while the colors can really date the chassis, occasionally they look pretty spectacular. Such is the case with today’s unique U.S. specification 450SL from 1973, only the second year of R107 production. Presented in DB-860 Green with green MB Tex and dash, the only thing missing is Carly Simon’s “You’re so vain” playing in the background:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL on eBay

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1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

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I’ve voiced my dislike for the R107 in the past. I think they are clichéd, the production ran way too long and are extremely expensive now for what they are. So why am I featuring this 1986 560SL today? Well, this one isn’t extremely overpriced — at least not yet. Even more unique to the R107 is that this car has 284,000 miles which means it’s owner(s) didn’t treat didn’t treat it as a part of their 401k plan. This 560SL was used regularly and according to the sellers description taken care of whenever it need be. So let’s check out this 1986 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1986 Mercedes-Benz 560SL on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

For a few years in the late 1970s, two seeming decapitated dinosaurs roamed the roads of America, the last of a dying breed in the great Convertible Ice Age. First was the now ancient Beetle cabriolet, designed originally in the 1930s and relatively unchanged until production ceased – sort of – in 1980. Your other option if you wanted top-down motoring in the U.S. was the Mercedes-Benz SL, but while it made the Beetle look like a horse-drawn cart, in reality it wasn’t a particularly sporty car at that time. American manufacturers had withdrawn from the market in 1977, and the still relatively small companies of BMW, Audi and Porsche had only tin tops. If you wanted a luxury convertible in 1977, the Mercedes-Benz R107 was your option.

Then the 1980s happened, and suddenly the gas crisis, economic stagnation and concerns over sun exposure suddenly ended. People who liked convertibles were no longer viewed as social pariah with a death wish, and the SL shined as a perfect example of success and excess. Like most V8s from the late 1970s and early 1980s, the SL’s V8 had suffered from environmental restraints which resulted in the 380SL. With a mere 155 horsepower on offer from its engine, the 380SL was hardly the match for its near 3,500 lb. curb weight. That was finally rectified in 1986 with the introduction of the much upgraded 560SL. Now the M117 delivered the power that the prestige of the SL demanded; it gained 72 horsepower and nearly 100 lb.ft. of torque, and gave the model a new lease on life. While the R107’s production cycle lifetime doesn’t scare the likes of the Beetle’s 50 years, in a marque with the storied history of Mercedes-Benz it is the second longest produced model. That alone should lend some credibility to its staying power, and today these models have finally gained the respect they deserve:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SL at Auto Source Group

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1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SL with 6,600 miles

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Probably one of the most clichéd cars ever, the R107 was everywhere in the 1970s and 1980s. Probably it is because it lived a long enough life that a child could be conceived in it, then sent off to college and Mercedes-Benz were still selling them on their showroom floors. From Magnum, P.I., to Dallas, to Knight Rider – even Wonder Woman drove one of these. I’m still trying to piece together how she afforded a $32,000 car (over $140,000 in today’s dollars) on a government salary. What that left us with today is a market full of used R107s that are harder to get rid of than free kittens. Go jump on Craiglist and search ‘Mercedes SL’ and you’ll find listing after listing of these parked in front of nice but clearly dated homes with phrases like ”time to let her go” and ”I have the original hardtop too!!” I usually don’t even bother looking at R107 ads anymore but this one caught my eye. The rare color of Cayenne Orange and a sparse 6,600 miles had me curious. So if you aren’t tired enough of seeing R107s for sale, let’s check this 1977 450SL out in North Carolina.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SL at G and S Motors

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1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL

If it was sheer class you were after in the 1980s, there were few better options than the Mercedes-Benz R107 SL. This car lasted in production over an amazing 19 year span and aged rather gracefully, save for perhaps the requisite crash bumpers that appeared in the early 1970s on US models. The close of the 1980s would be the curtain call for this timeless roadster, with the final example, a Signal Red 500SL roadster, rolling off the line in early August of 1989. This 1989 560SL is painted in one of my favorite hues, Bordeaux Red over Parchment leather. With less than 20,000 miles from new, this is a strong candidate for the collector.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL on eBay

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Feature Listing: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL

Hard to believe though it may seem with today’s plethora of topless options, back in the early 1980s your selections were quite limited. Bucking the belief that the convertible would be killed off, Volkswagen emerged with a Rabbit Cabriolet that featured a massive rollover hoop for protection. Porsche entered the fray in 1982 as well, bringing back the cabriolet model that had been missing since the 356. But the only choice if you wanted a luxury convertible was the Mercedes-Benz SL. From 1971 to 1989, this car was the undisputed king of open-air motoring, and for good reason. This weekend, I walked by a Buick Cascada and thought “Wow, that looks cheap”. Though the 1980s were accused of being the era of rampant consumerism, the reality is that it was a very narrow window of incredible products. In the 1970s, for a new car to last a few years and maybe up to 100,000 miles was semi-miraculous. Yet suddenly in the 1980s we as consumers were presented with a number of cars that would run for three times that amount with little difficulty. They started every time, were mechanically well engineered and even got reasonably good fuel economy. It was the brief period where the engineering overtook the penny pinching accountants, when cars were made well and to a standard that would last. By the 1990s, cars had become much more disposable again – the reality of keeping a car company afloat, unfortunately. But looking through the photos of this 1985 380SL, I happened across the sticker bearing the signature of Gottlieb Daimler. The sticker is a bit worn and peeled around the edges with a slight discoloration, but on that sticker are the words “a DAIMLER-BENZ product”. That meant something in the 1980s, because these were simply the best engineered and constructed cars in the world. You were buying one for a lifetime of service, not two years of commuting. They were expensive, but they were the benchmark by which all others were measured. I still remember when the Cadillac Allante debuted in 1986, aimed to compete against this very car. Now, by that time the R107 was 15 years into production and probably 20 years from original sketch, so it was pretty tired as designs go. But Car and Driver compared the two and walked away saying that the Mercedes-Benz was still the car to get. You know what? They were right, because here we are 31 years later and this 1985 380SL still looks lovely, fresh and ready for top-down action:

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Tuner Tuesday: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SLC Zender

The C107 is to me a very strange car, yet I’m often compelled to look at them. They’re certainly not the prettiest or best proportioned Mercedes-Benz product and the attempt to make a Grand Touring coupe out of a roadster was perhaps a bit too ambitious. Yet sometimes I see one and am captivated by the look; long, low and with a tremendous amount of presence, the C107 demands attention even if it’s not the best looker. This is especially true of the European versions, which had the trifecta of being more powerful, a little bit lighter and were all-around better looking. Throw in some period wheels and a body kit from a respected tuner and the results can be great as shown by this first model year Euro example:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SLC on eBay

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Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG

It would be easy to assume that AMG didn’t breath on the R107 chassis, instead focusing on the coupes and sedans that made them famous. The feel of the roadster is decidedly different and more cruiser than the Autobahn destroyers that the company produced. But AMG did produce parts for the SL – it’s just that not many were modified in the same vein as their stablemates. When properly presented, though, they do manage to channel AMG’s best qualities well. Subtle upgrades all around led to a more aggressive aesthetic, but not one that was ever over the top. And the SL remained one of the few premium convertibles you could buy in the 1980s, so unless you undertook an expensive conversion to a coupe, the topless R107 was a natural choice for the well-to-do who also loved wind in their hair. Yet most of these SLs ended up primarily as appearance packages – but they still make a statement:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG on eBay

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1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL

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When the R107 SL first debuted, few could have imagined this roadster would have lasted in production for another eighteen years. This transformative roadster placed more emphasis on comfort and luxury than “sport and light” as its predecessor, the W113 had. Somehow, though, the R107 struck a chord with buyers and became a symbol of status and upward mobility for years to come, appearing prominently in television series and movies alike. This 1972 350SL represents the very beginning for the R107, painted in a rare hue of Reed Green with matching hubcaps, complimenting the early, slim bumper look quite nicely.

Click for details: 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350SL on eBay

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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC

Even despite it’s somewhat awkward proportions, I was always a fan of the Mercedes-Benz C107 SLC. This car lasted barely for a decade before it was pulled in favor of the S-class SEC coupe that debuted in the early 1980s. Somehow, the SLC is relegated to a rather curious position in Mercedes-Benz history as the only four-place coupe to be based off the SL roadster. This 450SLC for sale in California is about as good as they come these days, in a very eye-catching combination of Astral Silver over red leather. If you want the style and grace of an R107 but perhaps don’t want the convertible or the higher entry cost of the 560SL, you should spend some time looking at a car like this.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC on eBay

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