Mercedes-Benz R107

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Mercedes-Benz R107
SL and SLC
Mercedes-Benz 350SL European (UK) Model
Automotive industryMercedes-Benz
Production1971–1989
300,175 built[1]
SL: 237,287
SLC: 62,888
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W113
SuccessorMercedes-Benz R129
Car body styleCoupe
Roadster
Automobile layoutFR layout

The Mercedes-Benz R107 Automobile were produced from 1971 through 1989, being the longest single series ever produced by the firm, besides the G-class/wagon. They were sold under the SL-Class and SLC-Class model names, respectively. The R107 replaced the W113 SL-Class in 1972 and was replaced by the R129 SL-Class in 1989.

Contents

Model history


The R107 took the chassis components of the mid size Mercedes-Benz W114 model and mated them to the larger engines from the S-Class. The W 107 chassis is also referred to as "R 107" for "Reihe" (series). The series comprised SL and SLC models.

The SL variant was a 2-seat convertible/roadster with standard soft top and hardtop. The SLC (technically C107) derivative was a 2 door hardtop coupe, with usable rear seats and in effect an SL stretched 10 inches (254 mm) with a fixed roof. Although some may air this car as an 'SL coupe'- though technically it might be, but in the real world it was an S-class coupe (modern day CL), replacing the former saloon-based 280/300SE coupé in Mercedes` lineup. The SLC was replaced earlier than the SL, in 1981, with a much larger model, the 380SEC. It was aimed at the same market as more exotic machines like the Jaguar E-Type and Citroën SM.

The 107 chassis had the longest run of any Mercedes chassis, 18 years from 1971 to 1989. Some 237,000 107 chassis SL's were built. About two thirds were sold in the US. These 107 cars are larger, heavier and more costly than the previous generation W113 SL cars.

Volume production of the first R107 car, the 350 SL, started in April, 1971 alongside the last of the W 113 cars; the 350 SLC followed in October. Early North American cars wore the name 350 SL, but had a larger 4.5L V8 (and were renamed 450 SL/SLC for model year 1973); the big V8 became available on other markets with the official introduction of the 450 SL/SLC on non-North American markets in March, 1973.

From July, 1974 both SL and SLC could also be ordered with a fuel-injected 2.8L straight-6 as 280 SL and SLC.

In September, 1977 the 450 SLC 5.0 joined the line. This was a special version of the big coupé featuring a bored five-liter version of the 4.5L V8, some light alloy body panels and a black plastic rear spoiler.

The 350, 450 and 450 SLC 5.0 models (like the 350 and 450 SL) were discontinued in 1980 with the introduction of the 380 and 500 SLC in March, 1980. At the same time, the cars received a very mild make-over; the 3-speed automatic was replaced by a four-speed unit, the 280 models came with a standard 5-speed (formerly a 4-speed) manual and all five-liter cars gained a black rear spoiler lip.

The 280, 380 and 500SLC were discontinued in 1981 with the introduction of the 126 series 380 and 500SEC coupes. A total of 62,888 SLCs had been manufactured over a ten year period of which just 1,636 were the 450SLC-5.0 and 1,133 were the 500SLC. Both these models are sought by collectors today. The SLC remains the only fixed roof Mercedes-Benz coupe based on a roadster rather than a sedan. Even today, an SLC in good mechanical condition still gives a mix of good performance, superb handling, comfort and safety, making it is easy to realise why they were a successful rally car.

Following the discontinuation of the SLC in September, 1981, the 107 series continued initially as the 280, 380 and 500SL. At this time, the V8 engines were re-tuned for greater efficiency, lost a few hp and consumed less fuel, helped by substantially numerically shorter axle ratios (that went from 3.27:1 to 2.47:1 for the 380 SL and from 2.72:1 to 2.27:1 for the 500 SL). From September, 1985 the 280SL was replaced by a new 300 SL, and the 380 SL by a 420 SL; the 500 SL continued and a 560SL was introduced for certain extra-European markets, most notably the USA. The final R107 SL was built on August 4, 1989. This eighteen-year run makes the 107 series the longest running series produced by Daimler-Benz.

The last 107 made, a 1989 500SL painted Astral Silver, resides in the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany.


North American models


1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL US version

The US models built on the 107 chassis were as follows[3]:

  • 350 SL/SLC (MY 1972)
  • 450 SL/SLC (MY 1973 through 1980)
  • 380 SL/SLC (MY 1981 through 1985 - SLC: MY 1981/82)
  • 560 SL (MY 1986 through 1989)

Prices increased dramatically over the years. The earliest 107, the 1971 350 SL, sold for about $11,000. Eighteen years later, the last 107 model, the 560SL, sold for about $64,000.

From 1974 until the end of production, the front and rear bumpers of the U.S. model R107 grew out 8 inches (203 mm) on each end to comply with NHTSA.

When the first 350's were exported to the US, because of the strict horsepower robbing emission requirements, the US 350's were shipped with low compression 4.5 liter engines.

The 450 SL was produced until 1980. Some 450 SLs suffered from Vapor lock and hard re-start because of the position of the catalytic converter.

Next was the 380 SL imported from 1981 to 1985. The 380 SL was the least powerful of the US imported R107 roadsters. This engine came with a single row timing chain. These models were plagued with chain failure problems and the problem was corrected by Mercedes-Benz, free of charge. Some models, however, escaped retrofit and may at some point fail as a result.

The more powerful 500SL with 5.0 liter engine, produced from 1980-1989, was not available in the U.S. through Mercedes-Benz and was popular in "Grey import vehicles" import before the arrival of the 560SL (only made for the USA and Australian market) in 1986-1989.

Despite the larger 5.6 liter engine of the 560 SL, the 500 SL is recorded as being the fastest production 107 produced (mostly because of the lack of emission restraints, but also late 500 SLs were more powerful than the 560 SL.) The 500 SL was published by Mercedes-Benz as having 0-60 times of 7.4 seconds for a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). Torque for the 500 SL is 296 lbft @3200 rpm and for the 560 SL 287 lbft @ 3500 rpm. The 500 SL was not available in the U.S. or Australian markets through Mercedes Benz dealers.


Vehicles:

  • 1972 Mercedes-Benz W107 350SL V8
  • 1972–1980 450SLC V8
  • 1974–1981 280SLC Straight 6
  • 1971–1980 350SLC V8
  • 1973–1980 450SL V8
  • 1975–1985 280SL Straight 6
  • 1980–1981 380SLC V8
  • 1978–1981 500SLC V8 (Created for a Rally Version, initially known as the 450SLC-5.0, up to 1979, then as the 500SLC)
  • 1981–1989 500SL V8
  • 1981–1985 380SL V8
  • 1986–1989 300SL Straight 6 M103 engine
  • 1986–1989 420SL V8
  • 1986–1989 560SL V8 (USA, Japan and Australian market only)

External links


References

  1. Werner Oswald: Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.5. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02131-5, p. 52.
  2. Oswald, Werner (1. Auflage 2001). Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, Band 4. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02131-5. 
  3. Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002. Krause Publication, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 537-545.
  4. Mike Covello, op. cit., p. 527-545.
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