Mercedes-Benz W107 350SL

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The Mercedes-Benz 350 SL was a two-seat open roadster produced by Mercedes-Benz with various engines from 1971 until 1989.


In October 1970 Mercedes presented the 350 SL, an open-top two-seat Roadster as successor to the 230/250/280 SL line featuring a 3.5 litre V8, as its name implies, and code-named Mercedes-Benz R107. The car stayed in production until 1989, when it was finally superseded by the R129 SL. This brand new SL-range had an extremely controversial design - way ahead of its time, this benchmark roadster had its own special unique appeal, offering (for the time and nevertheless now too) extremely powerful and refined performance. The R107 range has a unique lasting appeal owing to its sophisticated design and counterparts. The models ranged from the 6-in-line 280 to precisely double that - the 560 (not officially imported to Europe) with its exclusive 5.6 L V8 engine. The very first models were the 450 & 350SL, the latter which used the 3.5 litre V8 engine from the larger W112 SE coupes and the 4.5 came from the W109 S-class. The range saw a remarkable addition of new models in its massive 19 year life span, this ranged from the 350/450 being replaced in 1980 by the brand new cast-alloy 3.8 litre V8 and the 5.0 litre V8 from the 500SLC, then to the 280, 300 (straight-six), and finally the 560 (US) & 420 SL. In 1986 the range received a facelift which included a new bumper design, new wheels, and other general improvements, with it came a brand-new 4.2 litre V8 engine offering 218 hp, the 500 & 300SL still remained in the line-up.

In 1971 the 4.5 liter "350 SL" (230 hp) became available in the USA (the designation 350SL for the US market was designed to fool the German market who did not have access to the larger engine, and this name was kept until October 1972 when the official tag "450SL" was put on US cars). The 350/450SL was a rather low compression 4.5 liter engine (230 hp SAE, later reduced down in stages for fuel economy purposes to the final 160 hp SAE in 1980) designed to specifically meet US emission control laws in effect at the time. Later, a higher compression 450 SL (250 hp SAE) was made accessible to Europeans, too, joined in the wake of the first fuel crisis by the "economy" 280 SL with a fuel-injected six (185 hp). The 350 SL (later rechristened 450 SL) remained the only available model in the USA until 1980.

1983 Mercedes-Benz 380SL

In 1985 a new 560SL model was added, in response to the success of the powerful European specification 500SL in the US grey market.

Production hovered around 15,000 to 20,000 units per year, with 60 to 70 percent going to the US.

An offspring of the R107 SL was the C107 SLC coupe. The SL's wheelbase was stretched and the car received a fixed roof. This successor to the saloon-based SE coupes of the sixties suffered somewhat in terms of styling, being a derivative of the SL. It seemed unbalanced. Most criticism was directed towards the louvers in front of the C-pillars which, no doubt, were added to mask the fact that the SLC was an elongated SL. In Europe there were 280/350/450 SLCs, in the US a 350/450 SLC, later a 380 SLC until the model was replaced in 1981 by the new 380 SEC, based on the S-class introduced in the autumn of 1979 (W126). SLC production reached 7.000 units in good years. A particlulary special mention goes to the 450 SLC 5.0 of 1977, which became the first Mercedes-benz to use the new cast-alloy 5.0 litre V8, offering 240 hp, in 1980 this model was logically re-badged to the 500 SLC. This engine bought with it many breathtaking technological innovations, the power output alone told everything, also it was the first engine to utilise the new energy-conservation programme from Mercedes-benz.