So the Mercedes SL class

ER Classics Desktop 2022

The Mercedes-Benz SL class was introduced in 1952.

And where the SL designation first stood for the most sporty Mercedes (or according to experts 'Mercedi'), there the design evolved to Fast and Luxury.

In the beginning

The SL class as it started in April 1971 consisted of the 350 SL and the 350 SLC. They were - entirely to the taste of the American public and the local 'Bahnburner' equipped with V8 blocks. Those engines were 'only' 3500 cc big and delivered 'only' 200 hp. But they were V8s. So the tone was set.

For the States

The Americans were crazy about V8s and convertibles that they called 'convertibles'. But the exhaust gas standards were so strict that they failed for the power of internal combustion engines that are by definition not designed to operate on a mixture of barely enriched air. To get some power out of the blocks, something had to be done.

That is why an 4.5 liter V8 (M117) was developed for the American market, which supplied 217 hp at 5000 rpm and 360 Nm at 3250 rpm. The first W107 models that came with this engine had a type plate 350SL (C) 4.5, but from November 1972 became the official name 450SL and 450SLC. Due to the large torque of the engine, this was fitted with an automatic transmission as standard and a manual transmission was no longer available as an option. In Europe the 450SL (C) was only introduced in 1973 and the engine delivered here 225 hp (5000 rpm) and 378 Nm (3000 rpm).

Nice and economical: the 280SL (C)

In connection with the oil crisis of 1973, the idea was also to launch a more economical model. That became the 280SL © with its six-cylinder in-line engine of 185 hp (5000 rpm) and 238 Nm (4500 rpm). And that frugality? The consumption was on average at 1 at 8,5.

Then there were the 500 SL (C), the 380 SL (C0), the 380 SL (C), the 450 SL and the 560 SL.

The 560 SL was not sold here

Regardless of their motorization, these Mercedes cars were not sports cars or brutal men of violence. They were - and are - fast, comfortable travel cars. But the American market demanded steroids.

Compared to what else was offered in the engine area on the American market, the Mercedes models really had too little muscle. That is why Mercedes introduced the 1985SL in 560. The 5.6 liter V8 engine in that powerhouse delivered 227 hp and 366 Nm of torque. This 560 model was only available in the American, Australian and Japanese markets. And now? Now we see them here too! Fortunately. Because with V8s it is a bit 'the bigger, the better'. The early copies are also interesting, because they still have the European bumpers. Conversion to those bumpers is also possible.

Technically indestructible

Motorically, the fat SLs are indestructible, but it goes without saying that a lower documented mileage is always preferred. In normal use, these engines can easily last 500.000+ kilometers. The differences between copies from before and after 1985 are mainly in the electronics. The credo applies again: The fewer electronic tricks, the fewer problems. Yet in practice it is often only necessary to change the oil, replace the filters and renew a belt every now and then.

We found the inspiration for this SL story with our advertiser Janita's Classic Cars from Dordrecht, where there is an impressive range of SLs for adoption.

Consider the purchase of such an elegant powerhouse in amounts from 11500 to 20.000 euros.

The parts supply is fine.
There are enough MB specialists

And spring is coming

"As found"


Give a reaction
  1. Ha, ha, 350cc is very, very little. So typewriter must be 3500; 3,5 liters. Great travel car indeed, owns an 450SL from 1977

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