Mercedes-Benz R107 300 SL
Manual & Hard top
This is the SL model with the longest production run, all the way from 1971, till the final year – when our 300 SL was delivered – 1989. At the end it was not even out-dated. A remarkable fact for a car that has been on the market for nearly two decades without a major facelift. At launch the R107 was an instant hit. Even Colin Chapman was overwhelmed by the car’s qualities and bought one. Ironically SL meant Sport Leicht in the legendary 300 SL, but the new R107 was by no means a lightweight. Despite het SL’s mass Chapman was convinced he too had to start building more luxurious sports cars, which evolved in the Lotus Eclat and Esprit. We are pleased to offer a late R107 300 SL with manual gearbox and interesting history and we’d like to explain why we think this car should fit in almost any collection.
When it was launched, the Mercedes-Benz R107 SL had a price tag twice as high as an E-type. Mercedes-Benz had only one goal in mind and that was to showcase German excellence with this roadster. Although there was also a 2+2 Coupé version, called the SLC (C107), the R107 was their true masterpiece. During its 18-year production run the SL was the only Mercedes roadster. The R107 SL benefitted from the world’s leading engineering and state of art production facilities. Designers were Joseph Gallitzendörfer and Friedrich Geiger (Director of design, who’s role we described in our W111 story) The new SL was a modern open sports car that offered the ride and build quality of a refined luxury automobile. It was meant for grand touring in comfort instead of having a temperamental, uncivilized character. All the suspension components were installed in soft rubber bushings and the exhaust notes remained quiet. The “SL”-Formula became synonymous with the charm of unconventional, still spirited driving experience, which in no way shall be disrupted by stress or by a hard ride and annoying noises. All factors others might call sporty. Sports Leisure could sum up what SL stands for instead.
Nowadays we see this SL as an upper class roadster with typical classic car looks, thanks to the chrome details. It offers a surprisingly contemporary driving experience like no other. When parked, it fits well between cars of several decades, including those of the early 60’s and late 90’s, just like a good example of the Porsche 911 can do, but then in a more moderate way. Compared to cars from the 60’s it’s easy to use these cars on a daily basis. And totally opposite of cars from the 90’s, the R107 wasn’t designed nor engineered by the financial department, yet. In retrospect that’s quite astonishing and a big achievement for Das Haus which isn’t highlighted as much as we think would be fair. On the other hand, club members already know these first class qualities of the R107 and enjoy them together with lots of driving events. Travelling is what an SL does best. Owners just don’t feel the need to scream it from the rooftops.
Exactly this understated approach is the key value of the R107. Which is also the case for our nautic blue 300 SL with grey leather interior. The 3 litre straight six, with double overhead cams, is the engine club members appreciate most. Combined with a 5-speed manual gearbox it makes the SL very usable for any occasion. Introduced in 1985 the 300 SL replaced the 280 SL and was equipped with the Bosch KE-Jetronic system, which was computer controlled instead of being a fully mechanical system. The management system controlled idle, fuel rate and the air/fuel ratio. Fuel consumption, noise levels and emissions improved while the driveability at lower revs and throttle response turned out to be the key accomplishments for the better driving experience. Especially the ones who already had driven the older 350 SL with its fine V8 noticed they didn’t need to rev that high anymore. Good manners made the 300 SL even more relaxed, despite its illustrious name, but they didn’t slow the car down either. Top speed is reached in 4th gear and just north of 200 kmh. 5th gear is set as an overdrive. The German horsepower rate is a healthy 188, with a strong 260 Newton-metre of torque at just 4400 rpm. The sprint till 100 kmh from a standstill takes about 9,5 seconds, if one ever does. The car’s strength lies more in the overall performance at any given speed, in great comfort. There’s no need to rush to go quick. The 3 litre engine never misses a beat and just like all the german materials around it seems to last forever. Cars like these are proof that people shouldn’t focus too much on low-mileage examples, because the r107 was made to drive on a daily basis. Although older R107s can rust, the later versions like ours got a galvanised body. They’ve always held their value. You can recognise the later versions easily by the integrated front spoiler, modern door handles and alloy wheels.
In april 1989 the car was bought by a Belgian diamond trader for his wife who lived in both Zaire (Congo) and Belgium. When they ordered the SL they were perhaps triggered by the name “Bleu Diamant Metal” in the French brochure. This was a popular blue colour, and the original order form that comes with the car mentioned this light blue metallic in combination with a beige interior. But in the end the order must have had second thoughts and changed the colours inside and out. Their SL was delivered in a darker Nautical Blue metallic, with a grey leather interior. The original invoice comes with the car, just like the rest of all service books, manuals and complete paperwork. The car was ordered from the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Kinshasa, Zaire (Congo). This explains why the ultra rare, temperature controlled, cyclone filter is fitted. In 1991 the SL was shipped back to Belgium. They took good care of the car until they sold it to the current Dutch owner in 2006 who put it in his collection, but didn’t lack enjoying it every now and then.
The interior can be best described as sober elegance and was also built to last. The typical oversized Mercedes steering wheel includes an airbag and the seats will make you feel comfortable all day long. Inside the styling is as refined as the outside. Its grey beige full leather upholstery and some wood accents bring along tons of class without being over-stylish. Anyone who’ll drive this car shall enjoy the feeling of total freedom, not just with the roof down. When closed, the soft top is folded down in its own space, so any luggage stays separated. The original hard top comes with the car, which transforms the SL into a Coupé for the colder winter months. The solid construction with a heated rear window makes it a perfect addition to already all-weather abilities of this Mercedes roadster.
The allround driving and build quality, plus the usability of good Euro-spec R107 SLs make them highly sought after. The 300 SL is among the most popular, because its total package feels best. The R107 SL was nicknamed “Der Pantzerwagen” and that’s because it is bulletproof. The 6 cylinder engine and manual gearbox in the 300 SL added some lightness, just like Colin Chapman would have liked it. With this example you can enjoy all aspects that make the R107 so good, for a very long time.
Second owner, 125.000 km
Nautical Blue metallic / Grey full leather interior
Rare original digital board computer
Cyclone air filter
Headlamp washers and fog lights
Original hard top
Optional armrest and rear seats
Original documents, manuals and stamped service book