1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL (R107)

Highlights


  • Rare manual gearbox car
  • Largely original interior
  • Soft top and hard top in good condition

The Appeal


With production lasting from 1971 to 1989 and with well in excess of 237, 000 units sold, it’s fair to say that the R107 SL was a triumph for Mercedes-Benz.

This 280SL presents very well inside and out, notably sporting its original blue MB Tex interior. Unusually, it has a manual gearbox, which the vendor reports makes this example more spritely than many of the more common automatic variants.

If you’re after a fine example of one of the greatest convertibles ever made, then this SL simply has to be on your wish list.
 

The History and Paperwork


  • Purchased by current owner in 2014
  • Regularly serviced during current ownership
  • Supplied with original owner’s manuals

In 2014, the vendor purchased this 280SL from TA Classics in Northampton. All relevant paperwork since 2017 comes with the car but unfortunately anything prior was mislaid during a house move. We are informed that the car was in very good condition when purchased, although the vendor has since carried out regular servicing and various jobs to the bodywork and engine bay. 

The Interior


  • Original MB Tex
  • Aftermarket steering wheel and sill covers
  • Smart and mostly original

This 280SL still has its original blue MB Tex interior. This material was amongst the most hard wearing interior fabrics used in automotive history and, as such, this Mercedes’ seats are in very good order. The vendor points out that there is a small scuff on the corner of the passenger side armrest, but there is little more in the way of wear that we can see.

The vendor describes the carpeting as in “fair” condition which we agree with. The headlining (in the hard top) remains in good condition. Set into the Zebrano dashboard, the radio works but is currently disconnected. The sports steering wheel is an aftermarket item with the Mercedes-Benz three pointed star emblem depicted on the centre boss.

The Exterior 


  • Smart white paintwork
  • Refurbished wheels
  • Fabric roof and hardtop in good condition 
 
Affectionately dubbed the “Panzerwagen” by Mercedes engineers, the R107 SL was built to an exceptional standard, making liberal use of chrome plating even in places you couldn’t see.

In 2021 this Mercedes received a new windscreen, which is therefore in excellent order. While the vendor is unsure whether this car has been restored in the past, it has likely had some paintwork at some point. The bodywork presents very well overall and is very straight. The vendor informs us that there is some evidence of surface corrosion on the underside of the vehicle, but it is not significant.

The copious quantities of brightwork are in very good shape, including the hubcaps which appear free from pitting and dents. All five wheels have been refurbished and look really smart. The tyres all have plenty of tread remaining. Both the soft top and body colour hardtop are in good, usable condition and the car is supplied with a stand for the hard top when not in use. The vendor has also included a wind deflector and roof mounting lever.

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The Mechanics 


  • Manual gearbox
  • Twin-cam 6-cylinder engine
  • New water pump, coolant and battery

Mechanically, this 280SL has needed little in recent years. In 2021, the vendor fitted a new battery and waterpump, replacing the coolant in the process.

As a rare manual car, the vendor informs us that it drives very well indeed and performs better than other R107s they have owned with automatic gearboxes. The 6-cylinder twin-cam engine runs well and the vendor describes the exhaust note as “sporting” and “throaty”.

Summary


This solidly built roadster was a coveted symbol of affluence in its day and, even fifty years on, remains a handsome beast. Despite high production numbers, finding a good example has become more challenging as time wears on. We therefore think this 1981 280SL is a wonderful ownership proposition.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1981
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model 280SL (R107)
  • Colour White
  • Odometer 122,520 Miles
  • Engine size 2746
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Somerset
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
22 bids
  • Be•••• £15,900 09/08/22
  • Do•••• £15,750 09/08/22
  • Be•••• £15,500 09/08/22
  • Do•••• £15,250 09/08/22
  • Be•••• £15,000 09/08/22
  • Do•••• £14,750 09/08/22
  • Be•••• £14,000 09/08/22
  • ro•••• £13,500 09/08/22
  • Do•••• £13,000 09/08/22
  • Do•••• £9,000 09/08/22

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