1983 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL


• Extremely desirable two-tone colour scheme
• Beautifully presented throughout
• Only 84k miles, backed up by robust service history
• Mechanically excellent and thoroughly enjoyable to drive

The Background

Undoubtedly the reason that the R107 SL remained in production for so very long, and why it remains such a desirable classic today, is the fact that Mercedes-Benz got it right first time. Very, very right indeed. It’s no coincidence that the production run of this desirable roadster is the second-longest in Mercedes-Benz’s entire history, trumped only by the evergreen G-Wagen.

The R107 debuted way back in 1971, and remained in production right up until 1989. People couldn’t get enough of them then and, judging by the number of them still on the road in 2021, that’s very much true today.

The SL’s enduring appeal is down to two key things: firstly, the design was absolutely spot-on – crisp, clean and near-timeless. There are few cars that would still look at home in the showroom after eighteen years, but this pretty form carried it off with aplomb. And secondly, the mechanicals were bulletproof: chassis components evolved from the rugged W114 saloon mated with robust straight-sixes or V8s, the SL roadster served up vivid performance in a solid and playful package, with class and reliability fused with effortless style.

There aren’t many more effective ways to transport yourself to simpler times than by driving one of these splendid machines.

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The History

As counter-intuitive as it may sound, perhaps the most reassuring thing one can learn about a car’s history is that there isn’t too much to tell. In this instance, it speaks of a supremely honest and dependable car that’s always been looked after; no dramas, no histrionics, just a quality car that’s been used and maintained properly.

When it was new, a full thirty-eight years ago, its original owner specced it very well: two-tone blue and silver (i.e. a silver body with a blue hard-top and blue soft-top), plus the pretty blue check cloth trim. This is the driver’s choice of trim as, while leather/MB-Tex arguably have a more premium aesthetic, the cloth is a lot more comfortable in day-to-day use and you won’t stick to it in summer!

The paperwork accompanying this car verifies that its mileage is genuine and the service history is impressive, and having driven it we can confirm that it’s just as an R107 should be. Presented to market as a highly original 280 SL in lovely condition, this is a Mercedes-Benz that speaks for itself.

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The Paperwork

The V5 is present, confirming this to be a 1983 car registered in August of that year; it also shows the car to be correctly noted as being silver/blue.

There are lots of old MOTs here to help verify the low mileage, and there are many stamps in the service book: we can see that its original owner was in Huddersfield, and the stamps were all at the supplying dealer until 1985 when the car moved to Sheffield, remaining in that part of the world until 1994.

By 2008 the stamps show it was in south-west London, and that’s where we find it today. We also find a number of receipts and invoices in the file, including one for a rear bumper in 2019 at a cost of £660.

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The Interior

The interior of this SL is in great condition throughout, testament to always having been properly looked after. The seats are strong and supportive, with the fabric in extremely good order; there’s no notable wear to the bolsters, and the front seats tilt correctly to allow access to the factory-option rear seats.

The dash is in good condition with no cracking along the top; there are no warning lights illuminated, and all of the dials are working properly. Most pleasingly of all, the silver/blue two-tone spec of this car means that the dash itself is blue, which really does look fantastic. All of the wood trim is in good condition with no lacquer peel or sun damage, and the car is fitted with a high-quality Becker Europa II push-button radio.

The electric windows raise and lower correctly, the carpets (also blue) are in good condition, and it’s generally a lovely place to be with everything correct and functional.

Inside the boot it’s clean and tidy, with the correct carpet (again, it’s all blue in here), and hidden in their cubbyholes we find a matching spare wheel plus original jack and tools.

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The Exterior

This OE-spec example wears its original silver hue with panache, and the correct blue hardtop is in superb condition and ready to complement the pretty body through the winter. It’s all dry and solid under the tonneau, and the soft-top raises neatly; this is in largely good condition, with one minor tear above the driver’s head, but otherwise no undue wear beyond a little mildew inside that’ll easily clean off.

The bodywork is in remarkably good order throughout. With outstanding paint and no obvious evidence of corrosion, the body appears free from stone-chips, scuffs or scratches, and is generally extremely presentable all over and underneath. 

All of the chrome trim is present and correct, and in good condition, and the light lenses and window glass are all good too. The ‘Mexican hat’ alloy wheels appear to have been refurbished, and wear tyres with plenty of tread.

Impressively for a London car, the bumpers are free from corner scuffs; indeed, this is one of the tidiest R107 SLs we’ve seen for some time.

The Mechanicals

The 2.8-litre twin-cam straight-six is a solid and robust unit, and in this case it’s just as silky-smooth as you’d hope. It fires easily on the first twist of the key, idles evenly, registers the correct temperatures and pressures, and pulls with decent enthusiasm through the revs. 

The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and without undue hesitation, and there are no knocks, rattles or alarming noises anywhere. The power-steering is nice and direct, the brakes are strong, the suspension rides beautifully. It’s a lovely little SL to drive.  

The Appeal

It’s obvious why the R107 endures as a popular classic, and why we’ve seen so many of them selling above reserve this year: an SL of this generation looks, sounds, feels and smells like the proper thoroughbred classic car that it is, but it can readily be used like a modern car too. 

A well looked-after SL will always start on the first turn of the key, be equally happily trundling around town as taking in epic cross-continent jaunts, won’t throw a hissy-fit if it gets stuck in traffic, and will cosset its occupants in sublime comfort as well as unleashing a sporting edge when the mood demands.

This particular example represents the zenith of what an R107 should be: the exterior is beautifully presented, the interior is just as it should be, and the mechanicals are in excellent running order with a solid paper-trail to back it up. There’s no gamble here – this is, in essence, an excellent example of an excellent car. 

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1983
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model 280 SL
  • Colour Silver
  • Odometer 84,900 Miles
  • Engine size 2746
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Location London
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
23 bids
  • sh•••• £20,000 17/10/21
  • sh•••• £19,750 17/10/21
  • Di•••• £19,500 17/10/21
  • ti•••• £19,250 17/10/21
  • sh•••• £19,000 17/10/21
  • sh•••• £18,750 17/10/21
  • fr•••• £18,500 17/10/21
  • da•••• £16,000 17/10/21
  • sa•••• £15,000 16/10/21
  • lo•••• £14,050 15/10/21

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