This is the SL model with the longest production run, all the way from 1971, till the final year - 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. Ironically SL meant Sport Leicht (light), but the new R107 was by no means a lightweight.
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) 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 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.
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 distinguished 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 I 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. Touring 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.
This SL and other 84 and 85 SLs came with a double row timing chain from the factory. Combined with a 4-speed automatic overdrive gearbox it makes the SL very usable for any occasion. The 380 SL replaced the 280 SL and was equipped with the Bosch K-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 450 SL with its fine V8 noticed they didn’t need to rev that high anymore. Good manners made the 380 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 120 mph. The German horsepower rate is a healthy 215, with a strong 221 lb.ft at just 4400 rpm. The 0-60 mph takes about 9 seconds, if anyone ever cares to do that in this fine luxury machine. 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 3.8 liter 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 mine got a galvanized body. They’ve always held their value.
The interior can be best described as sober elegance and was also built to last. The typical oversized Mercedes steering wheel and the seats will make you feel comfortable all day long. Inside the styling is as refined as the outside. Its gray full leather upholstery and some wood accents wrapped in carbon fiber 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 all around driving and build quality, plus the usability of R107 SLs make them highly sought after. The 380 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 8 cylinder engine in the 380 SL added some lightness. With this example you can enjoy all aspects that make the R107 so good, for a very long time.
Mercedes-Benz 380SL Specifications
Years of Manufacture: 1984
Number Built: 1 of 11,115
Date of Introduction: February, 1980
Chassis/Body: Unit frame and body
Exterior Dimensions 380SL:
Total Length: 4380mm
Total Width: 1790mm
Height at Kerb Weight: 1300mm
Front Track: 1452mm
Rear Track: 1440mm
Kerb Weight: Roadster: 1540kg
Fuel Tank: 90 liters
Turning Circle: 10.74 metres
Transmission (Automatic, 4 Speed):
Rear Axle Ratio: 3.27:1
0-100 km/h: 9.8 seconds (approx)
Maximum Speed: Automatic: 127 mph (205 km/h)
Engine 8 Cylinder M 116: Capacity: 3818cc 233ci
Type: Conventional, water cooled four stroke, reciprocating piston type with 8 cylinders in V8 configuration
Configuration: Front mounted, longitudinal, inline
Head: Pushrod and rocker actuated ohv, overhead camshaft
Fuel System: Bosch mechanical with air-flow sensor
Bore and Stroke: 92mm x 71.8mm (3.62 x 2.83 inch)
Power: 218 hp (DIN) @ 5500rpm
Torque: 31 mkg @ 4000rpm (224.3 ft/lb)
Compression Ratio: 9.0:1
Ignition and Electrical: 12 volt Coil and alternator
Exhaust: Single tail-pipe
Suspension: Independent front and rear, double wishbones, diagonal-pivot swing axle
Steering: Recirculating ball, servo assisted, ratio: 15.9:1 (3.0 turns)
Brakes: Front: Vented Disc, 278mm (10.9 inch)
Rear: Solid Disc, 279mm (11.0 inch)
Wheels: 14" Alloy
Tires: 195/70 VR 14
Compare Mercedes Benz Series 107 Models
Mercedes-Benz R107 SL Comparison Chart Top Speed
Model Years # Built Engine HP/Torque Trans mph/kph
380SL 1980-1985 53,200 3818cc V8 218/224 4 Speed Auto 134/216
450SL 1971-1980 66,300 4520cc V8 225/279 3 Speed Auto 134/216