350 SL time­line

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - DRIVING -

1971 R107 range is longer and heav­ier than the ‘Pagoda’ SL it re­places, but the styling and en­gi­neer­ing are bang up to date. The high-qual­ity car is an in­stant suc­cess. 1974 Straight-six 280 SL joins the range, along with the 450 SL (with 4520cc V8 power) and var­i­ous SLC coupés. 1977 Ex­cite­ment builds as a 5.0-litre 450 SLC model – ba­si­cally a ho­molo­ga­tion spe­cial – joins the range, boast­ing an all-al­loy en­gine. You’d pay a for­tune for one of these to­day. 1978 Rac­ing glory comes to the SL range when works-pre­pared 450 SLCs grab first and sec­ond in the South Amer­i­can Rally. 1980 The range gets a makeover with al­loy-block V8 en­gines and the au­to­mat­ics are now four-speed­ers as stan­dard rather than as an op­tion. 1981 En­gines are tuned and higher-ra­tio rear axles fit­ted in an ef­fort to im­prove fuel econ­omy. 1986 A fi­nal facelift sees all mod­els get­ting gal­vanised bodyshells and a front air dam. Ad­di­tion­ally, a six-cylin­der 300 SL joins the range as a (sort of) rel­a­tive econ­omy model. 1989 The R107 SL fi­nally dies af­ter 18 years on sale, an ex­traor­di­nary achieve­ment. The re­place­ment – and much sleeker – R129 SL range takes over, but many still miss the seem­ingly in­de­struc­tible outgoing mod­els.

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