350 SL timeline
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.