Early Edition:

1972 Mercedes-Benz
350SL 4.5 Roadster!

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In the late 1960s, when the Pagoda SL approached the end of its nine-year production lifespan, Mercedes-Benz had a worthy successor waiting in the wings.



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Code-named the R107, it was the first Mercedes Roadster in history featuring a V8 engine. The 3.5-liter unit was sourced from the high-dollar 280SE 3.5 W111 Coupe that was introduced in fall of 1970 as a 1971 model.

Yet when this new Roadster, the "350SL," went through final EPA emissions testing, it had to run extremely lean in order to pass. To avoid issues along the line, Mercedes' management quickly pulled the plug and decided to use a 4.5-liter engine instead, featuring lower compression but larger displacement. However, there was no time to change the badging for the 1972 model year cars. What was from the get-go a 450SL, was badged a 350SL until autumn of 1972, when the 1973 models got the 450SL badge . . . and the rest is history.

These early R107s with the elegant "small" bumpers that hug the body tightly are almost identical to their European counterparts. Devoid of emission-controls that emasculated later models, they are more powerful, receptive of the slightest throttle input, and embody the purity of the concept.

The Mercedes-Benz 350SL (4.5) presented here, VIN *107.044-12-001847*, was built in November of 1971, almost half a century ago. It is one of the earliest US-market cars made.

Let's have a closer look now, starting up front, under the hood.
A new O.E.M. hood pad has been fitted.

Right below, in a toothbrush clean engine compartment, lives the heart of the beast, the 4.5-liter V8. It features overhead camshafts and the original BOSCH mechanical fuel injection. The 'big' V-8 churns out over 200 horsepower with ease. It is designed to cruise effortlessly on the Autobahn at 120mph, all day long.

The motor itself is also as clean as they come. It always starts on the first turn of the key and runs magnificently. Made from cast iron, the M117-V8 is arguably the most dependable Mercedes V-8 ever made. Without black boxes and oodles of electronic emission controls that give nothing but headaches, this solid engine behaves very much like a 'good old' V-8 from Detroit, but it is, of course, much more refined.

There are no fluid leaks, nor are there any other issues to report.

The R107 is really three cars into one.
1) With the steel hardtop mounted, the SL a weather-tight Coupe, hard to identify as a convertible.

Said hardtop is in wonderful condition, with a clean headliner that's free of rips, tears, and stains.

2) With the softop erected, it's an all weather convertible.

The German canvas softop is tight as a drum, and of a quality that only trails that of a contemporary Rolls Royce Corniche. There are no holes or loose seams to report, just the plastic windows have darkened a bit through to UV exposure over the years.

3) With the softop lowered into its steel enclosure and completely hidden from sight, it's a pure Roadster.
This one features sparkling black paint (factory code # 040), which combined with the black top and black interior creates an elegant, tuxedo like appearance.

A Pagoda and early R107 needs to roll on original 14-inch steel wheels, shod with correct 205/70-14 radials. These are in near new condition.

Moving on to the car's inside, we marvel at the beautifully preserved cockpit. There's really not much you could do to improve things here.

All of the gauges work, just the tach seems to have a mind of its own as it only works intermittedly, which indicates a loose connection. Radio is an aftermarket one with CD-player.

The black MB-Tex seats are all original and beautifully preserved after almost half a century. The headrests are covered in Mercedes-Benz leather, and in splendid condition.

Only imperfection is some crazing on the lower outer panel of the driver's seat. If so desired, we can have that replaced for an additional $275.

Plenty of space for man's best friend or additional luggage here.

Birdseye's view.

All the lights work as they should.
Ready for a test drive? So are we, but before take off, let's take a look at the trunk.

The earliest cars came with just a plain rubber mat or one that has felt carpeting on top. This one has the latter.

Original Mercedes-Benz rubber trunk mat, original spare.


The undercarriage of this lifelong California car is 100% rust free.

Straight floors still carry their factory rubber undercoating. Note the early dual exhaust system without catalytic converter.

December 16 turned out to be another lovely winter day in our old Mission town San Buenaventura, and we were excited about exercising the 350SL.

There were few luxury sport convertibles in the early 1970s, namely the Jaguar E-Type Roadster, the Aston Martin Volante, and some offerings from Maserati and Ferrari. All of these cars are now out of the financial reach for us working folks, making this 49 year-old classic an amazing bargain in its class.

The car starts, runs, drives, shifts, handles, and brakes great. There's no rattling or shaking, nor are there any untoward noises emanating from its drivetrain. It is more solid than any of its competitiors, the Bentley T1 Convertible included.

Returning home, we are very impressed, indeed. The inherent qualities of a Mercedes-Benz Roadster are based on a long tradition of hand-built automobiles. You are looking at a car that has withstood almost 5 decades of its intended use admirably. Factory fit and finish of every part is just about perfect.

R107 SLs are wonderful automobiles. They are as safe as a bank vault and provide trouble-free motoring. The very early 350SLs have now rightfully taken the place of their coveted predecessors, the out-of-sight Pagoda 230/250/280 SLs, in terms of affordable collectibility.

Buy the first or the last one made -- that's common advice when it comes to classic cars. You'll be hard pressed to find an older R107 in the United States than this 11/71 manufactured one. Now add to the equation the triple-black livery and the Euro headlights, and you know that this car is a rare gem.
Opportunity knocks; are you ready to answer?


RETURN TO THE SHOWROOM


You are most welcome to inspect this fine automobile at our location in Ventura, by appointment, or have someone inspect it for you.
Please, direct all inquiries to info@californiaclassix.com or call us at 805-792-9797.