In the second of a three-part series about the iconic Mercedes-Benz SL’s 50-year history, looks at the period 1972 – 1989 - the era of the popular R107 SL and SLC.

By Mike Fourie, News Ed.

A Benz enthusiast once told me that although it was good to have a three-pointed star on your car’s bonnet, it was even better to have one in its grille. In the second of a three-part series about the iconic Mercedes-Benz SL’s 50-year history, looks at the period 1972 – 1989 - the era of the first V8-powered SL and SLC.

Nearly a quarter of a million W107 (also known as the R107 for Reihe, or “series” rather than “Wagen”) SLs were produced during the model’s lifespan of 17 years. Two-thirds of those SLs were sold in America, but the cars that made it on to the South African market nevertheless gained a cult following and remain collector's items today.

Mint condition W107 SLs, especially mid to late ‘80s 500SL models, can fetch in excess of R200 000, although most reasonably-maintained examples from the decade that gave the world big hair, twirly neon headbands and leg warmers, will cost about R100 000. The SLC 2+2 coupés, which went out of production in 1981, can be picked up for between R25 000 and R60 000.

For people who were born in the late '60s, '70s and '80s, the seductive R107 series Mercedes-Benz SL crept into the collective consciousness in the early days of South African television. A R107-shape SL was the transport of choice for two characters of the insanely-popular Dallas TV series - Texan oil baron and playboy Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and his vivacious wife Pam (Victoria Principal). With the exception of a Maserati Bi-Turbo and Jaguar XJS, Bobby drove only Mercedes SLs from the time the series started in 1978 - including a 450SL, 380SL and 560SL, and the prime time soap ended in 1990 when Bobby parked a 500SL at Southfork… Heck, Pam once dreamt about and was even disfigured in an accident in an SL… That’s why many dub the R107 “Pam”.

During its development, the R107-series SL was nicknamed the “Panzerwagen” when it was under development, because at 1,5 tonnes, it was 136 kg heavier than its W113 “Pagoda” predecessor, and it wasn't quite as elegant. Compared with the svelte 280SL that it was to replace, the 350SL looked like a bit of a tank, albeit a pretty stylish one. But, given the regulatory climate at the dawn of the 70s, the SL had to meet not only the desires of consumers, but also the safety (and emissions) standards of U.S. lawmakers.

Compared with the Pagoda, the R107's wheelbase was 3,8 centimetres longer and the body was a bit wider and lower. The styling, with the headlights (paired round ones in North America, single rectangular units in the rest of the world), fluted rear taillights and squat stance made the car appear much wider and bulkier. But, ironically, the R107’s lines are today more appreciated than those of many other cars of its generation…

Original article from Car


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