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MERCEDES-BENZ SL SERIES: 1963-1971

Mercedes_250_SL_1966_side.jpg (32556 bytes)In my opinion the black paintwork on this car doesn't bring out the elegant lines of the car, but it sure looks special.
The advantages of the bigger engine (compared to the 230 SL) in the 250 SL are limited. Maximum speed and horsepower are about the same, only maximum torque (223 Nm @ 4200 rpm) is a bit (about 20 Nm) higher and better available. It makes the car a slightly improved tourer, with better acceleration and a reduced need for gear changes.

Mercedes_250_SL_1966_interior.jpg (70850 bytes)The interior of this 250 SL looks a bit gloomy. On this picture you have a good view of the odd looking wooden inlay behind the windscreen, in this interior that is as new. I'm glad that a radio from the same era as the car has been fitted in the dashboard, that gives it a real authentic look.

Front3q.jpg (36543 bytes)Most popular SL on the classic car market is of course the 280 SL. It may be the most recent version but it fetches the highest prices. The main reasons for that are the perfected development of the car and the engine that suits this SL series best.
Estimations are that about 49% of these cars are in excellent original condition and only 17% in a lousy condition. The best ones do nowadays about twice their original purchase price (which was considerably higher that that of the 230 SL) and the lousy ones are still more valuable than a 230 SL in a similar condition. There's however almost no difference in value between a 230 SL or a 280 SL in a mediocre condition.

Rear3q.jpg (37914 bytes)The 280 SL looks its best with the top down, but in this two-tone color scheme the hard top doesn't spoil the lines. In reality the height of the hardtop seems a bit out of proportion. It certainly offers enough headroom.
The advantages of the 280 SL are of course the larger engine that translates into a higher straight line speed and a better acceleration, and the more recent production that makes it the most modern of all Pagoda-types. But there are some disadvantages too: it is renown for somewhat sluggish handling and a relatively soft suspension configuration. It's a bit overweight, certainly with all extras fitted (like airco and automatic gearbox). All this overshadows the original, carefully balanced driving and handling experience this line of SL models started out with.

So which of these SL models would I choose? I must admit that the 250 SL appeals most to me. It has the modern engine, the disc brakes and the sporty handling with a touch of exotica, thanks to its limited production, thrown in for good measure.

Merc_1971.jpg (52609 bytes)This picture has been contributed by RitzSite visitor Bob from Naples, Florida USA. It shows a very beautiful example of an American version of a 1971 280 SL. It has 52,000 original miles on the clock and is kept in an air-conditioned garage. Bob takes very good care of his car, that's for sure!

This concludes this section of RitzSite. If you'd like to see more of this wonderful range of cars, then check out these additional pages:

More in-depth info about the Pagoda SL can be found on the site of the Pagoda SL Group; their Technical Manual can be especially helpful for anyone that owns or wants a Pagoda SL.

Finish the tour by clicking the arrows pointing right.

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