The SL designation in the Mercedes-Benz SL cars, according to the automaker, is oddly variable, signifying in German either Sport Leicht or Super Leicht. Take your pick.
Either term could have been applied accurately to the original lightweight 300SL that debuted in the 1950s, and in some ways for the W113 Pagoda-roof 230/250/280SL cars of the 1960s.
But by the time Mercedes introduced the R107 350/450SL, the SL was no longer light, as a roadster that weighed in at 3,650 pounds, nor was it a sports car. The Super designation is still appropriate for these cars as they are absolutely Super grand touring cars, offering more than adequate performance and with the best build quality of any roadster by any manufacturer before or since.
The Pick of the Day is a 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL located in Mesa, Arizona, finished in the factory-correct Yellow that matches the ID plate on the car. The Mercedes also has a black vinyl interior, which is completely incorrect for this car but something I could overlook with possible plans to fix it later.
That’s because this 450SL appears to be a good driver-condition example of an early small-bumper car that looks in the photographs to be rust free and in a terrific 1970s color. The seats are easy to recover with either the correct MB TEX or leather. Inconsequential, though, because these are cars to be driven rather than shown.
The dealer advertising this Mercedes on ClassicCars.com states that it runs and drives well and includes both its hard and soft tops. This is important as every US delivered 450SL came standard with both tops, and these tops are not all alike.
The car also includes its factory Becker radio and all its original books and tools. And the AC blows cold, according to the Arizona seller. This appears to be a 450SL that has never been messed with, other than the seat covers.
From my own experience, a 450SL drives smooth as silk with its 4.5-liter V8. It is not stiffly sprung like a sports car nor does it handle like a Porsche 911, but it does deliver superior ride quality combined with quite-adequate handling. You can cruise all day on the interstate at illegal speeds in complete comfort. Not a drag racer but a high-speed European gentleman’s express.
Then there is the bank-vault construction. When the R107 SL was designed, it had the nickname Panzerwagen due its being built like a tank. There is simply no other roadster on the planet that makes a better sound when shutting the doors. The body construction is absolute perfection.
The SL also gives you two cars in one. With the soft top down, you have a fun open-air roadster. With the hardtop fitted, the 450SL becomes a secure and comfortable coupe.
If you get the idea that I like these cars and very much like this one, you would be correct. I owned a 1980s model a number of years ago and always wanted an early example like this one. I almost did not post this Pick as a result, but since I am still working on the MGB project, someone else should scoop up this car.
This Mercedes is well-priced at $11,995, and if it is half as clean as the pictures depict, the new owner should be quite pleased.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.