‘Some cars don’t change, they just get better. The Mercedes-Benz 280SL, latest version of a line that began as the 230SL in 1963, is the same as ever, just better,’ concluded Road & Track after testing a 280SL in 1968. ‘For those who value engineering, finesse and high quality construction, it’s alone in the field,’ enthused the highly respected American motoring magazine, while its manufacturer considered the 280SL, ‘a Grand Tourer in the traditional sense’ and ‘a unique combination of sports car performance and saloon car comfort (a Mercedes-Benz saloon naturally).’
These attributes help explain the 280SL’s phenomenal success, particularly in the all-important North American market where the optional automatic transmission was considered an essential feature by the majority of customers. The fact that it looked like ‘sex on wheels’ helped enormously too, of course. The 280SL’s essential user friendliness broadened its appeal beyond the traditional sports car enthusiast market, and many celebrities and film stars owned 280SLs.
The last of a popular and extremely successful line begun with the 230SL of 1963, the Mercedes-Benz 280SL was introduced in 1967 powered by a new 2.8-liter six-cylinder engine that produced 170bhp, 20 horsepower more than the preceding 250SL. The 280SL’s 120mph top speed was no greater but it was significantly quicker off the mark, its 0-60mph time of 10 seconds being a whole second better than its predecessor. Christened ‘pagoda top’ after their distinctive cabin shape, these SL models were amongst the best-loved sports-tourers of their day, and are increasingly sought after by collectors who have rediscovered their significant merits.
Assembled at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Stuttgart, Germany, during the summer of 1969, this fine 280SL was delivered new in right hand drive. Having spent most of its life in Ireland , it has been with its current vendor for 3 years in London.
Displaying good panel gaps, this 280SL has that outstanding quality feel so indicative of the marque. Complete with hardtop, radio, books, tools and copies of the factory build sheets, this fine example of the legendary Pagoda-top 280SL is ready for its next caretaker.