"The Mercedes-Benz 280SL departs from other sports cars in two respects. First, it does not resemble a rocket ship or a fugitive from a racetrack. It is sporty but deliberately unflashy. It will never embarrass you, whether keeping fast company in a rally or arriving at the White House. Second, it is one thoroughbred sporting machine that isn't stark or cramped. That doesn't make you pay for soul-stirring performance with ringing ears or stiff joints. It is a civilized sports car. For adults." (Road & Track magazine 1969)
Mercedes have been producing an SL (Sport Leicht) model or range of models since 1954 when the landmark 300SL was unveiled. The similarly styled, but mechanically unrelated, 190 followed in 1955, completing the first generation of cars. Their successor was the W113 series SL, which proved to be more comfortable than the former and faster than the latter (a point emphasised by Eugen Bohringer's 1963 Liege-Sofia-Liege rally victory). The last of the W113 line, the 280SL, was launched in 1968. Blessed with the same effortlessly elegant Paul Bracq styling as its earlier siblings, it was powered by a new seven bearing crankshaft 2,781cc straight-six engine that developed some 170bhp and 180lb ft of torque. Equipped with all round independent suspension and ATE disc brakes, its 'square' track gave notably sure-footed handling. Able to blur the divide between city streets and open roads with ease, the majority of 280SLs were specified with four-speed automatic gearboxes and power assisted steering. The SL was available in Californian Coupe, Convertible or Coupe Convertible guises, the last of which came with both a soft-top and the famous 'Pagoda' hardtop roof (so called because of its gently scalloped centre section).
The left-hand drive 1969 280SL being sold is equipped with four-speed manual transmission. It is finished in blue with blue trim and has been the subject of some professional pre-sale preparation. This apparently included: an extensive overhaul of the braking system, with new parts fitted as required; the cleaning and resealing of the fuel tank and fuel system; the supply of new spare wheel, jack, tools and a full set of tyres; plus the fitting of a new hood. The vendor tells us that the engine is "working well" and is "free revving and powerful". He says the transmission is "very good" and that the paintwork is "good" and the bodywork "good and seemingly rust free". In summary, he claims the Mercedes "drives well", has "no known faults" and is "ready for a new owner to enjoy".
Image and description kindly supplied by H&H Classic Auctions
Mercedes-Benz 1969 280SL
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