2006 Shannons Sydney Classic Auction - May 15
1981 Mercedes-Benz 380S Roadster
Result: PASSED IN
This lot is no longer available
Since the legendary 300 SL of the Fifties, the concept of the SL - a powerful, two-seater sports car with every conceivable luxury feature and the added versatility of a removable hardtop that turned the car into a snug coupe in minutes - has been an overwhelming success, with no less than five generations produced over the past fifty years. Earning high praise when originally launched in April 1971, the W107 SL lasted in production for the next 18 years, convincing evidence indeed that Stuttgart's designers had got it right. Nicknamed the Panzerwagen, the W107 saw the emphasis firmly on safety and it boasted a padded dashboard, fuel tank relocated to the boot inside the massively rigid bodyshell. The added weight was compensated for by larger and more powerful V8 engines sourced from the S-Class sedans and the new suspension system, with a trailing rear arm replacing the old swing axle, was a major improvement. When the W107 range was revised for the 1980s, two new all-alloy V8s were introduced and the example on offer here, the 380 SL, now had a capacity of 3818cc, developed 218bhp and 224lb/ft of torque. Driving through a new, more efficient four-speed automatic transmission using a torque converter instead of the older fluid coupling, the 380 SL was both quicker than the 350 SL it replaced, and more fuel efficient. Further gains in economy were achieved through the additional use of aluminium in the body while the option of anti-lock brakes was another significant development in safety. Externally, apart from the badging the new SLs were distinguished by a new chin spoiler. They are reliable, beautifully made and still offer equipment levels above most modern cars with a style only Mercedes-Benz can truly capture.