1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL Convertible
Ever since the legendary 300 SL Gullwing was unveiled sixty years ago, the SL badge has been given to the most sporting Mercedes-Benz models. Whereas original 300 SLs and their immediate replacement, the so-called 'Pagoda' W113 SLs, had utilised an OHC six-cylinder, the third generation W107 was designed around the 3.5-litre V8 that had first been seen in the W111 coupes and cabriolets. Indeed, the W107 was a very different car to the Pagoda, engineered to be stronger, safer and faster and such was the vault-like build quality that Stuttgart's own designers nicknamed the W107 ?der Panzerwagen?. The swing-axles found on all previous SLs were finally done away with, replaced by sophisticated new suspension featuring semi-trailing arms at the rear along with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, with the option of an anti-roll bar. Disc brakes all round and power steering were both standard. Launched initially in 280SL (six-cylinder) or 350SL (V8) form, the latter was joined by the more powerful 450SL in 1973 with 225 horsepower and anti-squat rear suspension to cope with the extra torque. With hewn-from-solid styling, a beautifully appointed and functional interior and the option of a hardtop to create a weatherproof coupe, the W107 SL was a versatile and accomplished sports cruiser. Boasting effortless performance, largely bulletproof mechanicals and unrivalled safety features, the 450 SL remains a great choice as an eminently useable classic roadster today.