1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL Convertible
Result: PASSED IN
|Gearbox||4 speed automatic|
With a proud traditional stretching back to the legendary 300SL of the 1950s, Mercedes-Benz's SL has always been the fastest and most glamorous model in the Three-Pointed Star's range. 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 - the SL has been an overwhelming success over the past six decades. Earning high praise when originally launched in April 1971, the W107 SL remained in production for the next 18 years, convincing evidence indeed that Stuttgart's designers had got it right. Nicknamed the Panzerwagen due to its massive strength, 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, Mercedes-Benz's engineers switched to an alloy block and the new V8s were more powerful, lighter and efficient than before. The 380SL's unit had a capacity of 3818cc and developed 218 bhp, with 224 lb/ft of torque. Driving through a new, more efficient four-speed automatic transmission using a torque converter instead of the older fluid coupling, the 380SL was both quicker than the 350SL 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. The W107 range offers the perfect classic roadster experience for those not wanting to compromise on safety or luxury features. They are reliable, beautifully made and still offer equipment levels above most modern cars with a style only Mercedes-Benz can truly capture.