1971 Mercedes-Benz 350SL Convertible
For more than five decades the SL range has combined the finest Teutonic engineering, superlative performance and luxury in a sporting package. From the original 300SL Gullwing of 1952 to the current models, the SL is a sports tourer without peer and survivors number amongst the most collectible of all cars to wear the famous Three Pointed Star. Mercedes-Benz launched its third generation W107 series SL in 1971, replacing the ageing but popular Pagoda model, the new model designed to meet tough new safety legislation for the North American market. Boasting impressive levels of structural integrity, Stuttgart's engineers dubbed the new model der Panzerwagen and to combat the inevitable weight gains, the W107 was initially offered with a powerful 3.5-litre V8 engine and a choice of either automatic or manual transmissions, both with four forward ratios. With Bosch D-Jetronic fuel injection, the Type M116 V8 produced 200 bhp at 5800 rpm, giving the 350 SL a top speed of 126 mph and strong acceleration figures for a relatively heavy car. A sophisticated new suspension set-up finally did away with the old swing axles, replaced by semi-trailing arms, coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, plus the option of an anti-roll bar to combat excess body roll. The SL series was extremely versatile and could be driven either with the top down (with a folding top for emergencies) or with a detachable hardtop in place, transforming the car into a proper coupe during the winter months. The superbly finished interior was equipped with almost every luxury feature available, including air conditioning and remains a paragon of ergonomics today. The W107 remained in production for the best part of two decades, testimony to the inherent quality of the original design, and the robust mechanicals and legendary reliability make them sports tourers that can enjoyed on a daily basis today.