1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL 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. Launched by Mercedes-Benz in 1971 to replace the ageing but popular Pagoda model, the third generation W107 series SL was designed to meet new tough 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 with a choice of automatic or manual transmissions, followed soon after by a 2.8-litre six and a more powerful 4.5-litre V8. The powerful and exceptionally durable M117 V8 featured a single overhead camshaft and Bosch fuel injection, developing 225 horsepower with huge reserves of torque, making the 450SL a strong performer. A sophisticated new suspension set-up finally did away with the old swing axles, replacing them with semi-trailing arms along with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers plus the option of an anti-roll bar. 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 that transformed 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. The W107 remained in production for the best part of two decades, testimony to the inherent quality of the original design and the bulletproof mechanicals make them an excellent proposition today.