After fierce debates, the Mercedes Board of Management finally decided to produce the R 107 ( R for roadster ), as the Serees 3 SL was internally called, on June 18, 1968 . One of the crucial questions was whether the roadster should rather become a coupe with sunroof because alarming news concerning the safety approval – of open-top cars had arrived from the USA : it was touch and go for them, and history has shown that they did, in the end, go. The Board's decision in favor of a roadster with removable hardtop was therefore a fundamental, future-oriented decision, entirely owing to the then Chief Engineer, Dr. Hans Scherenberg, who had vehemently fought for this concept. "The SL gave me a lot of pleasure, but also a lot of trouble. It was not an easy job," he summarized that memorable meeting at a later stage. Béla Barényi's safety concept with crumple zones front and rear and the rigid passenger cell – the three-box principle – was also incorporated in further developed quality in the Series 3 SL.
Unlike its predecessor, the R 107's backbone was not just a shortened and reinforced sedan floor but an independently designed frame/floor unit with an enclosed propeller shaft tunnel and box-shaped cross and side members, their special feature being different sheet metal gauges for deformation to a predefined pattern. The SL was to be designed by all means as an open-top car without a Targa bar for appearances' sake, so the only safety features for the roadster in the event of a rollover were the A-pillars with the windshield between them. So these pillars were newly developed from the ground up to acquire a strength that was 50 percent higher than in the predecessor. The windshield was bonded to the frame to increase strength. This provided for a remarkable level of resistance in the roof drop test – which meant that the open-top car acquired the safety experts' approval in the USA even without a Targa bar. It goes without saying that the rear screen in the hardtop was also bonded in. Ground-breaking innovations were also incorporated in the interior. The conventional – hard – dashboard was replaced by an ingeniously designed sheet metal construction: both the upper and knee-impact sections were foam-padded and yielded on impact. Another new feature was the four-spoke steering wheel, designed on the basis of the accident researchers' latest findings.
Nevertheless, customers all over the world did not rush to the showrooms to order the new SL with safety in mind. They were attracted by the offer of a perfectly balanced open-top car – the only one of its kind built for years to come and attractive for that reason alone. Its distinctive front end with a dominant SL face, broad-band headlamps and ribbed turn signal lenses gave the car a powerful appearance; the low silhouette featured harmonious lines no matter whether the car was open, closed or fitted with its hardtop, and the slightly concave trunk lid was reminiscent of the Pagoda era. Ribbed, dirt-deflecting broad-band rear lights gave the rear end a strong, masculine touch.
The "fastest" soft-top of all cabriolets and roadsters – a further refined design of the Pagoda version – was highly conducive to comfort and ease of operation: the process of opening or closing took a mere 30 seconds. As customary in SL roadsters by then, the soft-top vanished under a cover when folded down. From the start of production, the 1971 SL boasted the 3.5 liter eight-cylinder engine which had celebrated its premiere in the 280 SE 3.5 coupe and cabriolet in 1969 and had since been praised to the skies. Its 200 hp at 5800 rpm helped the SL – which weighed as much as 1600 kilograms – to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h in nine seconds. Its top speed: 212 km/h.
A number of detail features turned life in and with this car into a pleasurable experience. Right from the start, the seats were fitted with head restraints and seat belts. A highly responsive heating and novel air channeling in the area of the doors enhanced well-being and physiological safety. Dirt-deflecting moldings on the A-pillars and exterior mirrors enhanced visibility in poor weather. The windshield wipers, centrally arranged close to each other, swept a remarkable 70 percent of the windshield, were aerodynamically efficient and did not lift off at high speeds.
This nice SL is in very good condition. With a known history going back to new, this car was sold by its current owner only to be purchased back several years later- she missed the car so much. The odometer is not working and wasn't when she bought the car back, but it is believed that less than 10,000 miles have accrued since it stopped. It is only driven on sunny summer days and never in the winter. Finished in the Classic and desirable Signal Red/Tan leather interior, the car has both tops, and runs and drives very well. While there are some stress cracks on the seats, the car does come with the custom fitted Sheep Skin covers. This is a very solid SL as the undercarriage pictures testify. It features the legendary big v8 and rugged Mercedez reliability. The SL Mercedez in arguably one of the finest cars ever made. From its inception in the 50's to today these cars have filled a niche at the top of the Mercedez line that will endure forever. They handle well, ride comfortably, and perform exceptionally well. These are cars that can go 100 MPH all day long! The third series model ran from 1973 to 1989 and have really taken off price wise in recent years. They exhibit the classic lines of the earlier cars while having a lot of very nice features that make them a lot more drivable. These cars are good for hundreds of thousands of miles