Mercedes-Benz R107 is First Produced
The Mercedes-Benz R107 automobiles were produced from 1971 through 1989, being the longest single series ever produced by the firm, besides the G-Class.
They were sold under the SL-Class and SLC-Class model names. The R107 replaced the W113 SL-Class in 1972 and was replaced by the R129 SL-Class in 1989.
The R107 took the chassis components of the mid size Mercedes-Benz W114 model and mated them to the larger engines from the S-Class. The W 107 chassis is also referred to as "R 107" for "Reihe" (series). The series comprised SL and SLC models.
The SL variant was a 2-seat convertible/roadster with standard soft top and hardtop. The SLC (technically C107) derivative was a 2 door hardtop coupe, with usable rear seats and in effect an SL stretched 10 inches (254 mm) with a fixed roof. Although some may air this car as an 'SL coupe'- though technically it might be, but in the real world it was an S-class coupe (modern day CL), replacing the former saloon-based 280/300SE coupé in Mercedes` lineup. The SLC was replaced earlier than the SL, in 1981, with a much larger model, the 380SEC. It was aimed at the same market as more exotic machines like the Jaguar E-Type and Citroën SM.
The 107 chassis had the longest run of any Mercedes chassis, 18 years from 1971 to 1989. Some 237,000 107 chassis SL's were built. About two thirds were sold in the US. These 107 cars are larger, heavier and more costly than the previous generation W113 SL cars.
Volume production of the first R107 car, the 350 SL, started in April, 1971 alongside the last of the W 113 cars; the 350 SLC followed in October. Sales in North America began in 1972, and cars wore the name 350 SL, but had a larger 4.5L V8 (and were renamed 450 SL/SLC for model year 1973); the big V8 became available on other markets with the official introduction of the 450 SL/SLC on non-North American markets in March, 1973. US cars sold from 1972 through 1975 used the Bosch D Jetronic fuel injection system, an early electronic engine management system.
From July, 1974 both SL and SLC could also be ordered with a fuel-injected 2.8L straight-6 as 280 SL and SLC. US models sold from 1976 through 1979 used the Bosch K Jetronic system, an entirely mechanical fuel injection system. Al US models used the 4.5 liter engine, and were called 450SL/SLC.
In September, 1977 the 450 SLC 5.0 joined the line. This was a special version of the big coupé featuring a new all-aluminum five-liter V8, aluminum alloy doors, hood and trunk lid - and a black rubber rear spoiler.
Starting in 1980, US cars were equipped with lambda control, which varied the air/fuel mixture based on feedback from an oxygen sensor. The 350, 450 and 450 SLC 5.0 models (like the 350 and 450 SL) were discontinued in 1980 with the introduction of the 380 and 500 SLC in March, 1980. At the same time, the cars received a very mild make-over; the 3-speed automatic was replaced by a four-speed unit, the 280 models came with a standard 5-speed (formerly a 4-speed) manual and all five-liter cars gained a black rear spoiler lip.
The 280, 380 and 500SLC were discontinued in 1981 with the introduction of the 126 series 380 and 500SEC coupes. A total of 62,888 SLCs had been manufactured over a ten year period of which just 1,636 were the 450SLC-5.0 and 1,133 were the 500SLC. Both these models are sought by collectors today. The SLC remains the only fixed roof Mercedes-Benz coupe based on a roadster rather than a sedan. Even today, an SLC in good mechanical condition still gives a mix of good performance, superb handling, comfort and safety, making it is easy to realise why they were a successful rally car.
Following the discontinuation of the SLC in September, 1981, the 107 series continued initially as the 280, 380 and 500SL. At this time, the V8 engines were re-tuned for greater efficiency, lost a few hp and consumed less fuel, helped by substantially numerically shorter axle ratios (that went from 3.27:1 to 2.47:1 for the 380 SL and from 2.72:1 to 2.27:1 for the 500 SL). From September, 1985 the 280SL was replaced by a new 300 SL, and the 380 SL by a 420 SL; the 500 SL continued and a 560SL was introduced for certain extra-European markets, most notably the USA. Also in 1985, the Bosch KE Jetronic was fitted. The KE Jetronic system varied from the earlier, all mechanical system by the introduction of a more modern engine management "computer", which controlled idle speed, fuel rate, and air/fuel mixture. The final R107 SL was built on August 4, 1989. This eighteen-year run makes the 107 series the longest running series produced by Daimler-Benz.
The last 107 made, a 1989 500SL painted Astral Silver, resides in the Mercedes-Benz museum in Stuttgart, Germany. The W107 series today is prized by classic car collectors; almost all usable examples are worth £5000+ apiece, with the highest-range models sometimes worth £10,000 or more.
The US models built on the 107 chassis were as follows:
350 SL/SLC (MY 1972)
450 SL/SLC (MY 1973 through 1980)
380 SL/SLC (MY 1981 through 1985 - SLC: MY 1981/82)
560 SL (MY 1986 through 1989)
Prices increased dramatically over the years. The earliest 107, the 1971 350 SL, sold for about $11,000. Eighteen years later, the last 107 model, the 560SL, sold for about $64,000.
From 1974 until the end of production, the front and rear bumpers of the U.S. model R107 grew out 8 inches (203 mm) on each end to comply with U.S. regulations.
When the first 350's were exported to the US, because of the strict horsepower robbing emission requirements, the US 350's were shipped with low compression 4.5 liter engines.
The 450 SL was produced until 1980. Some 450 SLs suffered from vapor lock and hard re-start because of the position of the catalytic converter.
Next was the 380 SL imported from 1981 to 1985. The 380 SL was the least powerful of the US imported R107 roadsters. This engine came with a single row timing chain. These models were plagued with chain failure problems and the problem was corrected by Mercedes-Benz, free of charge. Some models, however, escaped retrofit and may at some point fail as a result.
The more powerful 500SL with 5.0 liter engine, produced from 1980-1989, was not available in the U.S. through Mercedes-Benz and was popular in "gray market" import before the arrival of the 560SL (only made for the USA and Australian market) in 1986-1989.
Despite the larger 5.6 liter engine of the 560 SL, the 500 SL is recorded as being the fastest production 107 produced (mostly because of the lack of emission restraints, but also late 500 SLs were more powerful than the 560 SL.) The 500 SL was published by Mercedes-Benz as having 0-60 times of 7.4 seconds for a top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph). Torque for the 500 SL is 296 lbft @3200 rpm and for the 560 SL 287 lbft @ 3500 rpm. The 500 SL was not available in the U.S. or Australian markets through Mercedes Benz dealers.
The Pagoda was replaced by a new breed of cars in 1972 through the introduction of the R107 which went on to become the second best running MB car after the G-Klasse. In terms of looks, the R model seems a Pagoda which went through a surgical age reversal process with its headlights having been tilted 90º and stretched for a more aggressive look. The slightly tapered bonnet of the Pagoda was lowered thus filling the stylish hiatus between the head-lamp encasements and rest of the bonnet. New wheels front/rear bumper were added while several engines were introduced throughout the model's existence. Although the R107 is a known term amongst connoisseurs, car bearing this designation are generally referred to as the SL and SLC, exactly the names they were sold under.
The 1970-1990 Mercedes-Benz SL (R107) was the long-lived successor to the W113 SL series, based on the same concept, but larger, heavier, and plusher. The car was more imposing, too, with lines echoed in 1970s S-class sedans, because Bruno Sacco designed both.
The SL (R107) was less agile than its lighter predecessor, but still quite capable -- and more predictable in corners with Mercedes-Benz's traditional rear swing axles altered to function as semi-trailing arms. It was sold only with various V-8s in the U.S., where styling was compromised by quad headlamps (versus single flush units) plus protruding "safety" bumpers from 1974.
Remarkably few changes were made over many years (mostly engines), though a more efficient four-speed automatic was substituted along the way for the original three-speeder. Manual shift was available only on six-cylinder models. The later 5.0- and 5.6-liter V-8s are preferred for performance, but there's nothing wrong with the "little" 3.8-liter V-8 of the early '80s -- or, for that matter, a six.
The SL (R107) was finally replaced for 1990 by a far more ambitious SL, the all-new R129.