Streetside Classics probably sells more R107 Mercedes-Benz SLs than
anyone else, and we've developed a pretty good eye for these
beautiful cars. This 1981 380SL is a great balance of performance,
style, price, and preservation, and for open-air motoring, the SL
is still pretty tough to beat.
In the mid-80s, wild colors were in fashion, but ever-conservative
Mercedes-Benz always got it right. In this car's case, it's
beautiful Astral Silver Metallic bodywork with dark blue hides
inside, a combination that has looked great for decades, if not
centuries. The silver paint gives the SL a big car look despite its
rather diminutive size, and in a Mercedes, elegance is never an
option but mandatory. The light color also emphasizes how straight
and clean this one is, thanks to a lifetime of careful ownership
and only 106,019 believed original miles showing on the odometer
(that's not many at all on a 38-year-old Mercedes-Benz). A dark
blue pinstripe offers a bit of contrast and the light colors like
this do a much better job of disguising the heavy
federally-mandated bumpers, so it looks sleek and trim compared to
many of its siblings. There's plenty of shine, and the finish is
very nice, but a dedicated hobbyist could really take it up a notch
with a professional buff so that the car can live up to the legacy
of the three-pointed star on its nose. And don't worry, this isn't
just a fair-weather roadster, as both the hard-top and a soft are
included with the car.
Most R107 SLs received MB-Tex vinyl, a patented material was very
durable and elegant, which is why the interior on this car still
shows so well today. The design is familiar, of course, but that's
part of the SL's appeal, and with everything so sensibly arranged
and logical, is there really any other way to do it? The
upholstery's condition is very good all around, particularly for an
open car, and aside from a couple splits in the dash pad, it looks
great. Big, easy-to-read gauges were a Mercedes-Benz hallmark for
decades and the giant steering wheel makes this car feel
substantial when you're at the helm. Features like automatic
climate control, power windows/locks, and cruise control mean it's
one of the most user-friendly luxury vintage you can own, and the
back seat is surprisingly spacious in this slick little car. A blue
cloth convertible top stows neatly under the hard vinyl boot in
back and looks almost new and like mentioned before, it also
includes a removable hardtop.
In 1980, the SL switched to a 3.8 liter V8, which still delivers
the kind of effortless performance for which these cars are famous.
They're also quite reliable and easy to maintain, so don't be
afraid of owning this one. It starts easily with a familiar V8
thrum from the exhaust and the bubbly idle and smooth torque make
it feel beautifully polished from behind the wheel. The engine bay
has been maintained over the years and remains clean, and it's full
of correct parts, so no worries about deferred maintenance here.
The 4-speed automatic transmission has a knack for always being in
the right gear, and as always, it's impeccably smooth. The
all-independent suspension is supple yet athletic and shows some
recent parts, and while this is no sports car, it doesn't mind
hustling a bit on your favorite roads. Power 4-wheel discs live
behind those familiar Mercedes-Benz alloy wheels and carry
right-sized 205/70/14 blackwall radials.
This is a clean, tidy SL in great colors that we can heartily
recommend for warm weather fun. Just don't tell your friends and
neighbors how affordable it really is! Call now!