I have not gotten soft – RPK
Contrary to the reports of my alleged car friends, I have not gotten soft in the terms of romance over motoring. To prove my point, here is proper overview of the 1974 Mercedes 450SL (aka models R107 – roadster & C107 – coupe). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_R107
Produced from 1971 until 1989 became the icon of what a luxurious, daily driver two seat convertible should be. Based on Mercedes durable and robust engineering, this model got its highest marks with materials, build quality, practicability and drivability. On a subjective note, the SL was a pleasure to drive in spite of its limitations.
As with any classic, the collectors forever argue which year is best. The early models did not suffer from the hideous regulated bumpers whereas the latest (560SL) had (much needed) more power and a four speed automatic transmission. The 1974 model was also the last year where the 49-state model without an emission air pump, catalytic convertor or EGR valve. Regardless, the optional removable hardtop is a must for colder climates, though the heavy German canvas top seals out the elements exceptionally well.
Understanding what the 450SL actually is important before any judgments are made. This model is designed for long high speed journeys with comfort. Since the tragic Lemans race, Mercedes distanced itself from performance and racing and focused on more conservative, yet appealing products.
With only 180 – 240 (approximate) horsepower on tap (pending year), the thirsty (15 mpg-ish) V-8 could still pull speeds around 125 mph and run comfortably all day. As the brakes are strong enough to pull you down from any speed, the rear suspension is limited by an ancient swing axle design. Handling is still good with the use of control arms, but with any more horsepower, the limits of compromise come to life. Fortunately, the steering is precise, for me personally, it is too slow. Perhaps because of the enormous steering wheel that was seemingly lifted from the Bismarck.
So, you ask why the SL? Simple, it is the whole package. Yes, I would like a bit more power and better fuel economy, but it is a timeless classic design concept before the bureaucrats took over. Go to EBay Motors, price a 450SL, and compare it to today’s cars. In spite of the higher price of service parts, there will be little depreciation and you can own a collector.
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