A Vintage 1969 Mercedes 280SL Roadster

The car in the photo below is Richard Madison's 1969 Mercedes Benz 280 SL Roadster.    

A Mercedes Benz 280SL Roadster/Coupe

The 1969 280 SL pictured below is Tunis Beige; has a removeable Hard Top and a Soft Top hidden in a rear compartment.

The interior color is "Dark Brown" making a nice combination with the lighter Beige exterior especially when the both tops are off. A nice touch in these cars: when the glove box door is opened, a map light gently shines down toward the floor through a small window in the glove box door. The car has a front Fog Lights, an electric clock, a Grant wood steering wheel, and a Nardi Shift lever knob.

Also power steering, four wheel disk brakes with power booster, tachometer, center wood console, map pockets in each door, seat belts, and an original Becker Europa Stereo AM/FM radio with automatic antenna.

A 1969 Mercedes 280 SL

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280SL Transmission

280 SL's came with 4 speed automatic or 4 speed manual shift. Our car has manual shift which we prefer for control over all the shift points. All four gears are synchro-meshed. Since the engine revs a bit even in 4th gear at high speed (4th gear ratio is 1:1), a few cars came with a rare 5 speed manual transmission.

A Few Details

This car is a EURO version originally sold in Italy and has a Metric Speedometer and Celcius temperature gauge. Has the original engine, spare tire cover, and tool set with an original Mercedes Benz cloth wrapper.

280SL Performance

These cars are quite peppy and can hold thier own with most cars on the road. In 4th gear, the speed is double the RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) in hundreds. At 3,000 RPM, the speed is 60 MPH. Since the tachometer goes to about 7,000 RPM, the indicated top speed is 140 MPH (220 KPH) which is what the speedometer dial shows.

The 280 SL has a 2.8 liter in-line 6 cylinder engine with direct porting mechanical Bosch fuel injection; a single overhead camshaft, and a cast alloy valve cover. A nice safety feature is that if the brake fluid gets too low, a red light shows on the dashboard. To save weight, the moveable parts of the car exterior: the doors, trunk lid (boot) and hood (bonnet), are all aluminum alloy.

280SL TOPS: Hardtop, Soft Top, No Top

The 280 SL was flexible in its choice of tops: the soft top, the removable hardtop, or both. If you had a lot of confidence in the weather, the car could be ordered with no hardtop and no soft top, a permanently open car. For obvious reasons, this was called "The California Option".

When is an SL a Roadster? When is it a Coupe?

The Mercedes Benz Owners Manual for the 1969 280 SL refers to a car with just a Soft top as a "Roadster", a car with just the removable Hardtop as a "Coupe", and a car with both a soft and a hard top as a "Coupe with Roadster Top"". The Owners Manual shows an accent acute over the final "e" (Coupé) to render it as "coo-pay" in the French manner.

On The Road

The car is German made but designed by Frenchman Paul Bracq.

Classic cars can cost quite a bit to buy, restore and maintain. Before getting too serious and spending a lot of money, we should remember, "It's only a hobby."

Hope you enjoyed this Mercedes 280 SL story.

Send e-mail to rmadison@lawcom.com  

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© Richard Madison 2007

Law Office of Richard Madison