Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Found in the Wild: The Official Classic Car of Toronto

The R107 Mercedes SL is the official classic car of Toronto. You can find these old Mercedes rolling around on any clear day no matter what neighborhood you're in. This generartion of SL was the height of MB's over-engineering days so they're bound to stick around for a while yet. But why are they so popular in Toronto?

Firstly, they're great cars! The R107 generation SL's are great GT cars, are well made and have undeniably good looks. This 1984 380SL is powered by a 155 HP 3.8 litre SOHC V8. Mercedes wasn't much for year-to-year styling changes but the highly tuned TLM guessimator pinpoints this as a 1984 model. 

"SL" ironically stands for Sport Lightweight which is ironic because the SL isn't overtly sporty and it certainly isn't a lightweight. The R107 SL's are hefty GT cars and are one of the best long distance touring cars of the era. These are not full bore sports cars.

These cars are sometimes referred to as pagoda roof cars due to the unique concave curve of the detachable roof. This trait was carrried from 1963 to 1989. Pay no heed to the wonky wipers. They should be resting on the other side of the car but the owner probably turned off the ignition mid-wipe. Rookie mistake.

The R107 SL is popular in Toronto for a few reasons. It's reliable, it looks good, it is one of the few classic cars that doesn't drive or feel like an old car. But most of all, it's German and it looks like money. Torontonians (Toronters?) love German cars from the 80's like 911's and 944's and they seem to be the de facto choice for people buying an affordable classic. The three most popular classic cars in Toronto are air-cooled 911's, Fiat 124's and the aforementioned R107 Mercedes SL's.

The Mercedes 380SL has a solidly made and beautifully designed interior. Most of these cars were automatics and the manual transmissions weren't that great anyways. Oddly, resetting the trip odometer while in motion will break the whole odometer setup. Ask me how I learned this.

The obvious demand for R107 SL's has kept prices strong and finding one for cheap is tricky. But it's great to see so many of these still on the roads and they represent the very pinnacle of Mercedes' engineering might.


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