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Mercedes Benz 230, 250 and 280 - Haynes - USED

About the Mercedes Benz 230, 250 & 280

230-SL (July, 1963−January, 1967)

Production began in 1963 with the 2.3 liter 230-SL. These models were commonly 4-speed manual transmission cars, but a 4-speed automatic transmission was also available and popular for U.S. market cars. The 230-SL sported front disc / rear drum power-assisted brakes. They quickly gained popularity in the U.S. market, and this eventually led to more and more cars being built with automatic transmissions. 19,831 copies of the 230-SL were built, of which 11,726 cars were exported.

250 SL (December, 1966−January, 1968)

The 250 SL was basically a one-year model, introduced at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1967, although in North America many were sold in, and titled as, 1968 model year cars. This model is the rarest of the W 113 cars. The main changes were the use of a 2496 cc motor with seven main bearings in place of the 2306 cc with four main bearings of the previous car. Cylinder bore was unchanged but the stroke was increased from 72.8 to 78.8 mm. Also unchanged was the claimed 150 bhp maximum power: the new engine did, however, significantly improve torque, up from 145 to 159 lb. ft. Stopping power was also improved with the addition of rear disc brakes. The 250 SL retained the stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the early SLs but provided significantly improved performance, especially given the engine's wider power band. Like its predecessor, the 250 SL was offered with a four speed automatic: it was also sold with a ZF 5-speed manual transmission that remained available on its successor model through 1970. Of the 5,196 250 SLs built, 3,808 cars were exported (1,791 of which to the USA).

280 SL (December, 1967−March, 1971)

The 2.8 liter 280 SL was introduced in 1967 and continued production largely unchanged through 1971 when the W 113 was replaced by the entirely new, and substantially heavier, R 107 350 SL/450 SL. Most 280 SL cars built for the U.S. market were equipped with automatic transmission. Manual transmission cars came with either a 4-speed tramsmission or the super rare ZF-5 speed. The ZF 5 speed is very rare sought after by American collectors. In the European market manual transmission cars were still dominant. 23,885 280 SLs were produced, of which 12,927 units went to the USA and 5,754 to other countries outside of Germany.

European versus American specifications

These cars are also popular as U.S. export vehicles. That is, cars brought to the U.S. from Europe some years after original production. The European-spec vehicles have a number of subtle differences from U.S. market cars. The most visible is the distinctive European 'fishbowl' headlights versus U.S. sealed beam bulb headlights. Somewhat less known is that some European cars were using yellow lenses on the rear turn signals much earlier than were cars in the U.S. which were required by law to use all-red tail lights (U.S. laws were eventually changed to allow yellow turn signals). Other differences include the metric gauges, no chrome bumper guards, more use of chrome throughout the interior, and, generally speaking, no air conditioning. Depending on the market, many Euro-spec cars were also often equipped with an "add-on" red emergency flasher, a safety requirement for cars brought into the U.S. that was not a standard feature in the European market until later production years.


Mercedes Benz 230, 250 & 280 1968-72 - Haynes Part No. 63020

1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972

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