1968 MERCEDES-BENZ 280 SL ZF 5-SPEED GEARBOX CONVERTIBLE WITH HARDTOP
'Some cars don't change, they just get better. The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, latest version of a line that began as the 230 SL in 1963, is the same as ever, just better,' concluded Road & Track after testing a 280 SL in 1968. 'For those who value engineering finesse and high quality construction, it's alone in the field,' enthused the highly respected American motoring magazine, while its manufacturer considered the 280 SL, 'a Grand Tourer in the traditional sense' and 'a unique combination of sports car performance and saloon car comfort (a Mercedes-Benz saloon naturally).'
These attributes help explain the 280 SL's phenomenal success, particularly in the all-important North American market where the optional automatic transmission was considered an essential feature by the majority of customers. The fact that it looked like 'sex on wheels' helped enormously too, of course. The 280 SL's essential user friendliness broadened its appeal beyond the traditional sports car-enthusiast market, and many celebrities and film stars owned 280 SLs.
The last of a popular and extremely successful line begun with the 230 SL of 1963, the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL was introduced in 1967 powered by a new 2.8-litre six-cylinder engine that produced 180bhp, 20 horsepower more than the preceding 250 SL's. The 280 SL's 190km/h top speed was no greater but it was significantly quicker off the mark, its 0-100km/h time of 10 seconds being a whole second better than its predecessor's.
Autocar was full of praise for the 280 SL's effortless performance: 'Those going abroad will be pleased to know that the 280 SL can sustain 100mph with ease, and still have a good bit in hand for surging up to 120mph when traffic and conditions permit. All the time the engine is smooth and it has a sweet song to its exhaust note, which starts as a deep throb and builds up to a busy hum at maximum revs.'
Christened 'Pagoda' after their distinctive cabin shape - devised by French designer and classic-car enthusiast, Paul Bracq - these SL models were amongst the best-loved sports-tourers of their day and remain highly sought after by collectors.
This beautiful 280 SL was delivered new with the rare and desirable optional 5-speed ZF gearbox and fitted with the even rarer option of a limited slip differential (Mercedes-Benz Datenkarte on file). It was sold new to Mr Herman Kaiser in Duisburg, Germany on 3rd September 1968 - 49 years ago - receiving the registration number 'DU-AZ 10'. Three-and-a-half years later, on 21st January 1972, the car passed to Erna Kaffenberger, a 60-year-old resident of Trier, Germany. The car was reregistered as 'TR-EK 65'.
In July 1983, Mrs Kaffenberger moved to Saarbrücken and the car received the registration number 'SB-S 10'. Later, Mrs Kaffenberger transferred the car's ownership to her son, Peter Kaffenberger, the registration number remaining 'SB-S 10'. Documentation from TÜV Saarland (dated 17th May 2003) confirms Peter Kaffenberger's ownership and the odometer reading of 112,432 kilometres.
In 2015/2016, Mr Frank Bayer of Hanstedt, Germany bought the 280 SL, and during his ownership the car was mechanically overhauled (see invoice on file for almost €5,000). In addition, the car received a complete re-spray in its original white livery. Trimmed in contrasting blue leather, the interior remains beautifully original and is said to be in excellent condition. Even though the car is 49 years old, the vendor advises us it is in full working order and reliable. Accompanying documentation consists of the original pouch with all books including stamped service book, a copy of the Mercedes-Benz Datenkarte, Swedish registration papers, and invoices relating to the 2016 refurbishment. An exceptional and wonderfully original Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda', presented in beautiful condition and equipped with the much sought after 5-speed ZF-gearbox and the even rarer option of a limited slip differential from new.
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