The Mercedes-Benz 380SL Roadster is a sophisticated sports car with wonderful driving characteristics as well as excellent build quality and comfort. From an historic perspective, this stunningly beautiful example of the 380SL Roadster was a one owner car for nearly the first three decades of its life. Furthermore this automobile has only covered an astonishing 7,845 miles from new. Its excellent and original condition makes this Mercedes-Benz 380SL the perfect candidate for entry to an important concours or rally of the owner’s choosing.
This 380SL Roadster was completed in February 1985 in Sindelfingen, West Germany and finished in silver gray metallic with a blue leather interior and a hard top. It was delivered to its first owner, Richard W. Knapp, a Danbury, Connecticut resident, through Danbury Autohaus, the local Mercedes-Benz agency. The car is believed to have been a birthday present for Mrs. Knapp. As Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts, the Knaps were clearly very fond of their 380SL and kept it for nearly three decades while using it only sparingly. Today this automobile is a time warp SL and exceptional in all respects. Besides the paint, leather and engine compartment, the underside is fresh with its original cosmoline as delivered. Unquestionably one of “the finest” in the country, this automobile presents the Mercedes-Benz enthusiast with an excellent opportunity to purchase an iconic SL Roadster. Completely documented and with its original hard top, manuals and tool kit, this 380SL remains in exceptional original condition throughout and is ready for show or go.
“The well-heeled usually choose their status symbols for compelling reasons, and these SLs possess a host of them. They were built with superb care. They show sophisticated engineering. They’re sublimely comfortable.”Peter Bohr, Road & Track, circa 2000.
When Mercedes redesigned its famed SL in 1971, there was a lot of equity behind it. After all, the incomparable 300SLs were legendary, and the second series SLs had been both an artistic and commercial success. In 1971 Mercedes-Benz introduced the first of its third series SLs, the Type 107. Nicknamed the Panzewagen due to its massive strength, the Type 107 emphasized safety with features like a padded dashboard and a fuel tank being relocated to the boot inside the rigid bodyshell. Anti-lock brakes were also available. This new model was a luxurious V8 Roadster that ended up having the longest run of a passenger car series ever produced by Mercedes-Benz. Despite its age, the final iteration of the Type 107, the 560SL, remained a prized automotive status symbol and an iconic part of the brand's lineup until it was finally replaced by the all-new fourth-generation SLs in 1990. Launched in 1980, the 380SL Roadster retained the Type 107 bodyshell first introduced in 1971 in virtually unchanged form apart from the addition of a front spoiler. Production of the 380SL featured a new engine of 3839 cc displacement, a new four-speed automatic transmission and more aluminum in the body shell. The 380SL was lighter, more fuel efficient and faster than the 350SL it replaced.
This Mercedes-Benz 380SL Roadster is a beautiful automobile that has covered just 7,845 miles since new and is in exceptional condition. It is original throughout and has never been restored. As is commonly known, these cars were finished at Mercedes-Benz as “worldwide chassis”, meaning that many have a different prefix in the stamped VIN than the one that the car is identified under. This 380SL Roadster was given the worldwide VIN of WDB1070451A026795, as stamped on its chassis, but was then assigned the US-market specific VIN of WDBBA45C4FA026795 once it was eventually slated for the US market.
“The W107 chassis … was one of Daimler-Benz AG’s longest running production bodies. With a variety of six-and eight-cylinder engines, it bridged the considerable gap between the 1971 280SL and the 1990s SL models.”Frank Barrett, Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide, Motorbooks International, 1994.
Mercedes-Benz 380SL values have increased somewhat in recent years indicating that the allure of this wonderful sporting automobile endures to this day. Helping to move these values upward has been the increase in values of the earlier SLs such as the limited production 300SL Gull Wing Coupes and Roadsters which are firmly above $1,500,000 for examples in concours condition. A 380SL Roadster in concours condition is in the $50,000 range today.
Unquestionably one of “the finest” in the country with just 7,845 miles on the odometer, this 1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL Roadster represents an extraordinary opportunity for a Mercedes-Benz enthusiast to acquire a truly unique automobile. It is totally original and in excellent condition throughout, and it would surely be a welcome entrant to any important Concours d’Elegance or Rally event. As such, this stunning Mercedes-Benz 380SL Roadster is now prepared to serve its fortunate next owner very well indeed.John Kleen, Vintage Consultant
Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide, Frank Barrett, Motorbooks International, 1994.
Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, vol.5, Werner Oswald, Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart, 2001.