In 1986, Mercedes-Benz shipped its most powerful SL of the decade to the U.S. in the 560SL. The car was also the heaviest of the 1971-89 R107 SLs that Mercedes produced, but the new 5.5-liter V-8 engine’s 227 hp did a fine job of mitigating that fact. Top speed was much improved (from 110 mph in the 380SL to 130 mph), and the car was quicker from a standstill to 60 mph by about 4 full seconds.
The engine was much torquier, too, which greatly improved the cars’ dynamics. Likewise, the car received a new rear suspension and a limited-slip differential to better handle the added torque and power. Mercedes-Benz also added anti-lock brakes, leather upholstery, an alarm system, and an air bag, all of which better suited the car’s $48,000 price tag.
The 560SL sold well with average annual sales exceeding 12,000 units, which outpaced the 450SL and 380SL. Nonetheless, Mercedes retired the R107 chassis in 1990, introducing the first all-new SL in 18 years. Today, many enthusiasts gravitate towards the 560SL as it retains some of the original lines of the pagoda SLs while carrying with it all of the R107’s advances. It remains a popular choice for those enthusiasts who value verve and build quality for a low price of entry.