Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style

Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style

Welcome to Found Around Town, where we feature cars we find in a city where interesting ones are rare because everyone drives a Prius or rides a bicycle: Austin, Texas.

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Now, I know what you're about to say. "A classic Mercedes-Benz SL? That's what you're giving us for Found Around Town? I see those everywhere, George! They aren't special! Do it again!"

Well, it's true that old-school SLs aren't terribly uncommon. But it's wrong to think they aren't special.

This dark red 380 SL I found in South Austin recently was extremely well cared for, and had better paint than most of the newer cars in the same parking lot. I initially guessed it was from the late 80s; turns out I was wrong.

See, it's hard to tell the age of that generation of SL, known as the R107 in Mercedes parlance, because they were made from 1971 to 1989. It had the second-longest run of any modern Mercedes-Benz behind the G-Class. And to pull off that kind of longevity, you have to be pretty special.

The 380 SLs, which packed a 3.8-liter V8 with a malaise-tastic 155 horsepower, were made between 1980 and 1985. (Most of the ones seen on the road have the more common 2.8-liter straight six in the 280 SL; the V8s went as high as 5.6 liters during its lifespan.)

I love the way these old coupes and roadsters look – they're very timeless. This SL looked way ahead of its time in the early 1970s and advanced into the next decade quite gracefully. To me, its late-80s successor, the R129, looks far more dated today. Most of the Benzes from the 70s and 80s have held up really well, I think.

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Tell us – what modern cars will still look good a few decades from now?

Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style
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Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style
Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style
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Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style
Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style
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Illustration for article titled Mercedes 380 SL Proves Real Class Never Goes Out Of Style

DISCUSSION

ranwhenparked
ranwhenparked

You just can't beat a good old, bank-vault-on-wheels Mercedes for timeless elegance. 20+ years old, and still looks right at home in the country club parking lot, alongside decades newer iron.

As for today's cars, I reckon most sports cars (Miata, Porsches, Ferraris, Lambos, FRSs, etc) will hold up pretty well 20 years from now, just like *most* equivalent cars from the 1980s still look pretty modern today.

For mainstream cars, oddly, I think the blandest and least inspired designs will be the ones that age the best, simply because they're so anonymous that they don't really belong in any decade - Galant, Camry, Legacy, etc. More heavily styled cars, like current Fords and Hyundais, will probably look the most dated a few decades from now.