Yat Ming 1011 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (hdtop)

Playart 7154 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (hardtop)

Corgi Junior #124A Mercedes 500SL (hdtop)

Majorette 213 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (cabrio.)

Maisto 8452 Mercedes-Benz 500SL (hardtop)

Ertl 1606 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (hardtop)

Schuco 844 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (cabrio.)

Zylmex P352 Mercedes-Benz 450SL (cabrio.)

Matchbox 6 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (cabrio.)

King Star Mercedes-Benz 450SLC (long wheelbase, fixed-roof coupe)

 "Sport Licht" - The W107 Years
The History of the Mercedes-Benz SL in 1:64 scale (first in a series)
story by Brian Willoughby

When an automobile manufacturer presents the world with an instant classic, maintaining the expectations of enthusiasts through subsequent replacements can be a rather difficult challenge. The original Mercedes-Benz 300SL was one such "instant classic": sleek, fast, agile, and nearly perfectly proportioned, the car was a direct descendant of the "Sport Licht" cars championed in Mercedes' legendary racing campaigns of the period. Yet the 300 was an almost forbiddingly expensive car for most people to buy and maintain and to fulfill the need many customers had to own an SL, Benz responded with the flashy and stylish yet slow and ponderous 190SL. It was a superficial car at best and while it possessed all the looks of a classic roadster it delivered neither the handling nor the power to live up to what it seemed to promise. In fact, it was quite a misnomer to apply the "SL" designation to the car since it was hardly sporting or lightweight and was actually much more at home cruising the boulevards of well-to-do American suburbs than circling race tracks.

Economically, it simply was not logical for Daimler-Benz to update or introduce a new replacement for the hand-produced and extremely complicated 300SL and when work began on a successor to the feeble, yet very popular 190SL, it was decided to attempt to replace both cars at once. Introduced for the 1963 model year, the all-new 113-series SLs featured a 2.3 litre 6-cylinder engine and remarkably clean and classic lines. Although enthusiasts still longed for a true replacement for the beloved original 300SL, the 113-series SLs (230SL, 250SL & 280SL) were of a much more pragmatic and useable design which would set the standard for all subsequent Mercedes to wear the SL designation.

When the fourth generation, W107 series SLs appeared, the most significant improvement in most potential owners' eyes was the availability of a V8 powerplant. Although small in displacement by American standards, the first V8-engined SL, the 350, offered considerable increases in both torque and horsepower as compared to the 113-series cars with their straight sixes. However, fuel economy suffered, though as it has often been said, if you could afford the car, you could certainly deal with its thirst for high octane gasoline. Overall, the car was not as sporting as many would have liked and while the new-found power was welcomed, the rather limp road manners were not. In all fairness, the W107 cars were at the top of their form when introduced in 1971; nevertheless, even the best of cars can begin to show their age after 19 years of production--the W107 was no exception. Another new idea introduced with the W107 platform was the SLC: a fixed-roof coupe built on a slightly lengthened wheelbase, it was a car of extremely limited production in both real life and in the world of miniatures.

The W107 cars became, particularly in the United States, 1970s icons and although they were produced throughout the 1980s, it is difficult to associate them with any other decade. Who, after all, can forget the frequent guest appearances of 450SLs being driven by some Ewing family member on "Dallas"? Despite both the high-brow image and its sales success (it was by far the largest selling SL series ever), the W107 series grew increasingly old fashioned in its later years: the styling, while classic, was definitely showing its age as a product of the late 1960s and its interior, while always dignified, was decidedly retrograde. When the current series of SLs appeared, few lamented the passing of this oldest platform in Mercedes' entire range.

The W107 range saw many V8 engine variations beginning with the 350 and then progressing through the 450, 380, 500 and finally 560 and these cars, which were always placed at the top of the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy, were invariably the most frequently modeled. (However, it should be noted that the W107 did not signal the end of the six-cylinder SLs and that this platform could be purchased outside of the United States with large-displacement six-cylinder engines.) As is often the case, a long production run and outstanding breeding frequently make models of certain cars abundant; the W107 SLs are no exception. Whether a collector is searching for a hardtop or convertible, models of the W107 platform are prolific and plentiful and few major diecast manufacturers during the 1970s failed to capture this car in miniature.

Selecting favorites from among this list at the left is difficult but several stand out. The King Star SLC from Korea is a very nice casting from an unexpected source. The Maisto SL is also quite nice and is still offfered in some sets. The matchbox convertible is verg good but the hardtop model suffers from a hardtop that looks too big. The Majorette model is well worth the search but watch out for un-wanted tampos. Don't overlook the yat Ming or Zylmex models, both are quite good. Of course, the Schuco version is perhaps the best overall, albeit in 1:66 scale.

It is curious, considering the long production life-span of the W107 that several major diecast manufacturers did not produce this model. The most glaring omission is Siku of Germany. Siku has likely done more Mercedes-Benz models than any other toy car maker. All other SL models have been done but this one was not, how very strange. Hot Wheels also passed over this model. Like Siku, both the earlier and later SL models were done but not the W107. One would have also expected an example from Tomica or Polistil but these are missing too. In a way it is like the Jaguar XJ-S. Almost every toy car maker did one except the one most likely to, having done so many Jaguar models, Matchbox. The following is a list of all the 1:64 scale Mercedes-Benz SL W107 models known to have been produced.

Buby #1040 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC (long wheelbase, fixed-roof coupe)
Corgi Juniors #124-A Mercedes-Benz 500SL (hardtop)
Ertl #1606 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (hardtop)
Guisval #1 Mercedes-Benz 350SLC (fixed-roof coupe, shown right)
Imperial Diecast Mercedes-Benz 450SLC (long wheelbase, fixed-roof coupe)
King Star Mercedes-Benz 450SLC (long wheelbase, fixed-roof coupe)
Maisto #8452 Mercedes-Benz 500SL (hardtop)
Majorette #213 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (convertible)
Matchbox #6 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (soft top up)
Matchbox #6 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (convertible)
Playart #7154 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (hardtop)
Schuco #844 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (convertible)
Yat Ming #1011 Mercedes-Benz 350SL (hardtop)
Zylmex #P352 Mercedes-Benz 450SL (convertible)