Author Topic: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl  (Read 109595 times)

J. Huber

  • Full Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, CA, Cedar Ridge
  • Posts: 3009
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #25 on: April 06, 2008, 08:48:44 »
To paraphrase our own Dr. Benz, this is like asking blonde or brunette (or redhead!)? The answer?... any of them  ;)

One thing I always take away from these discussions is how really fortunate we are that the various models are so different. It's whats makes our Pagoda gatherings (and this site) so interesting. Could you imagine if all the Pagodas out there were built exactly the same? We'd roll up, say nice blue one. Mine's white. Saw a red one yesterday. zzzzzzzzz.

James
63 230SL
James
63 230SL

Chad

  • Guest
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #26 on: April 06, 2008, 18:20:28 »
I'm surprised how many times this subject gets revisited.  But it seems natural given the changes that occurred during the production run.

1967 230SL

thelews

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, WI, Mequon
  • Posts: 1685
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #27 on: April 06, 2008, 19:03:38 »
The simple answer is ... neither.

The 250 SL is best.
#1543, one of the 6%



And, answering the question below, right car at the right time, but I knew some of the distinctions of the 250 before and appreciate them and more after.  Quality and finish of the 230, mechanical advances approaching the 280.  Longtooth laid it out well.  280 SLs pull a premium in the market FOR their automatics and A/C.  In my opinion, an easy car for the daily driver set who want a vintage example without the pain.

P.S.  When I was in college, my mother had a '71 280 SL (she drove for 17 years! Below).  When I got my 250, this year, we both remarked that it seemed much more elegant and and a higher level of finish inside, than hers.




John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual
BEST OF THE BEST!!!
« Last Edit: April 06, 2008, 19:28:55 by thelews »
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual #1543
1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
1970 Porsche 911E
1991 BMW 318is
1966 Jaguar XKE

Benz Dr.

  • Vendor
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • Canada, ON, Port Lambton
  • Posts: 6101
  • Benz Dr.
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #28 on: April 06, 2008, 22:44:57 »
Not a story about a Benz but the guy does own a 250SL that I'm helping him with.
Every time I met up with this guy he always drove this rather beat up looking van with a ton of tools and junk in it. He seemed like a regular guy.... like me.

So, I'm at the Toronto car auction over the weekend and he meets me today after the show to drop off some parts he doesn't need. He says to me on the phone, '' I'll be driving my Ferarri. ''
I'm sitting outside the front door waiting for him... lots of people milling around and I hear this sports car coming. Loud, powerful sound like something exotic. Very exotic! The crowd looks around expectantly for this automotive marvel. ( I have no idea what he has, I expect a 308 or something ) All of a sudden he comes around the corner in this beautiful red convertable with black soft top. The thing sounds like pure magic. I'm mesmotized.....

He stops the car right in front of me and a large crowd gathers like bees to honey. Suddenly, there's cameras and cell phones all out taking pictures and video. It might as well have been Nicole Kiddman on the runway.
The door swings open and he says, '' Hi, Dan.''

 The crowd looks around to see which one of them is this lucky Dan person but no one seems to be holding the winning ticket.
I stand up and say '' Excuse me please '' and get into his car, which by the way, is no easy feat for someone 6'3''. I guess no one saw me sitting there waiting for him and it was kind of funny to watch their reaction.

We roar across the parking lot and park a short distance away where I'm parked with my own car. After I got back out of his car I had a look at this thing. It was very pretty with camel interior and bright red body work. He told me it was an '89 model year, I think, and it only had about 40,000KM on it. V8 of course and about 400 HP.
He told me what model it was but I forget now and I think he said it was worth about 250 when it was new. It's still worth 150 so it's a pretty neat machine. I guess the body is all aluminium.
Then he tells me that he really doesn't like it that much and that his Porsche is a much faster and better driving car. I ask him what he has and he says that it's a speedster - one of a handfull made. I think it's some sort of 911 model and not an old one. Then he tells me he has 7 cars but I never really did get what they were. I will later, Im sure.......

Never had a ride in one of those things. I think I'm in love......



Dan Caron's
 SL Barn
benzbarn@ebtech.net
 slbarn.mbz.org
  1 877 661 6061
1966 230SL 5 speed, LSD, header pipes, 300SE distributor, ported, polished and balanced, AKA  ''The Red Rocket ''
Dan Caron's SL Barn

Longtooth

  • Guest
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #29 on: April 06, 2008, 23:38:14 »
Micheal,
I'm biased, of course, and james said it very well... viva la difference, for as he said so elequently... "nice blue one. Mine's white. Saw a red one yesterday. zzzzzzzzz."

fwiw, I lived in Germany from '59 thru July '64, and my parents stayed in Europe 'til my father retired in '80. He bought a '63 190SL in '65 (the year after I left home... and I'm sure that's the reason he waited 'til then), and later an early '67 250SL. He kept both SL's and brought them both back to US when he retired. He was an avid MB fan... our first car on arriving in Europe in '59 was a brand spankin' new '59 180D, black with red leather interior, still covered in plastic.

He bought the early '67 250SL (manual) in '69. The reason he chose it over the '68 280SL was not due to the difference in price, rather it was because he liked the cosmetic's of the 230SL, but not it's high speed corner handling or engine reliabiity (at 100 + mph for long durations on the German Autobahn's).  He chose the 250SL over the 280SL because there was no difference in the handling, nor was high speed long duration engine reliabilty any longer an issue.

When I was seeking a W113 in Europe when I lived in Germany for 3 years ('81-'84) he sent me copies of the various German automobile magazine articles published over the period from the 230SL, 250SL, and 280SL.  The 280SL was lauded for it's gain in hp, but not it's interior cosmetics changes... traditions dies hard in Germany... and the bumper guards were not an issue in Europe as they didn't have them... nor require them. I can't recall all the specifics of those articles but do recall that the automobile enthusiasts press had not been overly impressed with the meager engine displacement improvement that came with the 250SL over the 230SL's, but were extremely enthusiastic about it's far better cornering capability, it's far improved engine reliability over that of the 230SL's.  When the 280SL was tested by the automobile magazines, they were impressed with the added hp "endlich" [finally] (and with no losses due to the US mandated DOT emission reductions), and noted that other than the engine change the 280SL and 250SL were mechanically and performance (cornering, braking) the same.

I was therefore seeking an early 250SL manual (I am loath to automatics... my child-hood/teen-age indoctrination) in Germany to bring back to the US in early 80's, but could find none (or any other of the W113's) that were not rusted or which required significant body panel replacements... and nearly none were still able to be registered in Germany (TUV rules for safety made the rust issues economically impractical).  

When I returnd to the US in '84 I had given up on finding an economically viable W113, and especially any early 250SL's, when shortly after our arrival and before we had moved back into our house, I happened by pure and absolute luck to see an ad in our local weekly village blatt for "67 250SL. $10k OBO. 779-nnnn.".... which edition of that blatt was already a month old when I saw the ad.  The 779-nnnn phone number prefix was a local village telephone number (at that time you didn't need to dial all 7 numbers to dial a local number in our town.... only the last 4, since all numbers were 779-nnnn).  

I won't go into the literal 'barn' find with a fully drivable, (one rear qtr-panel small door dent, totally operating fully original, with original softtop still non-leaking, 0= early  :D  :D  :D  250SL with every service record on it still in the file at the MB service provider (not an MB dealer's service, but an exclusively MB shop owned and operated by a former German MB service tech from Germany) used exclusively since 1968.... 16k miles on the odometer was 116k (frequent service records validated the mileage over time).  

So, while most current W113 owners get what they can get, and I admit I would have bought the $10k car even if it had been a 280SL manual in the same condition at the time --- I paid $8k btw), I sought and was lucky enough to find by happenstance the car I had been looking for.  In hindsight I must admit I was not aware that what I was looking for was quite as rare as it was.... though I knew there'd only been a bit more than 5k 250SL's built and only in '67...

BTW, I've been looking for an early 280SL manaul (matching numbers original), but prices for the manual, matching numbers, previously not in an accident of any consequence, unrusted version have gotten out of hand (unrestored) so I've given up actively looking... pining (sp?) is now more like it.  My wife reminds me every time she see's me purusing the ads on-line that "we only have a 2 car garage anyway, so forget it."

BTW, thelews knows best.... and his is a georgious example of the best of the best.

Also, BTW, is it possible to change the subject on the thread to "230 vs 250 vs 280SL"... just so the very, very few minority owners of the 250SL aren't being excluded from choices. I feel descriminated against, not purposefully, but by omission.

And for the record... I admire and hold in awe all versions of the W113.. after-all they're all pagoda's, but have a decided preference for the classic interior appearance of the 230SL and the mechanics and engines of the post 230SL versions.  Call me old-fashioned (but I own an '02 SL500 Sport, so I'm not that old fashioned.... yet).
 


Longtooth
67 250SL US #113-043-10-002163
'02 SL500 Sport

mdsalemi

  • Pagoda SL Board
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NC, Davidson
  • Posts: 5030
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2008, 08:54:45 »
Longtooth,

Great story!  You have been blessed with getting specifically what you were always looking for, at an appropriate price!  Keep looking for the matching numbers 280SL, maybe you will be on with winning end of a "barn find" or at least the proverbial equivalent.  Like the lottery, if you don't play you can't win.  If you stop looking you'll never find it...

Couple of things here in this fascinating thread.

I find it fascinating that John's mom found such a difference in the interior of the 250SL vs. 280SL.  Is there that much of a difference?  I have not seen it; certainly not enough so say one was more elegant then another or a higher level of finish...would any distinction be between 250/280 or simply between two different cars that have had two different lives and perhaps two levels of care/restoration?  Put JonnyB's 250SL and my 280SL (Signal Reds, both restored) side by side and while us "experts" can tell them apart I don't think that elegance and higher level of finish would be the main distinctions.  Mostly the same chrome; same instruments; same tex or leather (depending on what you bought).  I have more rounded dash pieces I believe (there's that DOT again) but for the most part they are very similar.

But since you brought up old magazine articles...

Car and Driver in August 1967, describing the engine change and its torque and 200cc displacement change, said "...that's all the change there is and it's almost undetectable.  The increased torque makes no appreciable change in acceleration times..."

Sports Car Graphic at the same time, found the automatic transmission "very impressive" with power shifts just below the redline; but of course the choice between standard and automatic is very personal.

None of the 250SL test reports really mentioned anything about handling when compared to the 230SL.  I don't know where this "far better cornering capability" comes from.  Change of tires or wheels, or is this something imagined?  Can anyone speak to any physical reasons (aside from a modest weight difference and the aforementioned engine) why there might be a difference in handling making the 250 an improvement over the 230?

As I said, maybe the 250 is an undiscovered cult item.

Michael Salemi
1969 280SL
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
President, International Stars Section
Mercedes-Benz Club of America
« Last Edit: April 07, 2008, 09:18:28 by mdsalemi »
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2019 Ford Flex SEL
2019 Ford Edge SEL

paulr

  • Inactive
  • Silver
  • ****
  • Manhattan New York
  • Posts: 475
    • http://www.paulraeside.com
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2008, 09:17:14 »
is anyone having a pop at anyone here?

paulr
1970 280 SL
paulr
1970 280 SL ( car in UK )

mdsalemi

  • Pagoda SL Board
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NC, Davidson
  • Posts: 5030
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2008, 09:20:54 »
quote:
Originally posted by paulr

is anyone having a pop at anyone here?

paulr
1970 280 SL



Not at all Paul!  Read Longtooth's story it really is great!

We ferret out the differences--real, imagined, and personal--by these discussions as Jim Huber noted.

Michael Salemi
1969 280SL
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
President, International Stars Section
Mercedes-Benz Club of America
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2019 Ford Flex SEL
2019 Ford Edge SEL

thelews

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, WI, Mequon
  • Posts: 1685
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #33 on: April 07, 2008, 09:38:18 »
quote:
Originally posted by mdsalemi
I find it fascinating that John's mom found such a difference in the interior of the 250SL vs. 280SL.  Is there that much of a difference?  I have not seen it; certainly not enough so say one was more elegant then another or a higher level of finish...would any distinction be between 250/280 or simply between two different cars that have had two different lives and perhaps two levels of care/restoration?  Put JonnyB's 250SL and my 280SL (Signal Reds, both restored) side by side and while us "experts" can tell them apart I don't think that elegance and higher level of finish would be the main distinctions.  Mostly the same chrome; same instruments; same tex or leather (depending on what you bought).  I have more rounded dash pieces I believe (there's that DOT again) but for the most part they are very similar.




Michael, I guess it's all the little things that add up to the whole being greater than the sum of the parts.  The hard door pockets with a built in handle and chrome trim rather than a baggie and rectangular plastic door pull, the more vintage door release pull with more chrome and chrome lock, the chrome vs. satin horn ring and wiper shafts, the chrome all along the top windshield frame with the chrome top handles attached, chrome rearview mirror, gooseneck sideview mirror, the colored and firm (not wobbly) heater controls, chrome rings in the knobs...it all just adds up when you sit and look around.  Of course they're very similar, they're the same model car.  It's just that when you sit in the pre-safety/economize versions, you get a greater experience of the totality and consistency of style and elegance that Bracq and MB intended.  As far as the exterior, it just appears to be a purer, cleaner expression of his design.  JMHO.



John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 11:25:15 by thelews »
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual #1543
1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
1970 Porsche 911E
1991 BMW 318is
1966 Jaguar XKE

mdsalemi

  • Pagoda SL Board
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NC, Davidson
  • Posts: 5030
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #34 on: April 07, 2008, 10:00:53 »
John,

So it was YOU I was behind the other day when the sun reflected off your bright chrome horn ring and nearly blinded me! 8)

No, honestly, I see and appreciate the differences.  I just would not describe them as a "higher level" of finish, nor "more elegant"--just different; perhaps a bit more modern and evolutionary.  But that's just me!  Your Mom deserves some accolades for even noticing all these details.  But then again she was a woman that drove this car for years...

BTW my "baggy" is not saggy.  My heater levers are not wobbly.  They are slightly flexible (and not broken!)

I'll remain satisfied with my car that is a lesser experience of the totality of design and elegance! ;)




Michael Salemi
1969 280SL
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
President, International Stars Section
Mercedes-Benz Club of America
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2019 Ford Flex SEL
2019 Ford Edge SEL

thelews

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, WI, Mequon
  • Posts: 1685
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #35 on: April 07, 2008, 10:12:25 »
quote:
Originally posted by mdsalemi
Your Mom deserves some accolades for even noticing all these details.  But then again she was a woman that drove this car for years...


She couldn't help but.

Also, notice the crisp clean line on the dash of the earlier model. [:p]

Michael, your car looks great...they all do.





Some just look better than others  :twisted:

John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual #1543
1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
1970 Porsche 911E
1991 BMW 318is
1966 Jaguar XKE

TheEngineer

  • Associate Member
  • Gold
  • *****
  • USA, West Seattle, WA
  • Posts: 761
  • '69 280SL,Signal Red,
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #36 on: April 07, 2008, 10:23:24 »
May I clarify the "DOT Emission Controls": My car was built in January 1969. It has a second solenoid on the injection pump and associated relays. It's function is to cut off the fuel completely when the vehicle is coasting and the engine turns more than 1200RPM. Your foot must be off the gas pedal. That actuates a switch. It turns the feature on. It saves gas and makes for cleaner emissions. That is the only emission control on that engine.

'69 280SL,Signal Red,Automatic,retired engineer, West-Seattle,WA
'69 280SL,Signal Red, 09 cam, License BB-59U
'67 230SL, 113042-10-017463 (sld)
'50 Jaguar Roadster XK120, #670.318 (sld)
tired engineer, West-Seattle,WA

Douglas

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NY, Mahopac
  • Posts: 2729
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #37 on: April 07, 2008, 11:03:47 »
Michael,

Gorgeous dash. You really should consider a key pouch of some kind to protect your leather dash. The dangling keys can damage the leather. Check out John Lew's key pouch.


John,

Gorgeous dash as well. Is that a period key pouch or the newer style with the logo embossed on it?

Douglas Kim
New York
USA
Douglas Kim
New York
USA

thelews

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, WI, Mequon
  • Posts: 1685
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #38 on: April 07, 2008, 12:08:09 »
quote:
Originally posted by Douglas

Michael,

Gorgeous dash. You really should consider a key pouch of some kind to protect your leather dash. The dangling keys can damage the leather. Check out John Lew's key pouch.


John,

Gorgeous dash as well. Is that a period key pouch or the newer style with the logo embossed on it?

Douglas Kim
New York
USA



That's exactly why I use the fob I do, didn't want keys rubbing on the dash.  

Well, I thought it was period (or period reproduction) but it does have the embossed logo you mention.  It's the same as the one in the package tray in cordovan (I keep the gas cap key on that one).

John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual #1543
1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
1970 Porsche 911E
1991 BMW 318is
1966 Jaguar XKE

hands_aus

  • Full Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • Australia, Queensland, Brisbane
  • Posts: 1538
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #39 on: April 07, 2008, 22:17:29 »
I bought my RHD early 250sl #114, because of the 230sl livery plus the 4 wheel disks, larger fuel tank (82litre) plus all the reasons Longtooth mentioned.
Of course one little thing no one mentioned is the little light in the fan switch of the 230sl and early 250sls.

I have no idea of the number of 250sls exported to Australia but until Michael mentioned it, I didn't know I owned a 'cult' car. Obviously I will have to increase my car insurance! :D


Bob Smith (Brisbane,Australia)
RHD,1967 early 250 SL #114, auto, ps , 717,717
BEST OF THE BEST!
Bob Smith (Brisbane,Australia)
RHD,1967 early 250 SL #114, auto, ps , 717,717
best of the best

mdsalemi

  • Pagoda SL Board
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NC, Davidson
  • Posts: 5030
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #40 on: April 08, 2008, 06:22:49 »
quote:
Originally posted by Douglas

Michael,

Gorgeous dash. You really should consider a key pouch of some kind to protect your leather dash. The dangling keys can damage the leather. Check out John Lew's key pouch.


Douglas Kim
New York
USA



Hey, I live dangerously here.  I even wash my car with water! ;)   No really, key fobs are a great idea.  I'll look into it.

Michael Salemi
1969 280SL
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
President, International Stars Section
Mercedes-Benz Club of America
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2019 Ford Flex SEL
2019 Ford Edge SEL

Douglas

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NY, Mahopac
  • Posts: 2729
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #41 on: April 08, 2008, 08:51:22 »
John,

The original key pouch was plain black, sometimes with a red snap on one side. No logo. You can easily have one made up though, if you're so inclined. It was pretty close in shape to the later-style with the logo embossed on it. Not identical, but close.

That's the thing about having a Pagoda that's as nice as yours or Michael's — no matter how pristine it is, you can always find some little detail to make it even more immaculate. (And yours are certainly two of the nicer ones I've seen.) I guess there are even degrees of "immaculate."

(Finally, on a 250 SL there's supposed to be a little slip of dark vinyl in that wooden tray in the center. None of the square weave Pagodas had carpeting in there.)

Okay, I've digressed here. Let me say this about the 230 vs. 250 vs. 280 issue. I've had two 280s and my next one will likely be a different model. With that said though, it all comes down to timing and what's out there when I'm ready to buy.

We always advise people in this forum to buy the best car they can afford and I plan to practice what I preach.

My initial response to Sammy Rad suggesting automatic 280 SLs with a/c was based on the fact that he's a dealer, not on my own personal preference.


Douglas Kim
New York
USA :)
« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 08:57:37 by Douglas »
Douglas Kim
New York
USA

Longtooth

  • Guest
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #42 on: April 08, 2008, 12:42:30 »
Micheal, my info on differences in handling (high speed cornering)come from the German automobile magazine articles published in Germany after the 250SL came out... which my father sent me when I lived in Germany in the early 80's and was looking for a W113 to bring back to states with me when my assignment was over.  He'd collected the magazines with those articles in them when he lived in Germany ... later in Italy... at the time (and he also sent me the articles on the 280SL when it came out).

I don't have those articles anymore as I returned the mag's to my dad when I returned from assignment in '84 and right after I bought my 250SL... and in the duration they were either tossed by him or got tossed by my brother or sister who handled the cleaning out of his residence after he died.

I don't know why (cannot recall from what the mag's said) the difference in high speed corning between the 230SL and 250SL.  It had something to do with a sudden loss of the rear end without warning that occurred on the 230SL but not on subsequent 250SL's... whether this was just a pre-spinout warning telltale or better ability to handle the corners at same speeds I don't recall ---- the early '80s were over 25 years ago.

One of the facets of these discussions of differences in the versions, real or imagined, personal perferences, etc. is one of culture I think.  I get mine from having lived in Germany for 5 years as a teen 'til I graduated high school there.... and the German attitude at the time regards automobiles was speed and handling... not off the line speed (which was an American cultural thing due to our penchant for having speed limits on wide open roads), but acceleration and handling at higher speeds.  One of the unwritten driving game rules in those days thruout Europe (Italy, France, Germany predominantly) was to see who could get thru the curves at the fastest speeds --- kind of a game of chicken.  The W113's were not noted for this capability however... they invariably had to back down.  BMW's and Porches dominated in this particular game at that time.

In the cosmetic's arena at the time chrome was the thing of elegance, richness, class and style... and if you could afford it, then leather to boot.

Furthermore, to illustrate the difference in automobile culture, the Germans were out washing and waxing their cars every week-end... summer, winter (less so due to incliment winter weather... but on a sunny freezing winter week-end day they were out washing in force) from the lowliest Auto Union (aka later as Audi... shortened version of the Auto Union name which was referred to in the colloquial as "audi") to the 300SE's.

This wash/wax syndrome was in stark contrast to the American military community that lived both on and off base.... and the German's were agast that the American's took so little car of their car's appearance.

In hindsight, I think this penchant for car "Kultur" in Germany at that time was an outgrowth of the re-establishment of hierarchy in post war Germany.  Not everybody could even afford to have a car in Germany at that time.... and I knew several families with none.  For those that had a car it was normally only one and that car was "father's car" which was babied to no end.  The W113 owners had at least 2 cars... the W113 and the "family" car, so this was a major status symbol on several counts... 2 cars, and one even an MB "sports roadster".... either the 190SL prior to '64 or the W113 later.

As such, the appearance of "richness" had to accompany the status of the car in it's accoutrement so to speak... hence the sumptuous use of chrome in the 230SL interior, colored & lit heater controls, passenger side visor mirror's, etc.

24% of 230SL's were sold to the US Export market.
34% of 250SL's were sold to the US Export market.
54% of 280SL's were sold to the US Export market.

I bring the huge jump in sales to the US marekt for the 280SL's out because it illustrates the dependance MB had on the increasing US market for the SL's.... and as such they were less and less dependant on the internal German market ---- so could afford to cost reduce the appearance without a loss in sales.

As a matter of record, the German internal sales for each model were (as % of total production):
 41% 230SL
 27% 250SL
 22% 280SL  

So, as you can clearly see, the issues that related purely to the German desires (likes and dislikes) were significant to sales in the 230SL's, and less and less significant with each succeeding model... hence the cost reduction features in the 280SL.

Longtooth
67 250SL US #113-043-10-002163
The 6% Club - Best of the Best
'02 SL500 Sport

mdsalemi

  • Pagoda SL Board
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NC, Davidson
  • Posts: 5030
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #43 on: April 08, 2008, 14:49:49 »
Longtooth,

I simply find it interesting that in the 250 test reports in the Brookings Gold Portfolio there isn't mention of any handling difference.  History has been written and can't be changed.  As a 250 owner, can you give any reason why there would be this change in handling?  Perhaps tell us of something in the suspension, tires, wheels, springs, shocks or something--anything that would create a far better cornering capability as you stated?  I don't know--I'm asking.

Those are nice statistics but probably hold true for many Mercedes models and a whole lot of other import cars, too, as volumes increased and a larger percentage went to the world's largest market--the USA.

Take another look at my interior shot and Lews.  Can you really say my 280SL has anything less then a lavish use of chrome?  The differences are indeed subtle; yes there are little printed on chrome beauty rings on some of the knobs.  Yes there's some bright chrome vs. satin.  It's still chrome, you know.

Living on a soldier's salary in a foreign country, would you spend your Sunday washing your car or visiting the sights?

I understand there are differences between the cars.  I understand that there were changes between them.  But the blinding chrome in my interior makes it a bit difficult for me to accept the premise that that there's that much more of it in the 230 or 250.  I have bright trim around my door latch--it's just a different shape.  I also don't believe that us 280 owners, though we may want a 230 or 250, or a ZF 5 speed, or a different color, are enjoying the 113 experience any less than a 230 or 250 owner, and certainly not because me might have bumper overriders; side marker lamps, DOT headlamps, and satin chrome finishes.  I don't think the 280 is a better car per se than the 230 or 250.  It's different.

Also, for what its worth, the most likely highest price paid for a 113 was for a 230SL, not a 250 or 280!  If anything that tells you how the market values such things!  (RM Auctions London, 10/07, USD $126,000)

Michael Salemi
1969 280SL
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
President, International Stars Section
Mercedes-Benz Club of America
« Last Edit: April 08, 2008, 15:12:34 by mdsalemi »
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2019 Ford Flex SEL
2019 Ford Edge SEL

thelews

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, WI, Mequon
  • Posts: 1685
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #44 on: April 08, 2008, 17:46:32 »
quote:
Originally posted by mdsalemi

But the blinding chrome in my interior makes it a bit difficult for me to accept the premise that that there's that much more of it in the 230 or 250.  


There is that much more...and here's the list of what I can think of...

chrome trimned door pockets
chrome door lock
more chrome on vintage door release handle
more chrome on window crank
chrome horn ring
chrome ring around the center steering wheel insert
chrome trim up windshield side pillars
chrome visor mounts
chrome wiper arms
chrome all along the top windshield frame
chrome top handles
chrome rearview mirror
chrome gooseneck sideview mirror
chrome rings in the dash knobs
chrome insert in the trip set knob

It adds up...not better or worse, but a definite bling change.

John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 06:23:22 by thelews »
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual #1543
1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
1970 Porsche 911E
1991 BMW 318is
1966 Jaguar XKE

Longtooth

  • Guest
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #45 on: April 09, 2008, 04:14:01 »
quote:
Originally posted by mdsalemi

Living on a soldier's salary in a foreign country, would you spend your Sunday washing your car or visiting the sights?

Michael Salemi



Mike, I was referring to officer's, civilians, diplomatic, and intelligence corp personell.  My high school had a dorm for the multitude of civilian dependandants from other locations in Germany and Europe from the civilian, diplomatic, and intelligence services... it was a very large community, especially in Germany.  And fwiw, the German working day was longer than any GI's at the time... besides, very few GI's owned a car at all.  They generally bumpmed rides from the very few that did (and those that did had more or less junkers --- call dirt cheap because they wouldn't pass the German TUV...and they didn't have to pass the German TUV if US Military Plates were on them... and the GI's would sell their junker to another GI when they rotated back to the US), or used their "Fraulein's" wheels. All the civilians, officers, diplomatic and intelligence service personell owned one or most often 2 cars... only some were American cars as they bought a European vehicle on or shortly after arrival.... as my parents did. We owned 3 cars when I became of driving age, and my parents owned 3 cars for the duration of their residence in Europe... at least 2 of which were my father's 190SL and 250SL's... and on occasion 4 cars... the extra one for my brother, sister (when they got older and of driving age), or for resident guests (friends from US visiting Europe for an extended period... 6 mo. to a year).

The local US communities living area's were divided into Officer and above rank and enlisted men (non-coms) ranks. They were generally widely sepearated from one another. Officer and above communities were in very nice apt buildings or even single houses (rare in Germany at the time), and many lived on the so-called "economy"... which meant in and within the civilian German area's... we were in that catagory most of the time.

I only bring this up because you seemed to be countering my statement about the German's being agast at how the american's treated their cars... believing perhaps that most were GI's who had no inclination to take care of their cars (the few that owned them).  Quite the contrary.

My point in the 1st place was only that the post-war automobile culture in Germany at that time were highly motivated for heirarchy reasons to baby their cars and for those that had the more expensive variety they expected sumptuousness in them. As MB's dependence (for the SL's) shifted to export's dominant revenues, the were able pay less attention to the accoutrement favored by the Germans.

There were only about 4k more 280SL's produced than 230's, yet 40% of the 230SL market was German, while only 20% of the 280SL's were German (non-export models). In relative terms, there were only 20% more 280SL's produced than 230SL's, (and if I count the 250SL's then there were actually more of the 230SL's & 250SL's combined than 280SL's).  In absolute numbers 8105 230SL's were sold in Germany, while only 5204 280SL's were sold in Germany, despite the 4k more in 280SL production totals.  

So, as you can see, the German buyer's declined in 280SL purchases relative to the 230SL's by both proportions and absolute cars sold. The German market purchased 35% fewer 280SL's than it had purchased 230SL's, even though there were 20% more 280SL's produced than 230SL's.

Part of the reason for the relative and absolute decline in German purchases of the 280SL relative to the 280SL may have been due to the greater proportion of W113's produced period... i.e. they became more "common" than earlier years... less of a hierarchical distinction perhaps. The German economy was exploding at the seams...importing large amounts of labor from Italy, then Spain over those years... increasing internal wealth.... so a drop in the economy doesn't account for the change in German preferences.

I also cannot recall any equivalent alternatives that came on the market during those years in Germany that would have caused a major shift away from the W113's during the 280SL production period.

German purchases accounted for
  24% of 280SL's in '68 (6930 produced = 1660 German)
  22% of 280SL's in '69 (8047 produced = 1770 German)
  18% of 280SL's in '70 (7935 produced = 1460 German)  
  32% of 280SL's in '71 (only 830 produced, so numbers too low to reflect the trend.

In contrast, Germans purchased
   27% of 250SL's in '67 (5177 produced = 1384 German)

and
   53% of 230SL's in '63 (1465 produced =  772 German)
   52% of 230SL's in '64 (6911 produced = 3585 German)
   42% of 230SL's in '65 (6325 produced = 2662 German)
   26% of 230SL's in '66 (4945 produced = 1270 German)

Note that in '64 & '65 230SL sales (in both absolute and relative terms) in Germany were over double those of the best years of German sales for the 280SL's.  The dramatic reduction of 230SL sales in '66 (both in German sales and in absolute total production) dropped because of the anticipation of the 250SL coming out in '67 which was leaked early in '66 despite every effort taken by MB to prevent it.

The German's were not that impressed with the changes however, so recovery to the earlier 230SL's German sales rate never recovered and continued to decline even with the 280SL's introduction in '68.

Recall that ~ halfway thru the 250SL production year the safety "improvements" and several of the interior features of the 280SL were introduced into the 250SL.  The tamer interior accoutrement were not held dearly by the German population.... and the US market probably didn't know or pay much if any attention to the differences --- as is evident on the discussion even by those that have more knowledge than most....certainly far more knowledge about the differences than the average joe purchaser in the US during the years these cars were original purchases.

I don't know the actual reasons for the dramatic decline in German interest in the SL's with the advent of the 250SL and 280SL relative to the 230SL during it's peak years... but I do know that the Germans I knew were very keen on subtle differences, especially if it appeared to be a cheaper version of a former feature. From a business perspective (which is how MB makes decisions), the increasing importance of the export market and the US in particular to sales volumes meant clearly (economically speaking) that MB had to adopt the US DOT required changes for the '68 model year... and many of those requirements dictated that the non-export models would have to incorporate them also... whether the German market approved or not.... with far lesser dependance on the German market for sales MB was able to economically benefit by many of the DOT required changes  --- reduced reflective items and one-piece wheel covers among them... the one piece wheel covers had been standard on the sedans for several years already.  MB just eliminated the 2 piece wheel covers to cut costs ---- since the one piece wheel covers were considered for the 230SL and rejected early on to further distinguish the new SL from the sedans.  The reason for it's being able to cost cut by using the one piece wheel covers is simply based volume pricing, lower mfg'ing cost for the one piece covers (one stamping instead of two), along with eliminating the lower volume premium for the two piece wheel covers, and lower inventory carrying costs.  


Longtooth
67 250SL US #113-043-10-002163
The 6% Club - Best of the Best
'02 SL500 Sport

Ricardo

  • Guest
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #46 on: April 09, 2008, 08:17:13 »
To add to Michaels question of handling improvements, it appears to me that the changes that occured that would have most likely affected the handling, actually occured at the beginning of the 250's production. According to Frank Mallory's Chronology of production changes, the most significant in terms of handling would have been the introduction of 4 wheel disc brakes, the addition of a rear brake proportioning valve, perhaps the addition of the viscous fan (more available HP), and the change from a 22 to a 20 mm. anti roll bar. It could be argued that the larger gas tank when full would have changed weight distribution, thus affecting handling, but all other listed changes seem to be either cosmetic, emmisions related, or simply design improvements (self lubricating water pump etc.)It would seem as though there weren't any significant changes that would have made a difference between the 250 and 280 handling characteristics.
Michael gets the point on this one  :D

As for the reason I chose the early 250; the differences were explained to me, before I bought my car, by a member of the old Kathy Kennel run group, when I queried about the three models. He ventured all the reasons that have been presented here on how he preferred the early 250's, and he in fact had one for sale, which I ended up buying in Camden NJ. The main selling point for me was his statement that the 250's sold for less money than either of the other two, a statement I was able to verify myself through researching Ebay and Hemmings.

Ricardo
'67 250sl #1854
Best of the Best
And cheapest too!
« Last Edit: April 10, 2008, 10:10:07 by Ricardo »

mdsalemi

  • Pagoda SL Board
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, NC, Davidson
  • Posts: 5030
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #47 on: April 09, 2008, 08:34:55 »

chrome trimned door pockets    GOT ME THERE
chrome door lock   The 280's have a chrome door lock trim, it's just different but chrome nonetheless.  Solid chrome plated casting--I bought new ones last year.
more chrome on vintage door release handle  The 280's have a chrome release handle too, different but shiny chrome nonetheless.  At least mine does.
more chrome on window crank  280 window cranks are chrome too, just with a small padded insert.
chrome horn ring  280 horn ring is chrome too, elegant, satin chrome.
chrome ring around the center steering wheel insert GOT ME THERE
chrome trim up windshield side pillars  280 has padded bolsters.  Just like your photo, John.
chrome visor mounts GOT ME THERE
chrome wiper arms  Chrome too, just satin.
chrome all along the top windshield frame Just like a 280.  I polish it each time I wash the car!
chrome top handles  Just like mine.
chrome rearview mirror  GOT ME THERE.
chrome gooseneck sideview mirror  280 mirrors are chrome too.
chrome rings in the dash knobs  Printed chrome.  Is that really elegant?
chrome insert in the trip set knob  Ditto.

John,

Not only are you not 100% accurate here, you ignore that the vast acreage of chrome such as the dash pieces, vents, instrument trim, trim around the padded dash, map light, ignition switch, radio trim etc. is identical.  That one might choose a 250 over a 280 because of printed chrome on a bakelite knob is a stretch at best.

Further, with you on the bling, and with longtooth on the unproved handling issue(!)with unnamed decades-old magazines and perhaps some fading romantic memory, together perhaps unwittingly you are proferring the incorrect statement that somehow the 250SL is superior to the 230SL because of some improvements, but that it is also superior to the 280SL because subsequent improvements on the 280SL you classify as mere changes, and devolutionary changes at that!  Longtooth even offers a longtooth discussion of German car culture and also suggests that because of these devolutionary changes, the Germans began to reject the W113.  What together you are selling, I'm not buying--sorry.  You can like the 250 more than either the 230 or 280.  That's opinion you are entitled to.  But to make statements that one can't have the totality of the 113 experience with bumper overriders and a satin chrome horn ring and all that extra "bling" is really not very believable to me, and I'd suggest not very believable to the whole lot of 280 owners either.  With all due respect to your Mom of course.

To each their own.  If you like the package of the 250SL, that's great.  I do too.  But I consider it an evolutionary change to the 230.  I consider the 280 evolutionary change to the 250, too.  The 113s were an evolutionary change to the 190, and the 107's (like them or not--they lasted 19 years!) to the 113's.

Obviously I'll get nowhere preaching historical fact here, so it's time to move on.

Didn't expect this, sammyr, now did you? ;)

Michael Salemi
1969 280SL
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
President, International Stars Section
Mercedes-Benz Club of America
Michael Salemi
Davidson, North Carolina (Charlotte Area) USA
1969 280SL (USA-Spec)
Signal Red 568G w/Black Leather (Restored)
2019 Ford Flex SEL
2019 Ford Edge SEL

psmith

  • Guest
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #48 on: April 09, 2008, 09:47:03 »
There is no right answer when we're discussing something as subjective as which model is better, it's all just opinions.  True, there are objective measurements like which model has more square inches of chrome, or how many g's it can pull on a test pad, but weather the combination of all these differences make the car better or worse is a personal opinion.  I think we all tend to prefer the model we own, but I think it's hard to say one is better than another, just different.

Pete S.

thelews

  • Associate Member
  • Platinum
  • ******
  • USA, WI, Mequon
  • Posts: 1685
Re: 230 vs 250 vs 280sl
« Reply #49 on: April 09, 2008, 11:07:49 »
Perhaps I need to rephrase the term as "polished chrome" as opposed to "satin chrome" as that was the mandated difference, ie. to reduce reflection.  The discussion is exactly one of polished vs. satin and the toning down of bling for safety reasons.

For you, I will take some pictures of the items...for example the door lock.  The whole assembly is chrome and metal.  The windshield side pillar, the material wraps around from the windshield and then there is a polished chrome trim all the way up the pillar.  The 280 has material all the way around with no chrome.  Yes, you wipe the chrome around the windshield header after a wash, outside where the rubber seal mates and you see with the top down , the 230/250 chrome wraps around to the inside that you see sitting in the seats with the top up.  Yes, the 280 sideview mirror is chrome, but it (just in my opinion) lacks the elegance of the goose (or swan) neck on the 230/250.  Same for the door pulls and window cranks.  I will take pictures.

I am not ignoring the chrome pieces that are identical, the discussion is about what is different and was changed between models.  I'm not trying to "get" you, just noting the facts of the changes MB made.

I also am not suggesting that one model is "better" than another or not, rather, I'm just highlighting factual physical differences between the models.  When I referred to the totality of the Bracq design I was in no way referring to the totality of the 113/Pagoda experience.  Certainly there is much more in common across the three models than different.  Rather my "totality" comment referred more to the supposition, that had not safety and economy entered into the design process, would the bling changes (and some others) to the 280 have been made by MB, or, the original design left as is?

John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual

John
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual
« Last Edit: April 09, 2008, 11:25:45 by thelews »
Enjoy some pictures at this link:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/8292359@N06/sets/72157603240571101/show/

John - Wisconsin
1967 Early 250 SL Red/Caviar, Manual #1543
1961 190 SL 23K miles
1964 Porsche 356
1970 Porsche 911E
1991 BMW 318is
1966 Jaguar XKE