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A radio might have a manual or automatic antenna. Most antennas, especially manual antennas, were positioned on the passenger front fender. When automatic antennas became popular those were frequently installed on the driver side rear fender. Some manual antennas came with a small key to fit a slot at the top of the antenna to help lift the antenna when fully retracted. The most common antennas were by Hirschmann. The original Hirschmann automatic antennas that Mercedes sold for front fender mounting on a late 280SL (MB p/n 900 820 04 11) was a Hirschmann 6000-F58:

Front Fender Antenna Mounting Dimensions:

Front Fender Mounting Dimensions |

Even in very early 230SL cars the original fenders have a mark on the inside of the outer fender to position an antenna hole. In addition a large asymmetric hole was cut into the inner fender to facilitate installation of an automatic antenna with a motor. On the outside the mast of an antenna should be tilted backward to be about parallel with the window post ("A" pillar). This requires that the bottom part of an automatic antenna with the motor needs to move forward. A hole drilled too far forward (as indicated in the photo) prevents the tilting, and a hole drilled too far outwards leaves no room for the motor. Thus, it is critical to drill the antenna hole as marked by the factory. The photo shows the view from behind the kick panel inside the cabin passenger footwell and upwards.

Installation Instructions for a modern replacement antenna:

Hirschmann Installation Manual in German,English & French

Rear Fender Installation Instructions (250SL late/ 280SL)

Here is a good installation page showing the installation for an automatic antenna (Becker model AUTA 6000) in the trunk (boot).

Becker Installation Manual (German & English)

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Apparently there aren't many of the original Hirschmann antennas around any more. Other searching indicates that Hirschmann is still alive and well, and makes replacement antennas for MBs and BMWs. My antenna is like this: chrome, dome-shaped base, appears to be adjustable for angle, with no markings. Chrome mast. The tip of the mast has a flat black button with the Hirschmann "h" logo on top. The car is a '69 Euro 280 SL. Any idea if it's original or replacement?

Either yours is not a Hirschmann or it's a later model. Anyway, original type Hirschmanns ARE available (at a price), together with used ones. My personal experience is that you can buy a used one for between $50 and $200. Then you just sit hoping it will work (and it'll do it for a long time). Now, I know of a company which fully refurbish original antennas of the correct type and sell them with a one year guarantee. They're like new and are quite expensive (don't remember but could be around $600) but they're by far the best antennas in the world. By the way, the correct type is automatic and rises perfectly vertically when you turn your radio on.

Thanks for all the info, guys. I omitted one fairly important piece of info, and that is as far as I can tell, it's a manual (not power) antennna. Sorry about leaving that out. Were all of the W 113's equipped with power antennas? I had heard that power antennas were optional, so either power or manual antenna could be correct. Mine had a Becker radio as original equipment, but it's also a Euro (Germany) model, could they be equipped differently? If it originally had a power antenna, perhaps it was replaced with a manual antenna. The antenna does appear to be a Hirschmann, it has their "h" logo on the black button on top of the mast. Don't know if data cards indicate power antennas, mine doesn't. Since my car had relatively few options, I'll assume that the manual antenna is correct for the time being.

Data cards do indicate if the car had a power antenna, mine had one option code: #531.

I just got the final info on this matter. According to the original MB options manual, the situation was this: 230, 250 and 280 up to March '70 had only automatic antennas. From April' 70 onwards you could have a manual antenna, although this was not a popular option here in Europe. Manual antennas seem to be a "popular" option in the USA were they were bought without radio (this also explains why many have Blaupunkt radios fitted). If your manual antenna is the original one you should have option code 534, while 531 is for auto antenna (with any Becker radio) and 532 is auto antenna without radio (a quite uncommon option).

Here's my situation: My data card shows option code 516 (Becker Grand Prix radio), but there are no antenna codes at all. All other option codes have been explained (by the MB Museum) and none have anything to do with the antenna. I can't imagine the factory would install a radio without an antenna, so there must have been a "default" antenna that went with the 516 Becker GP. Any idea what kind of antenna it would be?
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