1971 Mercedes 280 SL

The classic car featured in this article, the 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, a vehicle built on the W 113 chassis, was Mercedes' sports car of the 1960's. The 1971 model was the last model year in the series which spanned 1963 to 1971. This series of Mercedes cars replace the 300 SL and 190 SL as the company's sports car offering.

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL

If you were to have purchased the 1971 280 SL you would have had a choice of two different car tops.

You could have chose the "Robbins Auto Top" soft top or the removable hard top. The car without the soft top was picked up the nick name of the "California Model" or "California Coupe" . This name surely refers to California's non rainy season weather where you're not apt to be surprised by a rain shower. In place of where the soft top would have been is a small bench seat. This is between the front seats and the trunk. The 280 SL was built as a two seater but it would be possible to get two small riders on the bench seat if you needed to.

The only obvious issue with the removable hard top, such as on the model shown here, would have been rain. Take the hard top off and drive a bit too far from home and you might get unexpectedly rained on. Time to look for an overpass to park under.

Pagoda Roof Mercedes

Pagoda Roof Mercedes

Mercedes 280 SL Styling

During the 1963 to 1971 time span Mercedes-Benz produced the 230/250/280 SL models. All three of these models were built on the W 113 chassis which meant that body designing would be somewhat similar for each model.The W 113 chassis was noted as being relatively short and wide. It replaced the W 198 chassis and was replaced by the W 107 chassis in 1972. The "W": designation refers to the word "Wagen" which means car.

The W 113 chassis has the claim of being Mercedes first chassis built specifically with safety in mind. This included impact absorbing front and rear section and a strong passenger cell area plus a rounded interior.

The first thing you notice with the 280 SL are it's square cut lines. The car has an angular and sleek look to it.

Another you'll thing you'll notice right off is it's somewhat concave styled hard top. This is the hard top that was referred to as the "Pagoda Hard Top". The roof design was claimed to provide better head room while getting in and out of the vehicle and allowing for larger windows. Engineering wise, the concave roof is said to offer better support in case of a rollover. This was made possible by two thicker pillars. Today, these Mercedes W 113 models and their concave roofs are getting more and more popular with collector's.

Mercedes-Benz wheel covers

Mercedes-Benz wheel covers

1971 Merces-Benz 280 SL Specifications

The 1971 Mercedes_Benz 280 SL came with an Inline six cylinder 2.8 Liter M 130 engine. The engine could deliver 170 horsepower. The 2.8 liter replaced the previous 2.5 liter engine.

Transmission options were a four speed manual or four speed automatic. Zero to 60 MPH was said to take 10.0 seconds with the manual transmission and 11.0 seconds with the automatic. Top speed was said to be 124 MPH.

The Mercedes 280 SL front suspension consisted of independent, double wishbone, coil spring, anti-roll. the rear suspension was a low-pivot swing axle and coil spring.

The car has four disc brakes as opposed to the two disc/ two drum brakes with the Mercedes 250 model.

The 280 SL had a total length of 168.8 inches. Width was 69.2 inches and the height was 51.4 inches. The car's wheelbase was 94.5 inches.

1971 Mercedes 280 SL square line styling

1971 Mercedes 280 SL square line styling

The roadster model (soft top) had a weight of 2,948 lbs. The coupe or hard top model weighed 3,124 lbs with the top on.

Fuel efficiency was stated to be about 19 MPG.

New car price in the U.S. ranged between $7,000 and $8,000.

From 1967 to 1971 when the Mercedes 280 SL's were built, the total number produced were 23,885 units.

An excellent book on the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL as well as all of the W 113 models is The Essential Buyers Guide: Mercedes-Benz Pagoda 230,250 & 280 SL.

The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL remains a good car collector's vehicle. The body style is popular, Mercedes-Benz engineering is considered excellent and parts, although not inexpensive, are relatively easy to find.

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1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL removable hardtop coupe

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL removable hardtop coupe

Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA

Mercedes has opened the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA in Irvine, California. The Classic Center is a museum housing examples of the company's 400 car collection of vintage Mercedes-Benz vehicle. The museum is similar to the Mercedes facility opened in 1993 just outside Stuttgart Germany. The address for the facility opened in 2006 in the Los Angeles Calfornia area is 9 Whatney, Irvine CA.

As of this writing, prices being asked for the 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, in fine condition, show figures like $49,000, $45,000. $75,000. Prices look to have steadily rose since the financial troubles of 2008.

A 1971 Mercedes 280 SL in mint museum condition reportedly sold at auction for $99,000.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)



1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

The 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air was a part of the first generation Bel Air's. The Chevy Bel Air name did appear as part of the 1949 to 1952 Chevrolet Styleline models. During that time the Bel Air model was part of the Styleline Deluxe cars. In 1953 the Chevy Bel Air came out as a new series rather than just an individual model.

1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

The first post World War Two designs came along in 1949. This was the case with almost all automakers since it took a bit of time after the war's end to nail down new styling. The new Chevrolet Styleline models were a big departure from the 1946 to 1948 cars which still had the Pre War look.

The 1953 and 1954 Chevy Bel Airs came out with more modern styling. Fender protrusions shrunk, as did overall heights. The engine gained aluminum pistons and full-pressure lubrication. The main differences between the 1953 and 1954 models were a more powerful engine and a new oval grille for the 54 models. Two tone colors were pretty popular for both the 1953 and 54 models.

The 1954 Chevy Bel Air was really an evolution of the 1949 new post war design. Beginning in 1955, the Chevrolet Bel Air would take on an entirely different look.

1954 Chevy new front grille design

1954 Chevy new front grille design

The 1954 Chevy Bel Air, just as with the 1953 model, was offered in three styles. These were the high end "Bel Air Series", the "210 Series" and the economy "150 Series". The 150 Series had very little aluminum trim and used rubber floor mats.

Promoting the 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air

Chevrolet advertising of the time claimed that the Bel Air models were far and away the best looking cars on the road for the money. The one piece curved windshield and the new grille were emphasized. Chevrolet also offered new wheel covers as standard equipment on all Bel Air models.

Both the 1953 and 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air's were quite well known for their roomy trunk space. Probably one of the largest trunks on a non luxury automobile.

Some of you, perhaps not many, may remember the singer Dinah Shore touting the new 1953 Chevy Bel Air as "a glamorous new star". Dinah Shore may well have been Chevrolet's best pitch lady throughout the early days of television in the 1950's. The song "See The USA In Your Chevrolet" was sung to millions of viewers each week. Chevrolet did know how to promote their cars.

1954 Chevy dashboard

1954 Chevy dashboard

The new inline six Blue Flame 125 is considered my many to be one of the great engines put out by Chevrolet. It wasn't really replaced until 1963 so it had a good long run.

Chevrolet also put a lot of promotion toward the new "Blue Flame 125" engine with it's new Hi-Lift cams which were said to increase horsepower. It was claimed that the new lifters allowed better breathing in the combustion chamber thus more power.

Chevrolet Heavy Duty trucks in 1954 also offered the Blue Flame engine as an option. The truck version was a 261 cid engine in a modified block. Both the 235 cid and 261 cid's were also used on GMC trucks.

1954 Chevrolet Bel Air Specifications

Engines on the 1954 Chevrolet's were the 235.5 cid Inline Six with the "Blue Flame 125" Inline Six being offered on those models with Powerglide transmissions. The "Blue Flame 125"  delivered 125 horsepower. The 1953 models came with a 235.5 cid Inline Six delivering 115 horsepower. V-8's would not be introduced on the Bel Air's until 1955.

Powerglide automatic transmissions were offered as an option on all three Bel Air models.

The 1954 Chevy Bel Air had a wheelbase of 115.0 inches and a weight of about 3,400 lbs. The vehicle's length was 195.5 inches.

1954 Chevy Bel Air

1954 Chevy Bel Air

Some interesting options for the 1954 model included a power seat, power front windows and power brakes.

The 1954 Chevy Bel Air Collector's Car

The 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air makes a very good automobile for restoration projects. For one thing getting hold of one will cost less than a 1955 to 1957 second generation Bel Air. The 1954 Chevy Bel Air is perfect for the cost conscious restorer and/or collector.

For the restorer, the pricing for a non restored 1954 Chevy should be reasonable, especially when compared to what the 1955-57 models command.

Parts for the 1954 Chevy Bel Air should be relatively easy to find. A lot of these Chevy models have survived over the years. The biggest cost if there is rust would be bodywork where sheet metal would need to be added. The other larger expense item, outside of rebuilding the six cylinder engine, would be new upholstery and panel updating in the interior.

Two additional photo articles on AutoMuseumOnline you may enjoy include...

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As of this writing, auto auction selling prices for the 1954 Chevrolet Bel Air Sedan can range from $6,000 to the high $20,000 range, perhaps in some cases even more. Everything depends on whether the car is restored and to what degree of restoration.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)

1970 Corvette Stingray

The Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray was first introduced as the second generation Corvettes came out and they have been produced ever since. This article features the 1970 Corvette Stingray which was a third generation Chevrolet Corvette.

Third generation Chevy Corvette

Third generation Chevy Corvette


The first generation, referred to as the C1's, ran from 1953 to 1962. The second generation Corvette's were produced from 1963 to 1967 and are known as the C2's. The third generation Chevy Corvette were called the C3's and were produced from 1968 to 1982.  Chevrolet used the word Sting Ray (two words) for the second generation Corvette models and the word Stingray (one word) for the third generation cars.

Many might say that the Corvette was the most popular high performance sports car ever built. While this may surely be true, there are those who consider true sports cars as being something from Europe regardless of the fact that the Corvette's performance is considered superior. Corvette owners may also be a part of the largest active sports car owners group in the world. Pick a city and you'll have an easy time locating Chevy Corvette clubs.

1970 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

1970 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

The car featured in this article is the 1970 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, a third generation Corvette. Although the engine and chassis was from the second generation models, the interior and body was new. Also new for the third generation Corvettes was the T-Top Coupe.

A good number of design changes were made since the car's inception in 1953. The first Corvette's were rushed into production in late 1953 primarily due to the great reception the concept car received earlier that year at the New York Auto Show. As a result of the rushed production there were a lot of things that could be added and tweaked in later models.

The 1970 Corvette Stingray

If you're talking about Corvette's the two subjects to explore are style and performance. The fiberglass body came with big flared fenders and stylish vent grilles, two things that many classic Corvettes are known for. The first flared fenders came out with the 1970 models. The Corvette's interior had newly designed seats along with wood grain paneling. The year 1970 also saw the Corvette offered in more colors.

New Stingray emblem above side grille

New Stingray emblem above side grille

As far as performance is concerned, the 1970 Chevrolet Corvette was advertised to go from Zero to 60 MPH in 5.7 seconds. Horsepower available with the 1970 models could reach 460 horsepower.

1970 Chevy Corvette Specifications

There were three engines to choose from with the 1970 Corvette Sting Ray.

Most of the 1970 Corvettes were built with big block engines although the Chevy small block LT 350 cubic inch was offered and could produce 370 horsepower. Another small block 350 cubic inch engine offered delivered 350 horsepower.

The big block Chevy engine was a 454 cubic inch V-8 that delivered a spectacular 460 horsepower. All three engines had cylinders at ninety degree angles with each cylinder having two valves.

1970 Corvette Stingray flared fenders

1970 Corvette Stingray flared fenders

The transmissions offered with the 1970 Corvette was either an automatic or a three or four speed manual. If you were performance minded chances are that you preferred the manual with it's high performance clutch.

The exhaust tips were shaped rectangular with the 1970 models and the word Stingray appeared on the side of the car.

Racing equipment could also be ordered that included brakes, stabilizing bars and special suspension.

The 1970 Chevy Corvette Stingray's wheelbase was 98.0 inches, overall length of 182.5 inches, width of 69.2 inches and height of 47.8 inches.

The Corvette Stingray's weight was about 3,400 lbs which when matched with the horsepower delivered by the big or small block Chevy engine gave you quite a ride.

The third generation Chevrolet Corvettes were a bit heavier than the second generation having various gadgets added such as fiber optic light monitors and pop up windshield wipers just to name a few.

Production figures for the 1970 Corvette were 10,668 coupes built and 6,648 convertibles.

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1970 Corvette Stingray rear with Corvette circle emblem

1970 Corvette Stingray rear with Corvette circle emblem

The 1962 Chevrolet Corvette Collector's Car

Just about any Chevrolet Corvette built is a collector's car. Some obviously more than others. Generally the Sting Ray's (second generation) are more valuable than the Stingrays (third generation). The Corvette (C3) auction price or selling price of course also is influenced by the car's condition, mileage and degree of restoration performed.

As of this writing,  several 1970 Stingray's have been offered in the high $40,000 range. Auction results for the 1970 Chevy Corvette Stingray indicate a high price of about $180,000 (2008) for a finely restored model and low prices below $10,000 for an non restored car. The average auction sales price over the past five years has been in the $45,000 to $90,000 range for a finely restored 1970 Corvette. Current economic conditions will of course also influence sales and auction prices.