Sacrilege! Who stuck this piece of dull, fading black rubber on this fine SL? Ok, this is actually a Mercedes factory spoiler, but it was not original to this Euro-spec 280SL or the great majority of R107 SL/SLCs. Then what did it come on originally? And it begs asking, what was the worst-looking factory spoiler?
Mercedes did feel the need to install these spoilers on the quite fast 1978 450SLC 5., which premiered their new alloy-block 5.0 L V8. In European tune, these engines delivered 237 hp, and could propel these cars to 140 mph (225 kmh). At these speeds, the rear end tended to get a bit light, so the spoiler was a necessary tool to keep them properly glued to the autobahn. Mercedes was not sticking these own for looks alone. The subsequent 1980-up European 500SL/SLC also got the spoiler, as these were essentially the same.
Unfortunately, many a non-500SL/SLC has been the recipient of these, which are available as aftermarket items. And nowadays, the trend is to remove them again, for obvious reasons, which inevitable requires filling of the holes and a respray.
This 280SL is still sporting its European composite lights, which are rather more organic to its design than the quad sealed beams that US spec R107 all got. And of course, it has the lovely delicate bumpers too. Looks great, and from this angle, the rear spoiler has become invisible.
And regarding the performance of these European 280SLs: since they lacked any meaningful emission controls and had high compression, output was a quite healthy 185 hp. And these European 280s often came with 5 speed manual transmissions, so they could actually outrun a US-spec 175 hp 450SL. But they still didn’t need the spoiler.
Now back to that question…