In spring 1971, another production sports car was presented with the Type 350 SL, replacing the 280 SL, which had been built since January 1968. Technically, this model was a brand new development which had almost nothing in common with its predecessor. However, the same basic components had already been used in other Mercedes-Benz models: Front and rear wheel suspension was basically the same as that of the “ Stroke Eight“ models and the V8-engine was a familiar feature of the saloons, coupés and convertibles of the 280 SE 3.5 Type.
With respect to the general concept the differences were less clear: Like its predecessor, the 350 SL was a two-seater with fully retractable roadster hood and removable hard top. However, the new model, represented a once and for all departure from the uncompromisingly hard sports car, – and, incidentally, even the „Pagoda SL“, too, was not a true representation of that type – in favour of a more comfortable yet powerful luxury two-seater. The 350 SL – with the internal code name R 107 – was equipped with numerous innovatory details, which were to result in increased passive and active safety and set the course for the future development of passenger cars. The fuel tank was no longer located in the rear of the car but had been transferred to a collision-proof position above the rear axle. In the passenger cabin, an upholstered dashboard, flexible or retractable switches and buttons and the new four-spoked steering wheel with an in-built rebounding device and a broader upholstered centre-piece provided a maximum of safety in case of collision.
New wind deflector profiles at the A-pillars, which served as drainage rails for dirt water in heavy rain and kept the windows clean even in poor weather conditions guaranteed very good vision. Further details, adding to the safety of the car, were clearly visible indicators as well as large taillights, which, thanks to their ribbed surface profile, were almost completely soil-repellent.