The 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production through 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by its successor, the entirely new and substantially heavier 350 SL. Over the years, the W113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was ordered only 882 times and thus is a highly sought-after original option today. In Europe, manual transmissions without air conditioning were still the predominant choice. Of the 23,885 280 SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.

The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc (2.8 L) M130 engine with 170 PS (130 kW; 170 hp) maximum power and 180 lb·ft (244 N·m) maximum torque, which finally gave the W 113 adequate power. The performance improvement was achieved by increasing bore by 4.5 mm (0.2 in), which stretched the limits of the M180 block, and required pairwise cylinder casts without cooling water passages.

The M130 marked the final evolution of Mercedes-Benz' venerable SOHC M180 inline-six, before it was superseded by the entirely new DOHC M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models.

North American models have a number of subtle differences, the most obvious one being the distinctive "sealed beam" bulb headlights required in the US versus the Bosch Lichteinheit headlights for the rest of the world. 1970 US models also acquired amber turn-signal lenses on the rear lights, later than most other countries.

Other differences of the North American models include imperial gauges, chrome bumper guards, side reflectors (illuminated from 1970), lower rear-axle ratios for faster acceleration yet lower top speeds, and no "single-side" parking lights. US market 280 SL engines required emission control modifications, including "softer" valve timings, a reduced compression ratio and a modified injection pump, which reduced power from 170 PS (125 kW; 168 hp) to 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp) In the US, automatic transmission, air conditioning, and white wall tires were much more popular than elsewhere.

This example is a very nice California car with 139K original miles. VIN# 280SL022606. White/Tan with rare 4-speed manual gearbox. Includes both tops and a hardtop rack. All service records since 1990 and early service records as well. It has a recent service, including a new muffler, and runs and drives very well.

1971 Mercedes Benz 280 SL