The R107 SL’s Blockbuster Top Hits
The R107 SL has become synonymous with an eclectic range of films over the years, some better and more well-known than others. We take a look at the R107 SL’s top hits.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, 1986
Sequel to one of the most renowned cult horror movies of the 20th Century, this follow up film is an unfortunate attempt to continue the flagship fear fest of the 1970s hit. If you’re not partial to horror, the opening sequence of the film is all you need to appreciate the SL R107’s moment. The film begins with the 1981 Byzantine Gold R107 380 SL skating down a Texan Road, black hood in place and with the passenger unloading a revolver at passing objects. An unusual setting for a refined European roadster to be based; even in the 1980s.
The occupants of the vehicle – Buzz and Rick – have no doubt commandeered a family vehicle, driving recklessly with an absence of sophistication and tonnes of intoxication. Adrenaline leads Buzz and Rick into a game of Chicken with a very ominous looking Chevrolet pickup truck. For those that don’t know the game Chicken, it involves driving head-on towards another vehicle to force them off the road. As you can guess, said Chevrolet is not too happy with this manoeuvre and also happens to be driven by the scandalous Leatherface. As Buzz and Rick continue pestering the local radio station via the car phone, Leatherface blocks off a bridge ahead. A jousting session ensues as they attempt to reach the end of the bridge first, with the Chevrolet reversing alongside the R107. Despite the 200 horses at Buzz’s disposal, the Chevrolet Silverado manages to keep pace in reverse gear, allowing Leatherface to begin chopping through the hood and slicing Buzz’s head in two. If only he had put his foot down. The R107 proceeds to crash, killing Rick. It is not clear whether this car was destroyed for the film. What is clear though, is that the film isn’t particularly good. Perhaps the choice of car was an attempt to ridicule the 1980s American elite by implying that a sophisticated car, is not a license to terrorise other drivers.
Robert De Niro’s penchant for playing Mafia masterminds shines through in this 1995 crime thriller directed by Martin Scorsese. De Niro takes on the position as head of the Tangiers Casino where he begins amassing huge profits for the Mafia, providing himself and his wife (Sharon Stone) with a life of opulence and hedonism. With this comes a specific choice of car for his wife, a 1973 Light Ivory 450 SL with the higher powered V8 engine.
By the time Casino was released, the R107 SL was no longer in production thanks to 18 years of record sales. Nevertheless, the R107 was an essential choice for the film’s setting, specifically to depict the wealth and status of the characters living in 1970s Las Vegas. Sharon Stone’s drug and drink induced decline in the film reaches a climax when she turns the R107 into a battering ram, thrusting the front-end into De Niro’s Lincoln Continental. With little mechanical sympathy for such an iconic car, the safety-orientated rubber bumpers of the 450 SL wreak havoc on the rear end of the larger luxury coupe. German engineering one, American zero.
Beverly Hills Cop, 1984
Eddie Murphy’s ascendence to Hollywood icon and the king of Beverly Hills simultaneously propelled the R107 SL to the celebrity chariot of choice throughout the 1980s. From Michael Jackson to Bob Marley, the R107 was the eponymous car of superstars during the 70s and 80s.
Eddie Murphy’s lovable character, Axel Foley, heads to Los Angeles to solve the murder of a friend. Upon arrival in Beverly Hills, Foley quickly transitions from driving himself around in a dilapidated old Chevrolet Nova, to being chauffeured by co-star Lisa Eilbacher. The car in question is a distinctive Signal Red 450 SL with a Cedar tan leather interior, an apt configuration for the west coast setting. Perhaps the best brand endorsement of the year for Mercedes-Benz is delivered when Eilbacher’s character asks Foley, ‘’have you ever driven a Mercedes before?’’ Foley quickly takes his place in the passenger seat. The R107 SL was to be driven by those capable and those who identified with the car’s persona and values, not a reckless detective like Foley.
American Gigolo, 1980
If Shakespeare had been immortal, he most likely would have produced this dramatic tale of strive into dive. With a lavish existence as a male prostitute, Julian Kay enjoys copious amounts of designer clothes, an expensive bachelor pad and a high-end German convertible. For a moment, Kaye flies as high as a kite before plummeting to poll position zero: Criminal. The film features Blondie’s number one hit ‘Call Me’, which not only suits Kaye’s occupation but the American luxury car dealerships looking to capitalise on the SL’s significant amount of airtime throughout the film.
American Gigolo offers the most comprehensive insight into the construction of the R107, as well as a look at daily ownership of this two-seater convertible. The 1980 450 SL sets the mood of the film with a black metallic finish, matt black wing mirrors and black leather interior, a distinct contrast to the flamboyant colours associated with Californian convertible cruising. All of the 450 SL’s angles are covered at different stages in the film, with shots of Kaye gliding along a dirt desert track with the sun darting from bumper to bumper, followed by spirited cruising down the monolithic Californian highways. Stowage of the cloth hood is also incorporated – as we said, a great advert for this timeless machine. Perhaps most well-coordinated is the fusion between Kaye’s residence and the 450 SL – the distinct modernist Le Corbusier-styled angles of Kaye’s house sit nicely as the backdrop to the SL’s sharp edges. A particular lifestyle of a Mercedes-Benz R107 SL owner is implied at moments in the film. Not so much the killer or prostitute element, of course.
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