Promoting Excellence in HO Scale Vehicle Modeling

Wiking's Newest Classic - Mercedes Benz 280SL Review

Please note: The opinions expressed in our reviews are the views of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the 1/87 Vehicle Club.

model critique by Bill Cawthon

Mercedes-Benz introduced the W113 chassis in 1963 with the 230SL. During its eight-year production life the W113 was also the basis for two other 6-cylinder sports cars, the 250SL and the 280SL. The 280SL, built from 1968 to 1971, is the basis for Wiking's newest addition to their "Classic" series. 

The prototype for Wiking's new model used the W113.044 Chassis and M130.983 engine. This was an inline six, SOHC powerplant developing 195 horsepower. Weighing a rather unsportscar-like 2,992 pounds, the first 280SL rolled off the line in January, 1968. American Mercedes-Benz dealers sold the 280SL, with a few minor modifications, for all three years it remained in production. It was a very popular model and many of the W113-series cars are still around, some even being used as daily drivers.

Wiking's first model of a W113-series car, a 230SL convertible, appeared in 1965 and remained in the catalog through 1978, going through eighteen variations. There was also a special release in 1992, celebrating 40 years of Mercedes SL sports cars.

Thirty-six years after their 230SL's debut, Wiking has released a "pagoda top" 280SL hardtop with lots of factory details that would have been impossibly expensive on the original model. Wiking model 834 39 26 made its debut at the 2001 N├╝rnberg Toy Fair and has been shipping almost since the Fair ended in early February.

The new 280SL model is red with a light beige interior. The chassis is black and nicely-detailed down to the exhaust pipe that extends past a cut-out in the body. What really sets this model apart is the quality of the detail paintwork. All the bright trim found on the real 280SL is faithfully reproduced, including the trim strips on the roof. The concentric bright rings on the body-colored wheels are a nice touch. The slotted wheels on Wiking's model show this to be a first-generation 280SL, as later production went to wheels with round holes. Fine details, like the Mercedes star and "280SL" model designation, are printed on the rear deck lid. Even though Wiking is using silver paint, one of the most difficult colors, the print is nice and sharp.

As with their other new models, Wiking takes great pains with the interior of the 280SL. The dashboard features gauges and radio controls and there's the correct two-spoke steering wheel. For the terminally-detail-oriented, a few minutes with a brush and the dashboard will be perfect. 

Perhaps the only fault is the one Wayne Calder constantly calls to our attention: there's no outside rearview mirror. Other than that, it's a beautiful model, ready to take its place in your collection or on your layout. 

In addition to the new 280SL, I want to mention another Mercedes-Benz sports car from Wiking. It's been around a couple of years, but it's definitely worth a first, second, or even third look. I'm talking about Wiking's 1954 300SL Gull-Wing coupe. This little jewel features opening doors and hood, see-through chrome grille and a wealth of beautiful detailing. It doesn't have a rear-view mirror, either, but considering the wealth of detail you get for your hobby dollar, this model ought to be in your collection.

Wiking model 834 39 26 - 1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Hardtop. Suggested Retail $12.00. Wiking model 833 02 25 - 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Coupe. Suggested Retail $11.50 Manufactured by Wiking Modellbau GmbH & Co. KG Berlin, Germany. Distributed in the U.S. by Flint Imports, Lake Park, Florida.

Bill Cawthon