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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 R10 350 SL. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sportscar 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. 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, 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. This mandated an oil-cooler, which was fitted vertically next to the radiator. Each engine was now bench-tested for two hours prior to being fitted, so their power specification was guaranteed at last.
The M130 marked the final evolution of Mercedes-Benz' venerable M180 inline-six, before it was superseded by the entirely new M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models.