Cars We Love: Mercedes-Benz SL Pagoda
Outer and inner values
From 1963 to 1971, Mercedes-Benz sold some 50,000 SL Pagodas with ease. The success of the luxury roadster can be partly attributed to Paul Bracq’s striking design – the W113 (as it was internally known) was much more muscular than its forebears, the 190 and 300 SLs, and clever packaging meant much more usable space in the cabin. Add in the solid and powerful direct-injection straight-six engine, disc brakes and elaborate suspension system utilising gas-pressure dampers, and you had a sporty yet surprisingly comfortable cruiser.
Export, re-import, re-export
The SL truly went round the world: some 34,000 cars were exported, with around 19,000 of those destined for the United States. This has led to a boom in re-imports in Europe, much as happened with classic Porsche 911s in recent years. “Really good SL Pagodas have now become so expensive in America that collectors are beginning to buy cars in Europe,” observes Daniel Krzykowski of Mercedes specialist Rosier Classic Sterne.
Cars are plentiful, particularly in the German market, but the challenge is in finding the best car at the right price. Values vary drastically – more so than with many other similarly priced classics – and you can spend anything from 60,000 to 100,000 euros (and more) for a ‘good’ car. Mercedes-Benz specialists Brabus will even restore a Pagoda to as-new condition for you, but expect to pay upwards of 250,000 euros. With the exception of these ‘new’ cars, as with any other classic, the more original the better. “Pagodas with rare colour combinations often fetch higher prices,” adds Krzykowski. Those planning to buy would do well to have an expert on hand.