1963 Mercedes-Benz SL Pagode280
Year of manufacture1963
Car typeConvertible / Roadster
Chassis number13.044 – 12 - 017863
• Fully restored
• Restored blue leather interior
• Original colour Silver (cod 180G)
• Automatic 4-speed gearbox
• ASi Gold plate certified (n.12224)
• Rear side panels
• Produced for the European market
In 1961, the management of Mercedes Benz decided to produce a new sports car. It had to meet three basic requirements: being brilliant, comfortable and spacious. The body design was entrusted to Paul Bracq and Friedrich Geiger.
So, in 1963 the first version of the Pagoda was presented. The body was based on the shortened floorpan of the 220 SEb and was characterised by taut but dynamic lines that also showed a certain racing ambition. The hardtop, which had a concave shape, earned it the nickname Pagoda. Particular attention was paid to passenger safety, which is why the body of the car deformed in a predetermined manner in the event of a violent impact. The interiors were fitted out in such a way as to eliminate any dangerous protrusions and the steering column was made in two sections to avoid possible damage to the chest. Seat belts were available on request and the braking system was dual-circuit.
The new roadster, officially named 230SL, replaced the 300SL Roadster.
The exterior of the 230SL was characterised by taut but dynamic lines, which also showed a certain racing ambition, later confirmed by Böhringer's victory in the Spa-Sofia-Liege Rally in which the company decided to participate in 1963. The W111 retained some of its sedan features, such as the vertical headlights. The most distinctive feature was the shape of the hardtop, where it was fitted, which had a concave shape, something that would give the 230SL and subsequent W113 models the nickname Pagoda. Many cars were fitted with a soft top and their owners also requested a hard top that could be mounted on the car when the top was closed. Despite being tied to classic mechanical layouts (rear-wheel drive, longitudinal front engine, mechanical 4-speed gearbox), the 230SL also had new mechanical features. The 2308 cm³, 150 hp, fuel-injected M127 II straight-six engine was new, as was the rear axle (with oscillating semi-axles). The gearbox was a 4-speed manual, but an automatic 4-speed was available on request. From September 1965, a 5-speed manual was also an option.
The engine provided decent performance, although the geometry of the rear axle made the car difficult to drive in the wet. The mixed braking system with power brakes was up to the task. Top speed was 200 km/h. In 1966 the roadster version was joined by the Hard-top Coupé, with a hard top (which could be removed) as standard and no canvas roof. The elimination of the soft top mechanism allowed two small rear folding seats to be added. In the same year, Italian designer Pietro Frua created a shooting-brake version of the 230SL, named SLX.
The 230 SLX was already available in December 1966.
Already in December 1966, the 230 SL was replaced by the 250 SL, identical in everything but displacement (increased to 2494 cm³). Mechanically, the car also received rear disc brakes and again a 4-speed manual gearbox was fitted as standard, which could be replaced on request by a 5-speed or 4-speed automatic.
The 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued production until 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by the completely new and substantially heavier R107 350 SL. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were now usually fitted with a 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Models with manual transmissions were equipped with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was only ordered 882 times and is therefore a much 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 United States. The 280 SL was equipped with the new 130.983 fuel-injected engine with a displacement increased to 2778 cm³ and a maximum output of 170 hp. Once again, absolute performance remained unchanged, but the new engine was richer in torque, improving the car's acceleration. The 280SL was the last model in the W113 series to be replaced by the R107 in March 1971.
The stunning example we are offering at auction was first registered in France in 1968. In fact, it is one of the very few 280Sls left in Europe and not destined for the US market, which, as we know, has taken up the vast majority of them. The car was fully restored about 10 years ago. The bodywork has been repainted in its original Silver colour (Code 180G). The completely redone interior has retained its distinctive blue colour. The engine has also been completely restored by overhauling all the mechanical pumps, pipes and gaskets, even the electrical system has been totally restored. This model also has the optional rear seat for the third passenger. This car is part of a beautiful collection of cars belonging to an Italian gentleman who over the years has taken excellent care of all aspects of the preservation of his cars. The car has all its original documentation and is registered with the ASI historic register. The car will be auctioned at Milano AutoClassica 2021 in extraordinary condition.