1971 Mercedes-Benz SL Pagode280 SL 'Pagoda'
Year of manufacture1971
In 1963, Mercedes-Benz introduced the 230 SL on the new W113 chassis to replace the expensive 300 SL and affordable 190 SL of the 1950s. It was an attractive compromise of performance and affordability, penned by designer and artist Paul Bracq, with tradition-breaking straight fender lines. The light and airy detachable hardtop with its concave upper surface, created by reinforcing ridges running front to back on the outside edges, was the source of the “Pagoda” nickname.
The 230 SL was well received, but its performance was a bit disappointing due to the limited power of its 2.3-liter engine. Without changing the design, it was replaced in 1967 with the interim 2.5-liter 250 SL, and then in 1968 by the 280 SL with its more powerful 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder engine. The 280 SL would stay in production for three years before Mercedes-Benz replaced it with the R107-chassis 350 SL.
An original four-speed manual example, this 280 SL was fully restored by Mercedes-Benz specialist Mark Passarelli, who is very well-known for his work on 300 SLs and other vintage Mercedes of the era. The U.S. headlights, bumper over-riders, and side markers were removed during the restoration, making it truer to the clean lines of Paul Bracq’s original design. It was finished in the striking color combination of metallic medium blue over Cognac leather interior with a dark brown soft top. The removable “Pagoda” hardtop features a very unusual but practical sliding sunroof, likely a period dealer-installed aftermarket accessory. Also included is a set of fitted luggage trimmed in matching Cognac, as well as a tool kit and spare tire.
Few 280 SLs have received the level of attention this example has, making it surely one of the finest available. It has been collector-owned and only carefully used in the past 10 years, so the restoration remains fresh. With its fantastic color combination, two tops, and restoration by a marque specialist, it is undoubtedly one of the most attractive 280 SLs.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/mo19.