1971 Mercedes-Benz SL Pagode

280 SL 'Pagoda'

Summary

  • Year of manufacture 
    1971
  • Car type 
    Other
  • Lot number 
    269
  • Condition 
    Used
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
    Other

Description

Estimate:
$90,000 - $110,000

  • Factory four-speed manual transmission
  • Wonderful original color scheme of Dark Olive Green over Parchment leather
  • Complete with soft-top and removable hardtop
  • Single ownership for the past 25-plus years
  • A drivable and attractive example of a timeless German classic
  • Please note that this lot will need to be collected from Santa Paula, CA

Mercedes-Benz introduced the 230 SL on the new W113 chassis in 1963 to replace the expensive 300 SL and more 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, becoming one of the marque’s most recognizable and sought-after classics.

This 280 SL ‘Pagoda’ was delivered new to the US and is understood to have lived in California all its life. According to the consignor, the original owner was a doctor at Stanford who later passed the car on to fellow colleagues Ken and Joyce Kaufman of Palo Alto, California. The consignor, who is understood to be the third owner, purchased the car from them in the mid-1990s with approximately 93,000 miles recorded at that time. The current odometer reading of just under 9,000 is therefore understood to represent approximately 109,000 miles from new, which is supported by the overall well-cared-for condition of the car.

The Pagoda stands out from the crowd by virtue of being a factory four-speed manual transmission example. It is presented in the rarely seen yet very attractive factory colors of Dark Olive Green (291) over a Parchment leather interior, as opposed to the more common MB-Tex. This delightful color combination is original to the car. The 280 SL was optioned with the heat absorbing electrically heated rear window, left outside mirror, and a Becker Europa AM/FM radio.

Today, the Pagoda presents as a cherished example that has seen consistent but careful use over the years. Plenty of originality is evident as it appears it has never been fully restored but rather consistently maintained. The SL wears an older repaint in the original color, and the interior appears to be substantially original. Coco mats have been fitted and the factory installed Becker radio is present. Both a soft-top and removable Pagoda hardtop are with the car, ensuring that it is suitable for all-weather enjoyment. It should be noted that the engine fitted is not the original unit, though it is period 2.8-liter from a 280 SE.

A timeless classic that has only become more desirable as years have passed, this 280 SL is well equipped and would make an extremely stylish weekend cruiser. Its four-speed manual transmission makes it more of a driver’s car than the typically seen automatics, and the colors are both attractive and unusual. Sure to be the subject of admiration wherever it goes, this attractive Pagoda is a delightful and approachable example of this storied model.To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/0120.