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  • Lot number 
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  • Offered from The Carrera Collection
  • One of just 831 examples from the model’s final year of production
  • Presented in its factory-correct Silver-Grey Metallic with red leather upholstery and black soft-top
  • Shows evidence of a prior restoration
  • Delivered new to the United States; imported to Switzerland in December 2022

Put simply, Mercedes-Benz had a very tough act to follow after winding down production of their world-beating 300 SL. The company was looking to go one better after the earlier 190 SL was seen by marque devotees as perhaps a “budget-friendly” option, meaning no luxuries could be sacrificed in pursuit of the 300 SL’s lofty performance pedigree.

The new super-leicht model, bearing a revolutionary unibody construction with a central “safety cell”, debuted as the 230 SL at the Geneva International Motor Show in March 1963. Designer Paul Bracq created a car that was modern and safe, yet also elegant in appearance. In addition to its clean lines, it featured beautiful detailing and a distinctive removable hardtop—the concave roof of which earned it the nickname “Pagoda”. The motoring press was similarly thrilled with the car’s superb handling characteristics and comfortable ride.

By November 1966, the model’s inline six-cylinder engine had been upgraded to 2.5 litres, thereby creating the one-year-only 250 SL, which was further improved with front and rear power-assisted disc brakes, larger anti-roll bars, and the availability of a five-speed manual transmission with a 4.08:1-ratio rear axle. By 1968, development of the super-leicht had progressed to an even more powerful 2.8-litre engine and it was rechristened the 280 SL, at last gaining the performance its elegant design richly deserved.

Offered here from The Carrera Collection is an attractive, US-market 280 SL produced during the model’s final year of availability. It was delivered new on 31 December 1971 clad in the same shade of Silver-Grey Metallic, which it displays today. Additional factory specification requested by the originating dealer were strictly limited to a floor-shift automatic transmission and Becker Europa radio, although since having been treated to a restoration thought to have been completed in 2012, this 280 SL has since been fitted with a factory-style air conditioning system and European-market headlights. It also sports a nicely presented, correct-type replacement engine which bears a sequence number indicating that it was originally fitted to 280 SL equipped with a manual transmission.

The car remained in the US until December 2022, when it was imported to Switzerland and purchased by The Carrera Collection. The sole noted modifications made under current ownership are removal of its US-market side indicator lights, as well as the replacement of its original imperial speedometer gauge with a correct-style metric unit, as used on a European-market SL. Bidders should note that while the car is presented with a black soft-top roof, it is not offered with a hardtop.

The W113 established the blueprint for nearly all future SL models, combining luxurious trimmings, impeccably sophisticated style, and engineering excellence in a car meant to deliver its occupants safely, rapidly, and in unrivaled comfort and style. 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.
To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmsothebys.com/en/auctions/cc23.

RM Sotheby's
5 Heron Square
United Kingdom
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