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1972 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL Pagoda with Hardtop
Chassis no. 113044-10-023810
Engine no. 130983-10-008158

"Some cars don't change, they just get better. The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, latest version of a line that began as the 230 SL in 1963, is the same as ever, just better," concluded Road & Track after testing a 280 SL in 1968. "For those who value engineering finesse and high-quality construction, it's alone in the field," enthused the highly respected American motoring magazine. At the same time, its manufacturer considered the 280 SL "a Grand Tourer in the traditional sense" and "a unique combination of sports car performance and saloon car comfort (a Mercedes-Benz saloon naturally)".

These attributes help explain the 280 SL's phenomenal success, particularly in the all-important North American market, where the optional automatic transmission was considered an essential feature by the majority of customers. The fact that it looked like 'sex on wheels' helped enormously too, of course. In addition, the 280 SL's essential user-friendliness broadened its appeal beyond the traditional sports car-enthusiast market, and many celebrities and film stars owned 280 SLs.

The last of a popular and highly successful line began with the 230 SL of 1963; the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL was introduced in 1967, powered by a new 2.8-litre six-cylinder engine that produced 180bhp, 20 horsepower more than the preceding 250 SL's. The 280 SL's 200km/h top speed was not more significant, but it was remarkably quicker off the mark. Its 0-100km/h time of 10 seconds is a whole second better than its predecessor's.

Autocar was full of praise for the 280 SL's effortless performance: "Those going abroad will be pleased to know that the 280 SL can sustain 160km/h with ease and still have a good bit in hand for surging up to 192km/h when traffic and conditions permit. All the time, the engine is smooth, and it has a sweet song to its exhaust note, which starts as a deep throb and builds up to a busy hum at maximum revs."

Christened 'Pagoda' after their distinctive cabin shape - devised by French designer and classic car enthusiast Paul Bracq - these SL models were amongst the best-loved sports-tourers and today remain highly sought after by collectors.

This superb manual transmission 280 SL Pagoda was ordered new by Mr John I. Clark from Winsconsin, USA, in April 1971 as a European delivery including US equipment from the Mercedes Factory in Sindelfingen for the total price of $7731 (invoice on file). Ordered in April 1971 in Germany, this Pagoda was registered in 1972 in the US for the first time and is believed to have stayed with its first owner for over 40 years. According to the US-Title, the 280SL remained with the Clark family until shortly after Mr. John I. Clark's death in 2014. After its return to Europe in 2016, this Pagoda has been converted to European specification with the correct headlights, taillights, speedometer, etc. Furthermore, it benefits from a complete, no-expense-spared restoration carried out in Belgium between September 2017 and September 2018 by renowned marque specialists, Top Classics. The car has been refinished in its original and highly desirable exterior colour of Dark Blue (904). The interior has been fully re-trimmed in contrasting natural leather (originally black) and features luxurious bouclé carpeting. The black Sonnenland three-layer soft-top is new, while additional insulation in the doors and floor make for an enhanced and more comfortable driving experience.

Once the car had been dismantled, the bodyshell was sand-blasted and any areas of corrosion repaired before applying the first coat of epoxy primer. The suspension and rear axle were overhauled and powder-coated, and new shock absorbers fitted all around. The braking system was renewed in its entirety, including the handbrake mechanism and a completely new fuel system installed (tank, pump, fuel lines, etc.). The exhaust system is new throughout. The original engine and gearbox likewise have been completely overhauled, a new cylinder head was installed at the same time we've been advised. All the brightwork has been re-chromed to the highest standard, while new colour-matched wheels shod with whitewall tyres complete the picture. The whole process has been nicely documented in the car's file together with some older correspondence, invoices including the original purchase invoice from new, MB-Datenkart. The car comes with the old US title dated 1972 from its first owner and current Belgian registration documents as well as recent technical inspection. An exceptionally well-restored Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda' with hardtop presented in beautiful condition and hardly 650 kms driven since its extensive restoration.

Bonhams 1793
101 New Bond Street
United Kingdom
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Bonhams Collectors’ Car department