Mercedes-Benz unveiled the W113 to the public in 1963 as a replacement for the four-cylinder 190SL and the 300SL roadster. The Paul Braq-designed body featured slab sides accented by crisp feature lines and subtle curves, with minimal chrome adornment. The wide, low bodywork was a wonderful expression of mid-century modern design. SL’s were available with a removable hard top that featured a distinct concave roof panel that when viewed from the front, resembled a Pagoda, thereby earning the car the same nickname. The Pagoda was a huge departure from the swoopy, coke-bottle shape of the 190SL. Perhaps this was a deliberate move, as the W113 represented more than just a replacement model, but a complete change in philosophy for all future SL sports cars. The new car was a seamless blend of all-out sports car and relaxed grand tourer. The first car in the range, the 230SL, was classified as a coupe/convertible, and came standard with a folding soft top hidden under an aluminum boot as well as a removable hard top. The Pagoda SL evolved through three generations, 230SL, 250SL, and 280SL with production ending in 1971.
This 1971 280SL is from the final year of production of the W113. The silky 2.8L inline six cylinder engine is mated to the desirable four-speed automatic transmission with standard four-wheel disc brakes. This SL is among the best, most meticulously detailed examples we have seen. It was restored by a dedicated Pagoda enthusiast who, intending to keep the car for himself essentially went completely overboard, detailing the car to a level that is simply beyond reproach. The white paintwork is virtually flawless with precise gaps on the original matching number panels. The critical factory spot welds are still visible on the fenders, indicating the original panels are still intact and have not been removed. Lenses and chrome trim are equally stunning, in better-than-new condition with beautiful bumpers and brightwork. Lifting the hood reveals the utterly breathtaking engine bay where every surface has been polished or replated to better than new condition. This is certainly the prettiest W113 SL engine bay we have come across. Every bit of hardware has either been replaced with brand new or plated in correct silver or gold-cadmium. The prominent aluminum cam cover and intake manifold have been polished to a mirror-like shine. Components such as the radiator, brake booster and various mounting brackets have been finished in gloss black that is nearly as perfect as the exterior finish. Inside, gorgeous red leather boldly contrasts the white exterior. As with the rest of the car, it is close to perfection and simply beautiful. Concours correct leather and red square weave carpet have been precisely fitted. Chrome details on the dash and door panels are magnificent, and a period correct Becker radio graces the classic and elegant dash panel. Even the steering wheel feels brand new in your hands. On the road, this 280SL cruises effortlessly thanks to the torque from the 2.8 liter, Bosch injected inline six and the smooth shifting 4-speed automatic transmission. Most Pagoda SL enthusiasts prefer the automatic transmission for the 280SL as it is better suited to the relaxed nature of the engine. The chassis feels tight and solid and the car performs brilliantly overall. This level of detail is seldom seen on W113s, even concours-restored examples. This is one of the cleanest and most detail obsessive restorations seen on a 280SL. It is a fine driving and breathtakingly beautiful example of Mercedes’ iconic sports car.
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