1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL

As production of the 300SL and 190SL ended in the early 1960s, Mercedes-Benz consolidated the SL sports car range into a single model. The 300SL was the undisputed flagship, but it was complex and costly to produce. The 190SL was high on style but lacked the performance to challenge more sporting cars contemporaries. Launched in 1963, the new W113 series aimed to deliver style, sophistication, and performance at a more reasonable price. Like the 190SL before, the new 230SL chassis shared standard components with the contemporary sedan line to keep production costs in check. Mercedes-Benz’s design team, led by the brilliant Paul Bracq, created a crisp, minimally-adorned body with exquisite detailing. From day one, the W113 was designed with a removable hardtop, to which Bracq added a subtle concave top panel, earning it the nickname “Pagoda.”

The ultimate evolution of the W113 series arrived in 1968. The 2.8-liter 280SL offered additional refinement and performance over the outgoing 2.5-liter 250SL. Mercedes-Benz stuck with the solid and reliable Bosch mechanical fuel injection for the overhead-cam inline-six. While the 280SL was the sportiest car in the Mercedes lineup, most cars left the factory gates equipped with the excellent four-speed automatic transmissions, which suited the 113’s grand-touring character quite well. Versatile, refined, and highly capable, the 280SL has become a benchmark classic, delivering a remarkably modern driving experience with timeless styling.

This 1969 280SL has been exceptionally maintained with no regard to cost and is a superb running and driving car. It is well-documented with receipts, service records, original service booklet, and the Data Card, and is presented in its original colors of 268H Dark Green over Black MB Tex upholstery and a dark green soft top. Equipment includes uprated air conditioning, a period-style modern Becker Mexico with Bluetooth and Satellite connectivity, a tool roll, and both tops.

The most recent owner acquired this SL in 2015, and accompanying receipts document the extensive mechanical restoration work performed from 2016-2017. The work included a complete overhaul of the automatic transmission and shifter mechanism, installation of an updated air conditioning system, total cooling system overhaul (with new water pump and radiator), new hoses and belts, replacement front crankshaft seal, rebuilding the HVAC controls, replacement of all dash lights, overhauled brake system, and rebuilt front suspension. The service work totaled nearly $40,000, resulting in a superb, beautifully sorted, smooth-running SL that is an absolute joy to drive.

Cosmetically, the car presents very well, with a crisp and good-quality repaint in the original color. Some imperfections are noted on close inspection, but they do little to detract from the overall appeal of this outstanding driver. The exterior brightwork is in excellent condition and the car rides on proper 14-inch steel wheels with polished and color-keyed full wheel covers. Thanks to Mercedes-Benz’s superlative build quality, the simple act of opening the door becomes a satisfying tactile experience. Once aboard, you’ll find the upholstery is exceptionally well-preserved, with the seats and door cards believed to be original. Carpets are of the correct pattern and color, and the wood trim is in good order.

As documented by the data card, this car retains its original, numbers-matching 2.8-liter inline six. The engine compartment is tidy and well-detailed, with proper yellow zinc plating on the hardware and a pleasing mix of restored and original surfaces. It is “on the button” and runs beautifully, delivering the refinement and performance expected from a dialed-in Pagoda.

With its few carefully chosen updates, the versatility of a spacious boot, two tops, and meticulous, no-expense-spared maintenance history, this marvelous Pagoda SL is an outstanding pick for just about everything from long-distance touring to casual weekend jaunts to your local Cars & Coffee.


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