• To date, the Mercedes-Benz SL pagoda series is considered one of the most elegant roadster - not only from Daimler.

    Mercedes-Benz 280 Pagoden-SL.

    The last one of its kind

Grand finale.

Some 40 years after its birth, the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL in sand beige is coming home. The last ever Pagoda SL ever made has put in the miles over the decades – now it shines with a new lustre.

To date, the Mercedes-Benz SL pagoda series is considered one of the most elegant roadster - not only from Daimler.
Perfect view of the cockpit of the W 113 series with the distinctive Cognac interior color.

The shimmering golden Pagoda.

The W 113 model series has a more loyal fan base than virtually any other Mercedes-Benz SL. In shape, the hardtop is reminiscent of a pagoda and this is how the open-top giver of joy got its name. Like all the SL model series, over the years it has become a motoring legend. Although the colour combination of sand beige metallic (colour code 467) on the outside and MB tex in cognac (colour code 140) on the inside is not unique, it is downright cool.

Luxury sports cars in an era of change.

More than anything, the Pagoda SL is testimony to a time when the car industry had to reinvent itself. Protection of the environment was becoming increasingly important and the start of the crisis in oil prices shook the global economy. Meanwhile, the Vietnam War was dominating the agenda in the USA and beyond and the '68 Movement was calling the Establishment into question, worldwide.

There have been easier times for the car industry than the late 1960s / early 1970s – particularly for a luxury roadster like the Mercedes-Benz SL, which had a tough time following on from the 190 SL and 300 SL given its emphasis on austere forms and yet became a bestseller, against all the odds.

The 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder engine with its 125 kW / 170 hp is an ideal choice for the open 280er even by today's standards.

Successful model.

This heavy load of expectation is not evident when looking at the shimmering golden roadster, even on a second glance. The fact that it became a successful model, of which almost 49,000 were sold between 1963 and 1971, can be explained by its design featuring classic and avantgarde elements alike, its powerful six-cylinder engine and a safety specification that was unsurpassed in its day. Only very briefly after the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL from model series W 113 left the production halls in Sindelfingen on 15 March 1971 was it able to take in the German air.

Child of the '60s.

Like many of the SL models from that time, it left the Old World by ship destined for the United States of America. It was the final Mercedes-Benz SL of its type to roll off the production line before the model series made way for the legendary R 107 in the spring of 1971. And it was not just in terms of design that the Mercedes-Benz SL unveiled in 1963 was a typical child of the 1960s. In terms of technology it is oriented on the significantly longer saloons, coupés and cabriolets of the W 111 model series, which stamped their star power on the decade – and continue to do so today.

Look back. The Mercedes-Benz Museum perfectly staged in the right-hand side mirror of the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL from 1971.
The open pagoda is the perfect cruiser; but 125 kW / 170 hp and a maximum torque of 240 Nm were guarantor for sporty performance and up to 200 km / h top speed.

USA version.

As the data card shows, the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL with vehicle identification number 113.044-10-023885 had, by American standards, a specification that was not particularly opulent. Most SL versions came with power steering, outside mirror on the left and coconut mats in any case. As was typical for the US market, however, there were also bumpers with horns, a general US version including instruments in English as well as whitewall tyres, a hardtop with heated rear window and the popular Europe radio – in the USA version, of course.

The last Pagoda.

Past decades had taken a lot out of the roadster and when the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre acquired the car in 2010, no-one knew at first that this was the Pagoda with the last vehicle identification number issued for that model.

Perfect view of the cockpit of the W 113 series with the distinctive Cognac interior color.
The exterior color Sandbeigemetallic stands the SL excellent.

Complete restoration.

What was clear was that full restoration was necessary given the vehicle's indifferent condition. Given that almost 40 years has passed since delivery, the engine was in such a bad state that it needed to be replaced entirely. Rather than fit any old 280 engine under the bonnet, to deliver the charismatic six-cylinder sound the Classic team found an engine which could scarcely be more appropriate.

Original Mercedes-Benz replacement engine.

'The engine is an original Mercedes-Benz replacement engine, which was rebuilt in the plant,' explains Patrik Gottwick, Head of ALL TIME STARS classic cars trading at Mercedes-Benz Classic.

'Previously finished engines were stored in the warehouse for just these eventualities. Which we were able to make use of here.' Working away in the front section of the Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, therefore, is the familiar six-cylinder in-line engine generating 125 kW / 170 hp and peak torque of 240 Nm.

Perfect view of the cockpit of the W 113 series with the distinctive Cognac interior color.

Potentially addictive.

This responsive engine produces more joy than ever in conjunction with the manual four-speed transmission, which propels the two-seater to up to 200 km/h. Following successful restoration, the 280 really looks enticing, potentially addictive even, and not just due to its extravagant colour combination of sand beige metallic on the exterior and cognac inside in conjunction with a fabric roof in brown. The M130 engine perfectly complements the roadster, which weighs in at just under one and a half tonnes, and gives it a feeling of relaxed dynamism, something that was unparalleled at the time.

Luxury sports car offering everyday practicality.

Then as now, the Pagoda is practical in day-to-day life. This explains why the luxury sports car became an outright bestseller and not just in the USA where it conquered the sunshine state of California in particular. The model series W 113 from Mercedes-Benz is still a cool companion on a daily basis and looks just as smooth and laid-back on the way to the office as on a weekend excursion. And if the weather is less good, the occupants will be protected by the fabric roof or, during the cooler months, the optional coupé roof (equipment code 416), which gives the 4.28-metre-long SL its nickname as well as its own distinctive character.

His American ancestry can not be seen after the restoration of the last ever built Mercedes-Benz Pagoda.