The Details

Mercedes 280SL Pagoda




  • Mileage: 105,755
  • Year: 1970
  • MOT Expiry: July 2020
  • Exterior Colour: Tunis Beige Metallic
  • Interior Colour: Black MB Tex
  • Top speed: 121
  • 0-60mph: 9.0
  • BHP: 168
  • Transmission: 4-Speed Automatic
  • Engine Capacity: 2778cc
  • Engine Configuration: Straight 6

Model History

The Mercedes-Benz W113 SL was a two-seat roadster produced from 1963 to 1971. It was introduced at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show and replaced both the legendary 300SL (W198) and the 190SL (W121). The model is well known for its distinctive, patented, and slightly concave hardtop, which inspired the "Pagoda" nickname.

All W113 SL models were equipped with a straight-six cylinder engine with multi-port fuel injection. The bonnet, boot lid, door skins, and tonneau cover were made of aluminium to reduce weight. The comparatively short and wide chassis, combined with an excellent suspension, powerful brakes, and radial tires gave the W113 superb handling for its time. The styling of the front, with its characteristic upright Bosch "fishbowl" headlights and simple chrome grille, dominated by the large three-pointed star, paid homage to the already legendary 300SL roadster.

The 280SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production until 23rd February 1971, when the W113 was replaced by its successor, the R107. Over the years, the W113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed. Of the 23,885 280SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.

The main change throughout production was an upgrade to the 2778cc M130 engine. The performance improvement was achieved by increasing bore by 4.5mm, which stretched the limits of the M180 block, and required pairwise cylinder casts without cooling water passages. This mandated an oil-cooler, which was fitted vertically next to the radiator. Each engine was now bench-tested for two hours prior to being fitted, so their power specification was guaranteed to last.


Tunis Beige Metallic paintwork (462), Black MB Tex upholstery (131), Removable hardtop in black, Folding soft-top, Four-speed automatic transmission, Becker Europa radio, Lap seat belts, Illuminated and lockable glove compartment, Dash clock, MPH speedo, Original boot mat, Bumper overriders, Spare wheel with cover.


The gleaming Tunis Beige paintwork presents really well throughout with few blemishes to report. Both sides of the car are perfectly straight with even panel gaps and a resplendent metallic shine. All the brightwork appears in fantastic condition and is for the most part original, with a lovely mirror finish to be found on close inspection; the same is true of the lights – all crystal clear and moisture-free. The removable hardtop looks superb in contrasting black and the folding soft-top presents well with no damage to the rear window.


The interior space is pleasingly original, the black MB Tex seats really having stood the test of time. The upholstery is in great condition and there are no rips in the multi-loop carpets, with only a small amount of fading along the transmission tunnel and rear section to report; we have just replaced the footwell mats with factory-correct items from Germany. Other commonly worn areas, such as the steering wheel and dash, show few signs of use. As a California-supplied car this example is equipped with a dealer-fit air conditioning unit. The hardtop headlining is in excellent condition.


The original 2.8-litre straight six is in fine mechanical fettle having been well maintained over the course of its life. The service booklet contains 9 entries from its time in the US and there is documentation for another 18 services carried out since then. We have just had the car fully inspected, serviced and MOT’d for the new keeper’s piece of mind. It performs beautifully on test with a lovely straight six purr and near-seamless gear changes from the four-speed auto ‘box.


The Pagoda sits on 15-inch steels with the correct polished hubcaps. The wheel trims present in good original condition with only some curb marking to be found on close inspection. The wheels are shod in a matching set of period Michelin whitewall tyres, each with ample tread remaining.

History File

This matching-numbers 280SL Pagoda was first registered in California in April 1970. It remained with the same keeper for the next twenty years before being exported to Japan in 1990 at 94k miles. The car resided on Japan’s salt-free roads up until 2019 when it was imported into the UK by 4 Star at 105k miles. Since arriving in the country we have had it fully inspected, serviced and MOT’d; a brand new exhaust system has also just been fitted. The paperwork is complete with the original maintenance booklet containing 9 US entries, along with documentation and invoices for a further 18 services. The factory data card and a Date of Manufacture letter from Mercedes are also present.

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