1968 MERCEDES-BENZ 280 SL Pagoda

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1968 MERCEDES-BENZ 280 SL Pagoda



The Mercedes-Benz W113, better known as the Pagoda (more on that further below), is a two seat roadster/coupé produced from 1963 until 1971 in different model versions. The elegant sports tourer was presented at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show as a replacement for the legendary and very exclusive 300SL and the more popular but performance-wise underwhelming 190SL. Of a total of close to 49.000 W113 produced, an estimated 19.440 were sold new to the USA, including the vehicle on offer here.

The W113 SL was a design study under the Technical Director Fritz Nallinger, Chief Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut (yes, that name might sound familiar to some…) and Head of Styling Friedrich Geiger. The design came from Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi. The hardtop’s styling was so particular that they had it patented, and its slightly concave shape inspired its Pagoda nickname: A Pagoda is a religious building in South and Southeast Asia, especially a multi-storey tower erected as a Hindu or Buddhist temple with the different storeys featuring concave roofs.

Back to the car: the W113 was equipped with an inline six-cylinder engine with fuel injection. The car had excellent handling thanks to low centre of gravity combined with a relatively wide track, excellent suspension setup and powerful brakes. Body panels such as bonnet, trunk lid and door skins were made from aluminium for reduced weight. A removable hard top was optional.

The W113 was available in three different model iterations, that were released one after the other, each including minor upgrades and performance improvements. The first model series was called 230SL and was built from 1963 to 1967. It was followed by the 250SL, that was in production from 1967 to 1968, making it the rarest Pagoda model. The 280SL series was launched in late 1967 and was built until production ended in 1971.

The Vehicle

The vehicle on offer is a 1968 model of the legendary Pagoda and thus features the 2.8 litre engine from the 280SL series. As more than half of all 280SL produced, this car was delivered new to the USA. It is presented in a Signal Rot colour over black leather interior and is in largely original and well-maintained condition throughout. The Mercedes-Benz has not been driven in a couple of years and will require some mechanical commissioning work before it can be used again.

On the Outside

Our 280SL is presented in overall decent condition from outside. The red paintwork is nicely presented and only shows minor imperfections in a couple of spots. Since some body panels are made of aluminium, rust is no major issue on these cars’ bodywork, and we could only spot one notable instance of light bubbling (see pictures in gallery). The chrome trim all around is in very good condition and does not need anything and the same can be said about the lights. All the badges appear to be present and in their right place. The wheels, with their matching red centre section, are in good condition and the tires have enough thread left on them, though we do not know when exactly they were mounted. Overall a lovely exterior appearance with some normal signs of age that do not necessarily require attention or fixing.

On the Inside

The good news continue on the inside of the vehicle with a nicely patinated interior upholstered in black leather. Some normal signs of age and wear are visible (please consult the numerous pictures in the gallery), but we are of the opinion that this can still be considered as patina. In fact, most of the car’s interior appears to be original, and we think that even the seating surfaces might be those with which the car was delivered some 55 years ago. The dashboard is intact, and all the buttons are in their right place. A Becker Europa radio, most certainly original, is mounted in the middle of the dashboard. Being a US version, this vehicle features a tachometer in miles. It read 6.729 miles at the time the pictures were taken, and it is safe to assume this tachometer has already turned over at least once. The carpets are presented in good condition and no notable damages or holes are to be noted. The avid observer will notice the gear lever of the manual gearbox, a very rare feature on US-spec examples as most cars were delivered with an automatic gearbox.


The Pagoda on offer makes a solid impression from underneath. We could not spot major rust issues and the car does not appear to be leaking oil. The suspension bushes seem to be in good working order and the exhaust has recently been replaced. The seller confirms that this is a solid car that has always been carefully maintained. It should however be noted that this vehicle has not been driven for an extended period. While the vehicle is solid overall, some mechanical recommissioning work will be required, so please do plan for some additional expenses post-purchase.

The engine bay is very clean and has not been modified in any way. Being a 280SL, this car is featured with the powerful 2.8-litre engine that produces around 170hp. The ‘280’ stamping on the block confirms the engine is of the correct type.

History Highlights

Little is known about the car’s early history apart that is was delivered new to the USA. In 2009, the Mercedes-Benz was imported to the Netherlands where it was purchased by the seller in 2017 via a renowned Dutch dealer. Notable features of this example include the original hard top and a rare four-speed manual gearbox.

What We Think

The Mercedes-Benz Pagoda is most certainly one of the most timeless and elegant designs to ever leave the Stuttgart factory gates. Fast, highly usable and featuring superior road handling, these cars are, rightfully so, very popular among collectors. The vehicle on offer is presented in nice original condition and features a desirable original hard top and manual gearbox. After a thorough mechanical check-up, this nice example, offered without reserve, could be ready just in time for summer!

We estimate this song to fetch between €40,000 - €60,000 in auction.

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with the vendor in Milano, Italy. To arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

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  • Location: Milano, Italy
  • Seller Type: Private
  • Odometer Reading: 6729
  • Chassis Number: 113.044-10-000704
  • Engine: 2778
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Steering position: Left-hand drive
  • Colour: Red
  • Interior: Black
  • Estimated Price: €40,000 - €60,000

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