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Mercedes-Benz Pagoda

Published: 22nd May 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Buyer Beware

  • RUST The SL’s monocoque corrodes badly and it’s common to find a car with a rusty structure that looks presentable. The bulkhead normally survives intact, but the complex sill structures, floors and chassis legs don’t
  • BODY Many of the outer panels are aluminium, so rust isn’t an issue here but corrosion might well be, along with microblistering of the paint
  • ENGINE Tends to be noisier than you’d expect even in good order. Alloy cylinder heads rust leading to overheating. Dirty oil will also lead to the fuel injection pump failing prematurely
  • RUNNING GEAR Suspension is long-lived as long as the kingpins and trunnions have been greased every 3000 miles. Brake callipers stick if the car isn’t used regularly
  • HOOD Make sure the hood and frame are intact, because replacing either is costly; a replacement hood is £850-£1000 while a new frame is £7500 new…


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Loved by the rich and famous, the super classy Mercedes-Benz Pagoda is also a wonderful investment, making a good one a star buy

Classics don’t come more timelessly elegant than the SL ‘Pagoda’ Mercedes or so well engineered. The SL was a car that the famous flocked to when it was new. John Lennon was a fan, along with Tina Turner and Audrey Hepburn, while that suave caddish actor Leslie Phillips has owned one since new, purchased way back in 1966. What a sensible bloke as they are worth a fortune now and prices are ever rising. Ding dong!


As performance isn’t in abundance the 280SL is the most desired. It also received a softer, more touring suspension although condition counts most when Pagoda picking. Manuals are a matter of taste and the vast majority, like all Mercs, are selfshifting. That said, there’s nothing wrong with a 230SL manual for classic motoring.

It’s better to get a scruffy but sound car than a superficial glossy one hiding a hoard of horrors and there are – sadly – a large number of these about.

Be careful about any ‘so called’ improvements added as SL experts don’t like many alternations from standard spec and it can, actually, devalue the car.


Despite its two-seater convertible configuration, the SL is no sports car but a cultured cruiser. The rather odd ‘back to front’ automatic selector gait needs some familiarising with but the box itself is pretty responsive and smooth. These Mercs are no road burners; predictably, the bigger the engine the more performance and the better to drive but car is better suited to cruising.


You’ll need at least £20,000 to secure a Pagoda that isn’t a liability; that nets a 230SL with a manual gearbox. The cheapest worthwhile 250SL is £22-£25,000, while a good 280SL costs from £25,000 upwards. These prices are for usable cars only; if you want something special or concours you will have to pay more – a lot, lot more. A really special 280SL will now fetch £75,000 and perfect Pagodas breach £100,000 easily.



Launched using similar mechanical design to the 190SL it replaced, first as a 230SL, with a 2306cc straight-six; 19,831 were made in a production run that lasted until 1967.


Enter the 250SL if only for a year or so, as it was only ever intended as an interim model. The rarest of all the Pagodas, just 5196 were made equipped with disc brakes all round and a 2496cc straight-six, good for 170bhp; a five-speed manual gearbox became optional.



Pagoda range is replaced by the R107 series which remained in production for almost 20 years.

We Reckon...

During an eight-year production run, just 48,912 W113s were built. Although survival rate is high, these cars are rarer than you’d first think and their owners are naturally keen to hang on to them because their values are rising by the month – and they are also lovely classic cars of course! A classic with (three-pointed) star quality that you won’t be disappointed with.

Classic Motoring

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