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Mercedes-Benz Pagoda

Mercedes-Benz Pagoda Published: 12th Oct 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mercedes-Benz Pagoda
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Mercedes-Benz Pagoda


Timelessly elegant, SL also known as Pagoda due to its roof design, is a sports classic dripping with sheer good taste. Old school Mercedes engineering and build quality makes it a connoisseurs classic although joining this select club is becoming increasingly expensive.


1963 Coded as W113, it is launched using similar mechanical design to the 190SL it replaced, first as a 230SL, with a 2306cc straight-six, manual or auto transmissions.

1967 250SL enters albeit only as an interim model; just 5196 were made with disc brakes all round and a 2496cc straight-six for 170bhp. Five-speed manual ’box option.

1967 Final incarnation is the 280SL with 2.8-litre power. It becomes the most common as well as sought after version.

1971 Range replaced by the R107 series.


The Pagoda is better suited for touring than tearing around in because the handling discourages anything otherwise, especially on the 280SL where the suspension was actually softened for a better ride to the detriment of the handling. It can be tightened up if required but don’t go mad here as performance ‘mods’ can seriously devalue a Pagoda. Most versions are automatics and the rather odd ‘back to front’ selector gait needs familiarising with. Predictably, the bigger the engine the more performance and as a result the better the car is to drive although none can be termed road burners. But if all you want to do is cruise then there’s little wrong with a 230SL if price is right.


Predictably, the 280SL is the most wanted although for touring there’s little wrong with the more than adequate 250 and even a 230. The 250SL’s rarity may count for something in years to come and there’s a rare manual option to make the most of its 150bhp. Modified cars put off buyers as they can devalue and debase the car; mild handling mods, better electrics and proper high quality tyres as recommended by an SL expert are about the only accepted alterations to go for.


You’ll need at least £20,000 to secure a proper Pagoda 230SL with a manual gearbox. The cheapest 250SL costs around £22-25,000, while good 280SL’s usually go for £25,000 upwards. If you want something a bit special or up to concours standards you will have to pay a lot more, try £65-75,000 and perfect Pagodas breach the £100,000 barrier with ease. The good news is that a peach of a Pagoda is as good as money in the bank so you’ll always see a decent return.


A sound history backed by maintenance from a reputable SL expert counts for a lot. Rust can be rife so you need to look beyond the gloss. Bulkheads corrode but it’s the sills which determine the car – costing at least £2500 per side to fix.

Crawl underneath to check floorpan and the chassis members, particularly by the boot floor. Inspect the chassis legs carefully; you need to remove a cover behind the rear seats to do this properly but if the buyer refuses walk away! Don’t overlook details such as chromework or a tatty hood. For example, a grille and brightwork refurb runs to over £5000 and woe betide if you need a hood frame as these cost £3000 for a good used one, half the price of new… Engines are everlasting if serviced right. Dirty oil not only hurts longevity but can also infect the fuel injection pump leading to a £1000 rebuild. A worn rear axle costs up to £2000 to put right but the rest of the transmission is tough. Irregularly used cars can cause the brake callipers to seize up.


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