Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Mercedes 280 SL R113 - once unloved, today cherished

The Mercedes 280 SL (R113), also called the "Pagoda", is one of these cars almost everybody seems to like and put on the list of "classic cars to be remembered". But that wasn't always the case. When Mercedes introduced the car in 1963 many preferred the 190 SL and didn't really think the new one was as pretty. And the strange hardtop that gave the name to the car (Pagoda) didn't help neither. Despite of this the car was a great success, almost 48'912 were built between 1963 and 1971. It was a very modern car and Mercedes put a lot of emphasis on safety. With 150 HP and later 170 HP and a weight of between 1'295 and 1'466 kg it wasn't extremely fast, but quick enough to feel safe. It was offered in 2, 2+1 and 2+2 configuration. A big percentage of the cars have survived and they continue to fetch good prices in the market. Maintenance is fairly straight forward, except for the fuel injection and some rare pieces like the 5 gear transmission.
Mine was a 1969 280 SL model. I bought it from the second owner and was still able to track down the first owner. The color had suffered and I had to part restore the car. It was a beauty when we were done and felt quite modern in comparison to other cars of the same period. The sound was magnificent, also thanks to the manual gearbox. I sold it to free up some money many years ago and I do sincerely regret it.

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