8 September 2014

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Lot 116

1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda'

  • Chassis no. 113.044.22012754
  • Engine no. 130.983.22007856

Sold for £89,600

180 bhp, 2,778 cc inline six-cylinder with Bosch mechanical fuel injection, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with twin transverse wishbones, coil springs, and an anti-roll bar, single-joint low-pivot swing axle rear suspension with coil springs and compensating springs, gas-filled telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,400 mm

  • The famed Pagoda in outstanding condition
  • Comprehensive restoration completed in 2008

The encore to the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL and 300 SL was first introduced at the 1963 Frankfurt Auto Show as the 230 SL, codenamed W113. The 230 SL was neither the hairy-chested beast exemplified by the 300 SL or the boulevard tourer of the 190 SL, as it placed more of an emphasis on safety and comfort. The four-cylinder power of the 190 was gone, and all models were fitted with a Bosch fuel-injected, 2,281-cubic centimetre six-cylinder which could produce 150 horsepower. It had the added distinction of the first Mercedes-Benz automobile to be fitted with an alternator as standard equipment. Off-the-shelf components included independent front and rear suspension and servo-assisted front disc and rear drum brakes, which helped to keep development and production costs within reason.

Perhaps most appealing about the car was its unique styling. It was clearly linked to earlier Stuttgart designs, as it featured the broad front grille of the 300 SL, albeit in a squared-up shape. As with its predecessors, it was available as a roadster, a roadster/coupé, or a pure coupé. Most distinctive was its roofline, known as the so-called “pagoda roof”, which was designed by Paul Bracq and Bela Barenyi. The upright roofline contained a lot of glass area and had raised sides and a lower centre panel instead of one curving conventionally upwards toward the middle, à la a Japanese pagoda.

Production of 230 SLs continued until the uprated 250 SL made its debut at the 1967 Geneva show. Although horsepower ratings remained the same, the new 2,496-cubic centimetre engine provided more torque for better acceleration. Wheel rims increased from 5.5 to 6 inches in width, and four-wheel disc brakes became standard. The coupé version was eventually dropped.

The 280 SL was the final version, and it made its public appearance early in 1968. Most notable of its changes was the increased engine displacement to 2,778 cubic centimetres, which resulted in a bump in torque and an increase in horsepower to 180. The interior was upgraded, and a myriad of detail refinements were added. The final 280 SL came off the assembly line in March 1971, and a total of 23,885 were produced during the model run, making it the most popular of all the roadsters built to date.

Chassis 22012754 was first registered on 16 March 1970, with ownership of the car known from 1979 onwards, when it was registered to Hugh Russell Ltd., of Sheffield, England. Subsequently, the car stayed in the North of England and was acquired by H Turner & Sons Ltd. in 1985, under registration OKU 994H, which is probably the original registration to the car. In 1987, the car passed to Michael William Gilbert, of Maidenhead, England. Mr Gilbert kept the car for 17 years, and there are several invoices on file from his ownership, including one from Waregrave Motors Ltd. for an appraisal of the car in 1988. In 2008, the car was completely restored by Silchester Garage in Surrey, England, and the file includes several photographs of the car completely disassembled and taken down to bare metal. This 280 SL was subsequently bought by a well-known collector in the UK. The car is finished in a two-tone silver livery with a navy blue soft-top, and it retains its original registration number.

The 280 SL Pagoda presented here is the most desirable specification for a Pagoda, as it has the more powerful engine and an automatic transmission, and it remains in excellent condition and presents beautifully today.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

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Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

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Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more