• Restored 230 SL Pagoda
• One UK owner since import in 2015
• Factory hardtop
• Retrimmed interior and new steering wheel
March 1963, and at the Geneva Motor Show there were sharp intakes of breath as Mercedes-Benz pulled the wraps off its most important new model of the decade.
Codenamed W113, the new SL-Series roadster replaced the iconic W198 Series of sports cars that had given us the legendary 190SL roadster and 300SL ‘Gullwing’ coupé, so the new two-door Mercedes was a car with a huge weight on its shoulders.
Styled by Paul Bracq under the direction of chief designer Friedrich Geiger, the newcomer pulled it off beautifully, in more ways than one. First, there was the styling. It was based on the 220 ‘Fintail’ range of saloons and used a truncated version of the executive saloon car’s platform, but with a rigid central passenger cell.
It also introduced a first to the industry in terms of passenger safety, as around that central passenger cell the SL featured crumple zones front and rear – a feature that has been used in automotive engineering across the spectrum ever since.
It was a typical Mercedes-Benz of its era. Wonderfully over-engineered, delicately styled and sturdily constructed, it was both handsome and engaging to drive. The M127 straight-six engine developed 150bhp, which was impressive for its era, fed to the rear wheels via a four-speed manual or three-speed automatic gearbox.
The car was offered with a detachable steel roof, from which it gets its ‘Pagoda’ nickname thanks to its inwardly curved apex, similar to that of a Far Eastern temple. It also had a soft top stored beneath a built-in metal tonneau and it manages to be undisputedly good looking no matter whether the hardtop is fitted or the roof is up or down.
The example we have here is a 1965 example of the 230SL – a car that spent most of its life in California before being imported into the UK in 2015.
Although it was imported fairly recently, there are traces of evidence of the car’s earlier life. It was bult in August 1965 as a US market SL, distinguishable from European models by the different style of headlamps.
It was off the road for some time before being discovered and imported to the UK by a Manchester-based classic car dealer in 2015. It was acquired from there by the vendor and taken to London, where the faded paint (an older respray in an incorrect colour) was stripped back and a full respray carried out in the original off-white.
The interior was retrimmed at the same time, and a brand new steering wheel fitted. It’s a good restoration and the car has had only occasional use since.
As well as a UK V5C, the Pagoda has an MOT valid until November 2022 as despite being MOT exempt the vendor wanted to demonstrate its roadworthiness.
It also has the original handbook and service book, along with the import clearance letter and the original Mercedes-Benz factory data card, which shows the original build information, option codes and completion date.
Inside, this car is in superb fettle. The vendor had the seats retrimmed in black leather as part of the restoration and it looks fabulous, set-off beautifully by a brand new steering wheel that really gives the cabin a lift.
A further delight is a fully operational Becker Europe TR radio, which even includes FM frequencies. It was the absolute pinnacle of in-car entertainment in the mid-1960s and still sounds good today, while the radio aerial is fully electric.
The painted metal dash and minimal wood trim are in good order, while all of the dials work as they should. The carpets are good, and both the internal roof trim and headlining of the hardtop are in fine order.
This is a fabulous looking car in every respect. The white paint has a clean finish and a good shine, the chrome is in excellent order and the wheels and tyres are in excellent condition.
Look closely and there are a few tiny flaws in the paint finish, but they really are barely noticeable.
The factory hardtop is superb as well. We were unable to inspect the soft top or put the roof down on the day of our photographs as the vendor didn’t have the roof ‘keys’ handy (he does have them), but the canvas roof is believed to be in as good condition as the rest of the car.
The 2,290cc straight six is paired with a three-speed automatic gearbox, which makes this more of a boulevard cruiser than a sports car. But it’ll still lift up its skirt if you ask it to – 150bhp is a lot of power for a car of the era.
It has covered just under 90,000 miles from new and was looked over and serviced at the time of its restoration. It has also been well-maintained since.
It starts first time and sounds smooth and healthy, while the owner reports that it is excellent to drive. There are no known mechanical issues disclosed by the vendor.
This is a truly lovely example of a car that really is enjoying the limelight at the moment thanks to its stunning looks, peerless quality and all-round usability.
Values of Pagodas have been on a steadily upward trajectory for some time now and this one has masses of collector appeal, not least because it’s in remarkably lovely condition. As well as a car that would be wonderful to use and enjoy, it also promises to be a wise investment for the future.
Notice to bidders
Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.
Please see our FAQ's here and our Terms & Conditions here