The perennial attraction of classic Mercedes SLs is that they’re just as good to drive as they are to look at. Furthermore, they’re not known for being flaky and uncooperative like so many classics are – a well-maintained model can easily offer just as much reliability as a modern car… with the added benefit of being ineffably stylish.
The so-called ‘Pagoda’ generation, sold from 1963-71, offers a beguiling mix of style and desirability, and it’s all underpinned by strong and hard-wearing tech; the mechanicals of this car were cutting-edge for the early 1960s, with the range of straight-six engines featuring multi-port fuel injection, along with boasting double-wishbone front suspension, dual-circuit brakes with discs up front, and optional power steering. The body design was equally impressive, with the door skins, bonnet, bootlid and tonneau cover made from aluminium to reduce weight, and the combination of robust drivetrain, eager chassis and low weight makes for some very sprightly performance.
The model we have here is a real rarity: ignore the 280 boot badge, this is actually a 250 SL, and this was by far the least numerous Pagoda, and the one with the shortest production run. This model replaced the 230 in December 1966, with the final 250 being built in November ’67 – it is, in essence, an evolutionary bridge between the early 230 and late 280 models, and this particular example is a very lovely thing. With its sweet-running engine, solid body and original MB-Tex trim, this is a pretty Pagoda you can jump into and enjoy straight away. Its previous owner kept it for thirty years – we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it too.
The History and Paperwork
2022 – invoice for £174 – new door handle and key
1998 – invoice for £450 – stainless steel exhaust system
Sheaf of old MOT certificates
(n.b. please note the cherished registration will be removed from the car before sale)
Original MB-Tex seats
What’s crucial to note with this car is that the seats are still wearing the original MB-Tex material, and it’s in good condition. This material is no longer readily available, and SL restorations generally have to use either leather or vinyl instead, but it would be perfectly possible to rebuild this car’s seats with fresh foam innards and keep the original MB-Tex – and to certain collectors and enthusiasts, that’s very important indeed.
The design of the Pagoda’s interior is a masterful combination of elegance and functionality. It really is beautifully conceived, and the condition of this SL’s cabin showcases that to the full. Sporting the factory-option third seat, it also has an interestingly collectible radio-cassette player, made by the American company Sparkomatic which was established in the 1950s and went out of business back in 2000.
All of the correct trim pieces and controls are in place, and everything appears to be working as it should. The windows raise and lower correctly, the seats tilt to allow rear access, and all of the switchgear is operational. The carpets are complete and clean, there are no cracks in the dashtop, and the wood trim is solid and well presented. It’s all dry and tidy inside the boot, with the correct spare wheel and tool roll, and it’s remarkably clean beneath the boot carpet.
Quality Vredestein tyres
The Pagoda looks arguably at its most beautiful when finished in silver, and this car certainly proved to be a real head-turner on our test drive through south London. The hard-top has some micro-blistering and could ideally benefit from attention to the paint to make it perfect – but as for the rest of the bodywork, the paint is all pleasingly presented and the panel gaps are nice and even. The soft-top is in very good order, and is easy to raise, affix and lower.
All of the correct exterior trim is in place (aside from the 250 boot badge having been replaced with a 280 item), and the light lenses and window glass are in good condition. The wheels are tidy and proper with their correct centre caps, and wear a matching set of Vredestein Sprint Classic tyres which is a popular choice for aficionados of this model.
Stainless steel exhaust system
Being a 250 SL, this was one of the few Pagodas to be fitted with a 2.5-litre engine. This was a development of the outgoing 230’s 2.3-litre motor, but the evolution involved more than simply increasing the stroke; this engine has seven main bearings instead of four, a higher compression ratio and bigger valves. Peak power was the same as the 230 but torque was much improved and – crucially – it was a much freer-revving engine, imbuing the 250 with a uniquely playful character.
This SL drives beautifully; the suspension rides comfortably with no undue noises or vibrations, and the brakes feel appropriately strong. The engine starts easily and idles smoothly, pulling strongly through the revs with the auto transmission shifting cleanly – it’s all just as smooth and enjoyable as you’d hope.
The Pagoda is such a desirable classic, for so many reasons. Truly gorgeous to behold, tactile and playful to drive, tastefully appointed, and reliable enough to be pressed into daily urban duties if you felt so inclined. And this example has so much going for it: a right-hand-drive example with automatic transmission, original interior trim, the correct hard-top, the optional third seat… it looks fabulous and it’s ready to enjoy.
BEFORE YOU BUY
This sale is subject to the Car & Classic Terms and Conditions. By bidding and/or making an offer, you also agree to the following:
✓ If the seller is registered as a private seller, consumer rights stemming from EU consumer protection law do not apply. Car & Classic’s return policy applies.
✓ A non-refundable deposit will be payable if you are the winning bidder at auction or if your offer is accepted, refer to FAQs and T&Cs for details.
✓ This vehicle is “Sold As Seen”, on an “As Is, Where Is’ basis and without warranty. A full inspection of the vehicle prior to purchase and bidding is highly recommended. Photos and descriptions are for guidance purposes only.
✓ VAT is included in the buyer's deposit. VAT may or may not be included in the final bid or offer price, as specified in the listing.
✓ UK-registered cars and motorbikes on Car & Classic are run through an online HPI check, to verify that they show no insurance database markers for damage or theft, and have no finance owing.
✓ Buyers are responsible for vehicle collection or delivery.
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1967 Mercedes-Benz 250 SL ‘Pagoda’ (RHD)
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