1968 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL ‘Pagoda'


  • Right-hand-drive example
  • Desirable 2.8-litre spec
  • Factory-option rear seat
  • Very good hardtop and soft-top
  • Wonderful to drive
  • Just received new MOT on 13.07.22

The Appeal

Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in 1963 and remaining in production until 1971, the W113-generation Mercedes SL has earned its place in the pantheon of all-time desirable classics – robust construction, gorgeous design, forward-thinking engineering, it wins hearts and minds on all levels.
Three model variants were offered over the W113’s lifespan: the launch-spec 230 SL was sold from 1963-67, the 250 SL ran from ’66-68, and the top-flight 280 SL from 1967 to the end of the line in ’71. It’s the latter we have here, a 1968 model, equipped with the automatic transmission that suits its cruiser character so well.
This SL offers a supremely desirable spec, with gleaming deep blue coachwork over cream leather, and it's interesting to note that it previously lived in Northern Ireland, its first registration with the DVLA being in 2000. It’s a car that’s clearly been looked after, as the substantial history file details comprehensive works carried out by marque specialists – most notably over £7,900 spent in late 2019/early 2020 on a full overhaul of the exhaust and fuel system, attention to the suspension and brakes, fitting new tyres and engine mounts, replacing belts, overhauling the cooling system, and plenty more besides – plus a full service and engine tune. As such, it’s a lovely thing to drive; indeed, it goes as well as it looks, and it really does look very special indeed – beautiful to behold both inside and out.

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The History and Paperwork

  • 2020 - £7,915 at marque specialist Steve Redfearn, for a wide variety of works including service and engine tune, engine mounts, new belts, fresh coolant and thermostat, new exhaust system, new tyres and more
  • 2017 - £900 at New Generation Cars for repair and repaint to front wings, bonnet and rear panel
  • 2016 - £1,020 at New Generation Cars for welding work
  • 2016 - £778 at New Generation Cars for welding work, painting hubcaps, repairs to wipers/washers, repair to radio and wiring
  • 2008 - £142 at Ristes Motor Company to fit new front seat covers
  • Sheaf of old MOTs
  • Certificates from Driver & Vehicle Testing Agency (Northern Ireland)

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The Interior

  • Full leather re-trim to both seats, door cards, dash surround, sun visors, third seat and canopy surround in 2016
  • Lovely wood trim with no cracks or peel
  • Factory-option rear seat
  • Tasteful classic-style modern radio

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 a tasteful white steering wheel, factory-option third seat and cream leather trim, it’s a period-perfect snapshot of 1960s style. 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 seats and doorcards have very good trim which is free from undue wear, rips or tears, and the carpets are complete and clean. A modern classic-style radio has been fitted, but aside from this it’s all 1960s-spec. There are no cracks in the dashtop, and the wood trim is all solid and well presented with no signs of scuffs or lacquer peel. It’s all dry and solid inside the boot, which appears to have been refinished in tough textured paint in the recent past.

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The Exterior

  • Desirable colour scheme
  • Hardtop and soft-top in good condition
  • All correct trim in place and in good order
  • Recent tyres

This Pagoda is a delight to behold, with a deep shine to the dark blue paint and nice even panel gaps. The panels that have been repaired and repainted in its past appear to have been done to a high standard with a great colour match. All of the correct trim is in place, and the light lenses and window glass are in good order. The car comes with a good factory hard-top in the correct matching colour. The soft-top is also very pleasing; finished in dark blue, it raises, latches and lowers freely and easily, and has no holes or marks and a clear and un-creased window.

The wheels are tidy and proper with their correct centre caps (which have been repainted), and wear quality Vredestein Sprint Classic tyres that were replaced less than 2,000 miles ago. Everything is attractive and correct here – a beautiful SL that drew many admiring glances from passers-by during our photoshoot.

The Mechanics

  • Thousands spent in recent years
  • Drivetrain is smooth
  • Ride is comfortable, brakes are strong

Photoshoots with classic cars can be very telling, as they usually involve a cold start and a test drive followed by lots of hot starts and manoeuvring back and forth. And we’re happy to report that this Pagoda behaved impeccably throughout – it’s happy to fire from cold and settle into an even idle; once warmed through the engine is just as willing and eager as you’d hope, with the auto ’box shifting smoothly. The suspension rides comfortably with no undue noises or vibrations, and the brakes feel appropriately strong.
This car has a had a large amount of money spent on it to ensure that all sorts of details throughout the drivetrain and chassis have been addressed, serviced or renewed, and as such it’s a thoroughly pleasant thing to drive today. You can see from the paperwork file that a lot has been done to get the car up to its current standard, and it really does feel like a solid and decent car that’s ready to enjoy.

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Being a right-hand-drive example makes this 280 SL desirable on the UK market, but what marks it out yet further is the wonderful colour scheme: dark blue suits the Pagoda so well, and the great overall condition of this car backs up the aesthetic vibe beautifully.

With a robust history of specialist care, this is an SL that’s lovely to drive; supremely comfortable, appropriately willing, and reportedly just as dependable as it should be. If the summer continues to be as sultry as it has been so far, this Pagoda would absolutely make the perfect companion; in fact, with that sturdy hardtop, it’d be equally perfect if it rains from now to Christmas.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 2022
  • Make Mercedes
  • Colour
  • Odometer 104,417 Miles
  • Engine size
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Trade
  • Location London
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
20 bids
  • ma•••• £102,000 10/08/22
  • rc•••• £100,000 09/08/22
  • sl•••• £98,500 07/08/22
  • rc•••• £97,000 07/08/22
  • sl•••• £95,000 06/08/22
  • rc•••• £92,000 06/08/22
  • sl•••• £90,000 05/08/22
  • rc•••• £88,000 05/08/22
  • sl•••• £85,000 05/08/22
  • rc•••• £78,000 04/08/22

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