One of my favorite understated cars of the 1960s:

• 4-speed automatic gearbox
• Mercedes’ formidable works rally driver Eugen Böhringer won the 6,600km 1963 Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally in a specially prepared 230 SL
• Pagoda ownership was more about understated style and long-distance holidaying.
• Fuel-injected, SOHC six-cylinder engines came as standard, with the first cars’ 2,308cc (230 SL)
• The latter (280 SL) 2,778cc engine finally gave the elegant car a little more ‘go’

Simple, well-proportioned, and built like a bank vault:

Source: Classic Driver

Category: Digital Media, Weekend

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5 Responses to “Mercedes-Benz SL ‘Pagoda’”

  1. contrabandista13 says:

    I’ve got just 3 words for the styling, BEAU-TI-FUL …! However, automatic….? Boooooo..!

  2. J Kraus says:

    This is indeed a true ‘60s gem from an era when cars from Mercedes-Benz were characterized by a handsome simplicity and elegance rather than their current products, which are much more about flamboyance and glitz.

    This is a great example, being not only full European specification, but also featuring the optional ivory steering wheel. The U.S. spec cars were all imported with bumper overriders that cluttered the design and made the car appear narrower. In addition, U.S. laws of the time mandated round sealed-beam headlamps that meant the loss of the lovely bubble lamps seen here. These classic MB lamp clusters incorporated turn indicators at the top, headlamps in the center and fog lights in the lower portion.

    The 280, the final iteration, had improved torque but also softened suspension (which was not needed, they all have a supple ride.) The best all-rounder is the 250 SL with the (rare) optional ZF 5-speed gearbox.

  3. seth1066 says:

    You could get it with the soft top and removable hardtop combo, soft top only or the somewhat baffling, removable hardtop only.

  4. J Kraus says:


    The “removable hardtop only” option was intended for those who envisioned driving only in enclosed coupé mode, with no desire to ever drive al fresco.

    Its existence calls to mind a friend who owned a BMW Z8 for six years and never once removed the hardtop!