1969 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Coupe Roadster
Chassis No. 113.044.12.007843
180 bhp, 2,778 cc overhead-cam inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed automatic transmission, coil spring four-wheel independent suspension with control arms in front and swing axles rear, and four-wheel power-assisted hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.
A sensation at its introduction in 1955, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL had become somewhat passé by the early 1960s. Development then began on its successor, a six-cylinder car based on the S-Class W-112 line. Designers Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi transformed the coupes and convertibles of the W-112 cars into a neat sports car with an iconic, and patented, removable hard top that exhibited a slightly concave roof profile. It quickly acquired the nickname “Pagoda Roof.” Its internal designation was W-113; for advertising it was called 230SL, following its predecessor’s syntax of displacement (2300 cc) and car genre (Sport Licht, German for “Sports Light”).
Power came from a 2,308 cc overhead-cam six with multi-port fuel injection; both four-speed manual and automatic transmissions were available, and power front disc brakes were fitted. Production was under way by June 1963. In 1966 a five-speed manual transmission was offered. Nearly 20,000 were built through 1967, less than a quarter of them sold in the United States.
The March 1967 Geneva Motor Show heralded the 230SL’s successor, although the car had been in production for three months. A larger, 2,496 cc engine gave more power, and disc brakes were added to the rear. A larger fuel tank extended the cruising range. Designated 250SL, it remained in production through January 1968.
The final version of the W-113 appeared alongside the 250SL in December 1967. Now with 2,778 cc, it was dubbed 280SL, and a list of successive improvements over the W-113’s lifespan had transformed it into a grand touring automobile. The automatic transmission had become very popular and air conditioning was also a frequent option, particularly in the USA. The engine’s larger bore resulted in twin-cast cylinders and thus additional heat. An oil cooler was added, situated beside the radiator. Each engine was bench-tested for two hours. The model remained in production through February 1971, by which time nearly 49,000 W-113 cars, of all types, had been built.
A carefully-kept original car, this 280SL shows barely 54,000 miles. It was purchased new in Germany by its original owner and exported to the United States. He passed away soon afterwards, and the car was inherited by his daughter, who drove it sparingly, accumulating some 44,000 miles through the year 2000. Regular maintenance was performed scrupulously during the period. The current owner purchased it in 2003 via Mercedes-Benz specialist Alex Dearborn in Topsfield, Massachusetts.
The Light Blue paint, DB color 903, is original, as is the blue MB-Tex vinyl interior, the latter showing modest use. Equipped with automatic transmission and air conditioning (currently inoperative), it has been retrofitted with a modern Alpine stereo system. The car has a blue canvas soft top, replaced by SL Tech in Arundel, Maine, in 2008, at which time the top frame was thoroughly rebuilt. It works flawlessly. The removable hard top accompanies the car, which starts easily and runs well, and has been used by the current owner on both short and long journeys. A fine example of the final iteration of the “Pagoda” Mercedes-Benz, it will offer much enjoyment to a new owner.