Lot 213

Open Roads, February 2022

1971 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda'


$97,900 USD | Sold

United States | Chandler, Arizona



Chassis No.
US Title
  • Lovingly maintained and meticulously refurbished final-year example benefitting from long-term ownership
  • Believed to be one of only 830 produced for the 1971 model year
  • Single owner since 1981
  • Finished in period-correct Mercedes-Benz colors of Red Metallic over Cognac
  • More than $130,000 in detailed service receipts dating back four decades

Mercedes-Benz introduced the 230 SL on the new W113 chassis in 1963 to replace the expensive 300 SL and more affordable 190 SL of the 1950s. It was an attractive compromise of performance and affordability with tradition-breaking, straight fender lines. The light and airy detachable hardtop with its concave upper surface was the source of the “Pagoda” nickname. Launched with a 2.3-liter, inline, six-cylinder—as denoted by the “230” moniker—the engine would see an increase in displacement to 2.5 liters in 1966, along with a corresponding name change to 250 SL. By 1968, progressed to an even more powerful 2.8-liter engine and was rechristened the 280 SL, at last gaining the performance its elegant design deserved.

This desirable 280 SL Pagoda is one of only 830 produced during the model’s final year. It left the factory finished in Moss Green Poly with a matching soft-top over a Cognac MB-Tex interior, and was equipped with an automatic transmission, power steering, electrically heated rear window, and a Becker AM/FM radio. It was sold new in San Francisco and acquired by the seller, who is believed to be the car’s third owner, in 1981. Said to have been kept in the same Northern California garage since that time, this Pagoda has been meticulously refurbished and maintained with utmost care, as evidenced by over $130,000 in detailed service receipts dating back four decades.

Work performed to keep the car in top cosmetic and running condition throughout its life included a full engine rebuild 30,000 miles ago and a bare-metal respray in the Mercedes-Benz factory color of Red Metallic four years ago. The car also received an entirely new interior in Cognac MB-Tex. Trim pieces were removed and rechromed, and various components were replaced, including the carpet, seat pads, door panels, dashboard material, shift gate, brake and accelerator pedals, steering wheel, and heater levers. A new, dark brown, German sailcloth top was also installed.

Today, this Pagoda presents as a cherished example that has seen consistent but careful use over the years. Accompanied by a color-matched hardtop, a copy of the original data card, a full-size spare with cover, multiple tool kits, and extensive service records, it is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner.