Arizona | Lot 145

1968 Mercedes-Benz 280SL California Coupe

$38,500 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona

19 January 2012

Chassis No.

180 hp, 2,778 cc fuel-injected six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, unequal A-arms, independent rear suspension with low-pivot swing axles, trailing arms and coil springs, and hydraulic four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

• The last and best of the 230/250/280SL series of sports cars

• Fitted with desirable four-speed manual transmission

• Uncommon black/black color combination

• California Coupe model with hardtop and rear seat

• Odometer indicates less than 22,400 kilometers

When it was introduced in 1963, the Mercedes-Benz 230SL two-seater marked a huge improvement over the outgoing 190SL roadster. For one thing, it boasted a 150-hp six-cylinder engine instead of the 190’s four-cylinder. Surrounding that was a crisp, angular design, with an unusual concave hardtop roof that led to the sobriquet “Pagoda Top,” by which the model has since been known. It led to a successful dynasty that would be produced until 1971 with engine displacement gradually increased throughout the run to the most desirable 2.8-liter 280SL.

While not intended as an out-and-out sports car, Eugene Bohringer succeeded in winning the rugged Spa-Sofia-Liege Rally in the 230SL’s competition debut, which Sporting Motorist called “the sort of debut one would expect from the Stuttgart factory.” Mostly, though, the pagoda-top SLs became the choice of celebrities and the wealthy, more likely to be seen cruising sunny coastal roads or parked in front of trendy restaurants and grand hotels than covered in mud with rally numbers on the sides.

The car on offer is the “California Coupe” model, so named because it is fitted with a detachable hardtop but not with a soft top. The black leather interior is in good condition, with a rear fold-down seat. Recently treated to a tune-up, this roadster is fitted with the most desirable 2.8-liter, fuel-injected, 180-horsepower six-cylinder engine, promising 0-60 mph in 10 seconds and a top speed of 120 mph.

With the preferred four-speed manual transmission, instead of the more common automatic, some enterprising motoring is possible. The black paint is excellent and the panel fit typically precise. With less than 22,400 original kilometers, this uncommon black-on-black 280SL combines the best in Mercedes-Benz’s sporting character with typical SL elegance.

Please note this image does not depict the correct wheels, with which the car will be offered at auction.

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