1968 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda' 3.5 Conversion


RM | Private Sales
The Driver's Collection

Chassis No.
  • Executed in the style of a ‘factory-finished’ car—the V-8 Pagoda Mercedes-Benz never built
  • Charming color combination of black over red leather; original hardtop
  • Upgraded with a 200 hp, 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine
  • Four-speed automatic transmission
  • Air conditioning, Becker Mexico radio, defroster, sealed headlights
  • Exceptional craftsmanship throughout

The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL, affectionately nicknamed ‘Pagoda’ for its innovative hard top design, remains one of the most popular development of the SL lineage. Using lightweight aluminum panels, the 280 SL lived up to its Sport Leicht acronym and offered unparalleled outward visibility belying its high-strength structure. Whilst lightweight in build, the 280 SL packed a heavyweight punch with its 2.8-liter inline six-cylinder engine and multi-port fuel injection; capable of 170 horsepower, it gave the car a top speed of 124 mph. For its superb handling, impressive performance, and unique concave hardtop design, the Pagoda soon became the preferred place of worship for the Mercedes-Benz roadster devotee.

The attractive black over red leather example presented here is a unique “hot-rod” conversion which perfectly illustrates what Mercedes-Benz could have produced had they decided to shoehorn a V-8 engine into the SL-Class over fifty years ago. Though the marque would find huge success with their high-performance 300-series models—namely the 6.3 and 6.9 models, with their large-displacement V-8 engines—they never offered the same treatment for the contemporaneous SL. Thankfully, the exceedingly high quality of work needed to realize this 280 SL ‘Pagoda’ conversion offers the perfect glimpse into an alternate reality: One in which customers could order their roadster with an oversized V-8 powerplant.

Acquired by the consignor in 2015, this bespoke Mercedes-Benz was created in 2003 by world-renowned Mercedes-Benz specialist Peter Krausert of Herr 600 Inc. in Fallbrook, California. All structural, mechanical, and ergonomic fabrication has been documented in an extensive collection of invoices, with several hundred line items clearly illustrating the no-expenses-spared approach to Krausert’s execution. Now powered by a 200 horsepower, 3.5-liter V-8 engine sourced from a S-class chassis, the aluminum block adds 40 horsepower while also reducing weight by 50 pounds compared to the original cast-iron six cylinder. Mechanically and cosmetically rebuilt by Krausert with the help of outsourced specialists and workshops, no component of this chassis has escaped consideration, modification, or refinishing.

The upgraded powerplant sits on a reinforced subframe with hydraulic engine mounts and a revised suspension geometry. A custom fabricated driveshaft, linkages, and control unit send power to the rear wheels through a rebuilt four-speed transmission. The custom radiator is also worthy of special attention, with solid aluminum fans mounted on both sides to maintain cool engine temperatures in all driving conditions. The most recent invoice describes a rear axle alignment, new headlight bulbs, a brake fluid flush, and number of other minor, custom-fabricated items.

As the build was careful to maintain all the proper cosmetic elements to reflect the aesthetic of a “factory-ordered V-8 roadster,” the stock shifter assembly and gated fascia have been retained. All interior and exterior brightwork have been re-chromed and is presented as spotless. The vibrant red leather interior contrasts very nicely against the black exterior and maintains all the correct trims, seals, instrumentation, and finishes, save for an upgraded Nardi wood steering wheel. This chassis is also notably equipped with air conditioning, a defroster unit, and the correct Becker Mexico radio.

This SL is now offered with an extensive binder of service documentation, matching hardtop, spare wheel, tool kit, and correct manuals. Complete with upgraded performance while still retaining the same period-appropriate cosmetic appearance, the stunning “factory-style” quality of this build makes real a car Mercedes-Benz should have produced; this exciting and bespoke V-8 ‘Pagoda’ Roadster is a special car that would make for a unique addition to any collection.


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