1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SL 'Pagoda'

$185,000 USD | Asking

United States | New York, New York

Chassis No.
US Title
  • Presented in its attractive factory-correct colors of Dark Tobacco Brown over Cognac leather; matching factory hardtop and stand included
  • Rare and desirable four-speed manual transmission
  • Equipped with Frigiking air conditioning, Becker Europa radio, and Nardi sport steering wheel
  • Benefits from a previous restoration and fastidious care

The 280 SL roadsters are without a doubt at the very sweet spot of the classic Mercedes-Benz model range: They remain attainable, despite rapidly increasing values over recent years, and are extremely stylish, reliable, and competent enough to be used for pleasure on a frequent basis. The elegant and understated styling of these roadsters, penned by designer and artist Paul Bracq, made the model a desirable accessory for young Hollywood celebrities in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The model’s “Pagoda” nickname was due to a distinctive patented concave hardtop which provided ample visibility for the occupants, and served as a stunning compliment to the 280 SL’s handsome aesthetic. The short and wide chassis, meanwhile, combined with an excellent suspension, powerful brakes, and radial tires gave the 280 SL superb handling amongst its contemporaries.

Completed in March 1970, the 280 SL offered here is a United States-market example equipped by the factory with a rare and desirable four-speed manual transmission. The accompanying data card shows that it was finished in the attractive and uncommon shade of Dark Tobacco Brown over a Cognac interior. The car’s original “protect-o-plate” notes the first owner as a “V. Vlanderen” of Paterson, New Jersey—possibly denoting a member of Paterson’s wealthy Van Vlaanderen family. In 2002, it was acquired by an owner in Metairie, Louisiana, having already been treated to the attractive restoration it wears today.

Thanks to this eminently presentable restoration, the car still wears its factory-correct colors—complete with a color-matched set of wheel covers and factory hard top befitting a period-correct visage. A handsome brown soft top emerges from the rear boot to offer protection from the elements at a moment’s notice. The cabin upholstery has been neatly rendered in the correct Cognac shade, though upgraded to leather in preference over the chassis’ original vinyl trimmings. A factory-correct Becker Europa radio is mounted directly above a desirable Frigiking air conditioning system; both features are certainly requisites for enjoying the 280 SL in ultimate comfort. A stylish woodgrain Nardi sport steering wheel has also been fitted for more direct road-feel.

Since its time in Louisiana, this 280 SL has benefitted from exceptional collector ownership—most recently in Scottsdale, Arizona. In June 2019, the car was treated to a major servicing totaling over $11,000 USD to ensure optimal touring capabilities. Work provided by RW Fabrications of Phoenix, Arizona included a full fluid service, new bearings and seals, sway bar rubber bushings, inner and outer axle seals, front and rear dampeners, tie rods, and a suite of new components for the braking system (discs, rotors pads, calipers, and hoses). In the engine bay, the 2.8-liter powerplant was furnished with a valve adjustment, distributor, spark plugs, a rebuilt radiator, exhaust O-rings, and a hood insulation pad.

In summary, this refreshed 280 SL received a thorough sorting of the chassis’ underpinnings and fuel timing systems. The engine block is a period-correct, 2.8-liter replacement which has been restamped to match the engine number provided on the data card. The cylinder head’s evident stamping show that it is of the correct “280 SE/A” type for a 280 SL of the 1970 model year.

Cosmetically and mechanically refreshed, this 280SL represents a great value for a collector or enthusiast seeking an enjoyable and reliable vintage Mercedes Benz roadster and with its very rare four-speed manual transmission. It is complete with its manuals, tools, original data card, jack, spare wheel, factory hard top, stand, and a large service history file dating back to 2002. The consignor also notes that the entirety of the car’s front end has been treated with a paint protection film.

The Mercedes-Benz 280 SL “Pagoda” Roadsters have long been appreciated for their timeless style and excellent driving dynamics; this example promises to be both an alluring acquisition and a satisfying tourer. Period marketing materials label the 280 SL as “the sum total of everything the Mercedes-Benz engineers have learned about high-performance sporting machinery.”

Five decades later, we could not agree more.

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