Mercedes-Benz W113 SL Pagoda Club - Mercedes-Benz W113 - 230 SL, 250 SL, 280 SL - automatic and manual models 1963–1971 More
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 6 months ago
    Shelby Glenn updated the cover photo of the group
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 6 months ago



    COACHBUILT CLASSIC Mercedes-Benz 230SL #1963-Pininfarina-Coupe


    Five decades have been required to write this story. It involves one of the most iconic and best loved Mercedes-Benz models of the post-war era, a famous Italian design house, and one of the best known and most prolific automotive designers of our time.

    The car, the 1964 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Pininfarina Coupe, has lived a chequered life, first as an attempt by Pininfarina to present a car to Mercedes-Benz for possible series production, then as a daily driver for West Germany’s answer to Rupert Murdoch, Axel Springer, through a succession of owners – and paint schemes and configurations – and finally to its current keepers, the Hook family, who have owned it since 1997.

    Weston Hook worked with one of the world’s foremost Mercedes-Benz restoration experts, Hjeltness Restoration in Southern California, to return it to its original splendour. For this story to make sense, one needs to travel back in time to 1963, when at that year’s Geneva motor show Mercedes-Benz introduced the #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Pagoda-W113 230SL, a replacement for both the 190SL and 300SL. It was an immediate hit and over the course of two increases in engine capacity, for the 250SL and 280SL, 48,912 W113s were produced, of which 19,440 were sold in North America.

    The new car caught the attention of the Italian Pininfarina design house, which with an eye on a possible production contract set about improving on what many saw as the perfection of the original Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi shape. Pininfarina assigned the design to a young American, Tom Tjaarda. The son of John Tjaarda, responsible for the design of the aerodynamic 1936 Lincoln Zephyr, he had worked for Ghia before moving to #Pininfarina in 1962, where his first project was a coupe version of the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair.

    Looking back more than 50 years, here’s what Tjaarda remembers about the development of the fixed-roof version of the 230SL. “The exact date of the Mercedes project I cannot recall, but I think it would be some time in 1963. I remember that it was going to be an attempt by Pininfarina to work together on an important project with Mercedes. The scope was to design a special version of the 230SL in such a way that it could be put into production at the Pininfarina factory. For that reason there were many carry-over components such as the interior fittings, the front end, the headlights and some other elements.

    “When working on this design it never crossed my mind that I was putting my stamp on a breakthrough design – we were working on a special version of the 230SL, and so it had to be recognisable as such. I remember starting out from the headlight design and integrating the crease of the fender line so that it looked different but at the same time nothing radical. The side view, and especially the rear, were the parts that set the design off from the production version. It was just enough to make the car look different, and perhaps more ‘Italian’ and more elegant.”

    When asked who made the decision to have a fixed-roof coupe configuration, a departure from the removable hardtop of the production version, Tjaarda said those decisions were always made by Sergio Pininfarina and the company’s CEO, Renzo Carli. He said that the prototype was built in-house and constructed over a cut-up 230 SL.

    “The basic car was taken apart and the bodywork cut away where we would be doing the modifications,” Tjaarda recalls. “Once I had done the drawings of the modifications, I was no longer involved with the project, and everything just went ahead in the workshop. I was put on another task, and really saw the car only a few times during its construction phase.”

    One thing he does remember very clearly was that Pininfarina was keen to approach Mercedes-Benz regarding the possibility of production. “He worked hard to convince the Mercedes-Benz directors to establish a cooperation and set up a production programme in the Pininfarina factory,” Tjaarda reveals. “After numerous attempts, it became clear that this was not going to happen, so the car remained a one off.”

    After the car was completed and it was obvious that there was no production potential, it was sold to West German publishing magnate Axel Springer. Over the years the car had a succession of owners, mostly in America, and during the 1980s it became known to Jerry Hjeltness of Hjeltness Restoration at an event in Palm Springs, California. At the time the car was painted black and had a red interior, and wore modern Mercedes- Benz cast aluminum wheels. It was subsequently painted red by its next owner, and the interior was refinished in tan leather, the original colour.

    Then in the mid-1990s it caught the attention of Weston Hook, a noted American collector. In the years before buying it in 1997, Weston talked with Jerry several times about acquiring the car for his collection. Jerry had said to Weston, “In red it doesn’t do anything for me.”

    A few weeks later Weston called again, telling Jerry he’d bought the car and that it was already accepted for Pebble Beach that year (12 weeks away), as there was a Tom Tjaarda Class, and could Jerry polish it and get it ready for this high-profile classic event? The red paint job was one you would find on a used car, and the Mercedes was, charitably, in less than concours condition, Jerry thought.

    When the car arrived at Hjeltness Restoration, Jerry gave Weston an honest appraisal of the situation. “We could try to polish this out, but the paint was bubbling,” he told him. “The underside is painted black, and if the judges lean down and look at the underside they will laugh.”

    Initially Weston wanted the car repainted red, but after locating photos of it as exhibited in Paris in 1964, in silver, he decided to have it returned it to its original 1964 configuration. And Jerry thought the car’s lines worked exceptionally well in silver. So with Pebble Beach closing in, all other work at Hjeltness Restoration halted as the crew concentrated on the Pininfarina coupe. Jerry’s son Eric, who works side by side with his father, recalls that the car was completed and ready in just 11 weeks.

    Eric explained that the car was not taken back to the original sheet metal, but was sanded down to almost that point. While preparing the car, Eric discovered that when it first came to Pininfarina from the factory, it was finished in white. “There were several levels of paint, black and red, where we prepped the car,” he says. “We also found filler in many places. Don’t forget Michelangelo was a sculptor, also Italian, right? Pininfarina used filler, I am sure.”

    Eric also observed that when the car was exhibited in Paris in 1964 it had side marker lights from a Ferrari from that period. “The holes were filled, but it was easy to see the original locations when the body was ‘taken down’ for its new silver paint.”

    One of the first things Jerry noticed was that the Mercedes had a Plexiglas windshield, that had been installed before its previous Pebble Beach display. “The restorer at the time, who painted the car red, apparently had broken the windshield during the restoration,” he speculates.

    Jerry had a unique solution to the windshield problem. At the time, Chrysler had an advanced design centre in nearby Carlsbad, and Jerry had a friend there. “I had him come over and we pulled a plaster of Paris mould off of the existing Plexiglas windshield – then I had a shop up in Long Beach make a glass windshield.”

    Thankfully the interior was mostly correct but the aluminum kick panels, with their fine etchings, were in less than perfect shape. To recreate the kick panels Jerry made a tool to properly duplicate the originals. When looking at the 1964 Paris photos Weston noted a unique licence-plate frame, and insisted Jerry duplicate it, even though it was missing from the car. Jerry told Weston there wasn’t enough time, but as the restoration had gone without major complications, he attempted to replicate the frame, using the 1964 pictures, Weston had. With these photos Jerry was able to get very accurate measurements.

    One particular memory from the car’s 1997 Pebble Beach appearance is worth airing. Jerry recalls that someone with a German accent walked up to it and said, “Here’s the car. We thought it was lost.” The German apparently worked for Axel Springer. A week later, he called Hjeltness Restoration and arranged to have the car photographed, and it appeared in 1998 in Auto Bild magazine in Germany.

    In the time since its 1997 appearance at Pebble Beach the car has been displayed at a number of events, and is a hit whenever it goes. It remains an enduring legacy to the preservation efforts of Weston Hook, who sadly died eight years ago, leaving his wife, Elona, and son, Russell its custodians. It’s one of the cornerstones of a sizeable collection of cars, and stands at an intersection of Mercedes-Benz, Pininfarina, and a young American designer, Tom Tjaarda, who would leave his mark on more than 80 additional vehicles.


    TOP Square tailed #W113 has a good sized boot though the spare reduces space.
    ABOVE Fuel filler, normally behind the number place, was moved to inside the boot.
    ABOVE LEFT In 1997, at Pebble Beach, Tom Tjaarda was reunited with the car and signed it.
    ABOVE The #Mercedes-Benz-230SL Coupe as seen in Pininfarina’s publicity photos when it was built.
    ABOVE RIGHT A slightly later shot – the interior shade is probably distorted in this old print.
    ABOVE FAR LEFT Pagoda fascia one of the best looking Mercedes has made.
    ABOVE LEFT The classic, original Becker Mexico radio is still in place.
    ABOVE This SL was delivered with the optional four-speed automatic.
    ABOVE LEFT From this view you can see how slim Pininfarina’s rear pillars are on the #Pagoda .
    ABOVE FAR LEFT No changes were made to the engine, the 2.3-litre #M127 six producing 148bhp.
    TOP LEFT Tan is the original colour, but in the car’s past life the seats have been red.
    ABOVE Tom Tjaarda, the American stylist who worked on the Coupe project back in ’1963.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #1963 / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-Pininfarina-Coupe-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-Pininfarina-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-Pininfarina-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 / #Pininfarina-Coupe-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-Pininfarina / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Pininfarina-Coupe / #Pininfarina / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-M127 /

    Engine #M127 2,306cc, 6-cyl in-line
    Power 148bhp @ 5,500rpm
    Torque 145lb ft @ 4,200rpm
    Transmission 4-speed automatic
    Weight 1,295kg
    0-62mph 10.7sec
    Top speed 122mph
    Fuel consumption 27.7mpg
    Built #1963
    Number built 1
    All figures from #Mercedes - Benz , for a standard production 230SL
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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 6 months ago

    1971-Mercedes-Benz-280-SL Gooding & Co, Amelia Island, USA 9 March / #1971-Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 / #1971 / #Mercedes-Benz-280SL / #Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz /

    It’s dark red with Cognac MB-Tex vinyl, a hardtop and a new soft top. It has the desirable four-speed manual ’box and Becker Mexico radio. The body was restored ten years ago, the interior was refreshed more recently. It looks to be a solid example and a good driver. So, what is it worth? We’ve seen this phenomenon before, the sudden price spike followed by a settling-down in value, and it’s been happening a lot with the W113 ‘ #Mercedes-Benz-Pagoda ’ SLs built from 1963 to 1971. The spike usually happens at a high-profile auction, where lots of potential bidders see it and it takes hold, for a while. Great examples of the SL reliably sold in the $50,000-60,000 range for years, then suddenly they were making over $100,000. One year later, they were back at $60,000-80,000, less for 230s and 250s, more for 280s. What has happened?

    Simple economics. It’s a supply-and-demand issue. Higher prices not only bring more attention to the make and model, they also bring more cars to market. The car that was not for sale when it was worth ‘only’ $50,000 might just be for sale when the seller is reasonably expecting twice that price. More examples will also get restored as it becomes more financially viable. Supply goes up but demand remains the same – or edges up, at best.

    Right now we are in that second part of the sales cycle. A large number of W113s are on the market so values are a bit down, especially for examples less than pristine. It’s time to take advantage of the market and buy on the dip. As for our Cognac SL, it sold for a good-value $66,000. Point proved.

    Dave Kinney is an auction analyst, an expert on the US market scene and publishes the Hagerty Price Guide / BRIAN HENNIKER
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  •   Ben Barry reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    The #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Pagoda-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-Pagoda / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz

    It is not surprising that now the "Pagoda" is the first choice of many fans. A constructive elegance premium quality is added. Of course, we must be careful and evaluate well the chosen unit, if we want to avoid unpleasant surprises.

    Since its introduction at the Geneva Motor Show #1963 Mercedes-Benz-W113 type, popularly known as " #Pagoda " was a resounding success for the critics and the public. Its balanced forms, topped by the characteristic and versatile hardtop, mixed with equal parts art -of time- modernity and elegance. In addition, since the first series 230 SL, it was much more powerful than its predecessor, the 190 SL, took advantage of the engine as the 220 SE saloon, but suitably tweaked to yield 150bhp DIN. At the time of submission cost 40,000 Swiss francs, similar to the Jaguar E-Type, in contrast to recent Mercedes 190 SL were sold for only 28,500 FCH figure. To get an idea, the last 300 SL (3-liters and 215bhp) cost 48,000 FCH, a figure not too far to the "small" Pagoda.

    The press of the time called it "the most stable of world production car," so the German technicians too soon improve, and already in 1966 introduced the 250 SL, with resulting engine 250 SE sedan and rear disc brakes. It only lasted two years (1966-1968). In 1967 it had appeared the 280 SL, which already yielding 170bhp and included in option ZF five-speed.

    The expert opinion also calls into question the quality Pagoda. For right Nuno Gama Juan Lumbreras -Hand, "It was a car that was born a little too advanced for its time. Maybe 15 years advantage over the competition. But it has been slow to appreciate. Perhaps it was precisely this sense of modernity! Any driver of a car could now sit behind the wheel of a Pagoda and not notice major differences in performance. " Such is the quality of this model, according to Nuno, "almost all who come to the workshop Pagoda has happened much- time ago now being repaired, both sheet metal and mechanics. But to continue to function and acceptable appearance, many homeowners are unaware of the need for a review, and thus 90% of those in the market today need complete restoration work. " In this respect -of Garage Nicolas Regis, Madrid-based company specializing in Mercedes-Benz classics, he argues that "the current upward price trend is due in part to the security provided by the certified professional to assess, restore, buy or sell vehicle. This evolution has also enabled the restoration costs are absorbed in the hypothetical sales price of the vehicle; that is, it is now possible to restore a Pagoda professionally because a unit in perfect condition is clearly above € 125,000. Previously, the cost of restoring a complete car could far exceed its market value "Elaborating on its listing, the Pagoda have experienced one of the most dazzling increases in the sector, but always with one common denominator:. The most valued are the versions 280 SL, and within these 17% those equipped with manual shift versus automatic are listed. Ten years ago 280 SL in a state of competition is valued according to the guide "Miller" between 46,000 and 55,000 €. In recent months a whole galaxy of "pagodas" has come to auction: RM-Sotheby's has sold between January and March several units 280 SL between 123,200 and $ 181,500.

    Bonhams held last March its traditional auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, and there three Pagoda 280 SL were awarded. The more expensive under the hammer at 104,000 €, while the cheaper it did in 48,340. Why the difference? First, it was an automatic model and specifications USA-different lights and direction indicators on the large side, less appreciated in Europe but also its status, although it was good, had a great room for improvement. "This price increase has been accompanied by a deeper knowledge of the buyer assures, and a demand for increasing quality. The market is now very selective and the difference between "best" and the rest is abysmal. "

    Regis strike this line: "The Pagoda are good investment, but it is important to value every car in the right measure and estimate what repairs need to establish its market price. Many clients ask me why 40,000-50,000 price € 125,000 to 150,000 € and other cars that apparently are just as well. The answer is always the same: embedded value and reliability. Vehicles have to check in every respect, and its market price has to be consistent with their actual status or what you will need in the short, medium or long term, guarantee that our market is provided only by accredited professionals ".

    To be a reliable and robust model, many owners have neglected their maintenance
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  •   Ben Barry reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Introducing the latest addition to the famous #Mercedes-Benz “SL” series-the 230 SL / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 SL #Pagoda / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-Pagoda / #1964 #USA ads / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-W113

    It has the bloodlines of international champions, the heritage of greatness. The new 230 SL, with fuel injection, will pin you deep into the seat — up to 125 miles an hour. Yet it is much more than a sports roadster! Here is a versatile two-seater with planned spaciousness for touring. Comfort is sumptuous, appointments are impeccable. And the 230 SL is really two cars in one, for this roadster becomes a snug coupe just by snapping a detachable hard top in place — without even the bother of removing the soft top! The new #Mercedes-Benz-230SL adds new brilliance to the silver, three-pointed star. Why not phone your Mercedes-Benz dealer?

    • 170 HP, 6 cylinders, fuel injection
    • 9.3 to 1 compression ratio
    • Power disc brakes on front wheels
    • Mercedes-Benz low pivot swing axle
    • Floor-mounted 4 speed transmission
    • Automatic transmission optional
    • Permanent soft top, snap-on hard top
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  •   Nigel Boothman reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Loved by the rich and famous, the super classy #Mercedes-Benz #Pagoda #SL #W113 is also a wonderful investment, making a good one a star buy.


    Classics don’t come more timelessly elegant than the SL ‘Pagoda’ #Mercedes or so well engineered. The SL was a car that the famous flocked to when it was new. John Lennon was a fan, along with Tina Turner and Audrey Hepburn, while that suave caddish actor Leslie Phillips has owned one since new, purchased way back in #1966 . What a sensible bloke as they are worth a fortune now and prices are ever rising. Ding dong!


    Year #1963 Launched using similar mechanical design to the #190SL it replaced, first as a #230SL , with a 2306cc straight-six; 19,831 were made in a production run that lasted until 1967.

    Year #1967 Enter the 250SL if only for a year or so, as it was only ever intended as an interim model. The rarest of all the Pagodas, just 5196 were made equipped with disc brakes all round and a 2496cc straight-six, good for 170bhp; a five-speed manual gearbox became optional.

    Year #1967 Final incarnation of the Pagoda, the #Mercedes-Benz-280SL-W113 . It’s is the most common purchase as well as most sought after despite the car having a softer tourer suspension which made for inferior handling.

    Year #1971 #Pagoda range is replaced by the #R107 series which remained in production for almost 20 years.

    Despite its two-seater convertible configuration, the SL is no sports car but a cultured cruiser. The rather odd ‘back to front’ automatic selector gait needs some familiarising with but the box itself is pretty responsive and smooth. These Mercs are no road burners; predictably, the bigger the engine the more performance and the better to drive but car is better suited to cruising.

    As performance isn’t in abundance the #280SL is the most desired. It also received a softer, more touring suspension although condition counts most when Pagoda picking. Manuals are a matter of taste and the vast majority, like all Mercs, are selfshifting. That said, there’s nothing wrong with a 230SL manual for classic motoring. It’s better to get a scruffy but sound car than a superficial glossy one hiding a hoard of horrors and there are – sadly – a large number of these about. Be careful about any ‘so called’ improvements added as SL experts don’t like many alternations from standard spec and it can, actually, devalue the car.

    You’ll need at least £20,000 to secure a Pagoda that isn’t a liability; that nets a 230SL with a manual gearbox. The cheapest worthwhile 250SL is £22-£25,000, while a good 280SL costs from £25,000 upwards. These prices are for usable cars only; if you want something special or concours you will have to pay more – a lot, lot more. A really special 280SL will now fetch £75,000 and perfect Pagodas breach £100,000 easily.


    During an eight-year production run, just 48,912 W113s were built. Although survival rate is high, these cars are rarer than you’d first think and their owners are naturally keen to hang on to them because their values are rising by the month – and they are also lovely classic cars of course! A classic with (three-pointed) star quality that you won’t be disappointed with.


    1. RUST
    The SL’s monocoque corrodes badly and it’s common to find a car with a rusty structure that looks presentable. The bulkhead normally survives intact, but the complex sill structures, floors and chassis legs don’t.

    2. BODY
    Many of the outer panels are aluminium, so rust isn’t an issue here but corrosion might well be, along with microblistering of the paint.

    3. ENGINE
    Tends to be noisier than you’d expect even in good order. Alloy cylinder heads rust leading to overheating. Dirty oil will also lead to the fuel injection pump failing prematurely.

    Suspension is long-lived as long as the kingpins and trunnions have been greased every 3000 miles. Brake callipers stick if the car isn’t used regularly.

    5. HOOD
    Make sure the hood and frame are intact, because replacing either is costly; a replacement hood is £850-£1000 while a new frame is £7500 new…

    Nice classic look – SL experts warn about modifying and customising Pagodas otherwise their values will be hurt.

    Robust if not rapid, are best allied to auto transmission.
    A timeless shape but rust can be serious and costly.

    “Pagodas are more about style and sophistication than speed, and a well kept good one will be better than money in the bank”

    Fab not flash, SL cockpit is a lovely environment.
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