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Prior to the R107 generation Mercedes-Benz SL-Class, your thirst for a V8 couldn’t be quenched. Your only options in prior generations 300SL and W113 Pagoda were inline-six powerplants in various guise. Don’t get me wrong, they were very sweet engines, especially that in the Gullwing, but V8s they were not. However, it looks like there was someone who wasn’t going to accept that. Leave it to the sneaky Germans to pull this one off.
The W113 Mercedes-Benz Pagoda is one of those cars you can buy an example for $40,000 all the way up to $240,000 and no one would bat an eye at you for doing so. Condition and spec can vary widely, so naturally prices do as well. Outside of the wheel choices, they all have the same general look and the only major factor in determining price is the engine choice. You can chose between the 230, 250, or 280 spec with generally the 280 and manuals demanding the greatest dollar amount. Are the other two choices bad? Not at all. You aren’t exactly competing in vintage road racing in a Pagoda, so while the upgraded power from the 280 is surely nice, the main goal of this car is to cruise and look good. So if a 230SL came up for sale for a reasonable price with the right transmission, like we have today, would you say no?
It has been a little while since I’ve looked at a Mercedes-Benz Pagoda, so now is a good a time as any to jump back in and check one of these out. Normally, I feature the top of the range 280SL because those are usually in the nicest condition, are optioned the fullest and are painted in the coolest colors. Today, I actually want to look at the one of the early Pagodas in the 230SL. This 1966 up for sale in Los Angeles is an extremely low mileage example with just a little over 19,000 and from the looks of it, has been maintained rather well.
Yesterday I was doing my daily rounds searching for interesting cars and scrolled upon a 1965 Pagoda. I looked at the price and saw $19,995 (more on this later) and my eyes got really big. The going rate for a decent Pagoda is about $50,000, so my finger was creeping awfully close to the ”Buy It Now” button. Everything looked good, no major body damage, the interior was nice despite an aftermarket CD and air conditioning system. But that all could be sorted out easy enough. It had a clean title and only a little over 39,000 miles. Maybe I did just stumble across a Pagoda from someone who still prices cars from a book they keep in the top drawer of their desk. Everything looked like I was going to Pagoda owner until I saw what was under the hood.
If the 911 and M3 are the recent market darlings, the dark horse in the European market has continued to be the W113 Mercedes-Benz SL. Dubbed the “Pagoda” in reference to its recessed roof, the 230, 250 and 280 aren’t great sports cars and aren’t even particularly light; however, they do perfectly represent the ethos of the “SL”. A personal luxury roadster, they’ve got muscular yet sensuous looks with flowing fenders and a subtle bulge in the hood. The wide and low stance with simple single bar grill and elongated headlights echoed the 300SL in all the right ways. With just the right amount of chrome, color-keyed (or alternating) wheel covers and beautiful fit and finish, these middle generation SLs have steadily increased in value over the past few decades.