I’ve been meaning to write up a W113 SL for some time now, and with it being Labor Day weekend, I thought there’s no time like the present. The “Pagoda SL” is the perfect convertible and every time I see one in person it stops me dead in my tracks. Doesn’t matter if the hardtop is on, the convertible top up or down, the car is beautiful in any of its 3 forms, and even the U.S. mandated bumpers can’t ruin the look of the thing, it’s just so damned pretty!
The W113 had a good run from 1963-1971 with 19,440 sold here in the States, but it was the ’68-’71 280SL that really captured people’s hearts. More than half of the 23,885 280s built came to America, though the majority of them were fitted with an automatic transmission. In addition to the really cool color combo on this example, you’ll also find a 4 speed manual, which is the key to making your classic grand touring fantasies come true. As summer turns to fall, imagine spending an evening out with this car on a quiet two lane stretch of blacktop, cool air all around you, the M130 straight six humming away. You come up on a perfect lefthand sweeper with a little camber, downshift to 3rd, turn in, nail the apex, shoot out of the corner, and shift back up to 4th. That sequence right there is why you don’t bother with an automatic transmission on a car like this. Unless of course you just want it for a show piece vs a means of achieving moments of automotive nirvana.
Few automobiles make a bolder style statement than a vintage Mercedes-Benz SL. The original 300SL Gullwing and later Roadster were going to be a tough act to follow, but Mercedes succeeded in producing a smaller, more agile roadster for the 1960s, the 230SL. The W113 chassis SL would last into the early 1970s, culminating in the form of the 280SL. Many who bought these roadsters preferred the option of the automatic gearbox, but a few came equipped with a 4-speed manual. One option that appeared in 1966, however, was the ZF 5-speed manual gearbox. This was a very rare option on the 230/250/280SL and would be discontinued in 1969 and available only as a special request through the end of the production run. This 1970 280SL is one such SL so equipped, having undergone a complete frame-off restoration. For the W113 fan, it doesn’t get much nicer than this car right here.
While for a few generations it’s been fairly predictable that newer used Mercedes-Benz models are cheaper than the older, well kept models, there’s been an interesting turn in the market over the past 6 months. We are witnessing a trend of ever increasing prices on all the 1980s iron, but really specifically in the Mercedes-Benz world the R107 is on the rise fastest of all. In a 5 month period, Hagerty has re-assessed its evaluation of the model’s worth, with most models doubling or tripling in value seemingly overnight. What was, in 2014, a $10,000 – $15,000 example will be on the market for double that today, or more. Is the R107 the next E30, or is this simply a demand spike that recognizes some of the best built and engineered Benz models produced? Well, it certainly does beg the question – if you were going to spend $30,000 on a R107, what other classic Mercedes-Benz models would fall into that range. For comparison, I lined up a lovely W111 coupe to consider – nearly the same miles, condition and asking price, and both are Euro-spec manuals. Which would be your choice?
We like to speculate about “what ifs” here at GCFSB when it comes to models a particular manufacturer may have not offered. The Mercedes-Benz SL was in for a large change in the early 1970s with the introduction of the R107 SL. Mercedes’ roadster would be transformed into more of a cruiser than a sporting machine, with a myriad of V8 engines on offer throughout its lifespan. Some lamented the fact that the SL was taking a turn towards luxury and abandoning the “sport light” formula embodied by its predecessors. A V8 was never offered in the W113 SL, but a few intrepid enthusiasts have taken it upon themselves to slot two extra cylinders under the hood of these drop tops, as we see with this restored 1968 280SL sporting a period 3.5 liter V8.
The 1981 Mercedes-Benz 280SL equipped with a 5-speed manual that we featured last year has turned up once again. While 560SL prices start to soar, the time is ripe to explore other R107s for a potential value. If you want something unique, at least to the US market, this one is for you.
The below post originally appeared on our site November 11, 2014:
Walking around Manhattan a few weeks ago, I came across a W113 Mercedes-Benz SL. In style conscious New York, this is quite possibly the ultimate accessory. More petite than its predecessor, the 300SL Roadster yet a bit more classic than the R107 SL that ended production at the end of the 1980s, this is a great way to make a statement while not having something too huge to haul around the streets of the Big Apple. These SLs aren’t exactly what you would consider an affordable classic, but then again, you are getting a lot of advanced technology for the day wrapped in a decidedly vintage yet timeless skin. This restored example in Los Angeles represents the final evolution of the W113, the 280SL, mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox.
It’s no secret that the Mercedes-Benz R107 SL is riding a popularity wave at the present time. With an almost 20 year production run, there’s a version for pretty much everyone. But which to choose? Today we’ll look at four very different R107s, from a mid-seventies example right up to the final 560SL that appeared on these shores. We’ll start with this low mileage 560SL for sale in Florida.
Only recently have we seen the market for the Mercedes-Benz 190SL and certain R107 SLs trend upward, but for as long as I can remember, the W113 SL, otherwise known as the “Pagoda” has been the hands down favorite of collectors. I’d almost consider it the air-cooled 911 of the Mercedes set, given where values have been hovering for the last couple of years. This 1971 280SL for sale in Texas represents the last year for the Pagoda. This one was restored by noted specialist Bud’s Benz in Georgia in an uncommon Seafoam Green.
At the other end of the gray market scale from the 500SL we featured a few days ago sits this car, the 280SL. For most of its lifespan, European customers were able to specify a six cylinder variant of the popular R107 roadster, the first examples having the engine we see here, the twin cam M110 inline-6. This example for sale in Wisconsin has remarkably low mileage and features a few nice options like alloy wheels, heated seats and the rear “kinder” seat.
The Mercedes-Benz R107 SL isn’t exactly a car you would consider sporting. Rather, this was more a boulevard cruiser with competent performance. However, outside of the US market you could specify this SL with a six-cylinder engine and manual transmission, providing the driver a more engaging experience. Such as this manual transmission 1984 280SL for sale in Florida. This SL has the 2.8 liter M110 twin-cam six under the hood good for 182 bhp. While they weren’t sold on these shores, a few gray market examples found their way over in the 1980s and now that these cars are over 25 years old, it gives enthusiasts latitude to import one if they desire.
Engine: 2.8 liter inline-6
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Mileage: 44,470 mi
Price: $16,900 Buy It Now
1984 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster. Euro manual 5-speed, with both hard and soft tops. It only has 44,470 extra clean Florida miles. Has a silver metallic exterior finish in excellent condition with only very minor imperfections that would be consistent with a very well kept Florida car. The black Mercedes original leather interior is in excellent condition. The wood veneer trim is in perfect original shape. Perfect black soft convertible top with clear rear plastic windows, hard to find one this nice.
Non-smokers car, garaged kept, original spare tire never used. This car runs like a dream. Can be driven to the moon and back. If you are looking for a Mercedes roadster that is in exceptional condition this is the one. The 2.8 litre 6 cyl. engine runs perfect with recent basic engine service and maintenance records. Power windows, Sony Xplod stereo with 10 disc changer (also have the original radio and speakers), original owners manual with some service records and air conditioning. No accidents, non-smoker, garage kept. Everything works as it should, even the clock. Has a “like new” set of matching tires mounted on factory wheels. Take a look at the picture gallery below and you can see how nice this car really is. For Buy It Now price or any questions, call Jerry at 954-868-5128. It will go to the highest bidder if it goes to the end.
The R107 SL is one of those cars that has a constant place in my dream garage. It doesn’t matter if it’s a V8 or six cylinder, early or later model, I like them all. If I had to take my pick, I’d probably go for a late model 300SL, with the SOHC M103 six cylinder engine. But this 280SL would suit me just fine. Silver on black isn’t the most exciting of color combinations but it’s certainly pleasant enough. While this car is fairly clean and hasn’t traveled many miles, almost $17,000 is a bit of a reach when you can get into a clean 560SL for the same amount and the fact that the manual transmission isn’t so attractive to everyone in this market. If you could shave a few thousand off the asking price, this wouldn’t be a bad deal.