One of the most iconic and desirable classic cars in the world... The Mercedes Pagoda. And if ever you’ve thought of owning one, here is your chance, with this beautiful example of a proper drivers’ car... The California model.
The Mercedes-Benz 190SL was and still is a beautiful car, but for 1960s Mercedes bosses, it wasn’t enough. In fact, they had come to realise it was slow, and not all that engaging to drive. Issues that were further compounded by the performance of the 300SL. However, the 300SL was a car only the most wealthy could afford, so instead it served as an unattainable carrot dangling in front of 190SL customers. Something had to be done, and that something was… the car you’re looking at here.
The W113, which is the car here, happened almost by accident. Mercedes-Benz engineers were working on the W127 platform, which would form the basis of the new roadster. It would be powered by a 2.2 fuel injected petrol engine, and it would give Mercedes-Benz the car it so wanted. Sadly though, technical setbacks slowed the development, which is what led to the emergence of the W113 - the car we have for auction here.
The W113 was based around the W111 saloon, though the chassis was shortened by some 30cm. A 2.3 straight-six engine was fitted to the early cars, with either a four-speed automatic or an optional ZF 5-speed manual transmission.
The car, designed by Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi, was built with safety in mind, which was a first for a car of this type. It featured a designated passenger cell with engineered crumple zones. Barényi, who was known for safety, saw no reason not to implement it. So as well as crumple zones, the body was more rounded and all internal fixtures were either padded or rounded. Revolutionary, really.
The design, with its stack lights and two-seat layout was a hit from the off. The car was powerful, it was reliable, it was handsome and thanks to the inclusion of that concave ‘Pagoda’ roof, it was a car for all seasons, too. A design classic that proved to be so popular it quashed the development of the original replacement, and was eventually replaced with the R107 model.
This car is special for a number of reasons. Firstly, there is the inescapable fact that this is one of the most desirable classic Mercedes-Benz models ever made. But within the confines of this model, this particular car is actually incredibly rare due to it being a 250SL. This model was only built for one year, and for many, this is the perfect model. To find another would be no small task, especially in this condition.
The 250SL was fitted with the M129 2,496cc straight-six engine. It offered the same 148bhp as the 230SL before it, however, it had more in the way of torque.
The 250SL took the 230SL’s 145lb ft and turned it into 159lb ft. A small increase, granted, but enough to transform the way in which the car drove. It also gained rear disc brakes, giving better control to the driver. A revised, larger-capacity cooling system and finally, the fuel tank capacity was increased from 65 litres to 82 litres.
This car, which is resplendent in metallic gold with contrasting black leather, features the above engine mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. It has had just three former keepers and exists today in restored, but original specification. If you want to enjoy a classic SL, this is the way to do it.
Extensive is the word we’d use in the case of this 250SL. But having had just three owners, the chance for paperwork to be neglected or wayward has been pleasantly limited. Each owner has done their bit to keep the biography of this car in motion, which is reassuring on such a car. It has a fresh MOT which expires on the 20th of May 2021 (Though of course, this is exempt) giving a buyer good peace of mind.
A ring folder plays host to what’s been filed, and in it there are myriad invoices and receipts for various works carried out on the car. There are also photographs to document one of the most significant parts of the car’s history, which was a complete engine rebuild in 2014. At the time, the car was suffering from a poor running issue. It was also consuming oil. After investigation, it was decided the best course of action was to remove the engine and have it inspected for issues. With no major flaws found, the block was cleaned and machined. The cylinder head, too. New pistons were fitted, new crank shells, new gaskets and all other fixtures and fluids as required. The engine is, in effect, a new unit given the amount of work done, all of which has been documented.
Other works include the fitting of a completely new exhaust system in 2010, along with all clamps and fittings. New suspension control arm and brake calliper refurbishment in 2011. New fuel lines and new wheel bearing last year. A new master cylinder, professionally refurbished brake callipers and servo. New engine mounts and gear box mounts have been fitted and the current owner has even fitted a new seat knob so it can be adjusted. Big or small, nothing has been missed. Furthermore, the cold start system has been neatly bypassed by a specialist with a manual switch, meaning this car starts on the button every time.
Simple, elegant and functional. That’s what’s at play here. The interior is in excellent order with no excessive wear or issues. As detailed above, some of the controls have been replaced to regain function. And there is that switch for the cold start function located under the dash. Furthermore, the current owner, at great expense, had the heater repaired and controls replaced meaning that this car will be just as comfortable in the cold weather as it will be in the sun.
The chrome-work is clean, the dials all bright, clear and functional - the current owner had the rev counter professionally recommissioned as it stopped working. The gold painted section of the dash is free from damage, the glove box has been adjusted and a new spring fitted. It’s simple, but elegant and in wonderful, inviting condition. Cars like this are the ones that set the benchmark for what Mercedes-Benz could offer in terms of durable, but comfortable interiors.
Buyers should note that this SL250 is a California model, i.e. Hardtop Convertible
This 250SL is in excellent order, though it’s by no means concours. There are some small imperfections such as the mismatched rear light clusters, some small blemishes on some of the chrome trim (pictured) and some ever so slight pitting on others. But as you can see, these minor flaws in no way distract from the overall beauty of the car. If anything, they give it a bit more age and authenticity.
The body is incredibly straight, and there is no drop on the doors with both closing cleaning and with that reassuring, German ‘thunk’. Open the boot and you’re presented with a clean, dry space with good condition carpets and no signs of corrosion anywhere. Under the bonnet, it’s much the same. There is again a sense of age, as it’s not been polished to death. It’s a reminder that this car is a driver, not a show queen. The engine bay is tidy, make no mistake, with no egregious stains, leaks or signs of damage or neglect.
Looking under the car, there is some evidence of past repair around some of the arches, and also some minor surface rust can be seen and this should be addressed before it compromises this fine automobile. The floors of the car are reassuringly well rust-proofed, as are all the inner arches. There are no leaks, nor is there any sign of poor repair or damage. Just what you want to see on a car of this sort.
The aluminium hard top is present and correct and in good order, though there is some small corrosion creeping in around some of the pillar bases, and the headlining is showing its years, though it is in no way damaged, nor is the wooden element, which still solid with varnish in place.
As covered above, this car has had a complete mechanical overhaul and as such, is in fine fettle. The car starts on the button without hesitance and settles into a steady idle without faltering. Rev the engine up and it keenly shoots through the new exhaust, with no backing track or rattles or coughs. This car is fighting fit, make no mistake.
The automatic transmission changes cleanly and without drama. The steering, thanks to a range of new bushes and such is direct and responsive, offers ample feedback to the driver. The brakes, all of which have been overhauled, pull the car to stop without drama or change in direction.
It’s in rude health and is ready to go wherever you wish. Roof off, the mechanical love shown to this car over the years should provide the new owner with many, many years of reliable motoring. There was nothing of concern to note on our visit. Keep this Mercedes-Benz serviced and maintained in the fashion it has become accustomed and you’ll have many happy miles ahead of you.
Elegance, grace, pace and art - that’s what a Mercedes-Benz SL ‘Pagoda’ signifies, and who doesn’t want a bit of that in their life? This example is ready to go, it’s in exceptional mechanical health and while there are some small visual imperfections that the fastidiously-natured may want to remedy, none are enough to detract from this car’s overall condition. It’s a car to be driven, to be used and enjoyed and to be celebrated. This will turn heads, it will shine keenly at shows and it will take you wherever you point it, either with the sun on your back, or in the comfort of a snug coupe. What more could you want from a classic?
It’s got an MOT until next May, the road tax is free and it’s recently been serviced, it just needs you to take it on its next adventure, and what an adventure it will be.
The max bid process allows you to bid without any hassle.
Enter your maximum bid and we will then bid on your behalf to ensure you're the highest bidder - just enough to keep you in the lead and only up until your maximum.
About Max Bids
C&C prevent auction snipers from bidding in the last seconds to win an auction.
Auctions are extended by 10-minutes if anyone bids within the last 2 minutes to allow other bidders to react and counter-bid.
If your bid is below the reserve price you'll bid that amount if you are the highest bidder.
If you are the highest bidder and place a bid above the reserve we will only go up to the reserve price.
Once the reserve has been met C&C will make sure you are the highest bidder using the bidding increments stated below, keeping you in the lead up until your maximum bid.
£0 to £10,000
£10,000 to £50,000
Automatically outbid immediately
When you place a max bid and are outbid immediately that means that another bidder has placed a max bid limit which is higher than yours.
You can bid again and we will use our automatic bid system to try and get you as the highest bidder.
Matching max bids
When there are two max bids of the same value, the one placed first remains the lead bidder.
Watch this auction
Get notified when the auction is starting, and half an hour before it ends.