Styled by Paul Bracq under the direction of Mercedes-Benz chief designer Friedrich Geiger, the ‘SL” caused an incredible stir at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show thanks to its incredible looks.
It was based on the 220 ‘Fintail’ range of saloons and used a truncated version of the executive saloon car’s platform, but with a rigid central passenger cell, and was beautifully over-engineered, delicately styled and sturdily constructed.
Owned by rockstars, fashion icons, screen startlets and F1 drivers, the 'Pagoda' is very much an iconic symbol of the jet-set.
It was both handsome and engaging to drive, with 185bhp in range-topping 280 SL form.
The car was offered with a detachable steel roof, from which it gets its ‘Pagoda’ nickname thanks to its inwardly curved apex, similar to that of a Far Eastern temple. It also had a soft top stored beneath a built-in metal tonneau and it manages to be undisputedly good looking no matter whether the hardtop is fitted or the roof is up or down.
You can take your pick with this one as the factory roof is included – and as it has just had a concours rebuild, you’ll struggle to find one more stunning.
This Pagoda began its life in the USA, having been shipped directly to California from the Stuttgart factory.
The car stayed in the southern states of the USA for all of its life up until 2019 when it was discovered by a collector and imported to the UK.
The car was sent directly to Project Heaven near Peterborough, a classic car specialist that is especially focused on carrying out high-end and concours quality restorations. The Pagoda's refurbishment was completed earlier this year after an extremely comprehensive schedule of work, that saw it being completely stripped down and rebuilt over an extended period.
It has seen thousands of man hours being spent on it, by a passionate and dedicated team.
Now that the work is complete the car is being registered with the DVLA and will be sold with the UK registration number.
As the car was imported from overseas and its history there was quite limited, there is actually very little in the way of paperwork supplied with it.
However, in many respects its story begins in 2021, because having been completely rebuilt from the ground up and with so many of its original parts replaced by new ones, it's probably as close as you'll get to a brand new Mercedes-Benz Pagoda SL.
A full photographic restoration file of the car, showing the enormous amount of work involved will be made available to the new owner.
Absolutely no part of this car’s exterior was left untouched during the restoration.
It was stripped back to a bare shell, shot blasted and any areas of weak or corroded metalwork cut out and professional replaced by a team of dedicated craftsmen.
Once any metalwork was completed, the car was carefully prepped and the bare metal shell treated before it was repainted with multiple layers of zinc primer and several coats of the original Mercedes-Benz ‘903 Blue’ paint, which has an incredible hard enamel shine and is absolutely free from blemishes. It really is an incredible looking thing.
The soft top is the car’s original. When it was stripped down, the fabric roof was found to be in such good condition that instead of being replaced it was sympathetically restored and didn't really need much in the way of attention.
The car is also supplied with a matching black factory hardtop which wasn't available on the day of our photographs but has reportedly been restored to the same standard as the rest of the bodywork.
The underside of the car has been professionally rust proofed and this is as clean and presentable as the top, while most of the original trim was retained where possible. However, it has had brand new bumpers front and rear and these look absolutely terrific.
Project Heaven was very careful to not over-restore the SL, particularly in terms of its cabin, which was in excellent order to start with, suggesting that the 44,000 recorded miles are most probably genuine.
Much of the interior restoration involved carefully cleaning, dying or fettling the original parts back to life rather than replacing them and the result is a cabin in super order, with a very gentle patina that adds charm to the overall package.
One particularly appealing feature is the retro-styled Blaupunkt stereo which looks absolutely contemporary where it sits in the middle of the dash, but has modern DAB and Bluetooth connectivity.
The 2.8-litre straight six was carefully recommissioned as part of the car’s restoration. As well as having all of the metal engine pipes zinc plated internally to offer greater corrosion resilience, the mechanical fuel injection pump was overhauled and the engine itself thoroughly checked over and tuned to perfection.
It is an unusual specification insofar as it has the optional three-speed automatic transmission, which was an expensive option back in the day.
The car starts runs and sounds great and all of the gears engage and perform as expected, including reverse.
When the car was reassembled following its restoration, all of the major suspension components, bushes, breaking components, tyres and brake pipes were all replaced with brand new items, so everything is in absolutely fantastic condition.
The growth in popularity of Mercedes Pagoda models shows no signs of abating, with the best examples continuing to command really strong money.
And in all honesty, they don't come much better than this one. With all of the work that's been carried out to bring it up to the condition it's in - and we're talking a concours restoration here - it's probably as close as you'll get to buying a brand new 1969 280SL.
It is an absolutely stunning car in the best condition you could hope for, as well as being the very best specification Pagoda.
Make no mistake, this is a very special car indeed.
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