In our recent market review, we outlined the stability of the W113 Pagoda’s financial and experiential appeal; with the international enthusiast’s fervent focus on the 280SL beginning to incorporate the 250 SL and Mercedes 230SL models. This increased interest and appetite for the 230 SL has since been corroborated by International classic car insurance specialist, Hagerty, who has added the W113 230 SL Pagoda to their 2022 Bull Market List. With ‘’looks that stop you in your tracks [and] bank-vault build-quality’’, there is a strong upward trajectory for the Mercedes 230SL and 250 SL, particularly as we approach the 60th anniversary of the model in 2023.
ABOUT THE MERCEDES 230SL
Following the ‘Winter of the Century’, the W113 was launched in March of 1963 – a perfect time to capture the desires of those looking to embrace the warmer weather at the wheel of a glamourous roadster. The international community of automotive journalists reported the distinct conservative class of W113’s design, citing it as uniquely Germanic and an outlier from the more curvaceous Italian and English sports cars of the era. Fortunately for Mercedes-Benz, despite the departure from the mystifying Loren-inspired curves of the Gullwing, 300SLR and 190SL, the new design and engineering direction won over ambassador and racing driver, Sir Stirling Moss. Moss proclaimed in a letter to the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Manager, ‘’in all the years I have been driving, I cannot remember ever driving a car that I would like to own more (except for racing cars).’’ The stage was set for a prosperous production run from 1963 through to 1971.
THE STARTING BLOCKS
Based on the 220SE saloon (W111), the W113 was launched with the 230 SL as the opening act, with a variety of elements of the saloon forming the platform of the Mercedes 230SL. The W113 inherited the 220SE’s shortened but strengthened chassis, as well as the front and rear suspension. The wheelbase was shortened to 94.5 inches but retained the 58.5 tread width. Due to its squared-off fenders and wider track, the W113 was assumed to be larger than its predecessor but in fact, it was only 0.8 inches wider and 2.7 inches longer than the 190 SL. The most obvious similarities to the 220SE saloon were the instrument cluster and steering wheel – clearly depicted in the image below.
W113 280 SL
Invisible to the aspiring owner was the same recirculating ball steering and independent suspension found with the fintail coupes. The front featured double-wishbone suspension suspended with coil springs and an anti-roll bar, while rear trailing arms, low pivot swing axels, coil springs and an auxiliary transverse coil spring acting as a camber compensator were found at the rear.
THE EARLY 230SL ENGINE ARRANGEMENT
Launched as a convertible sports car, automotive journalists were quick to point out that the W113 230SL was not particularly swift given its ‘SL’ – Super Leicht – designation and position as a convertible. Nevertheless, the jump in power from the W121 190 SL of around 50bhp was significant enough to override the slander.
For the purposes of the Mercedes 230SL, Chief Engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut had uprated the 220SE’s M127 engine, developing a new cylinder head, enlarged the ports and valves, increased the compression ratio, and utilised a larger camshaft. The block was also revised with an aluminium crankcase and wider cylinder bores, achieving a displacement of 2,306cc. Where European counterparts were still utilising carburettor systems, Mercedes-Benz opted for a Bosch MultiJet fuel injection system with separate injectors for each cylinder; located within the intake valve directly above the valve.
Power figures released were 150ps at 5,500rpm with 144lb-ft of torque. A substantial amount for the era but considerably less than the 300SL and given the total weight of 2,900 lb with a full tank of fuel, this level of power unsurprisingly didn’t match the performance of other European or American sports cars. Nevertheless, the Pagoda was confirmed as a continent cruiser, capable of eating up mile after mile without issue – this was the appeal for owners who wanted to travel in style. And it worked.
W113 230 SL GEARBOX
Like other elements of the W113, the 230 SL shared its gearbox with the W111 and W112 and was launched in manual with the option for an automatic gearbox. Despite aiming the W113 primarily at the American Market, they rejected the General Motors common three-speed torque-converter box, in favour of a two-element fluid coupling. The 230 SL’s automatic gearbox was not quick when it came to shifting, partly to save band/clutch longevity. It did, however, feature a staggered shift gate to allow manual control over 2nd and 3rd gears; both of which could be held to the red line. A feature that gave owners more involvement with the car and its performance.
In 1966 Mercedes released the factory option for a 5-speed manual transmission which had been supplied by Zahnradfabrik Friedrichshafen, commonly abbreviated to ‘ZF’. The S5-20 gearbox was more often bolted to Maseratis of the era but came to use in the W112 and Pagoda SL W113 models. Only 882 examples were ordered with this transmission before it was removed from the catalogues in 1969 to become a ‘special request only’ feature thereafter.
SO, WHAT IS THE APPEAL OF THE 230SL Mercedes Pagoda?
Part of the appeal of the 230SL Mercedes when launched (and still today), is the willingness of the M127.981 to rev. In non-stock form, the 230 SL won the European Rally Championship in 1962. This tendency for higher revving provides aspiring owners more grunt to the tune of a more raucous burble – traits that make top-down driving more engaging in the bends and attention-drawing along the boulevard. As if looks weren’t enough…
W113 280 SL
While the end of the line model (280SL) has been in the limelight for the past few years, the 230 SL is set to be the star supporting act and offers a few differing traits to the later models. These include the higher proportion of chrome throughout the car, such as the chrome rear mirror – visible from the exterior – and the chrome ring found on the steering wheel’s centre boss. Unlike the later models, the 230 SL was offered with three-piece wheels incorporating a steel wheel painted to match the vehicle’s body colour, a chrome ring and a centre cap painted to match the hardtop (but only if this is a contrasting colour to the body). Differences in appearance also include the vertically mounted spare wheel housing, visible from the rear of the car, which was later changed to horizontal in 1965.
WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER THE Mercedes 230SL?
The 230 SL offers enthusiasts the glamour and charm of sixties Europe, neatly packaged into a capable, robust, and beautiful roadster rarely seen on modern-day roads. This is a more than capable vehicle with adequate power for you to enjoy long drives to and from holiday destinations, or simply into town for the day. With the correct setup and servicing routine, a W113 Pagoda is a dependable asset to fuel your adventures and ultimately, offer you substantial financial gains.
Starting prices of the 230 SL are reasonably lower than the top quality 280 SLs; with massive upside potential for their values as more enthusiasts seek to enjoy this era of motoring. If you’d like to discuss your individual budget, colour specification and plans for usage, get in touch with our sales team who will assist you in finding the perfect Pagoda.
OUR CURRENT STOCK OF 230SLS
1964 MERCEDES-BENZ 230SL PAGODA (W113) LHD #2218 SILVER WITH RED LEATHER
Click the Image to View This 230 SL
This car possesses the uncommon quality of having been restored on two separate occasions. When purchased at auction in 2012 sight unseen, the owner was banking on the Dutch certificate of restoration as a good indication of the quality of the car. Due to its age, any other service history was few and far between.
With due diligence front and centre, the new owner decided to send the 230 SL for a thorough vehicle check, which came back with a positively stupendous report stating the Pagoda is ‘’structurally in first-class order‘, and that the ‘paintwork and finish of the underside and closing panels such as the bonnet and boot lid are in first-rate order, as is the engine bay‘ and that the ‘fuel tank is rust free.”
Rated as A1 condition, the car received some attention over 9 years of ownership, with new HT leads to get the engine running better, as well as a gearbox rebuild in November 2018. This is a fine example of a 230 SL combining a beautiful interior and exterior colour combination, with a rare left-hand drive manual gearbox configuration. Yours to be enjoyed and gain from financially.
1965 MERCEDES-BENZ 230SL PAGODA (W113) LHD #2199 BLUE WITH CREAM LEATHER
Since 2015 this beautiful Midnight Blue 230 SL has resided in Malta, playing its part in transporting occupants along the rugged coastline, to and from many restaurants (we hope). The new owner will feel inspired by the deep blue exterior which mimics the tones of the ocean, and the cream cabin that breathes life into the driver and passenger. This is a specification that offers a slice of the summer every time the vehicle is driven.
Accompanying the car is extensive documentation evidencing servicing and maintenance works carried out over the past 57 years; with receipts detailing the investment made by former owners into the vehicle.
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