Head of Sale, Belgium
Sold for €125,350 inc. premium
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Head of Sale, Belgium
International Chairman for Motoring
Head of Department, Bonhams Collector Cars Europe
The car offered here is a stunning example of the 230 SL, a landmark model that founded a sports car dynasty that would prove an enormous commercial success for Mercedes-Benz. Introduced at the Geneva Salon in March 1963 as replacement for the 190 SL, the 230 SL abandoned its predecessor's four-cylinder engine in favour of a 2.3-litre fuel-injected six derived from that of the 220 SE and producing 150bhp. An instant classic, the body design was entirely new while beneath the skin the running gear was conventional Mercedes-Benz, featuring all-round independent suspension (by swing axles at the rear), disc front/drum rear brakes, and a choice of four-speed manual or automatic transmissions. Top speed was in excess of 193km/h.
The 230 SL even managed a debut competition victory, as Sporting Motorist noted: "Performances of the Mercedes-Benz range in the competition field are legendary, and we think particularly of participation in the most rugged of rallies where the cars have proved their strength and stamina beyond doubt. Soon after the 230 SL was announced, Eugen Bohringer drove one to victory in the Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally, and although competition outings are rare, this was the sort of debut one would expect from the Stuttgart factory."
Christened 'Pagoda' after their distinctive cabin shape - devised by French automotive designer and classic car enthusiast, Paul Bracq - these SL models were amongst the best-loved sports-tourers of their day and remain highly sought after by collectors.
Mercedes built around 49,000 Pagodas of all types (230 SL/250 SL/280 SL) of which only 820 were equipped with the desirable ZF five-speed manual transmission like this example, which also has the optional 'longer' final drive ratio. This car is also one of only 50 Pagodas to go through Mercedes' Kundenwunsch (Customer) Division and thus has a second data card recording the fact that it has a bespoke interior. The first data card was issued on 25th May 1966 and the second on 18th July 1966. A much sought-after European model, this car was delivered to its first owner in Saarbrücken, Germany directly from the factory of Mercedes' coachbuilding subsidiary, Sindelfingen. The original colour scheme was Silbergrau (silver-grey) metallic for the body, hardtop, and hubcaps; Cognac for the seats, door trim, dashboard, and steering wheel; dark brown/dark grey for various interior finishes; and black for the fabric soft-top. A rare combination; the slightly lighter and more sporty 230 variant with a 5-speed ZF-gearbox.
Between 2016 and 2018 this 230 SL 5-speed was completely and professionally restored in Belgium, since when it has covered only 2,500 shakedown kilometres. The restoration bill is on file and the car also comes with Belgian registration papers and hardtop. Enchanting to look at and immensely pleasurable to drive, this very special one-of-a-kind Pagoda is worthy of the closest inspection.