Here’s What A Perfectly-Preserved ‘Pagoda’-Roof Mercedes-Benz Looks Like
To say the Mercedes-Benz 280SL had been developed by an all-star cast would be an understatement. A natural evolution of its predecessors and designed to replace both the 190 and 300 SL ranges, it had to be a well-engineered car. Of course it was, so why has this one only been driven 18,000 miles in its life?
Auction houses are often able to help surface unique, rare, and exceptional vehicles, with low-mileage examples of popular cars among the most sought-after. This is why, in recent years at least, collectors seem to be gravitating toward cars they enjoy driving—demand for Porsche 911s, Ferrari Dinos, and classic Alfa Romeos is seemingly increasing each year. The SL family tree has the same attraction, and this particular Mercedes-Benz has been so little used it’s practically a nearly-new car more than four decades on.
As Gooding & Company states in its catalogue description, the car was purchased new by Ann Pistocco exactly 45 years ago yesterday. She “…recalls that the car was always regarded as special even though the family had two other Mercedes-Benz cars. It was ordered with the Kinder seat to accommodate her 6-year-old son, and she states that she had driven the car only about 2,500 miles when she sold it prior to the family’s move to Vermont in the late 1980s.”
Forty-five years ago, I doubt Ann would have imagined we’d be talking about her SL all these years later, but it’s a testament to her good taste. These days, if you’re in for a slightly softer, more touring-oriented classic that has more modern road manners, it’s hard to beat the 280 SL—it has stood the test of time.
For its longievity, we can thank Paul Bracq, who was responsible for “the look” of most ’60s and ’70s Mercedes-Benz models; Béla Barényi, the prolific engineer who pioneered concepts like hardtops and crumple zones; the immensely talented engineer and test driver Rudolph Uhlenhaut; and Friedrich Geiger, who led the company’s styling effort from the 500K in the ’30s until the W116 sedan of the ’70s.
The car’s second owner, after Ann sold it in June 1998, took delivery with roughly 8,600 miles on the clock, complete with a full service log and recent comprehensive service. Each of the car’s owners, in fact, are said to have kept it in pristine order, with the car barely collecting another 10,000 miles by 2012. Offered from the car’s third owner, it’s a later 1971 model that still remains unbelievably original.
“Other highlights include the original wax-pencil inspection marks inside the headlamp buckets, superb factory brightwork, the original undamaged rubber heel pad on the driver-side carpeting, and the original, never-used spare wheel and Continental spare tire,” notes Gooding & Company.
Would you have the heart to take it on a lengthy road trip?
—An unrestored, largely original Pagoda
—Equipped with factory air-conditioning and rear kinder seat
—Complete with both tops, original books and manuals; also accompanied by tools, original window sticker, and data plate
– Less than 18,500 miles since new
~170 horsepower, 2,778-cc inline SOHC 6-cylinder engine with Bosch mechanical multi-port fuel injection, 4-speed automatic transmission, front and rear independent suspension, and 4-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 94 in.
Chassis no.: 113.044.12.022135
All images copyright and courtesy of Gooding & Company. Photos by Mike Maez.