Discover the allure of this timeless classic, which once graced the roads with its presence and captivated the hearts of Formula 1 drivers and A-list celebrities alike. Join Iain and apprentice mechanic, Korrey, as they delve into the nitty-gritty details of the Mercedes-Benz W113 280SL “Pagoda.”
Legendary Mercedes-Benz W113 280SL “Pagoda”: Must-Know Tips & Road Test | Tyrrell’s Classic Workshop
It’s an icon, and a worthy replacement of the Gullwing era SL. With the introduction of the W113 generation SL roadster, mercedes had big shoes to fill, and they filled them. From 1963-1971, a generation SL “Pagoda” roadsters roamed the streets, and were hugely popular for elegant style, and good speed. The youngest of these cars has already breached 50 years old, however. So if you’re looking to buy one, you need to be careful.
Iain Tyrrell of “Tyrrell’s Classic Workshop” is a UK based classic car expert, and has a great video showing us the key points to look out for. Most are obvious for any classic car, but some points show where poor restoration efforts may hide some unwelcome secrets.
“There is a tiny indentation in the headlamp bezel here, and a corresponding indentation in the front wing,” Tyrrell explains. Many thought this unique indentation from the factory was an error would smooth it out in their restoration work, making it incorrect, and unable to work with a new headlamp bezel.
Mechanically, you’d want to have someone very familiar with classic Mercedes engines go over a car like this. The valve clearances, for instance, are remarkably tiny when cold, but it allows for the different expansion rates of metal (aluminum and iron) once an engine warms up. Timing chains are also an interesting part to note because Mercedes uses a hydraulic chain tensioner. When the engine is off, it may appear the chain has a lot of play. But upon oil pressure building in the engine, slack is taken up.
Rot is something you’d want to pay particularly close attention to. Given that most cars were enjoyed on bright sunny days, you may not come across any rust or corrosion at all. But the doors on the W113 are made out of one block of aluminum (no, really) with an aluminum skin placed over. Those typically wont rust, but undercarriage and any other steel parts carry that potential.
Of course, you’ll have to take one for a test drive as well. The car should feel sprightly, and surprisingly agile considering the shift away from “sport” in this generation. Even though these cars are over a half century old, they will still drive well and be a great GT car, so if the test drive reveals a car that’s not quite there, have a closer look.