Car Restoration Projects
Mercedes-Benz’ golden oldie
The beautiful, so-called ‘Pagoda’ model MB celebrated its Golden Anniversary in 2013 and 58 Mercedes Benz Pagodas attended the 50th Anniversary Celebrations in Australia.
The introduction of the Mercedes-Benz W113, known in German as the Sport Leicht or SL and nicknamed the ‘Pagoda’, was Launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1963.
Pagodas and their owners from around Australia gathered in Canberra on the weekend of 16-17 March 2013. The 58 Pagodas attending were made up of the three different models produced during the period 1963 to 1971: the 230SL, 250SL and 280SL. Total production was 48,912.
The 2013 Canberra event was then the largest known gathering of Pagodas outside of Germany. It came about through a challenge thrown down by Peter Van, the President of the SL113 Group (www.sl113.org) when he said Australia would be lucky to have even 50 of these cars running, let alone be able to get them all in the same place at the same time.
The internet challenge for the Australians was to encourage owners to help better the ‘challenged 50’.
So, planning started in early 2012 for a get-together that initially was to be in Sydney. However, the logistics involved in gathering 50 cars in one place at one time saw the event moved to Canberra, where the Mercedes-Benz Car Club ACT agreed to host the gathering as part of the annual Shannons Wheels display.
The International sl113 Group aimed to get a photo of all 58 participants and their cars in front of the Australian Parliament House as proof of their achievement.
First thing on the Sunday morning, the group converged on Parliament House and the evidence of the gathering was photographed and flashed around the world on the sl113 Group’s site.
Then the victorious Australians put out a return challenge to both USA and the Europeans to better the numbers. The Germans hosted a gathering of Pagodas in August 2013, followed by the USA in September.
The type W113 went into production in 1963 with the 230 SL as the successor to the 190 SL. At the time it was a massive upgrade, combining stunning looks with reliability and performance – the marks of German production quality.
The comparatively short and wide chassis, combined with excellent suspension, powerful brakes and radial tyres gave the W113 superb handling for its time. It is rumoured that some Formula One drivers of the time thought of it as one of the best handling cars they’d driven.
Pagodas had a list of celebrity owners, including King Hussein, John Lennon, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss.
Relative to the 190 SL, the Pagoda had a more powerful six-cylinder engine, which was also more reliable, thanks to its mechanical, multi-port, fuel injection system. The 250 SL and later model’s features were further upgraded with items such as power assisted disc brakes all around, power steering, four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning and improved AM /FM radios.
Designers Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi devised its distinctive, patented, slightly-concave hardtop, which inspired the ‘Pagoda’ nickname.
The bonnet, boot lid, door skins and tonneau cover were made of aluminium, to reduce weight.
The styling of the front, with its characteristic upright Bosch ‘fishbowl’ headlights and simple chrome grille, dominated by the large three-pointed star in the nose panel, paid homage to the already legendary 300 SL roadster.
The W113 was the first model Mercedes-Benz equipped with radial tyres.
The Pagoda model is a favourite with many people, be they car enthusiasts or not, because of its unique and timeless classic styling.
The lucky owners of our featured timeless beauty are Rod and Rosemary Deadman.
Rod is a long-term Batemans Bay (NSW) resident and since he left Sydney in 1966 had lusted after one of these beautifully sculptured Mercedes-Benz SL models.
He had noticed one travelling around the Bay area for some time and then, one day in 1996, he had the opportunity to speak to the lady owner. She told Rod she had bought this 1969-model 280SL automatic with her from Tasmania and he asked her if she wanted to sell it? The answer was a polite, “No”.
However, not too long after that, Rod saw it for sale in a local car yard and was able to do a deal.
The car came with receipts of $11,169 for work that had been carried out previously in Tassie, but it now needed some TLC.
Cosmetically, there was a small dent in the one of the bumpers, which cost $500 to repair. Rod exclaimed: “If it was a Toyota and not a Benz, it would have cost a lot less than that!”
The engine needed some expert mechanical attention and Rod called on car club member and Mercedes-Benz specialist repairer, Volker Oldenburg, to do the work. One important repair needed was attention to the fuel injectors.
The odometer registered 17,000 miles when Rod purchased it and read 34,500 miles when Historic Vehicles checked it out, so the Deadmans had travelled roughly 1000 miles per annum in their then-17-years’ ownership.