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Lot 656
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL Roadster

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Selling on Saturday Evening

CHASSIS NO: 023473

• 1 of only 520 late production examples exported to the U.S.
• January 1971 build; the most desirable of the W113 generation
• Just out of 40-year long-term ownership
• Accompanied by both hard and soft tops


2,778 cc OHC inline six-cylinder engine, Bosch fuel injection, 170 HP at 5,750 RPM, four-speed automatic transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, double wishbones and anti-roll bar, independent rear suspension with low-pivot swing axles, trailing arms, coil springs, and transverse compensator spring, power-assisted four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes; wheelbase: 2,400 mm (94.5”)


Introduced at the March 1963 Geneva Salon, the 230SL replaced both the 300SL and 190SL to usher in a new single-platform policy for Mercedes-Benz sports cars. Designated W113, the new SL’s crisp Paul Bracq-penned bodylines bore a strong family resemblance to the other Mercedes-Benz models. The 230SL also marked an automotive industry first with its comprehensive suite of built-in safety features designed by Bela Barényi. Among them were rigidly unitized monocoque-type body construction, front and rear crumple zones, and the careful identification and elimination of sharp edges from the interior compartment. In yet another case of form following function, the optional “Pagoda” hardtop design of the 230SL offered strength and rollover protection, as well as the car’s enduring and endearing “Pagoda” nickname. Mechanical features were shared with the contemporary 220SEb line, itself marking a revolution for Mercedes-Benz. Subtle enhancements included the use of a rear compensator spring allowing softer springs and firmer shock absorbers. Both handling and ride quality improved at once. Dual-circuit brakes and radial-ply tires provided further refinement and safety. While somewhat heavier than the 190SL, the added power and torque delivered by the six-cylinder 230SL yielded strong acceleration and speeds over 120 mph. Improved seat belts, a collapsible steering column, and four-wheel disc brakes appeared with the evolutionary 250SL in late 1966 for the 1967 model year.

While intended as a swift Grand Touring car without racing aspirations, the 230SL offered startling performance in the hands of skilled drivers. Famed Mercedes-Benz engineer Rudi Uhlenhaut lapped a tight French circuit with a 230SL just two-tenths of a second behind Mike Parkes in his Ferrari 250 GT. Eugen Böhringer and Klaus Kaiser delivered further proof in August 1963 by winning the punishing 5,488-kilometre Marathon de la Route with a 230SL. Development progressed through the 2.5-litre 250SL of 1967 and then from 1968, the final W113 model was the 2.8-litre 280SL, produced from December 1967 to February 1971. While a subtle update, the enhanced torque and flexibility of the 280SL makes it the most popular and usable evolution of the “Pagoda” SL. Best of all, it is quite capable of handling today’s driving conditions, with a recent Car and Driver article confirming its remarkable performance including sprints from rest to 60 mph in just 8.7 seconds. In summary, the article concluded “…the old SL proves that it was built modern enough to survive at today's traffic speeds. You could drive this pretty old car every day, and into a very gentle good night.” It is no surprise that these eight years of production ended in crescendo, and it has become a self-evident truth that of all the 280SLs, the 1971 is the best in performance, comfort and drivability.

Out of the total 280SL production of just 23,885 examples, 8,047 were built for 1969, and of them, 4,102 were exported to the lucrative U.S. market, where the W113-generation SL enjoyed growing popularity. One of only 520 examples exported to the United States for 1971, this 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL hails from that final model year for the beloved W113 “Pagoda” SLs. With prior ownership in Boston, this 280SL made its way to Ohio where it would be enjoyed and cared for over a 40-year span. Upon acquisition by our consignor, this ultra-desirable 1971 280SL received mechanical attention and a fresh ceramic coating. Equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission and complete with both hard and soft tops, this Light Ivory 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL is a highly attractive, quality example that looks and drives great, according to the notoriously selective consignor. Considered by all to be the best year of production, this cosmetically attractive and mechanically ready-to-tour 1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL stands ready to deliver the excellent driving dynamics and timeless Continental panache for which this iconic Mercedes-Benz has always been renowned.

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