Classified ad of the week: Merc Pagoda
It’s the first SL’s 50th birthday. So you should probably buy one
Posted: 14 Mar 2013
This is a Mercedes W113 230 SL. And the model's just celebrated its 50th birthday after being launched at the Geneva motor show on this very day in 1963 - an auspicious time/excellent excuse to treat yourself to what's possibly the prettiest car in the history of EVER.
It's quite an important model, this. It was built to replace two of MB's most iconic cars: the slow but snazzy 190SL and legendary 300SL gullwing supercar. That meant it had to be lithe, fast, and easy to drive. So the manufacturer fitted the W113 with a straight six engine with multi-port fuel injection, an aluminium bonnet, boot, door skins and tonneau cover for lightness, and a short, wide wheelbase.
It also had double wishbone front and independent rear suspension, so it handled - in comparative terms - superbly. There were dual circuit brakes, too, and a removable hard top. Its lid's actually responsible for the car's Pagoda nickname. Can you see the resemblance?
The remaining aspects of that deeply pleasing outline were penned by a chap called Paul Bracq, who's CV includes the W108 S-Class (which has found a place in TG's heart in AMG/Mechatronik flavour), the Peugeot 604, 505 and Popemobile, and France's high-speed TGV trains. He also drew the oft-forgotten E23 - BMW's very first 7-Seires.
Even though it was pretty anodyne compared with the baroque silhouettes of seventies American convertibles, it had several high-profile fans. Audrey Hepburn, Charlton Heston, John Travolta, Sir Stirling Moss, and former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, were all proud owners. Powell even worked on his himself.
So, what about this example of the company's 48,912-strong W113 run? It's a freshly restored 1966 230SL, so there's 150hp, and it's fitted with the earlier small wheel trims. This one's a manual, too - the W113 was actually the first SL you could buy with an automatic gearbox. The Pagoda hard top's still in place too, but you'd jolly well hope so considering the dealer's asking £59,950 for it...
Any TopGear.commers tempted?