While the high price tag of the legendary 300 SL supercar kept it elusive for all but the most affluent buyers, it was widely accepted that the 190 SL had a pronounced lack of performance. The Mercedes 230 SL was drafted in to replace both the 190 SL and 300 SL and made its debut at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 1963. Production of the “Pagoda” would continue until 1971. Its introduction speech summarised Mercedes aim of creating a fast and high-performance sports car, which despite its sport characteristics would provide a high degree of travelling comfort as well as safety. All models were equipped with an inline six-cylinder engine with multi-port fuel injection and were offered with a 4-speed manual transmission, or an optional, very responsive fluid coupled 4-speed automatic transmission. In 1963, Eugen Böhringer won the 6,600-kilometer Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally (Belgium to Bulgaria) in a race-modified 1963 230 SL, a significant achievement, and fittingly that very car now remains in Stuttgart under the care of the museum.
Pagodas were extremely popular and supplied in great numbers to the USA where many cars were fitted to California Spec, this meant that they did not have a fabric roof at all, other USA changes included additional bumpers, sealed beam headlights, illuminated side repeaters cut into the bodywork, lower top speed due to different gear ratios, softer valve timing to comply with emission regulations, a reduced compression ratio and a modified injection pump. The combined changes to a US spec car resulted in a significantly reduced power output and has contributed to the rare European examples being justifiably worth a considerable premium.
This very special 230 SL was built in the fabled first year of production to desirable European specification and is regarded to many as the ultimate Pagoda. Presented in its original and most stunning combination of Graphite Grey over a light Grey Hide and specified with an optional 4 speed automatic transmission. The interior is additionally appointed with a matching grey square weave carpet and is accompanied by an exceptionally rare rear sideways mounted "Kinder Seat" with a leather rear trim panel. As an early 1963 example it also features a desirable vertically stored spare wheel.
This example was delivered new in Paris by "Royal Elysees" on the 6th of December 1963, making it one of the very first examples supplied in France. Remarkably it remained with the same French Family until a restoration was embarked upon in Germany in 2012. Upon completion in 2014, it was sourced by DK Engineering and imported to the United Kingdom for its first UK owner.
The nut and bolt restoration was carried out by leading Mercedes and Pagoda specialists and was undertaken to the highest possible standards. A file of photographs documenting the restoration exists in the accompanying history file. The fastidious restoration retained all of the correct details including the matching dark wheel, gear lever top and Kinder rear seat. Underneath the car presents as if new. The extensive file includes records from the car's single-family ownership which lasted from new until 2012 as well as the original Mercedes Benz service book, which records fastidious maintenance by Mercedes Benz main dealers from delivery until 1987. Also accompanying the car are the tools, spare wheel and hard and soft top roofs.
During its time in the UK it has been stored in our state-of-the-art storage facility and has remarkably covered under 700 dry miles since its restoration. Despite the low mileage covered it has received periodic maintenance by marque specialists, most recently in October 2018 where it received a most comprehensive service. Today this highly desirable Pagoda presents superbly and is available to view at our showrooms located just outside of London.