Mercedes-Benz SL Pagoda celebrates 60 years


Would you go get some Pakoda in your Pagoda? Or, would you rather make her a garage queen?

As you might know, the Mercedes-Benz SL is currently in its 7th generation, and one uniqueness of this 7th-gen or R232 model is that it is available as AMG-only variants. You get to choose from AMG SL 43, AMG SL 55 and AMG SL 63, with the latter two being 4Matic (AWD) variants. But one of the famous iterations of the SL, besides the original SL (W121 and W198), was the W113 SL—nicknamed SL “Pagoda”.

The Pagoda nickname was due to the model’s distinctive concave roof (inwardly curved roof surface, in Mercedes’ terms)—reminiscent of Asian temple buildings. It is unclear as to why the designers/engineers went for this roof shape, but the W113 SL was billed as the world’s first sports car with a “safety body”. Apparently, the safety level of the W113 was groundbreaking for sports cars at the time. Its chassis originated from the Mercedes-Benz saloons of the W111 series, and was shortened and reinforced for W113, of course. It also boasted front and rear crumple zones for a stable passenger cell. The 230 SL already had disc brakes on the front wheels, followed by the 1967 250 SL with discs at all four corners.


The W113 SL ran for about 8 years (1963-1971), and was powered by three different engines, all straight-six naturally aspirated motors, of course. The 230 SL, as the name suggests, was powered by a 2.3-litre (2,308 cc) engine with 110 kW (150 metric hp) of power and 196 Nm (145 lb-ft) of torque. The engine was coupled with a 4-speed manual transmission, but a 4-speed automatic option was also available. At a later date, a 5-speed ZF manual was also available depending on the market.

All-generations of-Mercedes-Benz-SLA proud father: Six generations of Mercedes-Benz SL, and all came into existence thanks to Max Hoffman who saw road cars in the 300 SL racing car (W194) that stands proudly at the front of this frame.

Then came the 250 SL powered by a 2.5-litre (2,496 cc) engine. While the power output remained the same at 110 kW, the torque grew to 216 Nm (159 lb-ft). The 280 SL was the final iteration, powered by—you guessed it—a 2.8-litre (2,778 cc) engine with 125 kW (170 metric hp) and 244 Nm (180 lb-ft). Transmission options remained the same. The 280 SL sprinted from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 9 seconds, quicker by 2.1 seconds compared with the 230 SL. The top speed of all three variants, however, was rated at 200 km/h (124 mph).

The SL Pagoda also had a “California” (roadster) version with a fabric soft top and removable hard-top. But anyway, production of the W113 SL ended in March 1971, exactly 8 years after its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1963, and after a total of 48,912 units built. The 230 SL accounted for 19,831 units, followed by the 250 SL with 5,196 units, and finally, the 280 SL with 23,885 units.

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