Mercedes-Benz W113 230 SL, 250 SL, 280 SL
|Also called||Mercedes Pagoda|
Mercedes-Benz W121 BII
|Body style||2 door coupé
|Engine||2,308 cc (2.3 L) I6
2,496 cc (2.5 L) I6
2,778 cc (2.8 L) I6
5-speed manual (ZF)
|Wheelbase||2,400 mm (94.5 in)|
|Length||4,285 mm (168.7 in)|
|Width||1,760 mm (69.3 in)|
|Height||1,305 mm (51.4 in)|
|Curb weight||1,300 kg (2,866 lb)|
See Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for a complete overview of all SL-Class models.
The Mercedes-Benz W113 is a two-seat roadster/coupé, introduced at the 1963 Geneva Motor Show, and produced from 1963 through 1971. It replaced both the legendary 300 SL (W 198) and the 190 SL (W121 BII). Of the 48,912 W 113 SLs produced, 19,440 were sold in the US.
The Mercedes-Benz W113 SL was developed under the auspices of Mercedes-Benz Technical Director Fritz Nallinger, Chief Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut and Head of Body Styling Friedrich Geiger. The designer working with F. Geiger in the design department of Karl Wilfert was Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi the safety guru, on whose concept P. Bracq based the distinctive, patented, slightly concave hardtop, which inspired the “Pagoda” nickname.
All Mercedes-Benz W113 models were equipped with an inline-six cylinder engine with multi-port fuel injection. The bonnet, trunk lid, door skins and tonneau cover were made of aluminum to reduce weight. The comparatively short and wide chassis, combined with an excellent suspension, powerful brakes and radial tires gave the Mercedes-Benz W113 superb handling for its time. 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 then already legendary 300 SL roadster.
Mercedes-Benz W113 SLs were typically configured as a “Coupe/Roadster” with a soft-top and an optional removable hardtop. A 2+2 was introduced with the 250 SL “California Coupe,” which had a fold-down rear bench seat instead of the soft-top.
 Mercedes-Benz W113 History
By 1955, Mercedes-Benz Technical Director Prof. inline-six engine, internally denoted as 220 SL. Encouraged by positive test results, Nallinger proposed that the 220 SL be placed in the Mercedes-Benz program, with production commencing in July 1957.
However, while technical difficulties kept postponing the production start of the W 127, the emerging new 
The 230 SL made its remarkable debut at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in March 1963, where Nallinger introduced it as follows: “It was our aim to create a very safe and fast sports car with high performance, which despite its sports characteristics provides a very high degree of traveling comfort”.
 Mercedes-Benz W113 Legacy
The Mercedes-Benz W113 was the first sports car with a “safety body,” based on Bela Barényi’s extensive work on vehicle safety: It had a rigid passenger cell and designated crumble zones with impact-absorbing front and rear sections built into the vehicle structure. The interior was “rounded,” with all hard corners and edges removed, as with the W 111 sedan.
The Mercedes-Benz W113 was also the first Mercedes-Benz with radial tires.
 Mercedes-Benz W113 Models
 230 SL (1963–1967)
Production of the 230 SL commenced in June 1963 and ended on 5 January 1967. Its chassis was based on the ZF 5-speed manual transmission was an additional option. Of the 19,831 230 SLs produced, less than a quarter were sold in the US.
The 2,308 cc (2.3 L) heat exchanger was also available.
Mercedes-Benz Chief Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut, who was as competent behind the wheel as any racing driver, demonstrated the capabilities of the 230 SL on the tight three-quarter mile Annemasse Vétraz-Monthoux race track in 1963, where he put up a best lap time of 47.5 seconds vs. 47.3 seconds by Grand Prix driver Mike Parkes on his 3 liter V12 Ferrari 250 GT.
A brief chronology of the most notable changes made to the 230 SL:
- 10/1963: First 230 SL with an automatic transmission.
- 09/1964: Spare tire well removed, tire mounted horizontally.
- 11/1964: Optional tinted/thermal glass and new soft-top with steel bows (distinguished by deletion of chrome trim on the outer trailing edge).
- 08/1965: Combined brake and clutch fluid reservoir, trunk light, interior changes. US models with hazard lights.
- 03/1966: Mounts for three-point seat belts added.
- 05/1966: Optional ZF 5-speed manual transmission, rare and now very desirable.
 250 SL (1966–1968)
The main change was the use of the 2,496 cc (2.5 L)  Resiliency also improved with a new cooling water tank (“round top”) with increased capacity from 10.8 L (2.9 US gal) to 12.9 L (3.4 US gal), and a standard oil-water heat exchanger.
The wider power band of the 250 SL resulted in noticeably improved performance, as the 230 SL engines rarely produced more than 143 PS (105 kW; 141 hp) in practice.
 California Coupé
The 250 SL also marked the introduction of a 2+2 body style, the so-called “California Coupé”, which had only the removable hardtop and no soft-top: a small fold-down rear bench seat replaced the soft-top well between passenger compartment and trunk. The lacking soft-top relegated open California Coupés to a formidable nice weather ride, so many of them are very well preserved today. Retrofitting the soft-top above the rear bench seat requires considerable effort and expense, however. Thus while these 2+2 models are rare, their somewhat limited usability makes them not particularly sought after today.
 Midlife improvements
In August 1967, a number of additional changes were incorporated to accommodate stricter safety regulations and US emission laws. The safety improvements included a collapsible steering wheel and padded wheel hub, concave control knobs, elastic black rubber heater levers (instead of rigid colored translucent plastic), and softer, rounded dash top padding. Door handles, locks, and window cranks were modernized and less protruding, the door pockets were elastic, the rear-view mirror frame was chrome instead of black plastic, and the side view mirrors became more angular. Essentially, the 1967 250 SL retained the more classic “chrome” interior of the 230 SL, whereas the 1968 250 SL introduced the modernized “safety” interior of the 280 SL.
US models acquired side reflectors on the fenders, Kangol three-point seat belts, an illuminated gearbox for the automatic, and emission control equipment. The chrome horn ring was changed to matte finish.
 280 SL (1967–1971)
The Mercedes-Benz W113 280 SL was introduced in December 1967 and continued in production through 23 February 1971, when the W 113 was replaced by its successor, the entirely new and substantially heavier R107 350 SL. Over the years, the W 113 evolved from a sports car into a comfortable grand tourer, and US models were by then usually equipped with the 4-speed automatic transmission and air conditioning. Manual transmission models came with the standard 4-speed or the optional ZF 5-speed, which was ordered for only 882 cars and thus today is a highly sought-after original option. In Europe, manual transmissions without air conditioning were still the predominant choice. Of the 23,885 280 SLs produced, more than half were sold in the US.
The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc (2.8 L) 
For some time, the M130 was also used in the M110 inline-six introduced with R107 1974 European 280 SL models.
A brief chronology of the most notable changes made to the 280SL:
- 12/1967: One piece wheel-covers (like the W 108 sedans).
- 10/1968: US models with sealed beam headlights without fog lights.
- 02/1969: New tail lights with amber turn signals.
- 07/1969: US models with transistorized ignition and improved emission control.
- 08/1969: Heated rear window for hardtop, hazard lights for all models, single master key for all locks. US models with headlight assembly with full amber lower section, and illuminated side markers.
- 04/1970: Bosch Lichteinheit headlights optionally with halogen main beam (distinguished by “flat” instead of “bubble” lens).
- 08/1970: Fuchs alloy wheels available as a factory-fitted option.
- 11/1970: Opaque beige plastic coolant expansion tank (instead of satin-black steel). New door locks: cylinder can be depressed while door is locked.
 North American models
North American models have a number of subtle differences, the most obvious one being the distinctive “sealed beam” bulb headlights required in the US versus the Bosch Lichteinheit headlights for the rest of the world. Other differences include imperial gauges, chrome bumper guards, side reflectors (illuminated from 1970), lower rear-axle ratios for faster acceleration yet lower top speeds, and no “single-side” parking lights. US market 280 SL engines required emission control modifications, including “softer” valve timings, a reduced compression ratio and a modified injection pump, which reduced power from 170 PS (130 kW; 170 hp) to 160 PS (120 kW; 160 hp). In the US, automatic transmission, air conditioning, and white wall tires were much more popular than elsewhere.
European cars were popular as US gray-market imports: those vehicles were brought to the US some years after their original delivery in Europe. Early European imports had aftermarket hazard lights and Kangol seat belts fitted, US safety requirements that were adopted in Europe only in later production years.
 Special versions
 Pininfarina Coupe
While the original design by Friedrich Geiger and Paul Bracq is regarded as a masterpiece today, it was more controversial at the time of its introduction. So in 1963 Pininfarina asked the Mercedes-Benz board to produce its own custom-bodied version of the 230 SL. Pininfarina’s Tom Tjaarda turned the roadster into a fixed-head coupe that vaguely resembled the Ferrari 250 GT Lusso. He retained the grille and headlamps of the original, but raked the grille more sharply, sculpted the wings, and made the sides more bulbous and thus wider, while making the engine hood narrower and shorter. The rear was reminiscent of the Ferrari 330 GT 2+2 (also a Tjaarda design), but without taking away the distinctive personality of the 230 SL. Inside, Tjaarda left the dashboard unchanged, but the interior as a whole exudes the stamp of elegant Italian hand craftmanship. The result was appealing but not convincing enough to go into production and remained a one-off, subsequently acquired by German press baron Axel Springer.
 W 113/12
Mercedes-Benz Chief Engineer Rudolf Uhlenhaut liked pushing the power envelope of his cars. In 1965, he fitted a 250 SL with the massive 6,332 cc (6.3 L) 250 PS (180 kW; 250 hp) M100 V8 engine from the Mercedes-Benz 600. This engine conversion gave the car, denoted as W 113/12, impressive power, but made it very front-heavy, so that this direction was abandoned. The car was eventually destroyed, the usual procedure for test vehicles at the time.
 Frua Shooting Brake
 R 113 W 33-29
In 1968, Mercedes-Benz fitted a 280 SL with a 206 PS (152 kW; 203 hp) M50F 
The model timeline and production numbers are:
|230 SL||W113.042||2.3L M127.II I6||1,465||6,911||6,325||4,945||185||19,831||4,752|
|250 SL||W113.043||2.5L I6||17||5,177||2||5,196||1,761|
|280 SL||W113.044||2.8L I6||143||6,930||8,047||7,935||830||23,885||12,927|
 Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally
In 1963, Eugen Böhringer won the 6,600-kilometer Spa-Sofia-Liège Rally (Belgium to Bulgaria) on a race-modified 1963 230 SL. This vehicle is now in the permanent collection of the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany.
In 1964, Mercedes-Benz entered four race-modified 230 SLs into the Spa-Sofia-Liège Ralley. These cars had special 2.6 liter engines with pairwise cylinder casts, a layout that was later adopted for the M130 engine of the 280 SL. Due to considerable mechanical bad luck, Eugen Böhringer finished only third this time, after Rauno Aaltonen on Austin-Healey 3000 and Erik Carlsson on Saab.
 Acropolis Rally
In 1965, Dieter Glemser entered the Acropolis Rally on a light-weight 230 SL similar to the Spa-Sofia-Liège cars. His tuned 2.3 liter engine produced 152 PS (112 kW; 150 hp), further evidence to the fact that 230 SL production engines rarely met their power specification. Unfortunately, Glemser was given wrong directions by the police, costing him his comfortable lead and relegating him to third place.
- The Belgian webzine Gentlemen’s Corner listed the W 113 among its 20 “Most stylish cars of the past 50 years”.
- GQ listed the W 113 among the “Ten cars that made Mercedes-Benz”.
- David Gandy of Vogue.com listed the W 113 as one of his “15 favorite cars”.
- The Daily Telegraph put the W 113 on its list of “The 100 most beautiful cars” of all time.
 Top Gear
On the British automotive TV show Top Gear (Season 3, Episode 8) the 280 SL is thought of highly, notably being described by its host Jeremy Clarkson as one of the cars from the 1960s that has stood the test of time, being “from a time when Mercedes was still building its cars properly”.
 Technical data
|Mercedes-Benz||230 SL||250 SL||280 SL|
|Engine code:||M 127.II||M 129.II||M 130|
|Bore x Stroke:||82 mm (3.2 in) x 72.8 mm (2.9 in)||82 mm (3.2 in) x 78.8 mm (3.1 in)||86.5 mm (3.4 in) x 78.8 mm (3.1 in)|
|Displacement:||2308 cc||2496 cc||2778 cc|
|Max. Power @ rpm:||150 PS (110 kW; 150 hp) @ 5500||150 PS (110 kW; 150 hp) @ 5500||170 PS (130 kW; 170 hp) @ 5750|
|Max. Torque @ rpm:||196 N·m (145 lb·ft) @ 4200||216 N·m (159 lb·ft) @ 4200||240 N·m (180 lb·ft) @ 4500|
|Compression Ratio:||9.3: 1||9.5: 1||9.5: 1|
|Fuel feed:||Multi-port fuel injection, Bosch mechanical injection pump|
|Fuel tank capacity:||65 L (17.2 US gal; 14.3 imp gal)||82 L (21.7 US gal; 18.0 imp gal)|
|Valvetrain:||SOHC, single roller chain||SOHC, duplex chain|
|Gearbox:||4-speed manual, 4-speed automatic or 5-speed manual
rear wheel drive, standard axle ratio 3.75:1 (on request 3.69:1 or 3.92:1)
|Electrical system:||12 volt|
|Front suspension:||Double wishbones, coil springs, stabilising bar|
|Rear suspension::||Swing axle, radius arms, compensating spring, coil springs|
|Brakes:||Disc/Drum brakes (Ø 253 mm (10.0 in) front, 230 mm (9.1 in) rear), power assisted||Disc brakes all around (Ø 273 mm (10.7 in) front, 279 mm (11.0 in) rear), power assisted|
|Steering:||Recirculating ball steering, on request power-assisted|
|Body structure:||Sheet steel, monocoque (unibody) construction|
|Dry weight:||1,300 kg (2,900 lb)
(hardtop + 49 kg (110 lb))
|1,360 kg (3,000 lb)
(hardtop + 49 kg (110 lb))
|Loaded weight:||1,650 kg (3,600 lb)||1,715 kg (3,780 lb)|
|1,485 mm (58.5 in) 1,485 mm (58.5 in)|
|Wheelbase:||2,400 mm (94 in)|
|Length:||4,285 mm (168.7 in)|
|Width:||1,760 mm (69 in)|
|Height:||1,305 mm (51.4 in)|
|Tyre/Tire sizes:||185 HR 14|
|Top speed:||200 km/h (120 mph)||195 km/h (121 mph)||200 km/h (124 mph)|
|Fuel Consumption (estimate):||15.0 litres per 100 kilometres (18.8 mpg-imp; 15.7 mpg-US)||16.0 litres per 100 kilometres (17.7 mpg-imp; 14.7 mpg-US)||16.5 litres per 100 kilometres (17.1 mpg-imp; 14.3 mpg-US)|
$ 7,506?7907, later 6,185?6,587
$ 6,485?6,897, later 7,469?7,909
 Famous owners
- Charlton Heston
- David Coulthard owns a midnight blue (904G) 1971 280 SL
- Tony Curtis
- John Lennon owned a dark blue (332G) 1965 230 SL, which was for sale for $495,000 in 2011
- John Travolta owns a havana brown (408G) 1970 280 SL, which was stolen in September 2011
- Kate Moss owns a metallic blue (387H) 280 SL
- Peter Ustinov
- Sophia Loren
- Stirling Moss
- Abdel Halim Hafez owned a 1968 280SL automatic which is still in Cairo
 In popular culture
- In the 2011 British espionage film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a dark early 280 SL is driven along unspecified docks.
- In the 2008 German film Martina Gedeck character’s house.
- In the 2008 television drama Jon Hamm‘s character is given a ride to Palm Springs in a white late model 280 SL. As the episode takes place in 1964, the 280 SL is historically inaccurate.
- In the 2008 film Michael Sheen‘s character drives a grey blue 280 SL in the closing scenes.
- In the 2002 film Angelina Jolie‘s character drives a silver 1969 280 SL with red interior and alloy rims.
- In the 1997 German film Jan Josef Liefers‘s terminally ill characters steal a horizon blue 230 SL to see the ocean for the first and last time.
- In the 1994 melodram Richard Gere‘s character flashes through key memories of his life during a fatal accident in his silver 280 SL.
- In the 1980 British gangster epos Bryan Marshall‘s character drives a signal red 280 SL.
- In the 1975 film Julie Christie‘s character drives a bicolor (white with black hardtop/hubcaps) 230 SL.
- In the 1974 Czechoslovac comedy How to Drown Dr. Mracek, the Lawyer
- In the 1974 thriller Susannah York‘s character drives a white early 280 SL.
- In the 1967 melodram Stanley Donen‘s (the director) personal car.
- In the 1967 French musical George Chakiris‘ character owns and drives a white 230 SL.
- In the 1966 thriller Sophia Loren‘s character drives a red 1965 230 SL.
 See also
- US patent 3169793, Béla Barényi & Paul Bracq, “Motor vehicle with a concave top”, issued 1965-02-16, assigned to Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft
- “1955-1963 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL”. auto.howstuffworks.com. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1955-1963-mercedes-benz-190sl6.htm.
- “Star of Geneva”. www.mercedesheritage.com. http://www.mercedesheritage.com/2009/224/.
- “W113-280SL-Fahrwerk”. Mercedes-Benz Classic Wiki. http://et.mercedes-benz-clubs.com/mediawiki/index.php/W113-280SL-Fahrwerk/en.
- “Mercedes-Benz 230SL”. sportscars.tv. http://www.sportscars.tv/Newfiles/mercedes.html.
- “European Headlight Assembly”. www.sl113.org. http://www.sl113.org/wiki/Electrical/EuropeanLamp.
- “Alloy Wheels”. www.sl113.org. http://www.sl113.org/wiki/WheelsTires/Alloys.
- “The Pininfarina 230 SL”. mercedesheritage.com. 2009-11-6. http://www.mercedesheritage.com/2009/the-pininfarina-230sl/.
- “Mercedes-Benz 230 SLX Shooting brake”. pietro-frua.de. 2010. http://www.pietro-frua.de/1966_mercedes.htm.
- Patrick C. Paternie (08/09/2010). “Fast Classics: Mercedes-Benz 230 SL and 300SE Rally Cars”. wheellifeadventures.com. http://wheellifeadventures.com/archives/346.
- “Most stylish cars of the past 50 years”. Belgium: Gentlemen’s Corner. 2012-01-25. http://www.thegentlemenscorner.com/the-gazette/2012/01/the-street-style-issue/the-most-stylish-cars-of-the-past-50-years. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
- . Retrieved 2011-09-18.
- David Gandy (2011-01). “15 favourite cars”. U.S.: Vogue.com. http://www.vogue.co.uk/spy/15th-anniversary/david-gandy/mercedes—1960—70s-280-sl. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
- “The 100 most beautiful cars”. U.K.: The Daily Telegraph. 2008-03. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/2751147/The-100-most-beautiful-cars-100-81.html?image=10. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
- Jeremy Clarkson (12/21/2003). “Top Gear – 280 SL”. BBC. http://www.streetfire.net/video/top-gear-season-3-episode-8-all-rightsbbc-uk_part-1_2196804.htm.
- US prices: Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002, Krause Publication, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 533-536
- “1965 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Roadster”. vintagemotorssarasota.com. February 2011. http://vintagemotorssarasota.com/Car_pages/Mercedes/65MB230SL/65mb230sl.htm.
- Mihnea Radu (February 2011). “John Travolta Spotted in His 1965 Mercedes 230 SL Roadster”. autoevolution.com. http://www.autoevolution.com/news/john-travolta-spotted-in-his-1965-mercedes-230sl-roadster-30926.html.
- Josh Grossberg (September 2011). “John Travolta’s vintage Mercedes stolen”. msnbc.com. http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44582172/ns/today-entertainment/t/john-travoltas-vintage-mercedes-stolen/.
- Clarencia Cynrae (March 2008). “Kate Moss in her classic Mercedes SL in 2002”. celebgalz.com. http://celebgalz.com/kate-moss-car-collection-photos/kate-moss-in-her-classic-mercedes-sl-in-2002/.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mercedes-Benz W113|
|4-cylinder||Sedan||W191||W120 / W121||W110||W115||W123|
|Large car||Sedan||W111 (until 1968)||(began 1965) W109||W116|
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