Mercedes-Benz W113

Mercedes-Benz W113 230 SL, 250 SL, 280 SL

Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz
Also called Mercedes Pagoda
Production 1963–1971
48,912 built[1]
Assembly Germany
Predecessor Mercedes-Benz W198
Mercedes-Benz W121 BII
Successor Mercedes-Benz R107
Class GT
Body style 2 door coupé
2-door roadster
Layout FR layout
Platform Mercedes-Benz W111
Engine 2,308 cc (2.3 L) I6
2,496 cc (2.5 L) I6
2,778 cc (2.8 L) I6
Transmission 4-speed automatic
4-speed manual
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)
Related Mercedes-Benz W108
Mercedes-Benz W109
Mercedes-Benz W112
Designer(s) Paul Bracq
Béla Barényi

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.

Mercedes-Benz W113

 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,[2] 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.


[edit] 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 [3]

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”.[4]

[edit] 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.

[edit] Mercedes-Benz W113 Models

[edit] 230 SL (1963–1967)

Mercedes-Benz W113Mercedes-Benz W113  230 SL


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.[7]

A brief chronology of the most notable changes made to the 230 SL:[8]

  • 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).[9]
  • 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.

[edit] 250 SL (1966–1968)

Mercedes-Benz W113

The 250 SL was introduced at the 1967 [10] For the first time, an optional limited slip differential was also available. Of the 5,196 250 SLs produced, more than a third were sold in the US.


Mercedes-Benz W113
 Mercedes-Benz W113  250 SL interior

The main change was the use of the 2,496 cc (2.5 L) [11] 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.[7]

[edit] 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.

Mercedes-Benz W113Mercedes-Benz W113  250 SL California rear seats

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

Mercedes-Benz W113

 The main change was an upgrade to the 2,778 cc (2.8 L) [9]

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:[8]

  • 12/1967: One piece wheel-covers (like the W 108 sedans).
  • 10/1968: US models with sealed beam headlights without fog lights.[12]
  • 02/1969: New tail lights with amber turn signals.[13]
  • 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).[14]
  • 08/1970: Fuchs alloy wheels available as a factory-fitted option.[15]
  • 11/1970: Opaque beige plastic coolant expansion tank (instead of satin-black steel). New door locks: cylinder can be depressed while door is locked.

[edit] North American models

Mercedes-Benz W113

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.[13]  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).[7] 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.

[edit] Special versions

[edit] 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.[16] 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.

[edit] 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.[8]

[edit] Frua Shooting Brake

In 1966, the Turin coachbuilder Pietro Frua, a prominent car designer in Italy in the 1960s, presented a coach built 230 SLX Shooting Brake version of the 230 SL.[17]

[edit] R 113 W 33-29

In 1968, Mercedes-Benz fitted a 280 SL with a 206 PS (152 kW; 203 hp) M50F [8]

[edit] Timeline

The model timeline and production numbers are:[18]

Production numbers.
Chassis Engine 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 Total US
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
48,912 19,440

[edit] Accolades

[edit] Motorsports

[edit] 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.[8][19] 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.[8]

[edit] 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.[8]

[edit] Magazines

  • The Belgian webzine Gentlemen’s Corner listed the W 113 among its 20 “Most stylish cars of the past 50 years”.[20]
  • GQ listed the W 113 among the “Ten cars that made Mercedes-Benz”.[21]
  • David Gandy of listed the W 113 as one of his “15 favorite cars”.[22]
  • The Daily Telegraph put the W 113 on its list of “The 100 most beautiful cars” of all time.[23]

[edit] 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”.[24]

[edit] Technical data

[edit] Famous owners

[edit] 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.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ 3-613-02131-5.
  2. ^ US patent 3169793, Béla Barényi & Paul Bracq, “Motor vehicle with a concave top”, issued 1965-02-16, assigned to Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft 
  3. ^ “1955-1963 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL”.
  4. ^ “Star of Geneva”.
  5. ^ “W113-280SL-Fahrwerk”. Mercedes-Benz Classic Wiki.
  6. ^ “Mercedes-Benz 230SL”.
  7. ^ 3-89365-540-9.
  8. ^ 3-613-01367-3.
  9. ^ 978-1-84584-304-5.
  10. ^ Autocar 126 (nbr 3706): page 32. date 9 March 1967.
  11. 0-87341-158-7.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ “European Headlight Assembly”.
  15. ^ “Alloy Wheels”.
  16. ^ “The Pininfarina 230 SL”. 2009-11-6.
  17. ^ “Mercedes-Benz 230 SLX Shooting brake”. 2010.
  18. 3-613-02019-X.
  19. ^ Patrick C. Paternie (08/09/2010). “Fast Classics: Mercedes-Benz 230 SL and 300SE Rally Cars”.
  20. ^ “Most stylish cars of the past 50 years”. Belgium: Gentlemen’s Corner. 2012-01-25. Retrieved 2012-03-04.
  21. ^ Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  22. ^ David Gandy (2011-01). “15 favourite cars”. U.S.:—1960—70s-280-sl. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  23. ^ “The 100 most beautiful cars”. U.K.: The Daily Telegraph. 2008-03. Retrieved 2011-09-18.
  24. ^ Jeremy Clarkson (12/21/2003). “Top Gear – 280 SL”. BBC.
  25. ^ US prices: Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002, Krause Publication, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 533-536
  26. ^ “1965 Mercedes-Benz 230 SL Roadster”. February 2011.
  27. ^ Mihnea Radu (February 2011). “John Travolta Spotted in His 1965 Mercedes 230 SL Roadster”.
  28. ^ Josh Grossberg (September 2011). “John Travolta’s vintage Mercedes stolen”.
  29. ^ Clarencia Cynrae (March 2008). “Kate Moss in her classic Mercedes SL in 2002”.

[edit] External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Mercedes-Benz W113, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick trump September 1, 2021 at 12:46 am

Hay thare I want to ask you if you know how many 1964 right hand drive where made


Abdulraouf Albaijan May 13, 2021 at 2:22 am

Good Day,

I have a 280SL 1969 and I would like to know the original colors of the car
The numbers on the plate inside the car are:
426 491 503
423 H 423 H 5
113044 12 7
60261 84071

I really appreciate your help


Abdulraouf Albaijan


Bernd May 16, 2021 at 2:24 pm

Hi there,

congrats to your nice car. The color 423 is “tobacco brown” and the “H” behind it stands for the paint manufacturer Herberts.

I hope this helps.

All the best,


Robert T Huhn March 4, 2018 at 12:31 am

I own one of these cars and courious as to what the premium is on these cars of any?


Bernd March 5, 2018 at 3:35 pm

Sorry, but I don’t know, how many of these “California” cars were made. They came with a removable hard top, but no soft top, as you already said. Quite a few of them have been converted to standard roadsters with soft top, so not many of them are left today. As most W113 owners don’t like the inconvenience of not having a soft top, I doubt that there is a premium for these cars today, on the contrary.


Robert T Huhn March 4, 2018 at 12:29 am

How many California Roadsters were made? That is a Roafster without a soft top and with factory installed Tonau cover
With a Removable hard top? These cars were made for California owners who did
Not need a soft top?


Bo Sanders September 18, 2016 at 12:57 am

How many 280 SLs with standard transmission were made? I know that only 830 280SLs were made.


Sean Porrazzo July 12, 2016 at 6:59 pm

Hello Sir,

I was wondering if you know how many genuine 1971 (Jan-Feb) were built with a manual gearbox. 4 0r 5 speed.

Thanks in advance,

Sean Porrazzo


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