The sun always shines in California, so of course Mercedes-Benz named this classic convertible after the place: a 1968 body-on restored 280 SL Pagoda California. Also known as the super rare 2+2 version of the 1st generation SL-Class (type W113), including the characteristic curved, detachable “Pagode” hardtop; internationally also called “Pagoda top” or “Pagoda Spider”. Anyway, it doesn’t matter how you name the 4-seater Coupe Cabriolet, because she’s a real beauty in every way! And in addition, stable in value, looking at other Pagoda’s.
This roofless Benz is an open book when it comes to history. The car was put on the streets in August 1968 for the first time. Swiss streets, in this particular case. Since 1999, the SL has given Holland a little bit of extra character. The former owner bought the stylish German in 2010, and gave it a 2nd youth: in 2011 he left the car at a specialist in Amsterdam for an engine overhaul (the lowest part). Three years later Mercedes-Benz dealer Wensink did the same with the (automatic) transmission. From 2015-2017, the SL spent some extra time in the sun while driving in the South of France, followed by a body-on restoration in that last year. The investment in the car is serious, but the emotional bond and involvement with the classic is at least as impressive. Not many cars are driven and handled with the kind of passion and love the last owner had (or still has) for this 280.
Interior & exterior
The fully repainted Papyrus White (Papyrusweiss in German) bodywork says it all: you’re looking at a beautiful Mercedes, that’s for sure. But she’s also pure. Or in other words: prepared for (daily) use. In short, the main target of the restoration was to get the car back on the road again and make it shine during Sunday drives, not so much to collect prizes at classic events. So this car is more like a star of the public road show. Just like it was meant to be in the first place.
Knowing this, you immediately understand the condition of the upholstery. The Pagoda interior is like the inventor of the term “patina”. That definitely has its charm. Perhaps the sea salt on the French south coast was a bit too much for the wooden frames on the dashboard. But it does tell us something about the history of the royal roadster. The brown leather seats do the exact same thing: they fit perfectly in this vintage-loving era.
The 6-cylinder 280 SL is the most powerful engine in the W113 series and produces 170 hp. Even more important is the fact that the technique in this car, is in absolutely great shape. The bottom is just as good: tectylated and with no rust at all. The Benz runs, sounds, steers and drives very smooth! No matter the roof is up or down, for the next thousands of kilometers, the sun always shines with this beautiful Pagoda! Not to mention the emotional value the former owner has added to it…