Mercedes-Benz W113

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Mercedes-Benz W113
230 SL, 250 SL, 280 SL
1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL (US)
Automotive industryMercedes-Benz
Production1963–1971
48,912 built[1]
230SL: 19,831
250SL: 5,196
280SL: 23,885
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W198
SuccessorMercedes-Benz R107

The Mercedes-Benz W 113 Automobile were produced from 1963 through 1971. They were sold as the "pagoda roof" SL Class. The W 113 replaced the W 198 SL-Class in 1963 and was replaced by the R107 SL-Class in 1972.

All models boast an Straight-6 with multi-port fuel injection using a mechanical pump system adapted from the diesel motors. All are rear-wheel drive, but are also equipped with independent rear suspension, a feature that greatly improved road handling. Most of these early SLs were sold with both the removable hard top and a soft top in the so-called "Coupe/Roadster" configuration, but there was also a "California Coupe" version available that came with the removable hardtop but no soft top. In these models, the soft top well (between the passenger compartment and trunk) is removed, and a drop-down bench seat is installed in its place. The rear seat is small and not very useful, so these 2+2 models are rare but not especially sought after today. While the SLs are relatively heavy compared to other similar roadsters, weight was reduced in part by the use of aluminum panels for the trunk lid, front hood, tonneau cover and door skins.

Contents

Models


230-SL (July, 1963−January, 1967)

Production began in 1963 with the 2.3 liter 230-SL. These models were commonly 4-speed manual transmission cars, but a 4-speed automatic transmission was also available and popular for U.S. market cars. The 230-SL sported front disc / rear drum power-assisted brakes. They quickly gained popularity in the U.S. market, and this eventually led to more and more cars being built with automatic transmissions. 19,831 copies of the 230-SL were built, of which 11,726 cars were exported [2].

250 SL (December, 1966−January, 1968)

The 250 SL was basically a one-year model, 1967, although many were sold in, and titled as, 1968 model year cars. This model is the rarest of the W 113 cars. The main changes were the use of a 2.5 liter motor with seven main bearings instead of four, and addition of rear disc brakes. The 250 SL retains the stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the early SLs but provides significantly improved performance, especially given the engines wider power band. The 250 SL was also available with a ZF Friedrichshafen AG 5-speed manual transmission that was available through 1970. Of the 5,196 250 SLs built, 3,808 cars were exported (1,791 of which to the USA)[2].

280 SL (December, 1967−March, 1971)

The 2.8 liter 280 SL was introduced in 1967 and continued production largely unchanged through 1971 when the W 113 was replaced by the entirely new, and substantially heavier, R 107 350 SL/450 SL. Most 280 SL cars built for the U.S. market were equipped with automatic transmission. Manual transmission cars came with either a 4-speed tramsmission or the super rare ZF-5 speed. The ZF 5 speed is very rare sought after by American collectors. In the European market manual transmission cars were still dominant. 23,885 280 SLs were produced, of which 12,927 units went to the USA and 5,754 to other countries outside of Germany [2].

European versus American specifications

These cars are also popular as U.S. export vehicles. That is, cars brought to the U.S. from Europe some years after original production. The European-spec vehicles have a number of subtle differences from U.S. market cars. The most visible is the distinctive European 'fishbowl' headlights versus U.S. sealed beam bulb headlights. Somewhat less known is that some European cars were using yellow lenses on the rear turn signals much earlier that were cars in the U.S. which were required by law to use all-red tail lights (U.S. laws were eventually changed to allow yellow turn signals). Other differences include the metric gauges, no chrome bumper guards, more use of chrome throughout the interior, and, generally speaking, no air conditioning. Depending on the market, many Euro-spec cars were also often equipped with an "add-on" red emergency flasher, a safety requirement for cars brought into the U.S. that was not a standard feature in the European market until later production years.

Collectors


Today, the W 113 Pagoda is considered a highly desirable collectors car, with current values for the 280 SL suggesting that it is the most desirable of the three models. The 250 SL, being quite a bit rarer, is also popular with collectors who prefer the somewhat stiffer suspension and sportier feel of the earlier cars, but also appreciate the improved performance of the 2.5 liter engine, and the addition of rear disk brakes. The 230 SL is widely available, but demands a lower price due to the perception of lower performance from a smaller engine. Buyers of these vintage autos should look closely for rust, especially in the floors, trunk, and under the doors. These cars, while generally well cared for, are known for having rust problems. Replacement parts including engine, transmission, interior, and rust repair panels are readily available making restoration a viable alternative.

Vehicles


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945-1990, Band 4. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02131-5. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rohde, Michael; Koch, Detlev (2000). Typenkompass Mercedes-Benz. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 79, 80, 81. ISBN 3-613-02019-X. 
  3. US prices: Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946-2002, Krause Publication, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 533-536

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